The K-beauty regime: Is it for you?

The K-beauty regime is such a big deal in East Asia. It’s also popular to a lesser extent in China (you can buy the products but people don’t necessarily use them all, and there’s fewer brands to choose from in China, but there are still a LOT of brands; it’s just a testament to how much of a big deal K-beauty is in Korea that they have the biggest selection of beauty products that I’ve ever seen in my life). One thing to note, though, is that China has its own beauty brands (usually with European-sounding names) and they don’t like to think of themselves as aficionados of K-beauty. In China, the exact same things are pretty much classed as Chinese beauty. ūüėČ

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There’s been a lot of online articles from western magazines and whatnot which are all like, “Korean women spend two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening on their beauty regime!!!” Honestly? While they sure spend time on it, with VISIBLE results, they also generally work very long hours (much longer than people do in the west) and so I’d say twenty minutes to half an hour, morning and evening, is probably more realistic, certainly on the days when I’ve done a full K-beauty regime. Sheet masks, of course, take 15-20 mins all by themselves, but you don’t do those daily; two to four times a week is more reasonable.

Why do they do it? Well, unlike in the west, K-beauty tends to focus on skincare. Get a good canvas, THEN correct flaws with makeup. It’s a much more natural look, and I really like the whole idea, I mean, depending how long you’ve been reading my blog, even before I came to Asia you may remember that most of my beauty articles were skincare related. Makeup? Eh. When I hit twenty-five, I started to feel like taking care of my skin was WAY more important. #realtalk #confessionsofabeautyblogger some days, I don’t even wear any makeup. Most days, I wear the bare minimum. But I never forget my skincare.

So, the FULL K-beauty routine goes like this (usually… there are some variations depending who you ask and what brands they use), starting from a completely cleansed face (you would use cleanser and whatnot first, if your face was dirty):

Essence goes on first. This is usually the most watery or thinnest consistency of product. If you’re ever in doubt about whether you’re using K-beauty properly, usually it goes from thinnest to thickest consistency of product. ūüėČ And at the end of the day, it’s no biggie if you get one or two steps back to front. I use this Soybean Firming Essence [light] from Innisfree; it’s about the same price in China as in the US, and I plan to review it at some point.

Serum goes on after essence. I use the Innisfree Soybean Energy Serum which TRAGICALLY you don’t seem to be able to get in America. It’s like my favorite thing so that’s very sad. I do also like the Innisfree Jeju Pomegranate Serum which you ALSO can’t get in the US. Sometimes around now I’ll use a moisture spray, too.

Then, you put on something called “skin” if you want, but I’ve never found one I especially loved and the consistency seems to vary between different ones, too, which makes me feel like I’m just washing off my serum and essence. Some K-beauty people call “skin” “toner” but where the west calls toner something you remove makeup with/clean your face with, K-beauty “toner” seems to mean something that improves the tone of your skin. I’m not sure if they mean color or firmness, but I’ve tried a few and none of them did either for me. I skip this step.

Next comes moisturizer or lotion. Some brands call it one, some call it the other. I would usually use one with an SPF, but if it’s a day when I’m not going outside, I’ll use one with other properties instead. My favorite non-SPF is the Innisfree Green Tea balancing cream. My favorite SPF is the Clio Kill Cover SPF 50 but you can’t get that in the US. My second favorite (better for oily skin as it has a matte finish, so with my normal skin, I use it on top of another moisturizer like the Innisfree one, above) is the Etude House Sunprise SPF32 (the US one is SPF50 and reviews claim it’s better for dry skin so maybe that’s a slightly different product to the one I have).

Now you put on your base (or primer, or veil… some people use veil and base, I personally feel they’re interchangable). I have some nice ones of these, and the K-beauty ones all seem to be good for color-correcting, especially if you have dark circles under your eyes. My favorites are the Etude House baby choux because I wear it on its own for color correction and it’s fabulous (I will review this, too, soon) and the Cle De Peau Correcting Creme Veil which I also wear on its own sometimes, without any other makeup on top. It is a French brand but, like many western cosmetics companies, they have a completely different line of (arguably better) products for the Chinese and Korean market, because they have to compete against homegrown Asian products that are really good. And HOLY MACARONI I had no IDEA how much that Cle De Peau one cost as I got it as a thank-you gift, as part of a big set of Cle De Peau cosmetics from a first-grader’s mom after I taught her daughter English. It’s sooooo good though. If all expensive cosmetics are that good, I can totally see why Kim Kardashian looks so good, even if we ignore the surgery and personal trainer sessions.

