Konglish Beauty


Posted in Offtopic, personal by konglishbeauty on July 30, 2010

Bottled Water
Via: Term Life Insurance

The above shows something close to my heart…. and I guess it’s kinda related to beauty. Here in Korea no-one ever drinks tap water. Why???? Korean tap water is perfectly clean, healthy and safe to drink. Yet there’s an outcry if I happen to try and drink it. People rush up to me with reasons why I shouldn’t. It’s nonsense. True, it’s not the best tasting and if I have a choice I’ll go for filtered water (there are carbon filtration systems in lots of homes and workplaces in Korea) but I’ve no problem drinking tap to stay hydrated. Rather than running around trying to save the environment in weird and wacky gimmicky ways why not start by simply saying no to expensive, overpriced and unnecesary bottled water?

On the other hand, Korea has got the amount of water it drinks right. There’s none of this fallacy here that drinking litres and litres of water will magically help keep your skin clear and make you slim. There’s this weird hysteria in the UK that people aren’t drinking enough water and our health is suffering as a result. People pledge to drink three litres a day minimum and will lug around 1.5 litre bottles in their bags saying that it reminds them to drink it throughout the day, as if it’s an unpleasant but necessary medicine or health tonic. What rubbish. Drink water when you’re thirsty. It’s like breathing and for most of us it’s something that comes naturally and we shouldn’t bother thinking about. I’m not going to add it to a list of things I should worry about getting a minimum daily amount of. Drinking lots of water won’t make you slim, it’ll just make you visit the bathroom more frequently. Eating less food will make you slim (thank me later). Frankly I think people cling to idea that overdrinking water is something helpful you can do for your health as it’s easier than say, avoiding junk food and going for a walk rather than a pie.

To those who say drinking lots of water will flush out toxins….. if I had my way, I’d ban the word “toxins” from any discussion about health and beauty. If you’re trying to refer to something which is bad for your health and beauty, be specific and knowledgable and name the substance. Otherwise shut the hell up. Toxin is a vague and unhelpful term that pseudo-science hides behind to market whichever snake oil or quack procedure they’re promoting this season. If you really have a poison problem then you need to get yourself to a medical doctor – chugging a bottle of Evian’s not going to cut it.


It’s my birthday and I’ll boast if I want to

Posted in Birthday presents, freebies, Hello Kitty, lipgloss, Offtopic, personal, Thierry Mugler, YouTube by konglishbeauty on July 12, 2010

What’s better than a birthday present ?

A load of birthday presents. Thanks BFF2, you’re a LEGEND for knowing what a greedy cow I am. None of this “less is more” crap for me. MINE… ALL MINE.


B-day presents… the lost joy of postal packages

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.

Review: Etude House Proof 10 Henna Fix Mascara

Posted in Etude House, Korean brands, mascara, Offtopic, review by konglishbeauty on July 9, 2010

Etude House has signed up the gorgeous girl band 2NE1 to shill for them this summer. There is a small summer collection of products available with special packaging showing the girls’ lovely mugs. The range is focused on longwearing products and is a repromote of some existing products (like the Code B gel eyeliners), some limited edition colour updates (Proof 10 Waterproof retractable eye pencils in gold, silver, aqua and glittery black) and the main point of my post, a new long-wearing mascara.

“Proof 10” is the name that Etude House gives to its waterproof long-wearing products and was actually introduced in a more extensive range last year. They stand up to their claims: whilst they might not survive a long strenuous swim in the sea, they’ll hold up through Korea’s heat and humidity and won’t run leaving big black marks around your eyes.

I really like this mascara and it’s the first truly good Etude House mascara I’ve tried. The others by the brand have been pretty miss for me overall. Individually they were good at lengthening, or thickening but I hadn’t come across an all-round great mascara which I was happy to use consistently. Etude House have introduced and discontinued quite a few different new mascaras in the past couple of years which seems to me to be a sign that none of them were spectacular.

I don’t really understand the “Henna” part of the title. Henna isn’t known for being particularly black…. sounds like a gimmick to me.

