Tuesday, 3 March 2015

On Trend - Korean Cosmetics (ft. IBuyBeauti.com)

(All affiliate links look like this)

Have you heard? Korean cosmetics (mainly skincare) is officially on trend in the Western countries, according to the media (you can check out these articles from The IndependentVogue and allure). Western cosmetics companies has occasionally been getting inspiration from (South East) Asian beauty industry for years now, like Neutrogena (sheet masks since over 10 years ago but never launched outside Asia), and recently Dr. Organic (Snail Gel), Olay (Sheet Masks recently launched outside Asia), Lancome (Korean inspired CC cushion) and even Elemis (gel eye masks).

The problem is, the Korean cosmetics market is huge. Unfamiliar products (ampoule, sleeping mask, peeling gel, bubble mask?) and bizarre ingredients (snail mucus, bee venom, synthetic snake venom, synthetic spider venom?!) can be confusing, and even frightening for many. So where do we start? What are the best products to buy as an entry to the Korean cosmetics world?

Right: Sheet mask samples that came with my order.
Most if not all Korean stores gives out generous samples with all orders

Online Korean cosmetics retailer ibuybeauti.com has kindly offered me the opportunity to review something from their store. I chose the following as I think that they are the perfect starting point to Korean cosmetics:

  • Malie Sheet Masks because sheet masks has been around for a while and most Westerners who have tried them loved them. It is sort of the first product (apart from cutely packaged hand creams) most of them have tried first (i chose Malie brand because I've never tried them before)
  •  innisfree No-Sebum Sunblock as we all need more sunblock on our face (if you want to keep wrinkles away for as long as you can) and it's much trickier for people who has sebum problem to get a good sunblock that doesn't make them look greasy during the day! Korean sunblocks are cheap but also great because Koreans love to maintain a very fair/ pale skin, so you'll get good to high quality ones for a more affordable price

I'll also introduce you to ibuybeauti.com and tell you why I think that they are a great place to shop for your new Korean cosmetics!

- Korean cosmetics can be drugstore prices with quality comparable to Western cosmetics that are at a higher price point.
- Korean products normally come with a manufactured date instead of expiry date. If it looks like the above picture, it's a manufactured date, not expiry date.

Clio Gelpressio Gel Liner Bloody Sweet, best gel eye liner, waterproof eye liner

Clio Gelpressio Gel Liner Bloody Sweet, best gel eye liner, waterproof eye liner

Clio Gelpressio Gel Liner Bloody Sweet, best gel eye liner, waterproof eye liner
Left: Natural Light   Right: Spot Light
The liners stayed through many wash during the day until I used a puff in the shower to buff it off
Clio's Gelpresso Waterproof Pencil Gel Liner (USD$8.80, approx £5.74) is one of the highly recommended waterproof gel eyeliner out there, although I like it as much as the one I got from Beauty People and Touch in SOL.

Clio's one is soft and creamy, waterproof (you can still smudge it before it dries), highly pigmented and suppose to be safe for sensitive skin. They also come with a sharpener at the end of the pen, and you can twist the bottom to get more product out, as well as retracting it back in.

As you can smudge them before they dry, you can easily use the Gelpresso as eye shadows. And if you are in a hurry, simply layer the one Gelpresso colour over your eye lids with a gradient effect for the whole look!

There are currently 7 colours on ibuybeauti.com's website, which covers most popular shimmer colour choices. But like most Korean brands, Clio does have a wide range of colour and finish. I was glad that ibuybeauti.com doesn't stock them all though as I'll be sitting here forever trying to pick a colour that suits me (like standing in front of a MAC counter, arghhh)!

What I think about Korean gel liners:
I could never ever draw my eye liners in the past, even with a good quality product. They are either not pigmented enough, hard on the eye lid, or I have to go through the trouble to wet a brush and dip it into a gel liner pot.

When I received my first gel eye liner pen from Korean beauty box Memebox (they've stopped shipping Internationally unfortunately), I was amazed! I can actually draw a line with one glide! I even had to wipe it off as the result was so strong (I like a softer look). The quality is fantastic as well and lasted all day without the need for an eyeshadow to set it. Needless to say, they are very affordable for that kind of quality you get, which you would have to pay at least 4 times the price to get from a Western cosmetics brand.