After primer, you add either BB cream, cushion, or what-have-you (whatever you use for foundation). I was using the Innisfree cushion but I’ve just ran out, so last week I bought the Clio Kill Professional one. I like cushion makeup (it’s like pressed powder but wet… I can’t explain it), because it’s quick to apply, but when I have time, I prefer BB cream applied with a beauty blender (or a 20-cent Chinese knock-off… $10 for a sponge?? Nope) as it’s more nourishing and I think it looks more natural on my face. I haven’t used western foundation since I got to China because it’s complete garbage compared to the stuff here, and SO bad for my skin. All the redness I’ve had, and which I’ve seen pretty much every western beauty vlogger seems to have before they apply their makeup, has vanished since I stopped using western foundation; I think there’s something badly wrong with it. Unless you have deeply tanned skin, Asian foundations are way better.

After that, you do the rest of your make-up; blush, eyeshadow, lipstick, brows.

Lastly, dust with some finishing powder and you’re good to go. And if you feel dry during the course of the day? Don’t be afraid to mist your face with moisturizing spray in public. Seriously, people do this SO OFTEN at coffee shops in Korea. I just got the LaNeige Water Bank Mist last week and I really love it. It’s so much fun, and quick and easy to use, although I’m lazy and only use it about once a day.

HOWEVER, there’s a huge difference between what I know I *should* do and what I actually do. I feel dowdy just thinking about the fact that some people are doing all of this every day. They will look like Zsa Zsa Gabor when they’re 80, and I’ll look like Sir Ian McKellen. I know I should do all this, but it’s so much effort and when I was working full-time I didn’t have time. Anyway, I tend to go along with how my skin feels, and a lot of the time, I don’t feel like I need to use all of that stuff.

So instead, usually I go:

Essence,

Serum,

Moisturizer/moisturizing suncream. I put all those on my face AND neck, because I feel like my neck needs more love than my body lotion can give it. If I get too much product on my hands, I also rub it into the backs of my hands and I’ve noticed the difference in my hand skin since I started doing that, but I still can’t bring myself to regularly use hand cream, it just isn’t me.

If I feel red or washed out I add one of the choux base veils I mentioned.

Then, unless I’m going out somewhere nice or Youtubing, I usually just sort my brows out, throw on some lipstick (my current favorites are Bobbi Brown or Elizabeth Arden… because I know where I left those) and get on with finding where I left my shoes and whether I have any hair elastics.

Then I am ready to face the day.

I’m a soccer mom waiting to happen.

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How moist. Spray on Moisturizer review + roundup.

Today I want to talk about spray-on lotion moisturizers, because moisturizing lotion is important.

I bought three recently, because I wanted to know whether Vaseline Spray and Go was really the best one out there, since a few others have recently been released.

spray on lotion

Up for test are:

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Rapid Moisture Spray $12 (I bought for ¬£1.99 in a discount store)

Balance Active Formula Nourishing Spray Body Lotion (that links to UK Amazon Рnot available in the US) РI bought for £1.00 in a discount store.

Hydrate and Go Body Moisturiser Spray – I bought for 49p from a discount store, apparently not available on Amazon.

And they’re all being compared to my current favorite:
Vaseline Spray and Go Cocoa Radiant $6.20

First let me start by saying this whole experiment has proved how much I love the Vaseline Spray and Go in Cocoa Radiant.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Spray Lotion:
The Palmer’s Cocoa Butter spray smelled similar to my usual Vaseline one, and I did like it after it rubbed into my skin, here’s a before and after:

spray on lotion
Before
spray on lotion
After

The only issue I had, which reviewers have commented on, was that the spray top didn’t work very well so it was very difficult to dispense product. Normally with spray lotion, I have a problem doing my right arm – because I have to use the hand that’s covered in lotion (from rubbing it in while I sprayed with the other hand) to spray the bottle. With the Palmers one, it was actually impossible to get the spray nozzle to press down with my lotion hand. It was too stiff and the bottle became too slippery. Aside from that, I liked it though, and if I saw it at ¬£1.99 again, I’d buy it, but I’d never pay $12 for it!