Good things first…

+ points:

  • Great lasting power, no smudging, flaking or running throughout the day.
  • Comes off fairly easily with eye make-up remover or cleansing oil. It’s no tube mascara but I didn’t have to rub vigorously or chip away at it to get it off at the end of the day.
  • Medium thickening formula which plumps up lashes.
  • No clumping. Layering more than 3 coats will start to gunk things up but a reasonable 2 coats is enough to get a lovely dramatic thick look without any clumps.
  • Great brush. It has a spiral design which looks a lot like the DiorShow Extase brush although I don’t have Extase so I couldn’t tell you if it’s an exact dupe. In any case, the brush is full enough to comb through nicely but the shallower grooves within the spiral holds a good amount of product.
  • Dark black formula

– points:

  • Not *quite* as thickening as I’d like for an evening look. I’d still reach for another more dramatic mascara for really bold or colourful eye looks.
  • Doesn’t hold a curl that well (although it doesn’t straighten them out either).
  • It starts to dry out after a month. I tossed mine after 8 weeks use as it got too dry for my liking. Seeing as I’ve a pile of other mascaras I’d like to try that’s no big deal breaker for me but it doesn’t show great value for money.
  • I like the brush but you’d really have to try it to see if it’s right for you… and the only way you’d get to do that is by buying the thing!
  • Expensive for an Etude House mascara 12,000원. I think it’s worth it though.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5. Definitely give this one a try. I’d even repurchase, not something I’ve ever said about an Etude House mascara before.

The 2NE1 special packaging and promo is temporary thing. You’ll notice that the packaging with the girls’ images are actually slip cover sleeves which slide on and off which makes me think that at some point they will be removed, so if you’re after the 2NE1 packaging I’d buy sooner rather than later.

I’m not known for being a huge fan of K-Pop (alright so I hate a lot of it!) but I do like 2NE1 for their style and image which is much more up my street than the simpering sweetness of Girl’s Generation. I think 2NE1’s management are missing a trick by not getting them over to London to do gigs at some gay nights and courting them to the fashion mags. (Jeremy Scott’s said to be a fan.) I thought “Lollipop” was a bad song but I love “Fire” especially the two different videos – a great way to get double airplay on the music channels.

Japanese Drugstore mini haul

This is another very belated haul pic post from months ago when I went on my first ever visit to Japan! As there were many more important things to be done than shopping (lounging around in hot springs and lots of eating) I only managed a 10 minute visit to a drugstore but had enough time to pick up some things that I’d read about and had been lemming… namely Majolica Majorca and Kate eyeshadows and some mascaras.

Also I couldn’t resist these KitKats in off-beat flavours: Green Tea & Yuzu, and Sweet Potato. I’m not a chocolate purist so I enjoyed these a lot 🙂

Random haul pictures….

Posted in fashion, haul, Offtopic, personal by konglishbeauty on June 20, 2010

Non-makeup haul pictures…..Korea is the land of silly decorated socks. I don’t normally wear patterned socks but I picked up a few of these thermal warm socks because I sometimes wear them to bed to let my heavy foot cream moisturiser soak in. It’s definitely sandal time here so I’ve stepped up the footcare a notch. The gloves serve a similar purpose. I’m a compulsive hand washer and in the winter get cracked hands, hangnails and cuticles from dryness. I actually bought these back in January (I’m a leeeetle bit behind on posting on this blog…..) which explains the ear-muffs and leg warmers. Whilst ear-muffs might seem silly, the Korean winters are so bitingly cold that having arrived from relatively mild England, I was completely unprepared. In the beginning I tried hats but I have a massive head so any hat that fits squashes my hair down onto my head so I look like a …. I don’t know what but I look pretty stupid for the rest of the day. Ear-muffs keep my ears warm but also leave my hairdo in place.

Cupcakes: pretty on the outside, empty on the inside

Posted in Offtopic, personal by konglishbeauty on December 4, 2009

I don’t get the fuss with cupcakes. Or muffins. In England, they only became popular and widely available ten years ago and were an overflow of popular American culture, seen on shows like Friends, S&TC et al. All of a sudden we were eating cookies the size of dinner plates and drinking coffee from paper cups as big as Dolly Parton’s mammaries. American muffins to me are gargantuan fairy cakes, masquerading as something more wholesome. I’m not hating on them, really. What’s wrong with a giant fairy cake? But it’s the dressing up of something as something more cool and urban that I object to. (Brownies on the other hand…. I have a huge love for brownies).

To me, Cupcakes are giant fairy cakes with a heap of butter icing in bright colours. Again, not hating but why are they so big and so expensive?? What’s with all the hype? In London, they were all the rage with the fashion girls and the Hummingbird bakery was the name to drop.

Frankly, I’d much rather have Kiplings Iced fancies for my sugar and cake fix (greater ratio of icing to cake).