If you like a matte finish or want a good black gel liner, the Banila Co. Triple Wonder Auto Gel Liner (USD$12.70, approx £8.27) is a great choice as well, which was recommended by Get it Beauty, a well known independent influential Korean beauty website that compares and recommends beauty products (including Western high end brands such as NARS and YSL as well).

Whether you are good at drawing eye liners or are as bad as I am, I urge you to give Korean eye liner pens a try!

Malie Sheet Mask, Korean Sheet Mask, facial mask sheet

Sorry for the scary sheet masked picture, but what's a sheet mask review without the sheet mask look?!

About Sheet Masks:
Sheet masks' main purpose is to hydrate and hence soften your skin. You put the essence soaked sheet on your face for 15 to 20 minutes (some people leave it on their face until it's dry), then massage the rest of the essence into your skin until fully absorbed. It's very easy without the mess you get with wash or peel off masks, hence its popularity. Your skin should feel hydrated and pampered, sometimes cooling too (for a hot day you can put the sheet mask in your fridge for additional cooling effect).

Apart from hydration, sheet masks also comes with different ingredients such as Collagen, Tea Tree, Vitamin C, Pomegranate, Royal Jelly etc etc, for different needs (anti-aging, acne, whitening, brightening, etc), although I'd say that most of the time I don't really notice the effect as the ingredients take time and repeated application to work. I did, however, saw an instant result from using a Tea Tree sheet mask though! I felt some new acnes started to build up under my skin, so I used the Tea Tree sheet mask that night and the next morning they were all gone! Needless to say, I've just bought a few more Tea Tree sheet masks from various brands, just to see which performs and fits best.

I chose Malie's Sheet Mask Pack (pack of 5 sheet masks, total USD$3.1, approx £2.02) for the review, mainly because I haven't tried Malie's sheet masks before. I do like the amount of serum it contains. It gave me a fairly good coverage, though I did have to stretch the mask a bit. Overall not bad and my skin felt nicely hydrated. There is currently 9 types available at ibuybeauti.com, including Q10, Collagen, Snail, etc.

How to choose a good sheet mask:
By trying different ones out. Different people have different preferences, some like theirs with more essence, some think that it should be just enough to sink into the skin after the 20 minutes. Some requires a bigger coverage. So it's really down to trying out a few different ones. Each sheet masks are priced between USD$0.50 to USD$1.50 each (under £1 each) only though, so you don't have to spend a lot to find the one you like.

Hydrogel Masks:
These are similar to sheet masks, but it's made of a jelly/ gel type material (like the one Elemis use in their new gel eye mask) instead of paper/ cotton. It holds more essence/ serum and feels extra cooling on your skin. The only thing is that some might slide off your face so you'll have to readjust it occasionally. So far the ones I've tried have stayed on my face (with me sitting upright) though. They are slightly more expensive than sheet masks, approx USD$2 to $4 per mask (£1.30-2.60).

I don't really have a preference between sheet/ hydrogel masks, as long as it works and makes me feel pampered I'm happy, and when the additional treatment from the mask works, it's a bonus!

innisfree eco safety no-sebum sunblock, sunscreen for oily skin, matte effect sunscreen

innisfree eco safety no-sebum sunblock, sunblock for oily skin, matte effect sunblock

What I think about Korean sunblocks:
As mentioned above, I chose a sunblock to review here because I think that although a tan is nice, a healthy skin is more important than a healthy looking skin, and blocking away harmful UVA/ UVB lights (even when you are indoors) is really important for combating aging and other more serious problems.

Korean women are obsessed about having a fair, dewy looking skin, so they have a wide range of facial sunblock and use them in place of a SPF Day cream that we are more familiar with. Their sunblock would be cheaper and with (comparatively) better quality because of the high demand and competitive market.

I've been looking for a good one since I've finished up the one I like (the container of the sunblock was being difficult) but they were either too greasy, too white, smelled of something I don't like or too tinted.

Then I saw innisfree No-Sebum Sunblock (USD$11.30, approx. £7.34) on ibuybeauti.com's website and thought I should give it a try. It wouldn't give me a dewy looking skin, but hopefully will stop my T-zone looking shiny during the day! People have been raving about innisfree no sebum compact/ loose powder (although my compact left my nose chalky looking) and CC cushion, perhaps their no sebum sunblock will be good.