Pro’s:
Silky soft skin afterwards
Smelled really nice
Nice thickness
No sticky residue

 

Con’s:
Sprayer didn’t work very well and I felt like I was fighting it a lot.

Balance Active:
The Balance Active one was less pleasant to smell – it smelled like that talcum powder that middle aged women used to use when I was younger, and deodorants with names like “Mum” or “Sanex” when they all smelled the same as each other. The spray also had issues – the actual sprayer seemed to work ok, the main problem was that the lotion separated when it was sprayed, so in the middle there was a white streak, and round the outside was watery colorless stuff. It looked a bit dodgy, if I’m honest, and I wouldn’t want to share photos of that as they’d get mistaken for jizz. Having gotten past that to actually putting the product on my skin, I found that it was moderately moisturizing but a bit too watery to replace normal lotion. It wasn’t sticky, but it didn’t leave my skin feeling as silky as the Palmer’s or my usual Vaseline spray lotions. I did find because the lotion separates when sprayed that it sprayed my carpet and furniture a lot more than my actual legs, so I was spraying it into my hand to rub in, instead of directly on my body, by about day 3. Here’s a before and after on the other leg to the one I did with the Palmer’s (above):

spray on lotion
Before
spray on lotion
After

Pro’s:
It was very cheap when I bought it.
It did moisturize my skin a bit.

Con’s:
It left my skin feeling dry again 12 hours later.
I didn’t see anything to substantiate the “anti-ageing” claims on the bottle.
The bottle’s too bulky for gym or travel use.
The lotion separates when it’s sprayed. This makes it difficult to aim.

Hydrate and Go:
The “Hydrate and Go” one looks like a Vaseline Spray and Go dupe. But it isn’t. I would say it was the worst of the four spray lotions I have tried. Like one or two other things that boast a “non-greasy formula,” this Hydrate and Go was sticky, leaving my skin feeling like I might not want to go outside in case wasps got confused and thought I was a can of coke. It was that bad. I actually had to go shower again after using this, then use my Victoria’s Secret (non-spray) Love Spell lotion to get rid of the sticky feeling. I hate stickiness. I wouldn’t buy it again. In fact, from the dust on the lid, you can see that I never used it again after the first use, and I only kept hold of it until now so I could show you a photo for this article. I don’t have any before or after shots for this one because I just wanted it off my skin.

Pro’s:
It didn’t cause me to catch on fire or get AIDS.

Con’s:
Everything else you can think of.

Vaseline Spray and Go:
I like the way it sprays, it’s a bit thinner than a normal moisturizer but it’s good for when I’m in a hurry. It’s a little bit bulky but nowhere near as bad as the Palmer’s or the Balance Active. It smells nice and is non-sticky. I only really looked for another one because it’s quite expensive to buy this in the UK compared to the prices I paid for the other three. However, I now know it’s also better than the other ones.

Pro’s:
Smells nice
Non sticky
Moisturizing

Con’s:
Expensive.

Conclusion:

I will be using the Palmer’s until it’s empty (if I can get all the product out with that dodgy sprayer) because I really like it aside from the sprayer issues, then I’ll buy more of the Vaseline Spray and Go. It’s the original, and it’s the best of all the ones I tried because it just works.

Have you tried any of these? What did you think of them?

Skincare: 6 Ways Cosplayers Can Get Picture Perfect Skin

Good skincare is critically important, and this is the WORST time of year for skin maintenance due to a bunch of stuff, so I wanted to talk about how to get your skin looking fabulous, especially since I’ve been ill October through December and need to get back into my full skincare routine. If your skin is already fabulous, you may want to skip this post.

I recently saw a cosplay pic that I cannot show you because it’s to do with a secret project that my husband cannot know about yet. Now there’s more chance of hell freezing over than of him actually reading my blog, but just on the off-chance that he accidentally lands here on an internet search, I’m not going to tell you what the costume was. Let’s just imagine it was a Jessica Rabbit costume cosplay.
All you need to know was that, through the side of the amazingly detailed and accurate dress, there was one very miserable looking, red, pimply, washed out leg poking through what should have been a revealing and sexy split.

