I’ve been skeptical of Asian cosmetics and skincare for a long time, mainly because I can’t read the ingredients labels. But I recently discovered CosDNA, a database which contains the ingredients listings for thousands of Korean products, and armed with that info, I went on a haul just before I left Australia.
The main thing I like about Asian cosmetics is that they suit my skin/hair tone, a problem that really hit home when trying to find a brow product that didn’t look weird on me. They’re also budget-friendly, and come with a generous dose of kawaii that’s irresistible to someone who grew up on a diet of Hello Kitty and Doraemon!
Here’s what I bought (prices are in USD):
Half my purchases were from BeautynetKorea, a popular online Korean beauty store that also confusing goes by the name 2plus1. It was my first time purchasing from them, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quick shipping (about 2 weeks). The site uses PayPal, which is always good for convenience and peace of mind. While you’ll probably be able to find some products for slightly cheaper elsewhere, the site does offer free shipping, a generous assortment of samples and (from what I’ve heard) excellent customer service if something goes wrong.
Skin79 Hot Pink Super Plus BB Cream (40 g, $12.69) – a ridiculous bargain for my favourite BB cream. It comes in a fat little pump bottle with a shiny holographic label. I’m guessing the last bits of foundation will be hard to get out, but I’ll work that out when I get there.
The main reason for my haul was to pick up some tone-appropriate eyebrow products. I have “natural” East Asian hair colouring at the moment, which means most of the brown/brunette products in Australian stores are too reddish for me. I was advised by some lovely ladies to look for grey-leaning brown products, so based on lots of blog reviews I picked these two:
Skinfood Choco Eyebrow Powder Cake in #1 Grey Khaki Black ($5.99) – This smells like chocolate, and comes with a stiff angled brush for application, as well as a mirror as big as they could cram in the case (I hate it when palettes come with tiny mirrors!). I haven’t quite mastered using this yet. The powders are a little waxy (I assume for keeping brow hairs in place).
The Face Shop Lovely me:ex Design My Eyebrow (Auto) in #1 Grey Brown ($5.59) – This is a cool product – one end is a hard-textured, triangular wind-up crayon, while the other is a spoolie wand. I’ve found this far easier to use than the powder. You simply draw your brows on with the pencil, then use the spoolie to tone down wherever you put too much on. It’s really hard to botch up!
Here are some swatches of the brow products – from left to right, the Face Shop pencil (one light stroke, then two strokes), and the Skinfood powders.
I’m very pleased with how the colours look on me – very natural, and not at all weird.
I also hauled two Tony Moly products from a couple of eBay sellers (cosmetic.love and ideaseller_kr). I sniffed these in person, decided not to buy, then went home and realised I needed them. Tony Moly Peach Anti Aging Hand Cream ($6.18) and Mini Peach Lip Balm ($6.39) both smell amazing. The hand cream smells like peach yoghurt, while the lip balm smells like peach nectar. They’re the best smelling peach products I’ve ever sniffed.
In terms of efficacy, they’re pretty average as far as hand creams and lip balms go – not amazing, not terrible. I have to admit, I haven’t been super impressed with any Asian skincare products so far, with the exception of peeling gels. But I still buy them because they’re so damn cute.
Naturally, I also received a whole heap of samples from my hauls – I got doubles of all of these products. I was really pleased to get the Etude House Wonder Pore sample, since it was something I debated buying, but I’m not particularly impressed with it. I haven’t tried The Face Shop Smim cream yet, and The Face Shop Cleansing Foam gave me a serious case of squeaky face. So overall, no change in my perception of lower end Asian skincare products.
What are your experiences buying Korean beauty products online? Which shops have you tried?