Libertylondongirl posted about an unfortunate customer service and packaging incident with some cupcakes a while ago. It immediately sprung to mind when I bought some cupcakes this week in Korea as it was the complete opposite experience to mine. Cupcakes are trendy here (blame the S&TC bandwagon) and a stall has recently opened in my local mall. Swayed by the bright colours and bakery smells wafting from the stall, my friend and I caved and forked over an extortionate amount of money for a couple of their yummiest sounding (red velvet, vanilla caramel) and took them home for tea and cakes.

Tasting them I remembered why I’m a stupid ditz for buying with my eyes rather than learned experiences or better judgement. They were dry, tasteless and pointless.

What I did want to highlight was the impeccable packaging. If you buy a cupcake to eat later, you want the icing and decoration to stay intact, not end up all squished and gooey in a paper bag (like LLG’s poor experience at Billy Bakery).

Our cupcakes came encased in their own plastic holders complete with domed protective lid to keep the icing intact until eating.
What’s more they were also nestled in plastic bags which were segmented to keep all the cupcakes upright in transit.

What a considerate, clever and perfect way to package what were the most rubbish tasting cakes I’ve ever had the misfortune to pay for.

Chanel No.5 Eau Premiere is like a virgin

Posted in Chanel, fragrance, Offtopic by konglishbeauty on December 3, 2009

I picked up this sample of Chanel No.5 Eau Premiere during a recent haul at my local counter as I’d been dying to test it out properly. It’s the first real tinker of Chanel No.5 that the house have done to my knowledge (not including ancillary products such as bath products). I’m lucky enough that my mother never wore Chanel No. 5 so it doesn’t hold any prior associations for me. It’s the best selling and most famous fragrance in the world and many people say they love it but won’t wear it because it reminds them of their mother/aunt/grandmother (insert all older relatives in here).

Each concentration of Chanel No. 5 smells different. I personally don’t like the Eau de Toilette: too sour and thin. I do love and wear the Eau de Parfum which is more floral and the Parfum is rich radiance in a bottle. I will splash out on an ounce of it one of these days (I’m nursing the dregs of a 1/4 ounce which I’ve eked out over a few years) and I dream of anointing myself head to toe in one of these 900ml bottles once in a blue never-gonna-happen. Chanel boasts about owning its own jasmine fields in Grasse but they don’t publicise the fact that the Parfum is the only strength which actually contains oil from these fields. Given the volume of No.5 it sells, those jasmine fields would take up the whole of Grasse if they put them in literally every bottle of No.5 around.

I was really bowled over by Eau Premiere which is a lovely glowing interpretation of No.5. The vanilla in the base adds a soft warmth to the experience and I’ve very much enjoyed using my sample in the nippy winter air. I shall add it to my “must buy” spreadsheet. Yes, my want list is so large and diverse that it needs the power of Excel to keep it in check.

Someone in the Chanel marketing department must have had a Madonna moment before sitting down in the Eau Premiere launch meeting because the front of my carded sample had this line on it……

Like a virgin. Touched for the very first time. Like a viiiiiiiiirgin, when your No.5 Eau de Toilette is sprayed next to my Eau Premiere.

Non beauty: winter necessities

Posted in Offtopic by konglishbeauty on November 23, 2009

It is COLD in Korea. I’m from the UK and whilst we bitch and moan a lot about the weather there, the winters are still relatively mild. It gets cold, windy and wet but temperature wise, it doesn’t drop below 0°c very often. A big comfy winter coat and scarf are usually enough to keep me warm. But in Korea, it’s the opposite. There is a lot of sunlight even in winter and the air is brisk and dry but it starts getting very cold from October and snow and freezing temperatures are normal. Luckily this year the onset of the big freeze has been late but I couldn’t deny last week that it was time to get the winter arsenal out.

There are the usual suspects: coats, hats, mittens, scarves. But as well as that, all other extremeties need to be protected as the cold air creeps into any gaps in clothing. Cue a shopping haul of accessories.

This is a thin lightweight wraparound scarf to wear inside a coat. Yes, sometimes I need two scarves, an inside one in addition to a think woolly outer scarf. Koreans call winter scarves a muffler, which is a Konglish term I believe. 6000won. Bargain.

These are leg warmers/arm cuffs. I need legwarmers here to keep wind from climbing up my ankles. These also double up as arm cuffs incase I’m working a shorter sleeve inside. The bows are detachable.

ULTRAlong legwarmers which come up to my knees with ample length to still scrunch.

