Konglish is not just a flippant name I thought up for my blog. I actually AM Konglish in so far as I’m both Korean and English. I was born in Seoul, South Korea and my parents are ethnically Korean. We then upped-sticks and hot-footed it across the globe when I was a wee thing and settled in the UK, South West London. And there I festered for the next few couple of decades. Although I officially started speaking Korean first, I consider English to be my first language: I think, dream, bitch and moan in English and I’m most comfortable speaking it. I do speak very good Korean (thanks to mum for refusing to learn more English than it takes to say hello), fluently in social conversation but I falter slightly at formal language especially in work-related situations. I’ve been living in Korea for the past 18 months and am planning to stick around for a little while longer before heading back to England. Anyway, all this ramble is basically to explain the “Konglish” in the blog title and what I’m doing in Korea.
Whilst here, I’ve had a couple of birthdays. I don’t tend to make a big fuss of birthdays and they’re usually just an excuse for me to justify a night out at a fancy restaurant. I don’t expect presents… which is why it’s all the more delight when I get them. Raise the delight by an exponent greater than one when that present arrives unexpectedly by post, from across the world during the midst of the worst aviation crisis in years (thanks a lot Eyjafjallajökull) and you can understand why I was hopping around my hallway like a bouncy ball when I discovered a birthday package from BFF1 waiting for me in the postbox.
I love post especially in Korea where the postal service is efficient, safe and cheap. Unlike Britain. I went through a big eBay phase years ago which soured after a few months due to run-ins with Royal Mail and their demons from hell. But not so in Korea. In fact my local postie knows that I’m not in during the day and rather than leave one of those infuriating “I called when you were out (no not really I decided not to knock or ring the bell even though you’re in and specifically waiting for this very important package from the gods)” cards, he leaves the package with my trusted neighbour who will let me know that the package has arrived so that I’m saved a trek down to the local sorting depot. I love such common sense and courtesy so lacking in most of modern life.
Within the package was this birthday card with Kitsch London-a-bilia….
… and this darling little bag. As a beauty addict I pride myself on recognising products from the mere silhouette and outline of packaging in the distance. So I knew what this was instantly.
The 2009 limited edition Shu Uemura Tsumori Chisato face palette! You know you’ve got a BFF on your hands when she can anticipate exactly what your heart desires the most and then buys it, packs it and ships it to your doorstep to commemorate the 365 days since your last 365 days. SQUEEEEAL.
There’s always a risk when buying more make-up for a make-up junkie that a) they’ve got it already and b) you’re rubbing crack into their mucous membranes. To those risks I say a) make-up junkies are junkies. They like back-ups and b) make-up junkies are make-up junkies. We’d only be mainlining the stuff anyway. BUT actually….. neither risk was true in this case. I had lusted and drooled after the palettes when they were released in Korea but withered away empty handed as there was just no way I could justify it (along with 100 other Xmas release products). Kismet, serendipity … whatever. This is the same girl who got me this (the Dame Edna stuff) so she knows a thing or two about my dirty secret urges.
This is no longer available to buy at Shu counters as it was released at Christmas. If you run across it on eBay or up for swap then grab it. There are swatches around online but I’m not going to do them for you. Maybe by my next birthday I will have stopped gazing at it and actually used it.
I’ve been drawn to cream blushers more and more recently for a quick dab of colour on the cheeks. I think it’s as simple as they’ve been easier to reach for than my blush compacts which are nestled in a drawer so in the mornings the extra steps of opening the drawers, selecting a compact AND grabbing a separate powder brush is too much for my addled brain. What a hard life I do lead.
I love Koren Zander a.k.a EnKoreMakeup from YouTube. He’s one of the most important and best beauty gurus on YouTube and one of the first I ever subscribed to. Even more than Lauren Luke (aka Panacea81) he is the reason that the whole YouTube beauty guru thing took off. One of the reasons I love him is that he’s extremely generous with his knowledge of pro or insider product knowledge. He puts it all out there for free on YouTube. Yes he’s a partner and probably rakes in lots of money from the advertising and click-through ads on his channel but he didn’t in the beginning and some of his most helpful and practical videos are the early ones.
