Asian beauty is a hot trend right now, but unlike Gangham Style, it’s no one-hit wonder. In fact, Asia’s modern legacy of producing highly covetable skincare and makeup products goes back for decades.
Love BB Cream? You can thank South Korea. Konjac sponges? That’s Japan. Oil cleansers? Thanks, Shu Uemura! The list goes on: sheet masks, dark spot correctors, cushion compacts, essence waters, fibre lash mascaras, etc. We have Asia to thank for these beauty innovations that are finally catching the attention of Canadian consumers.
Skincare in Asia is light years ahead of where we’re at and there are some significant differences between how we approach it. In Asia, skincare is a lifestyle, not a routine; it’s enjoyable, not a chore; it’s about targeting specific issues, not general purpose; it’s about prevention, not treatment. Sunscreen alone is elevated to near art-form in Asia, where its lightweight, water-like texture and broad-spectrum coverage bears little resemblance to the thick, sticky, non-photostable sunscreens that dominate the shelves here.
Many European brands – with names that are more familiar to Canadians – have already noticed these Asian innovations and have developed their own versions. Lancome launched cushion compacts several years ago (followed by cushion blushes) and La Prairie just released its Essence-in-Lotion that’s infused, through steam distillation, with their signature caviar water.
But to truly embrace Asian beauty, go to the source. There are so many Asian brands now easily available in Canada, it’s time to shake up your routine and try some fun, new, cutting-edge products.
This luxury Korean brand is famed in Asia for being a leader in innovative, effective skincare. They incorporate many indigenous Asian ingredients with leading technologies to produce some truly wonderful products. Of note is their luscious Time Response Skin Renewal Creme and Time Response Intensive Hand Renewal Creme. The latter makes for a fantastic gift – everybody needs this hand salvation. They also have sachets of a beautiful eye masque that I always travel with to help save parched post-flight skin.
Available at Nordstrom.
For Beloved One
For Beloved One was founded by former Taiwanese beauty editor, Margaret Wu. After 20+ years reporting about beauty, she created a line that combined her intimate knowledge of the industry’s advanced technologies with her intuition about what consumers craved. Her superstar products are definitely the sheet masks. While Wu didn’t originate the concept, she did advance it. She uses a bio-cellulose material that was originally created for medical purposes (artificial skin). So the mask isn’t paper, it’s more like a very thin latex that clings very closely to your face. This leaves no air gaps, meaning precious serum is in contact with your face at all times. It’s highly flexible and comfortable, hugging all the contours of your face so you don’t have to lie down; you can walk around and get your chores done while having this treatment.
Available at T&T Supermarket.
Paul and Joe Beauté
This Japanese brand with the unbelievably adorable packaging has been a cult favourite for years. While the makeup itself is wonderful, they really excel at delivering beautiful, colourways and graphics that keep collectors coming back season after season. Recently, they began incorporating cat motifs into their lipsticks: cat faces in contrasting colours embedded in a lipstick or the lipstick bullet itself shaped like a cat’s head. From the land that brought us Hello, Kitty, this has been a runaway winner.
Available at select Shoppers Drug Mart.
This Korean brand is well-known for its use of enriched herbal extracts that nourish the skin. Their Air Cushion compact delivers sheer but buildable colour, in a range of nicely yellow-based, realistic colours. Most people new to the cushion technology are tempted to wash the sponge that comes with the compact. Don’t! This specially-designed sponge isn’t like any other you tried before. It’s anti-microbial and has a special coating to prevent any absorption of the product. To apply, tap the sponge over the cushion to transfer the product, then tap the cushion onto your face. Don’t rub the sponge over your face; you’ll only end up smearing the makeup around. Instead, tap and bounce the sponge until the makeup is evenly distributed.
Available at Aritaum.