It got me thinking that perhaps, when people are doing a cosplay, when someone’s taken the time, expense and effort to make a costume of a well-known character FROM SCRATCH, perhaps buying a ¬£5 pot of skin lotion, drinking a glass of water and fixing their¬†skin wouldn’t go amiss.

*OK, I’m sold, how can I sort my skin out so it looks awesome with my costume and hair?*

1. Get some moisturizer. There’s loads of expensive ones out there, but anything’s better than nothing. There’s myths about parabens, BPA and silocones if you want to buy into scaremongering (literally, it costs a fortune to avoid these;¬†don’t waste your time or cash), if not, go for something cheap that smells nice. You are going to moisturize every time you have a shower.

2. Does this costume show your bare legs? Do some leg toning exercises! Cassey Ho has some fabulous leg toning workouts at Blogilates that don’t require any equipment. I have been using her workouts now for over 2 years and they’re a fast way to get into shape for anything where you need to look your best. Exercise tends to make all of you look good for a variety of reasons.

3. Eat well. More fruit, more vegetables (think half the plate), more protein (to make new skin cells), less crap. Look for foods rich in vitamin K such as kale and broccoli, which will get rid of redness under the skin, as well as foods with vitamin E which stimulates glowing, healthy skin (and eat your vitamin E foods such as avocado about 4 hours apart from the vitamin K foods, otherwise they compete for absorption which is why multivitamins containing both E and K are a waste of time).

4. Exfoliate. This removes the dead skin cells so the newer, nicer ones can shine out, and according to Elle MacPherson it’s the best way to stay looking young well into your 50’s.

5. If all else fails, use fake tan (or gradual tanner, AVOID THESE IF IT’S A WHITE COSTUME), foundation for your face, and dance tights. You might want those last two anyway, especially if you’re cosplaying a caucasian character from before the 1990s or anyone from any musical, as they almost all wear Capezio dance tights in the shade ‘light suntan’ or ‘suntan’ (I’ve worked in the ents industry in various jobs, the Capezio tights are industry standard).

6. Make sure you get enough sleep, drink enough water: These two make everyone roll their eyes but it’s true! You may need to do these both long-term if you need to fix chronic dehydration and sleep loss, so an extra pint today will help you in the long run, but it’s not a quick fix, it’s a lifestyle habit. If you have chronic insomnia, do what you can and focus on everything else.

Barring acne or infections (which require treatment from a doctor or dermatologist), if you want movie-star beautiful skin all year round, rather than for a one-off event, do those 6 things all the time. If you want your skin to look shit, do the opposite for many many years then complain a lot about how some people are just blessed with good skin.

If you want to make this a year-round goal, to really get your skin looking fabulous, make some time to sunbathe for a few hours a week during summer (less for your face, as too much sunbathing causes premature ageing), as a bit of sun will stimulate your vitamin D synthesis, melanin production (in the skin) and it rebalances your serotonin/melatonin production, which will all make you look fabulous (actually, the serotonin/melatonin won’t, but bringing this into balance properly will¬†help get you to sleep which WILL make you look your best). That way, you’ll be ready for cosplay, fancy dress, and dressing up, all year round. Just do it safely; we all know the rules of sunbathing right?

Why do I say all this specifically targetted to cosplayers? Well, people seem to understand that a character is the product of their costume, hair and makeup, but the skin tone and transparency is also very important. If your skin’s showing red patches and veins through all over it, and you’re trying to look like, oh, I don’t know, let’s pretend (again) that we’re talking about Jessica Rabbit; let’s say you want to be the sexiest woman in Toon Town (or whatever, I can’t tell you the real costume I was looking at but you get the gist), you need to fix your diet to improve the skin from the inside and start moisturising to help the skin from the outside.
This is true of all cosplays, and it’s what most real leading actors do who have a long career (I know, I’ve worked with many), so why not make it a routine?

It really doesn’t matter what size you are, whether your eyes or ear shape match the character, whether you tracked down the *exact* shade of eyeshadow used in the original film/series/whatevs, what does matter is getting your skin to look like it deserves to wear the costume which you just spent days, months or years making. Everything else can be worked around or fixed with makeup.