The innisfree no sebum sunblock (SPF35 PA+++, contains green tea extracts and organic sunflower oil, suitable for sensitive skin, paraben/ mineral dust/ artificial scent and colour/ animal ingredients free) has a slight pink tint and the texture is like a BB cream. When I first swatched it on my arm, I was a bit disappointed as it gave my tanned arm a chalky, patchy look.

I'm so glad that I gave it a second try on my face, as it blends in perfectly (unlike on my arm), felt smooth and doesn't give me the chalky look at all. It didn't leave me with a white face like some sunblocks do. It's easy to apply and absorb quickly too, leaving my skin with a natural matte finish.

I don't feel it for the rest of the day, and the most impressive thing is that, for the first time, my T zone remains matte (naturally, not the "foundationed" kind of matte)! The only thing is that I'll have to use makeup to get the dewy look on my cheeks. But hey! No more shiny T-zone!

Other Korean Cosmetics to consider:
Other than a gel eye liner, sheet mask and sunblock, I'd also recommend the following for you to try and see why Korean cosmetics (especially skincare) is the next best thing:

sleeping pack/ mask
A mask that you keep on overnight and wash off in the morning! They feel like a normal cream (can be cream, gel or even pudding like texture) and you are suppose to apply a thick layer of it. They get absorbed slower into your skin (hence for overnight use) but I normally wait until it sinks in enough before I turn and let my face touch my pillow (although it's not meant to go all over your pillow, something about the texture that is suppose to keep the product on your skin).

Some says that you should apply it after toner, some as a night cream or even after. I do either, depending on how tired I am. The product has no problem sinking into my skin even after my 10 steps Korean skincare routine (I'll have to show it to you on another post. It's longer than the usual 3 steps but I'm loving my skin more because of it!) anyway so it's entirely up to you or the product directions.

- Peeling Gel
A gentle exfoliation you apply on dried clean face. After waiting for a minute or two, you gently massage the product further on your skin and you'll see pieces of eraser-crumbs like bits coming off. Rinse and you will be left with a baby soft skin! My current favourite is Secret Key's Lemon D-toc Peeling Gel and it has been recommended by many as well.

Korean hand creams and lip balms #Adore
- Cute cosmetics
For people who love a good product that also has a cute/ gorgeous packaging.

- Bubble Mask/ Cleanser
If you have a bit more patience, try these. They bubble up on your skin to penetrate your pores better for a deep clean. The most popular one at the moment is the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbona Ted Bubble Clay Mask.

CC cushion
If you want just enough CC cream on your face, able to keep it in your hand bag and touch up during the day in a convenient compact with a specially designed puff, then this is for you. I'd recommend a Korean cushion over the new Western one as they have been doing it for years, and have now included new darker shades too (Korean foundation/ concealer shades tend to be very light). You can find out the best selling cushions on ibuybeauti.com's home page, and there are reviews as well on their site so you can compare and choose the right one for you.

To check out how ibuybeauti.com website works for me, I've placed another order online (you can find my haul below).

Website design:
I found that ibuybeauti.com have a much cleaner look overall with clearly categorised pages, which I really like. They kept advertising to the minimum (just the scroll banner as far as I can see), instead of having them everywhere on the home page with flashing images that confuses you, making their site much easier on the eyes, and overall gave me a stylish feel. They have a slower loading time because of the high resolution beautiful images and bigger thumb nails so that customers can browse their shop with ease (much easier to shop on their mobile site as well unlike many others), and I'm more than happy to wait for an extra second just for that.

Product range:
Although the website gave me the feeling that they sell medium to high end products, they also carry popular high street brands like Etude House, TonyMoly, Innisfree and Laneige, so you have a wide range of choices at a different price range.

ibuybeauti.com sells products from brands (great ones as far as I can tell) that aren't really sold everywhere too. I've learned about ATrue through Memebox, which has a great range of tea cosmetics (unfortunately too heavy for my acne prone skin but they smell gorgeous!) but not all online retailers stock them. ibuybeauti.com however sells a really great selection (if not all) of ATrue products, including a $9.75 starter kit (a mix of deluxe/ travel size samples and sachets) that comes in a lovely tin.

Product Information:
You can also tell that they are really trying to help people with their shopping experience as they provide as much product information as they can, including hi-res images for shades, swatches, brand released description in English (some retailers left it in Korean) which includes key ingredients and How to Use, as well as YouTube videos if there are any. I even spotted a couple that came with official certificates!