Watching a YouTube video doesn’t even being to replicate years of hands-on experience, artisitic vision or talent that a make-up artist needs and I’m not suggesting that anyone who watches a few YouTube tutorials can go out there and be a professional make-up artist. But for in-depth product knowledge, hygeine and sheer ingenuity when it comes to make-up storage and organisation he’s unbeaten. I’ve worked with so many brilliant make-up artist who have shoddy working practices when it comes to basic kit hygiene, maintenance and product knowledge. You’d be shocked at how sloppy some top names in the industry are when it comes to double dipping lipgloss and mascara wands, working on a shoot all day without washing or sanitising their hands and even (I died a little inside) licking Q-tips and then cleaning up around a model’s eye.
It’s Enkore’s DIY make-up storage ideas that really got me hooked on his channel. I actually prefer DIY solutions to storage as they can be adapted to any room, space or change of situation. My stash is always growing, changing and often moving homes so I need flexible solutions. Like any obsessive collector I’m also picky about how my precious booty is stored and displayed and I want to know where everything is for when I need something particular for a look. This video is currently what I use to look after my lipglosses.
I recently hauled all 6 of the Skinfood Fresh Fruit Lip & Cheek Creams which are multi-use creams which you dab on with your finger or a brush. They’re great as cream blushers and also as a matte look lip cream but they’re slightly drying on the lips so might need some balm or gloss paired with it.
They’re a good alternative to the pricier Bobbi Brown Pot Rouges but not a complete dupe. Texture-wise they feel smooth but not sticky and have enough slip to blend out lightly. On the cheeks they can leave a slight shine but that can be lightly blending away. I have oily/combo skin but I have no problem with these causing breakouts or clogging pores. They don’t have a silicone feel to them and they’re not greasy or oily.
They’re medium pigmented so they don’t go on quite as intense as they look in the pan but are definitely not sheer. Overall I’d say that they’re easy no-brainer products to use. Most people intuitively will find it simple to just dab a touch of these onto the cheeks for a bit of colour.
I bought them thinking they were nice and have grown steadily to love them. For a start the colours are lovely. Of the 6, Apricot and Lychee are the palest but they work for a REAL no-make-up look on my cheeks and are great as a nude lip colour on me. They have good lasting power throughout the day and being finger-use products, I carry them around and touch-up if I need to. The devil-in-the-detail that makes me love them though are the fact that each is very lightly scented in its namesake fruit- an unnecessary but cute extra.
L-R: Pomegranate, Berry, Grapefruit, Apricot, Peach, Lychee
They’re a great price: you get 6g of product for 6000won which is plenty for cheap. These are so almost a 5 out of 5 from me except that……. the packaging is the downer. The product is in a metal tin with a sliding lid, identical to ELF’s Candy shop lip balms or Vintage Sister lip balms. It’s cute but it means that it conducts heat easily and there are numerous stories all over Korean make-up blogs that these Lip and Cheek creams melt in warm weather causing a right royal lip and cheek cream mess in bags. Summers in Korea can get pretty hot with temperature soaring well above 30 degrees. Nightmare. This is definitely not a product to carry around in your pocket.
If you can work around that somehow then these are are definitely worthy of a look. I’ll leave these at home in the warmer months or put them in a small baggy. I feel like stock-piling these as I don’t want to ever be without them.
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 (I couldn’t quite forgive the packaging!)
Head on over to the Vogue UK beauty blog to see sneak peeks of some new MAC products, currently on trial backstage during London Fashion Week.
The Vogue beauty blog isn’t usually essential reading but their backstage coverage at London Fashion Week has been great with some great behind-the-scenes scoops. Those blushers have awakened the lemmings within.
Talking of London Fashion week, what a great line-up this year. Anna Wintour’s making a guest appearance, something she only does every leap year or so. With big name hitter Burberry Prorsum showing the buzz in London is almost audible from this side of the world, and look at the schedule for today:
|13:15||Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden|
|17:45||House of Holland|
|20:45||Pringle of Scotland|
Every show is either a cutting edge or advertising must have (well, maybe not Twenty8Twelve) so all the junior fashion editors will be lurching around on their ridiculous platform shoes from 9 am. It sounds like a nightmare day…. but I half wish I was there.