If you look at the most successful cosplayers, the ones on the lists of best cosplay, they’re not size 0, they’re not 34GG of the breasts, they generally don’t innately look like the character, but the reason we find them visually pleasing is because they look vital, radiant and larger than life… which is generally something they share with the characters they portray.

It’s not complicated, you don’t need expensive or time consuming rituals to look good, just follow these steps and you too can score a perfect 10 for your cosplay.

Do You Use The Right Sunscreen?

With so many different types of sunscreen on the market today, it can be hard to know which type is best for sun protection. And that’s if you don’t even try to contemplate what Sun Protection Factor (SPF) you need to protect yourself from skin cancer and other damage from ultraviolet rays such as premature ageing. Twenty years ago, many people used to view sunscreen as optional. Thirty years before that, sunscreen had barely been invented and everyone thought SPF 2 (yeah, you read it right) was the biggest thing ever. These days, we’ve all been terrified into knowing better, and advances in SPF technology means we can all afford to protect ourselves from UV sun damage. Skin cancer is the ninth most common cancer in Europe (there are actually three main types of skin cancer, but they put them together for this statistic), and malignant melanoma (the really bad one) is the 19th most common cancer worldwide. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, these figures are rising quickly, because our parents and grandparents (and so on) trashed the O-Zone layer that used to reflect many more of the harmful UV rays back out into space. So the meek inherit the Earth – but only after the pushy have wrecked it for everyone. Thanks, gramps. Isn’t it handy that they invented sunscreen around the same time we really needed it?

Factor 50 suncream sunblock SPF 50 high. Avon

More importantly, no statistic is ever going to show whether skin cancer will happen to you or not. Since sunscreen is really good at preventing premature ageing, and protects you from ultraviolet rays, why risk it at all? Here’s the types of sunscreen and their pro’s and con’s:

Sun Block:
Typical range: Factor 50 and over.
This is the gloopy stuff that looks like emulsion paint when you put it on your skin. It is favoured by very pasty looking people (the correlation is probably because it makes you look whiter) and is renowned for being able to block EVERYTHING. But is that necessarily a good thing?
According to Model Beauty Secrets, you should be using factor 50 and over. My aunt, a nurse practitioner (no, Americans, it’s not like being a nurse, it’s like being a doctor with less pay), also recommends factor 50+ during summer months.
But there was that rumour last year about whether high-factor sun block caused Vitamin D deficiency. I’ve written an article all about Vitamin D that’s very scientific and much more comprehensive than anything I’ve seen to support this theory, and here’s what I think: If you don’t get Vitamin D from your diet, for example if you are vegan, then you need to get it from somewhere. HOWEVER, if you don’t get the cholesterol (as vegans don’t), going unprotected in the sun is useless because your body won’t have any raw materials to turn into Vitamin D! I’m glad to see this myth getting shelved again for the time being, but I do think our fear of cancer and ageing is starting to spoil the fun of going out on a sunny day – with OR without sunscreen.
My biggest gripe with high-factor sun block is that it suffocates my skin, overloads it with crap, and makes me break out in horrible spots. That can’t be good for you either, and I can’t see models walking round with white skin and red spots all over to combat fear of ageing – surely ageing skin is just as bad as red breakout spots! It’s a trade off, though – if you burn easily and have very fair skin, or if you’re a child, use sun block. Otherwise, go for something lighter and re-apply regularly.

Tanning Oil (with SPF):
Typical range: Factor 2-15
This is a light SPF for people who wish to tan in the sun. I’ll be honest, I’ve been using this stuff during the thirty degree heat wave we’ve been having in the UK this week (I use the factor 15). I’m not convinced it’s actually making me tan any quicker than normal sunscreen, but it definitely feels nicer on my skin, is quicker and easier to apply, and leaves me feeling non-sticky, which are all a good thing.
The cons are if you have greasy skin this might not be for you (I have normal skin, bordering on very slightly dry), and obviously it’s not going to be great for sitting around the house in your best dress – you might get oil stains. But for its intended purpose – tanning – it’s the best sun protection and skincare you can get, as it doesn’t leave your skin feeling overloaded.

