28 Sep 2013

Review: Etude House Surprise Essence Concealer

Ever since my mom introduced me to Yardley's Oatmeal concealer stick when I was in my teens, I've never looked back. Concealer is one of those life-saver makeup items that I can't go without. Dark circles, blemishes and dark skin pigmentation are easily and effortlessly camouflaged when concealer is used correctly.

I've only ever used the 'cover stick' type, but they're really thick and as such have been making my skin look a little flaky in my dry areas lately- so I decided to try out a liquid concealer instead. I got the Etude House Surprise Essence Concealer for KRW5 000 ($5) in store. I got the #1 Light Beige- the other shade it comes in, is #2 Natural Beige.

The concealer has a cute wand applicator, but I prefer to put some on the back of my *clean* hand instead of using it on my face, as this is a bit more hygienic. I apply concealer after my BB cream or foundation with my finger and rather than rubbing, I pat around the blemish and blend the colour outwards, avoiding the actual blemish. This prevents the concealer from being rubbed off the blemish.

This concealer has been fairly effective in covering blemishes without causing that crusty, flaky look. This is thanks to the lovely, creamy texture. By itself, it doesn't last very long before coming off, but when I apply a bit of compact powder, it keeps the blemish covered much longer. The biggest downside to this product is that it doesn't have nearly enough coverage to hide the side-effects of my sleep-deprived Korean lifestyle, i.e. my ugly dark circles. While it is much thicker than foundation, it is too sheer and lacks the proper pigments to hide dark circles, but considering how cheap it is, I can't expect it to perform miracles either.


27 Sep 2013

Double Review: Etude House Perfect Brow Kit & Drawing Eye Brow Pencil

In my makeup routine I probably spend more time on my eyebrows than any other facial feature. Why? Because eyebrows are one of the most distinctive features that make up your face! People pay a lot of attention to them and they can instantly freshen up your appearance and make you more attractive if they're groomed and maintained properly. They're also one of the hardest areas to perfect (for me) as my face isn't perfectly symmetrical and I have to be very careful to fill them out nice and evenly.

I'm not one of those girls who has been blessed with naturally gorgeous eyebrows. In fact, mine are pretty sparse and most of the hair grows around the ideal brow area instead of in it, which means I have to groom frequently but also fill out my brows with makeup. Until recently I had been dying my hair several shades darker than my natural medium brown hair colour, so I had to make sure to darken my brows so that they wouldn't disappear on my face. I'm currently growing out my natural colour and have already started to do my brows a bit lighter. This, however, meant I needed to get some new colours to fill my brows, so I visited my go-to cosmetics store, Etude House, and purchased their Perfect Brow Kit.

I've been using their Drawing Eye Brow pencil for years now and I love it. At KRW2 500 ($2.50) it's super cheap and applies like a dream. Its staying power is also amazing and it never smudges- I can rub on it slightly and it still stays in place. There are six shades ranging from browns to grey to black. I now use this pencil in conjunction with the brow kit.

It's my first time using any sort of eyebrow grooming kit, so I really didn't know what to expect. The Perfect Brow Kit comes in a slim, mirrored compact and contains 2 brow colours (light brown and dark brown) and a highlighter (to be applied on brow bones for nice definition). It also comes with a spooley brush, as well as a double-sided brush with an angled brow brush on one end, and a wide brush on the other. The brushes aren't great quality and I find it hard to work with miniature brushes anyway, so I just use my normal brow brush to apply the colour. The result is really natural looking brows that are beautifully defined and filled out. If you have thick eyebrows, this kit by itself will be sufficient enough to fill any gaps, but for ladies like me, the pencil comes in handy to give that extra bit of fullness. 

I've never been this satisfied with my eyebrows and can happily recommend both the Drawing Eye Brow pencil and the Perfect Brow Kit. The kit cost only KRW9 000 ($9) and I'm guessing it would last me about 6 months before I have to repurchase- and I'm definitely repurchasing!


26 Sep 2013

Review: Mizon All In One Snail Repair Cream

Snail slime has become all the rage in recent years and I must admit when I first heard about it I was like, "Eew. Never." But when I started having problems with my skin due to fluctuating hormones I was desperate to get a quick fix and apparently snail mucus is the miracle cure-all for skin issues.

So about 3 months ago I saw that the Mizon All In One Snail Repair Cream was on 50% sale for W19 000 (about $19) online and decided to take the plunge. The claims are that snail mucus (derived from your garden variety fellas) cures acne, dry skin, oily skin, aging skin, tired skin, reduces pore size, brightens skin, evens out skin tone, reduces redness...you get the picture. As you can imagine I was quite excited to try out this miracle in a jar, but I was also curious as to how it would look and feel. I expected something slimy, like algae growing at the bottom of a pond and sticky like diluted syrup, but was pleasantly surprised when it arrived and I tried it for the first time.

