Build Your Makeup Kit With These Etude House Makeup Must-Haves

Etude House makeup must-haves

Building a makeup kit doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. After all, K-beauty offers great options for the budget conscious or the newbie. So here are some of my favorite Etude House makeup must-haves that will have you looking like a beauty vlogging star in no time.



I previously wrote about how easy it is to build an essential skincare kit with Etude House’s many adorable offerings. When it comes to building makeup essentials, there’s a little bit more fun to be had. Etude House is all about fun, and their products reflect that. But don’t let the super cute packaging fool you; there are some excellent formulations within this brand if you do some digging. Here, some Etude House makeup must-haves for your makeup kit.


Etude House Any Cushion Cream Filter


This BB cushion is one of my favorite cushion variants: the net instead of the classic sponge. With the net you get an even coating of product onto your silicone puff every time, which translates into a even coating on your skin. This cushion is light to medium coverage with a dewy finish. It leaves the skin glowing for a solid eight to 10 hours before fading. (Your mileage may vary, though, and I would assume if your skin is oily it wouldn’t last near that long before fading or oxidizing.)


Glass Tinting Lips Talk and Case


Etude House makeup must-haves


I can’t get over the Glass Tinting Lips Talk line. This glossy tint comes in 20 shades and can be housed in 20 different graphic print cases that can be mixed and matched. Not only is the high gloss formula cushy, it’s moisturizing, so you don’t have to worry about the pitfalls that come with the matte lip trend. The shades range from super natural to fun and daring. I think this would be the perfect addition to any gift basket, and I could see it being an instant favorite. I wish I had all 20 shades!


Etude House Proof 10 Eye Primer


No budding makeup wearer’s arsenal is complete without this product. Actually I think even seasoned pros would appreciate this little gem. Etude House Proof 10 Eye Primer delivers everything Urban Decay’s eye primer does, but it does it at under a quarter of the price. Brighter eyeshadow, longer lasting eyeshadow, and budge-proof liner. Win, win, win.


Etude House My Beauty Tool Soft Cream Puff


Beauty Blender who? I actually prefer the Etude House My Beauty Tool Soft Cream Puff over it’s much pricier predecessor. The Soft Cream Puff has a bit more give and feels like a squishy cloud on my face. It delivers the same excellent blending ability as the Beauty Blender, and I find its shape more ergonomic and easier to work with on the curves of a face. Simply dampen it, dab it into your favorite BB cream, and tap onto the face. It also works well to blend out contouring and to apply cream blush. For $6, you could buy one for each function, and it would still be cheaper than a single Beauty Blender.


Etude House makeup must-haves


Etude House Personal Color Palettes


A great thing that Etude House has done lately is take the guesswork out of building a foundational base for makeup essentials. The Etude House Personal Color Palettes line is something I would have absolutely loved to have received when I was just starting out my collection and feeling my way around makeup. Having an already curated palette is an easy, low-stress way to experiment with color and get creative, all while learning exactly what works for you, what doesn’t, and what you truly love on yourself.


When it comes to lips, the Personal Color Palette line has both warm and cool skins covered, as it has a collection of colors for both. Both the warm and cool palettes come with nine mixable shades housed in a flat square palette. You can use them straight out of the pan as is, or blend them together to make your own unique color.


For the eyes, there are four different palettes, categorized for warm and cool tones. Each palette offers up to 20 different shades. Each tone has a neutral and a more fun color palette offering. This line even has a contouring palette available in both powder and cream formulas! The contour palettes have six different shades. Depending on how creative you want to get, these shades could be used for all manner of experimentation. And if that wasn’t enough, this line has a color-mixing palette that comes with a metal spatula and easy to clean aluminum mixing surface.


Use this palette to experiment and bring out your inner Bob Ross while mixing colors, and your outer Bob The Drag Queen while applying them.


Expressing yourself has never been easier.



This Easy Unicorn Makeup Look Will Make You the Star of the Show

unicorn makeup

Unicorn makeup? Only if you want to be the ethereal sparkle princess that you are. Whether for a special occasion or everyday, this daring makeup look will get you noticed in the best way possible.



Whenever I wish my friends happy birthday, I usually refer to them as “sparkling rainbow unicorns,” because they’re all special, they all glow, and they’re so awesome they might as well be mythical.


So here’s a unicorn makeup look dedicated to all the unicorns out there.