Face Sun Cream:
Typical range: Factor 20-50
This is a special type of sun cream that is made for the more delicate skin on your face. After all, you wouldn’t use body lotion on your face, so why use body sun cream on it? The pros are that it’s usually formulated to be non-greasy, non-shiny and some of them are even gels that are supposed to be more hydrating (for my normal skin I disagree and feel drier after using a gel for some reason). The downsides are that hardly any shops actually stock it, and that it can cost the same for a tiny tube as it costs for a whole big bottle of the body sun cream. Avon does some good ones but they can be very expensive so keep an eye out for special offers.

Facial Moisturisers with Sun Protection:
Typical range: Factor 10-20
These are usually daily moisturisers such as Olay that have a small amount of sunscreen in them. The advantage is that you don’t need a separate cream for sunny days, but the disadvantages are that you probably won’t re-apply it during the day, and that means that the sun will burn through it as the day goes on. Factor 15 needs to be reapplied every 20-30 minutes in direct sun exposure or on a cloudy day, twice during the day (source here) and most people put their face cream on and forget about it. This leads to premature ageing, so you’re better off going barefaced and suncreamed in summer or on sunny days (remember you can even burn while skiing, so cream up whatever time of year that the sun is out) so that you can re-apply without removing all your makeup. Additionally, it’s only really useful if it’s factor 15 and above, as I discussed earlier, and annoyingly they don’t seem to do an SPF 50 day cream worth a damn.

Body Sun Cream:
Typical range: Factor 15-30
This is the best sun protection for most people. It isn’t too cloggy and isn’t too lax on the protection, and it goes well under normal clothes without causing grease stains or other problems. The advantages are that it’s cheap and easy to come by, and that it usually comes in a good sized bottle so you don’t need to worry about whether you have enough to keep reapplying. The disadvantages are that it won’t protect you enough if you’re pale or a toddler, and that it can cause you to break out if you use it on your face.

What about UVA and UVB?

Most sun creams nowadays protect against both UVA and UVB. ¬†UVA can age us and UVB can burn us, so finding a sunscreen that protects against both is important. ¬†The SPF on the bottle usually refers JUST to UVB, which prevents burning, but does nothing to stop premature ageing (just to make it more complicated)! ¬†To find out the UVA rating, there is now a labelling requirement that if it says “UVA” on the label, a sunscreen has to protect you against 1/3 of the amount of UVA of the SPF. ¬†For example, if your sunscreen was SPF30, with a UVA sticker on the bottle, it would have a UVA SPF of at least 10. ¬†If there’s no UVA logo, there is no obligation to protect you from UVA. ¬†To make it more complicated, there’s also UVC, but apparently that still gets stopped by what’s left of the O-zone layer.

General Sunscreen Tips:

  • The bottle needs to be kept in a cool place:¬†This is¬†so the suncream doesn’t degrade from the heat – yep, suncream has to be kept out of the sun. The fridge is good if you’re in a super-hot country like Greece or Tunisia, but in the UK it should usually be fine in a cupboard, drawer or shelf in your house.
  • Don’t forget the lips! Your lips are unable to produce melanin to protect themselves from the sun so they need all the help they can get – an SPF 20+ lip balm is perfect for men and women alike.
  • Don’t forget your scalp either! You can either spray suncream onto it directly or wear a hat, but don’t get sunburn on your scalp, I have it on high authority that it’s a terrible place to get it! ¬†The hat is the better option if you need to protect your hair as well. ¬†Baldies and people with a shaved head should use a high SPF because most of the sun will catch your head.
  • Follow the airport’s rules on what size bottles you can take with you:¬† It’s really embarrassing to be made to throw away all those suncreams and after suns¬†when you get to airport security, and it’s a surefire way to annoy the other passengers who followed the rules (yes, the rules are really dumb, but you can’t change ’em, if you don’t like them, travel overland like I do most of the time).
  • Reapply it regularly: Often if you touch your skin (e.g. your arm) and it feels dry (like it doesn’t have any moisturiser/suncream on) then you need to reapply. ¬†If you can’t tell, then reapply to be safe.

Which sunscreen are you using during this heatwave?  Let me know in the comments!