I first saw these and the whole collection on a post from Musings of a Muse. I haven’t bought any Boots No. 7 products for years. When I lived in London, I completely took it for granted. No. 7 is available everywhere, it’s reliable bog-standard, been around for ages line and I didn’t find the products particularly interesting or lemming worthy. I also think they’re quite expensive, definitely not bargain prices for what they are. They often have extremely irritating adverts on TV: I hate their current brand ambassador Keeley Hawes as I find her smug and hoity toity. Bleurrgh.
However Boots No. 7 actually has some great products which perform well. I guess they’re like the Gap of cosmetics in the UK. Reliable, good for basics and somewhere that mums and daughters will happily both shop for cosmetics. They also have frequent buy 2 get one 1 free and generous GWP promotions to cut the cost a little bit so there are always bargains to be had. Seeing the collection on the Muse’s blog and knowing that I’d be in London in a couple of weeks made me quite keen to take a look at the blushers in person. In fact, they were the first make-up item I looked at when I arrived in London: I actually made a beeline for the first Boots counter in Heathrow airport on arrival whilst I was waiting for my driver (ahem, ok my mother) to pick me up. However they were sold out at the Heathrow T1 branch which made me realise that these were popular babies.
In the end, I had to go to two different Boots counters on Oxford Street before I found them. They were completely sold at the first few Boots counters I went to. The other pieces in the collection were around: the lip tints and eyeshadow palettes so it was obviously these blushers which were the stars of the show.And rightly so. These were completely and utterly love at first sight for me. The generous size (10g), the design of the compacts with the see through lids, the embossed petal pattern on the powder, and the swirled tri-colour design all had me at first glance.
There are two colour ways, Peach and Pink. Obviously I picked up both and in fact I think both shades would be flattering to most skin tones out there.
The main thing I love about these are the fact that they’re matte. Yes, I know that’s not trendy, what with Mineralized blushers, skinfinshes and Coralistas being the love of the day. If you’re talking about eyeshadows and lip colour then I’m right there with you, I love glimmer and shimmer. But when it comes to complexion: face and cheeks, I prefer matte and then adding optional shimmer with highlighters. Frosty cheeks are just too much for me, and in fact I swapped and sold my NARS blush collection a few years ago because I found that I never wore them, the majority being shimmer and glitter heavy.
The pans of these products are large enough that you can pick up the colours individually (try the MAC 116 or 165) or swirl them together in different combos.
Here is a GREAT gift with purchase that I got for spending over £18. It still seems to be going on so it’s a great incentive to stock up. (Things from the Boots No. 7 line that I recommend would be the eyeshadows, blushers and lipglosses.) The three make-up items in the gift (mascara, eye mousse and lipstick) are impressive. I love the attention to detail and the pink tissue paper the gift was wrapped in. Bravo No. 7, bravo.
I arrived back in Seoul last Thursday and make-up was not on my list of priorities when I got back. Shower, food and sleep were all I could concentrate on and I had to be up at 7am for work on Friday morning. However sitting at my computer I thought I’d just take a quick look at the Korean make-up websites to see if anything new had been released whilst I was away and discovered that Banila Co had just released its new Gossip Girl collection.
Banila Co is a Korean make-up brand, which is priced mid-range. More expensive than Etude House, Missha or the Face Shop but cheaper than the department store high end brands, Banila Co is mainly a colour cosmetics range with a small skincare line and a few accessories. It has its own standalone stores on the Korean high street as well as having a few counters in department stores. Beauty counter politics means that it’s never in the same hall as the high end brands, but usually in the streetwear and urban apparel sections, designed to appeal to high school and college students.
Banila Co has some great colour cosmetics and has some great eyeshadow and make-up primers. I find it quite derivative in its packaging, marketing and product names especially from Benefit and I wonder at the sheer cheek of some of their products which seem to be direct dupes or copycats. However when the Korean copy, they usually copy well and Banila Co is a definite must try if you’re interested in Korean cosmetics.
I’m guessing the inspiration behind the Gossip Girl collection is the hit American TV series of the same name which is HUGE in Korea right now. The rich prep school uniform is on trend in Korea with both teenagers and old-enough-to-know better 20-somethings tripping around in plaid mini kilts, argyle knee socks and braid trimmed blazers. The boys love it too as Korean males aren’t shy about being fashion forward and Chuck Bass style flamboyant outfits are all the rage here.