The ethereal glow


Start with an ethereal glow. If you don’t wear BB cream, apply a thin layer of VDL Lumilayer Primer all over. If you do wear BB cream, mix the primer with your BB cream in a 2:1 ratio. Lumilayer Primer will give you a glowing sheen that’s subtle but will definitely make you stand out like the sparkle princess you are.


The doe eye


Next cover the entire eyelid and up to your brows in primer. Etude House Proof 10 Primer is always a good choice. This will help the subtle pastels we’ll be using really adhere.


To give your eyes a wide doe-eyed (or unicorn-eyed?) look, tightline your lower rims with Holika Holika Wonder Drawing 24 Hour Auto Eyeliner in the white shade #3. I really like the intensity of the white with this eyeliner. I’ve tried other white pencils before, but this one is the best at delivering a true, bold, intense white. It also stays on better than other brands I’ve tried.


Our next liner will be the Etude House Super Slim Proof Gel Liner in #4 Fuchsia Pink. This is a bright, fun pink that you may have seen but wondered how in the world to pull it off. The answer is, just own it! Draw a thick line along your upper lid, extending past the eye and ending in a cat-eye. You can go as dramatic as you want with this one, so feel free to go all out with your wing. We’re doing a unicorn look, so now is not the time to be timid.


Next break out your favorite sharp liquid eyeliner because we’re going to draw a super precise line as close to the upper lashline as possible, being sure to leave plenty of pink eyeliner showing! A steady hand will win this race. Try Son & Park’s True Black Pen Liner. What we’re trying to achieve here is adding definition to the pink, which might read as sickly without some black in there to break it up. Extend your black line however far your pink line goes. Think of the pink as a shadow being cast from your black line.



unicorn makeup


The rainbow eye


Now for the fun part. When I think of unicorns I think of a pastel rainbow mane, and that’s going to be our inspiration for the eye color. For this we will use Tony Moly Luminous Auto Lighter. When swirled together this product makes for a cute highlighter (which we will be doing later). When each shade is used individually, it can be used as a cool eyeshadow palette. Isolate the pink shade on your sharpest pencil brush and apply it under the eyes. When you get to the outer corners, extend down past your orbital bone. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, think geisha. This pink shadow is both your under-eye shadow and almost your blush, if your blush were super high and went to the bottom of your temples.


Next take your fluffy brush and isolate the green shade. Sweep it from the inner corner of your eyelid, extending out and ending right after your pupils. This product isn’t quite indicated to be an eyeshadow, so if you really want a lot of color payoff, be sure to really pack on and lay down the color in layers.


Next isolate the purple shade and lay it down where the green ends and to the end of your eyelid. But sure to blend them together nicely, creating a cool airbrushed effect with the colors. If you have a monolids, you can do this color combo all over. If you have a double lid you can opt to do a cut crease here with the purple, possibly smoked out some with the pink. Take the yellow shade and add it to your inner corners as a highlight.


To really play up that magical inner corner highlight, we’re going to take Etude House Tear Drop Liner in No. 3 Pearl, which is a gorgeous liquid pearlescent liner, and apply it to the very inner corners, extending around to the very first part of the lower lashline. This is going to catch the light and really give an ethereal look that borders on super natural. I really love this liquid liner for this effect.


Lash it out


We’re going to finish the eye with a bold eyelash. The Face Shop Pro Eyelashes 08 Smoky are fluffy lashes that remind me of a pretty pony. Do yourself a favor, though, and invest in some Duo Eyelash Glue if you’re going to do this right. In my experience, it’s the best glue to work with.


Sweet cheeks


To finish things off, we’re going to go with a soft liquid blush. Tony Moly Spoiler Mini Cushion Blusher in Pink Fantasy should be applied with focus to the apples of the cheeks. Remember, we have the pink eyeshadow from the eye extending quite far down and out compared to normal, so we don’t want to interfere with that. For the same reason, we don’t want to do any cheek highlights. What we will do is to swirl a fan brush around in the Tony Moly Auto Lighter and highlight the Cupid’s bow, down the nose bridge, and the chin.


Now’s the time to grab a pastel wig and a horn headband if you have it, ’cause baby, you are a MF’ing unicorn now! Let’s go frolic in some meadows or, you know, just grab some cute cocktails.


Try this unicorn makeup look and post it on your Beauty Wall! We’d love to see (and maybe even feature it!)

Where to Start: Etude House Essentials to Build Your Own Skincare Kit

The upside of K-beauty? So much choice. The downside? So much choice. K-beauty can be overwhelming at times, but the K-beauty community has tried and tested the best of them. If you’re new to K-beauty or are on a budget, try these Etude House essentials and build your own skincare kit that’s right for you.