Let me just say off the bat that this is not a moisturiser by any means. It should be applied before your regular moisturiser as it acts more like a serum or emulsion. The texture is like silky water at first and then quickly absorbs into skin and leaves no residue. I sometimes apply it after my moisturiser before putting on my BB cream or foundation in the morning as it's very effective in controlling my oily areas. Also, I was expecting a bad breakout after stopping the pill (I've gotten pretty bad breakouts in the past after stopping) but since using the snail cream I've only had tiny blemishes that disappear after a day or two and any redness or inflammation is gone the next morning after using my cream at night. My skin is also more even and I've also noticed a definite reduction in redness. As for the age reversing properties  and pore size reduction, I haven't noticed any differences, but if you have combination skin that breaks out or red, blotchy skin, I highly recommend trying this out.

Another little benefit I've found with this product is when applied to scratches and sores, it helps them heal faster and prevents scarring. All in all it's a product that really works for me and I can highly recommend if your skin needs some TLC. I don't think I'll pay the full retail price of W39 000 (about $39), but thankfully they always have sales online, so I can get my snail slime fix whenever I run out.


24 Sep 2013

Natural Hair Build-Up Remover

Many foreigners living in Korea complain about the drying and damaging effects of the hard and very chlorinated water on their hair and skin. My hair's been shedding more than usual and my scalp is very dry and sensitive and after trying several shampoos (ranging from grocery store brands to high-end salon shampoos that cost me a fortune to import) I was at my wits end, until I tried the following rinse that's been circulating around the web:

Bicarbonate of Soda (aka baking soda)
Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar (for dark hair)
White Vinegar (for blonde hair)
Lemon Juice
Clarifying or chelating shampoo
Bottled Water

Use a small plastic bowl and mix 3 teaspoons of shampoo (I use Joico K-PAK Chelating Shampoo) and about 4-5 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda before getting into the shower. If you have long or very thick hair, you can double the mixture.

When you're in the shower, wet your hair and lather the bicarbonate of soda mix from root to tip. Leave in for about 5 mins. then rinse thoroughly. Next, add about 30ml (1 oz) of vinegar and a few drops of lemon juice to 500ml (17 oz) bottled water and pour it over your hair making sure it covers all the hair. (TIP 1: Tilt head back and close your eyes as it can sting quite a bit! TIP 2: You can add a few drops of tea tree oil to this rinse- it has many good therapeutic properties.)  Vinegar is great for your hair: it balances the hair and scalp pH, closes hair cuticles and helps alleviate dry scalp, dandruff, hair loss and removes build-up! If you have oily hair, don't bother with a conditioner as the vinegar will make your hair nice and soft, but if you have very dry hair you can use a light conditioner on the ends. Lastly, dry hair with a hairdryer. The vinegar smell will disappear as soon as your hair is dry.
This really made my hair feel light, bouncy and super shiny. I wouldn't recommend doing this too often though, as it can dry out your hair. Once a week or every other week should be fine!

22 Sep 2013

Review: Etude House Precious Mineral BB Cream Bright Fit

Let me start off by saying I'm a huge fan of Etude House. So much so, that about 70 percent of my makeup drawer consists of this cosmetics brand. Their products are affordable without sacrificing quality, so it's not hard to see why it's become one of the most popular cosmetics houses in South Korea and other Asian countries including the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan.

Because of this, I've decided to dedicate my first review to one of their most popular products: the Precious Mineral BB Cream Bright Fit. Although it's been on the market for a good while now, I only bought this BB cream for the first time this year. There are two different BB creams in this range: the Bright Fit and the Cotton Fit. The Bright Fit is supposed to give a dewy, bright finish whilst the Cotton Fit gives a matte finish. I prefer the dewy look, so I decided to try this one and at KRW14 000 (about $14) for 60g it's a steal.

I'll be honest, I had very high hopes and expectations for Etude's most popular BB cream as many ladies swear by it. However, after using it I felt a little disappointed. Firstly, the color is a bit too dark for my complexion- which is my own fault for not testing it before purchasing. There are four shades available: #1 Light Beige, #2 Natural Beige, #3 Honey Beige, #4 Sand Beige. I got the Natural Beige as it's the shade I've been using in their Total Age Repair BB Cream (one of my favourites which I'll be reviewing soon!) so be careful to assume that you'll be the same shade in every Etude House BB cream.

While applying this BB cream I could feel that it is much heavier than my usual BB creams. It almost felt like I had applied SPF lotion to my skin as it has a bit of a sticky texture. I prefer light to medium coverage, so it was a little too heavy on my skin for my liking, but if you like more coverage I think you'll like it. Since going off the birth control pill my skin has been really volatile and as a result my skin is very oily and dry at the same time and the heaviness of this BB cream causes a flaky appearance in my dry areas and exacerbates the oiliness- especially in the hot, humid Korean summer. My skin also erupted slightly and felt a little itchy after a day's wear, so the ingredients are obviously too harsh for me. I'm always in search of a foundation that gives a glowy finish, but that still manages to control the oil and doesn't rest in my laughing creases and wrinkles, but unfortunately this BB cream fell short in all of the above.

Etude House claims that this BB cream is "Whitening, Anti-Wrinkle and Anti-Darkening" and with an SPF30 I won't refute that your skin won't get darker (aka tanned), but as for its age reversing properties I cannot speak as I didn't use it long enough.



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