Banila Co’s collection doesn’t seem to have anything obviously to do with the TV series, other than the name. The collection is a range of pretty but not groundbreaking Spring brights. The new items in the range are 3 new baked e/s duos that Banila Co is popular for, 3 lipsticks, 3 tinted lip balms, a baked marble blusher, and a new “natural black” shade of gel eyeliner. The other items are repromotes from the permanent line.
I dragged a co-worker out to dinner with me after work on Friday evening purely to avoid staying home and falling asleep early due to jet lag. We went by the local Banila Co counter and took a look in person at the Gossip Girl collection. The only thing that caught my eye and ended in a purchase was the palette and this only for the packaging. I love the overlapping dot pattern on the case although again puzzled as to the Gossip Girl connection. If anything, Gossip Girl is known for kick-starting the big bow trend as seen on the character of Blair Waldorf rather than dots.
The case is lovely, and has a smooth satin metallic finish. It’s the same size and type as the previous Banila Co. palettes released with the Loveholic and Glam collections. (See end of this post for more pictures of these). Inside is a blusher, and three eyeshadow shades.
From the website images, it looked like the powders inside had a pink dot pattern overlay on the surface of the product. However I was a little bit disappointed to see that it was just a protective plastic cover resting on top of the product.
The blusher is a pale pink shimmer, low pigment, with a smooth texture. The eyeshadows are medium pigmented with a smooth texture. The first shade is a shimmer frost white, the second a cool-toned shimmer taupe brown and the third an icing-sugar pink frost.
There is a brush included rather than a sponge tip applicator which is a nice touch, although it isn’t great quality. Overall, this palette isn’t worth getting if you have similar shades already. I really only bought it for the cute packaging and i may be developing a little bit of a Banila Co palette collecting habit (help!).
Overall rating: 2 out of 5.
Here are some pictures and swatches of 2 previous Banila co eyeshadow palettes from the Loveholic collection and Glam collection.
I won’t review these but will instead direct you to the fantastic reviews done by Lotuspalace on these on her blog.
Both these palettes are still readily available at Banila Co counters. Of the two, I really love the dark smokey eyes Glam palette and here is a little eye look that I did featuring some of the shades.
There is another palette from the “De La couture” collection, which I don’t have as it sadly sold out very quickly, which features a selection of lovely taupes and browns. See more at Lotuspalace.
Chapter 3: it was meant to be
So I have the beginnings of a small Laneige eyeshadow collection. I had a few lovely e/s singles and a couple of new palettes I could play around with. So far, so good. What happened next I couldn’t have predicted and is just one of those things I have put down to sheer luck.
I met a friend for a film and dinner in Seoul. After dinner, we walked to the subway station, which is one of many in Korea which has an adjoining huge underground shopping mall. We weren’t out to go shopping, I promise (!), but we were walking past anyway so we stopped and browsed. We walked past an Aritaum, which is a cosmetic chain shop in Korea, selling amongst other things, Laneige. I dragged my friend in to show her the palettes and e/s singles I had just bought. Walking to the Laneige stand, I spied something that probably only the eye of a beauty junkie could spot or take notice of. It was a Laneige palette tester, not of the new Spring 09 palettes but of a past one.
I practically sprinted to the stand, probably knocking over people on my way (I didn’t stop to check). The palette was gorgeous: it was a blusher palette and had a beautiful holographic snowflake illustration on the front. Practically hyperventilating, I asked the manager of the shop if she had the palette in stock. She looked very apologetic and said that it was sold out, from an old collection and that the tester had been put out by accident. She tried to show me the palettes from the new collection instead.
I explained that I was a collector (yes, in the minute that had passed from spotting the palette, I had gone from Laneige palette admirer to collector – truly the behaviour of an addict) and asked whether she would sell me the tester. To her credit she didn’t look at me like I was a madwoman, but simply smiled and said she would… and then asked me to wait for a second. She went back to the stand, got some things from a hidden drawer and came back to the counter. She had a handful of palettes in her hand. They were testers of older Laneige palettes, all in really good condition. She explained that she had held onto them as they were all new or in good condition, but had been about to throw them out.