Etude House is beloved by young consumers all over the world. One of Korea’s first breakout brands, they were embraced in North America as purveyors of cute with an innovative product line at a low price point. Because of that, Etude House makes it easy to build an essential skincare kit for the young or budget-conscious person in your life, with a high degree of certainty that they’ll absolutely love it (and you for it!).


Building a skincare routine for a beginner is a highly personalized thing. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to skincare. However, with Etude House, there are a number of mild, non-irritating, great-for-beginners options out there. The non-irritating part should really be kept in the forefront when dealing with young skin under siege by stress and hormones. These milder formulations manage to be effective while keeping the potential skin freak-out factors low.


etude house essentials


Etude House Monster Micellar Cleansing Water


The media has been abuzz about micellar water for a few years now. Once only something you’d find in a French pharmacy, it quickly found its home stateside and gained serious traction in the market.


Micellar water is a “no wash” cleanser, meaning it cleanses your skin without needed a sink or foaming cleanser. Simply soak a cotton pad with it, wipe your face all over, and voilà — clean!


I recommend only using micellar water for morning cleansing, as you need a good oil and foaming cleanser to properly remove the day’s sunscreen and makeup. Etude House Monster Micellar Cleansing Water is the perfect (and cute!) introduction to the micellar phenomenon.


Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner


I will always champion a pH 5.5 product. There are many reasons why, as my girl Jude of Fiddy Snails can tell you. Get them into the habit now with Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner. This is a perfectly adequate, slightly moisturizing, and totally mild toner perfect for beginners.


Etude House Red Energy Tension Up Renewing Capsule


etude house essentials


Balls! I love balls! I’m so happy to see that Etude House has a product that’s embraced the ball! And let’s be real, who wouldn’t love a cream that looks like a jar of pearls upon opening it? Each little capsule is meant to be broken apart in your hand and then massaged onto your face. Made famous by the J. One Hana Cream, Etude House’s version is less than half the price at $19.50. It also contains, niacinamide, a favorite of mine.


Etude House Honey Cera Essence


The essence step was the missing step in my routine that really made the biggest difference for me when I converted to K-beauty. A good essence is key, and getting into that habit when you’re young is a good idea.


What I like about the Honey Cera Essence is it’s a great little product with an unbeatable price point. It contains some great moisturizers such as honey extract, royal jelly, ceramide 3, Tremella fuciformis extract (that’s mushroom), and good ol’ hyaluronic acid. It will leave the skin smooth and soft,with almost instantaneous results, which is great for the newly initiated.


etude house essentials


Etude House Moistfull Collagen Water Jelly Cream


If you’re dealing with skin on the oilier side, you still need to remember that you need hydration. Moistfull Collagen Water Jelly Cream is an excellent delivery system for hydrolyzed collagen, an effective and mild moisturizing ingredient that scores a 0 for acne or irritation. This “cream” is a clear jelly that reminds me of the consistency of aloe vera gel, and it’s a great little emollient that won’t leave a heavy, greasy feeling behind. If you’re dealing with dry skin you could use this as your emulsion step in addition to a traditional cream.


Etude House Moistfull Collagen Mask Sheet


Another popular product from Etude’s Moistfull line. This sheet mask is a mild mask with almost no acne or irritant triggers, the worst offender being butylene glycol (a moisturizing ingredient) which comes in at a piddly 1 out of 5, so unless that’s an ingredient you’re sensitive to, the risk is negligible. The hallmark ingredient of the Moistfull line, hydrolyzed collagen is of course high up on the ingredient list as it’s the real star here. Stocking up on four to five of these masks is the perfect, low risk initiation to the growing sheet mask gang.


Gift sets


And if you want to go the easy route, there are trial and gift sets for the Moistfull and the Red Energy lines where you can sample a little bit of everything those lines have to offer.


The Red Energy set contains a full size toner and emulsion, along with travel sizes of the toner, emulsion, essence, and cream, all for only $45.


In the Moistfull line, there’s the full size toner and emulsion, and adorable travel sizes of the toner, emulsion, and cream for just $32.


Giving someone the gift of self-care has never been easier. Thanks, Etude House!


What was your first K-beauty skincare product that hooked you? And what are some of your Etude House essentials?




