While stateside beauty and skincare have been huge businesses with sale spikes in nail polish and lipstick, some of the most innovative and health conscious products derive from the continent of Asia. For years, if American beauty lovers obtains products from overseas, it was from personal travels or insistent online hunting, but lately, these hidden gems, many of them from Japan and Korea, have become a bit easier to find through U.S. markets. In America, it may appear that women of Asian descent don’t adhere to makeup as much, but overseas there’s a huge fan-base for cosmetics! There is a particular focus on the eyes and making them appear larger and more child-like (think: anime characters like Sailor Moon). Even for men, the beauty business has a hold on them, as in record numbers, they too have taken a great interest in astringents and BB Creams as way to solidify their “competitive edge” amongst their peers and everyday strangers. Additionally, there a number of Asian beauty vloggers that share tips on the most requested concerns for Asian features, like for example, how to create more definition for hooded eyes. Michelle Phan, a self-taught millionaire from YouTube, is Vietnamese-American.
The first time I took notice of Asian products was the arrival of the Fairy Drops Scandal Queen mascara when Sephora stores sold it for a short time. Scandal Queen was a big deal in Japan, and I was intrigued. I purchased it, and while I thought it was really cool owning a Japanese beauty product I wasn’t entirely impressed with the results, I didn’t really get the bright-eyed or sultry look I thought I was going to achieve, but looking back, I also acknowledge that maybe I wasn’t that appreciative of mascara just quite yet.
It was again only just a few weeks ago, I took notice of Asian products, and it would’ve been hard not to considering how adorable and bright most of the packaging is. At the newly opened and latest flagship of the huge retailer of Urban Outfitters in Herald Square in New York City, their beauty section mainly consists of such items, and the brands my eyes got mesmerized by were Holika Holika, The Face Shop, Tony Moly, and Peripera. Skincare-wise, they carry Skinfood and Mizon. The overt cuteness of these products is more than enough to make you want to purchase them, and the plus side is that they are actually very well-made as well. While the colors offered are typical of beauty brands, it is the quality that sets them apart from the average American label. So far I’ve tested four products of the Korean persuasian: Tony Moly’s Double Needs (Curling) Pang Mascara; Holika Holika’s Magic Pole Mascara; Tony Moly’s Petite Bunny Gloss Bar; and Peripera’s Very Nice Pen Eyeliner in Black. So far,I’ve been very happy with the results and I find the quality of all of them to be long-lasting and promising of what it says it will do. The Double Needs mascara is gently curved and lashes are painted and curled with just a few swipes super elegantly. The Gloss Bar is very moisturizing and offers a light wash of color. Peripera’s eyeliner pen is swift and thin, allowing for an easier build-up if you wish is ideal for a cat-eye. I will say that the Magic Pole mascara is the hardest to use as its comb brush is a tad on the short side and so it is easy to clump your lashes within seconds. The tip of the brush which is a spiral also takes some getting used to, but it is handy in trying to “fan-out” lashes, as L’Oreal introduced to technique before through their Telescopic line, as well as Givenchy. And L’Oreal has actually hopped on the Asian aesthetic line with their latest wand, their Miss Manga mascara. While it’s a cute concept that’s a simple homage to the wide-eyed look, for a more sincere approach to big eyes resembling anime heroines, you’d be better off using products from the actual motherland of moon cakes or K-Pop.
Hitherto, I’ve visited multiple times since to see which other products I wanted to take home with me, but I also got acquainted with the Korean skincare line of Mizon. Mizon has lots of extremely good for you products that are scientifically unique, and I learned a lot more about how much of ahead of the curve they really were through the help from an amiable representative. I was informed about the Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel; their Cotton Showers Sheet Essence; Watermax Aqua Gel Cream; Returning Starfish Cream; their King to the Kong’s Berry, Good Night White, and Acence lines; and Collagen Ampoule Essential Sheet Mask. The Cotton Showers product are small rectangular sheets that are doused in shea butter and are meant to be placed on the drier parts of skin for deep moisturizing. While meant for the face, I placed them on my arms and instantly my skin was hydrated and healthy looking! I really liked this product. The Apple Smoothie is a gel scrub that removes dead skin cells and as you gently rub in circular motion, with the light wash of a rag or water, smoother, glow-ier skin is revealed. It feels a bit weird as the gel is not made of harsh beads but a kind of mushy confection, the results are worth it however.
The most interesting products were the All-In-One Snail Repair Cream and Returning Starfish Cream. The Snail Repair, as explained by the rep, is anti-bacterial due to the enzymes which is good for treating blemishes and aging skin, and the snail extracts are purified and turned into a powder that’s then mixed into the cream. For their Returning Starfish Cream, it contains real starfish proteins and the actual cream after every time it is used regenerates like a real starfish! The product also contains argan oil and memory polymers, and while has an “anti-aging focus” in general is great for keeping skin firm on a preventative measure. There’s also an eye cream version. And considering its officially summer time, while our local drugstore staples of Banana Boat do just fine, for a step above in sunscreen, Mizon also has a UV Bounce Cushion Cream with SPF 30 that feels deliciously cool. Their Watermax Aqua Gel Creams are also a new alternative for those that need a reliable moisturizer that won’t add, or better yet, provoke an oily texture or at least keep combination skin at bay.
The brand Mizon has been around for years and its roots stem with AmorePacific which is one of the largest beauty brands in Korea. Scientists that had formerly worked for Amore Pacific ventured out on their to create Mizon, a line that would be both affordable and beneficial to a similar, skincare curious audience.
When the latest Asian trend that tried to break through the market was the “puppy-eye” eyeliner effect, not a lot of buzz was made, but maybe you’ll feel a bit more persuaded the more you see how fun and great so many of these Asian-based products are. They are sometimes a bit on the pricey end (on average, a Korean mascara in US dollars is $18, but the Cotton Showers for example are $8), these items are really impressive and made with a lot of care. If you get a chance, Korean skincare and beauty brands are highly recommended and should be a part of your American arsenal.