It was fate. It was the beauty equivalent of a fashionista finding a vintage Hermes Birkin bag in a thrift store or a bottle of vintage Coty Chypre at a garage sale. It’s THAT moment where you find hidden treasure, completely by chance, when you’re least expecting it and not even looking for it. The shop owner sold me the 5 palettes for 25000won and threw in a bunch of freebies and samples. An absolute bargain as new, one palette costs 35000won.
The discovery of the palettes for housing single eyeshadows, this random finding of a trove of past palettes, it all just seems so timely! I don’t usually believe in fate but there’s definitely something bigger than just luck happening here. I’m convinced.
Here’s one I made earlier! This is a neutral palette I’ve made up from my Laneige shadow collection.
Oh, and ANOTHER thing, the products in the palettes are beautiful too. The two top products, the powder and striped blusher were brand new testers so safe to use. The bottom three, I sanitised by spraying with alcohol and then removed the top layer of powder with sellotape and I’m happy to use them. I tossed the applicators (which I never use anyway). As testers they didn’t come with the original boxes, but I won’t be losing any sleep over that.
Benefit holds a special place in the heart of many beauty addicts. If you like girly, cute, silly things, chances are you’re gonna love Benefit cosmetics. Here in Korea you get your purchases in this cute little paper bag which reminds me of the bags that I used to buy Sherbet Lemons in as a child. What treats await in this little bag……
I have always wanted to buy a Benefit boxed powder but up till now there haven’t been any that I could really justify buying. I’ve tried Georgia, Thrrrob, and Dandelion on my skin but they’re too pale and don’t show up or look chalky on me. I think Hoola is great but I don’t really use bronzing powders unless it’s for contouring. I really love the cute artwork on these boxes.
Inside the boxes, the brushes nestle on a clear plastic tray above the powder. I probably won’t ever use the brushes for application as I don’t like the flat wedge shape for cheek colour application. I prefer to use my own blusher brush but I’ll keep them as they might be useful for pressed powder application in my make-up bag for touch ups on the go.
Coralista is a beautiful peachy pink with slight shimmer which gives a pretty flushed look to my medium asian skintone. I really love this shade for a natural day time look with a clear gloss look. The shimmer is subtle but I do avoid wearing a separate highlighter with this as I’m not a fan of OTT shimmer. Just the Coralista is enough for a daytime cheek.
Dallas is a plum/brown shade. It looks very brown in the swatch here but in real life it’s a little pinker. I would definitely say that on me it’s a blusher, not a bronzer. Like Coralista, Dallas has a subtle shimmer and I usually wear it without highlighter during the day.
Pigmentation for both powders is medium so it looks subtle when first sweeped on and then can be built up.
I really love both these powders and am delighted to finally be able to join in the Benefit box powder club. I love the cute packaging but the cardboard packaging would be a problem if you carried this around on a daily basis as it would take a bashing. I’ve seen some horrific looking Hoola powders in people’s make-up bags which look like they belong in the bin. I don’t carry blusher with me so shouldn’t be a problem for me.
One thing to note is that powder is quite loose so after brushing there’s quie a bit of loose powder left in the box. The high edges of the box around the pan contain this so you won’t waste it but if you carried this around I would imagine the loose powder would get messy.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5. Definite repurchase for me… if I ever hit pan (doubt it)
Side note: I was happy to see the Benefit catalogue translated into Korean. I used to collect and hoard these when I was younger and couldn’t afford a lot of Benefit. As a brand I think Benefit’s
strategy is all about its marketing. Even before the brand was part of LVMH the cute names and innovative product strategy was in place and it’s been hugely successful. Benefit debuted in the UK in the 90s as a high end cult brand in Harrods and Space NK but now they’re in Boots, Debenhams and high street department stores around the country. My review today was positive but I also think a lot of Benefit’s products are absolute crap, not living up to their own hype. Ooh La Lift, Lip Plump, Smooch, Dr Feelgood, to name a few, are complete stinkers but still sell due to the great names and cute hype.
Their sales staff are also terrifying… they’re told to “traffic stop” which literally means stopping customers in their tracks and forcing products on them. Some of their sales staff… well let’s just say they REALLY love their bronzer and are not afraid to pile it on with a spatula.