Longer length fingerless gloves/arm cuffs. I discovered the value of these in London when the office I was working in at the time had crap heating. I was still able to type and protect my bare wrists from the cold glass desk I worked on. I bought pair in Korea last year and pretty much didn’t take them off during the whole of December and January.

Before I came to Korea, I only wore legwarmers or earmuffs as silly novelty accessories but I am now convinced of their worth as essential winter wear. I’ve also bought (for the first time in my life) a puffy padded winter jacket which makes me look like the offspring of a Smurfette and the Michelin Man. (It’s bright blue). In the UK I only ever wore puffa jackets when working on an outdoor shoot.

Shoewise, luckily my Adidas Superstar trainers are well insulated and I’m waiting for my international BFF courier friend to deliver my new winter boots this week. I also have lots of hats, although I’m battling hat-hair every day now. These kind of removable winter accessories are better in Korea than too much thermal underwear as the buildings are all well heated so you might find yourself coming in from the cold and dying of suffocating heat in a room.

Brrrrr. Winter’s well and truly here.

Rumours of Stila’s demise have been greatly exagerated

Posted in Offtopic, personal, Stila by konglishbeauty on September 28, 2009

A few months ago, the future looked bleak for Stila cosmetics. There was chatter all over Twitter that the brand was going into administration and was for the chopping block. Indeed, the website was down, the PR activity non-existent and customers waiting for orders were emailed to say that their orders might not be fulfilled. All the signs pointed to doom and gloom.

However a literal last minute reprieve came via Lynn Tilton of Patriarch Partners who swooped in and saved the brand, originally founded by Hollywood make-up artist to the red carpet Jeanine Lobell. Stila has had a bit of rocky history. It’s always been adorable and produced innovative and lust-worthy products from the LipGlaze lipgloss pens, to the make-up artist staple, Convertible cream cheek colours. It got loads of press and was one of the first brands to combine girly Eastern Kawaii values with whimsical luxury and make-up artist pro savvy. However it entered the market overpriced in comparison to its image and bounced in and out of retailers as sales fell once the new novelty factor wore off. Benefit suffered similar problems before it was bought out by LVMH. Hard Candy died a death (although it is soon to be revived albeit a shadow of its former self) and Urban Decay survived by the skin of its teeth and is growing slowly healthy again.

Estee Lauder bought Stila, all seemed good, Jeanine Lobell left to concentrate on being a mum and make-up artist again and things ticked along. Prices were lowered slightly and the brand expanded seemingly successfully globally. However, Estee Lauder soon drop-kicked the brand to Sun Captial Partners Inc who kept things ticking for a few years but with tough competition in a crowded market Stila didn’t thrive as it should have leading to the scare for make-up junkies last year.

Things seem good (from a consumer point of view anyway, I don’t know about the numbers) at the moment and Stila doesn’t seem to have suffered any consumer confidence. Make-up junkies are made of strong stuff and a financial scare doesn’t drive away customers. However, one of the announcements made at the time of Patriarch’s aquisition of the brand was that the brand was restructuring and pulling out of all international markets to concentrate on the USA for the time being. Boo hoo hoo.

I had just fallen back in love with Stila after a many year hiatus. In my previous job at a magazine, I tended to get make-up for free via PR companies and Stila had next to no-one looking after their PR so I overlooked the products for a long time as no news came my way in my busy schedule. After coming to Korea and having more spare time to indulge in hardcore cosmetics addction again, I started buying a few bits and pieces as my local department store carries a Stila counter with great make-up artists who pushed loads of great Stila-crack my way. Pinkiecharm on YouTube didn’t help with her raves either. Therefore I was rather sad to have my new found designer drug taken away so soon, especially as Stila seems to be selling rather well in Korea.

Well, almost 8 months later, there seems to be no sign of Stila leaving these shores. The counter’s still there, the girls on counter have heard no news about their jobs being in danger or the brand pulling out of Korea. Indeed I visited the newly expanded Hyundai department store in Shinchon a couple of weeks ago and there was a brand spanking new counter just opened in prime position in the new fashion make-up brands section on the ground floor. The great collections keep coming and I keep buying so for now all looks good. I shan’t lose sleep over Stila for the moment and I will go ahead and show you my new pretties from the latest collections which I have been salivating over.

I’ll hazard a delusional guess and say that Lynn Tilton and I are kindred spirits and she felt my misery and decided to leave be for the moment. Putting Stila aside, I’ve become intrigued by Ms Tilton and am rapidly becoming a fan of her style, and success. Any woman who can become a business leader whilst looking like a stripper obviously knows how to crush balls in the boardroom. Love her.