Customer Reviews:
And if you are still not sure, they have 2 review links (this and this) full of product reviews submitted by bloggers and other reviewers, to give you extra information on what people think of the products. There are also shorter customer reviews and comments on each product page, where you can see ibuybeauti's responses as well.

- Products Authenticity
There has been a lot of fake cosmetics (not just Korean) going around especially on Ebay, but with their Triple money back guarantee, I can shop on ibuybeauti.com with confidence!

- Custom Charges
ibuybeauti.com will pay for any custom charges or if your parcel has been confiscated by customs, they will refund you your order too

ibuybeauti review, korean cosmetics, why buy Asian Cosmetics

My ibuybeauti.com mini haul includes:

With my order came 3 Malie's Cucumber Sheet Masks and 2 Mioggi Magic Advanced Skin Essential Activator samples.

Samples are kind of a standard thing from Korean cosmetics retailers, which I think Western cosmetics brands should follow as they are meant to be given away to customers to try.

I think ibuybeauti.com is quite generous in a way that they gave me over half a pack of Malie's sheet mask to try (they sell in a pack of 5) and they gave me 2 Mioggi's toner samples, which cost $33.50 a bottle. If you prefer variety, they still gave me 2 product samples to try so I think for a 3 items order, it's good enough for me!

Shipping fee was only USD$4.20 because the cream came with free shipping. Not bad and pretty quick shipping from Korea to the UK too!

Very happy to be introduced to and shopping on ibuybeauti.com. And since the website is easy to browse through, it's much easier for first time Korean Cosmetics buyers to shop there!

And now a quick look at my mini haul:

Skinfull Volufiline Baby Face Spot Ampoule, no pain botox, anti-wrinkle

Skinfull Volufiline Baby Face Spot Ampoule, no pain botox, anti-wrinkle

Skinfull Volufiline Baby Face Spot Ampoule, no pain botox, anti-wrinkle

Volufiline is a patented technology that's mainly used in breast and bum enhancement. I'm not sure how or if it works, and I'm definitely not sure whether it will work for facial wrinkles, but for USD$7.50 (under £5) I wouldn't mind giving it a try! It has a milky texture that absorbs well into the skin.

Do you think the patch on my hand looked more filled and smoother?

Luckily it was at an affordable price as Abby and Clay thought that it's a cutely packaged hand cream, like all the other hand creams I left around, so they have conveniently pumped out half a tube for their own use. And the good thing is that I only need a tiny drop for under both my eyes so I still have plenty of uses left. Still... #FacePalm.

A'pieu Longwear Cream Matt Lipstick PK02, creamy lipstick, matte lipstick
The colour is as true as the computer can show
A'pieu Longwear Cream Matt Lipstick PK02, creamy lipstick, matte lipstick
Colour looks lighter on my lips

I have always wanted to buy one of A'Pieu's lipstick, as the packaging is adorable (I love pearlascent white)! I've been eyeing at this lipstick on different websites, and decided to pick it up with my ibuybeauti.com order. I love this colour, unfortunately we all agree that it's not my colour #sadface.

I am impressed with the pigmentation. One layer swatch is almost as good as 3 layers swatch. I have deep plum lip colour and it covered my natural colour well, although it does take a few application for me to get a smoothed out look. The finish isn't overly matte, which I like, but I can't quite comment on the staying power as I wiped it off after taking the pictures, as I look really weird with this colour. Great if this colour suits you *jealous*!

I bought this cream because I love the SN-T Plant Stem Cell Cream (also called Goddess cream), and the Far East Secret Cream contains Oriental Plant Cell, so I thought that it might become another favourite of mine. It also contains Orchid and Lotus which are flowers I love, and I couldn't resist the above description.

Although the cream is moist and absorbs well, the creamy texture is too heavy for my skin, and the Chinese herbal scent is a bit too much for me as well (I love scented products but not really Chinese herbal ones). I'm very scent biased, if the product smelled nice (my kind of nice) I would have loved it more, even though it's very creamy.

So, if you want to give Korean skincare and/ or makeup a try, but don't know where to start, now you know, and give ibuybeauti.com a go as well because I'd say it's less confusing.

Happy shopping!
Angela x