K-Beauty is trending. No, not Kardashian beauty but Korean beauty. It all started with the multi-purpose BB cream. The first of many novelties out of South Korea, it took the beauty market by storm and had everyone wondering what other breakthrough beauty products were up their sleeve. Since then, with the help of influential K-pop stars and their flawless skin, Korean beauty innovations such as CC creams, sheet masks and mist-cushions have become customary in day-to-day beauty routines around the world. The formula? Attractively packaged products that offer effective treatment benefits at affordable prices. The set-back? Products infused with trendy ingredients such as donkey milk, horse oil and snail secretion make perusing the aisles intimidating.
To learn more about the hype, I travelled to one of the hotspots of K-beauty outside of Korea: Koreatown in Flushing, Queens. On Roosevelt Avenue beauty is king, as evidenced by its countless shops and spas. Greeted by young, attentive beauty experts, it's the perfect place to spend an afternoon immersing yourself in this new trend.
For the best and brightest in colour cosmetics, head to TonyMoly and Club Clio.
Located within the World Mall, TonyMoly wins first prize for best packaging. With items shaped as cute animal and fruits, you're automatically transported back to your teenage years and 'I must-have-it-all' tendencies. Stock up on the petite bunny gloss bar lip balm, a fan-favorite for its easy-to-apply pencil applicator, smooth texture and fun rabbit silhouette.
Next follow the loud rap music to the dimly lit store appropriately named Club Clio. Here, you'll find two lines - Club Clio, the edgy professional-grade cosmetics and the "Korean version of MAC", as well as the more affordable and cutesie Peripera. Come here for Club Clio's cult classics - the number one selling 'gel espresso waterproof pencil gel liner' and 'kill cover liquid founwear cushion' foundation formula. Peripera is more fun than functional, so experiment at the store's beauty bar until you find what works best for your style and mood. The 'virgin kiss tinted lip in mint corrector', a pea-green shade, is hard-to-beat. It's meant to be applied over any lip color to create a new, more muted shade.
For good measure, speak to the professional staff at Club Clio about their well-stocked skincare from brands such as Goodal and SooAe. Don't miss out on the 'freeset donkey milk skin gel mask pack aqua', a face mask infused with donkey milk, the newest revolutionary ingredient (snail secretion was so last year) that promises incredible anti-ageing benefits with regular use.
Cross the street to Skin Food for products that harness the good-for-you properties of health foods such as kale, avocado, tomato and nuts. Check out their 'top 10 products' hall-of-fame and head over to the test-and-try sink area to experience a selection such as the black sugar mask wash-off or royal honey line. Don't leave without a selection of sheet masks (buy five, get one free) a product-soaked cotton sheet that targets and resolves skincare issues in less than 15 minutes.
Last but not least, pay a visit to The Face Shop and Nature Republic. At Face Shop make a beeline for the character masks, the brand's claim to fame. Each mask is printed with a different design including tiger, panda, sheep and monster, making them the perfect girl's night-in activity and photo-op. Grab a set of the beautiful floral-printed daily perfume hand creams for great gifts. Then, get a feel of South Korean pop-culture at Nature Republic. After watching a couple of minutes of K-pop boy band sensation EXO's 'Call Me Baby' music video, you may be tempted to purchase an assortment of EXO x Nature Republic skincare products in hope of achieving their radiant complexions.
A LITTLE EXTRA
Before heading home, show your skin some love from the inside out. Stop by the French-Asian bakery Tous Les Jours for a selection of healthy baked goods and CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice for a re-energizing matcha iced tea or fresh juice.