5 K-Beauty Products I’m Obsessed With Right Now

Products I'm obsessed with

There are the classic, steady, holy grail products that we’ll never break up with, and then there are the crushes of the moment that are new and shiny and exciting. Here, 5 K-beauty products I’m obsessed with now.



I suffer from fixations.


I mean, I say “suffer,” but not really. I thoroughly enjoy my obsessions! So come get obsessed with me — wait, that didn’t sound right. Let me try that again: Come join me in my obsessions! You just might find yourself walking away with some new objects to crave.


1. Tension pacts


Products I'm obsessed with


BB cushions, cushion blushers, cushion eyeliners. There are all kinds of cushions. My favorite current iteration is the Tension Pact by Missha. The tension pact is made of a finely woven net instead of the thick sponge that comes to mind when you think BB cushion. The net allows for a more even transfer of product so your application is freakin’ flawless. I absolutely love this delivery system, and I wish I could petition the rest of the companies to also come out with more versions of this pact. Luckily, Missha has five different formulations to choose from, and they’re all elegant and lovely.


One of my own personal little hacks is using the tiny blending sponges from Sephora and tapping them onto my tension pact for the hard-to-reach corners of my face like my inner eye and around the nose. The tension pact allows a much better transfer onto the mini-blender than the traditional cushions do.


2. Sunscreen sprays


Re-application is as important as initial application when it comes to sunscreen. As soon as it’s on, the clock is ticking. If I’m out and about, I don’t have time to stop and look in a mirror and reapply. My savior is spray-on sunscreen. You get a fine, even application every single time. And the biggest selling point? It won’t mess up your makeup! K-beauty has many excellent sprays at every price point, notably the ones from O HUI, Innisfree, and Re:cipe. They dispense the consistency of hairspray and are just as easy to use. Simply point, spray, and stay protected. They go on clear and dry down almost immediately. What’s not to love?


3. Romand Matt Lipstick in Red Carpet


Romand Matt Lipstick Red Carpet Products I'm obsessed with


This is my red of reds! A deep, intense, no-fear, screw you, red. This is the red you wear to run into your ex. This is the red you wear to quit your awful job. This is the red you wear that makes the devil himself jealous. There’s something so old-school cool about this color and formulation. It reminds me of something the starlets of the Golden Age of Hollywood would have worn in the ’40s. I am living for this lipstickliving!


4. Jayjun De Jour Croc Aqua Brightening Cream


I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, as I can’t find any online sources that carry this one. (W2Beauty, maybe we could be the first? 😉 ) I stumbled upon this cream while shopping at my local K-beauty store. You guys know I am always the first one to slap the weird stuff on my face, and when I saw the words “crocodile oil” on the jar, the purchase was as good as made as far as I was concerned. And yes, it really does contain the oil of crocodiles, which is apparently rich in linolenic and oleic acid. It also contains some awesome and more familiar ingredient favorites such as niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. Our good friend snail extract also makes an appearance in this cream. It reminds me a lot of the Guerisson 9 Complex Cream, which contains horse oil. It moisturizes similarly, but I really prefer this formulation over the Guerisson. It makes my skin baby soft and was a great night cream during the dry winter.


Products I'm obsessed with


5. Hair masks


With the popularity and awesomeness of sheet masks for your face, is it any wonder that hair masks for your locks are just as amazing? I recently got an ill-advised balayage and made the ends of my hair very, very blonde. Not that the end result wasn’t visually pleasing, but texturally, my formerly lustrous hair was now a dry mess. Korean hair masks to the rescue! You wash and condition your hair as usual, then towel dry. After that, you apply the essence from tip to root. (I personally avoid the root and just concentrate on my chemically treated tips.) Then don the provided bonnet (it’s a shower cap), and let the product work its magic for 10 to 15 minutes before hopping back into the shower to rinse. My hair is markedly softer and more manageable after the hair mask. They’re also very cheap! The Etude House Silk Scarf Double Hair Mask is only about $4. The best hair is soft hair, and this is exactly what this serves up.


Those are my products I’m obsessed with at the moment. What are yours?


Beauty & the Budget: The Essential $300 Skincare Routine

$100 skincare routine $200 skincare routine $300 skincare routine

Regardless of your skincare budget, it’s possible to build a solid K-beauty routine. So whether you’ve got $100, $200, or $300 to spend, there’s a whole host of products waiting for you. Here, our recommendations for putting together an effective K-beauty skincare routine if you’ve got $300 to spend.



“I’ve got a set budget, and I want to build a K-beauty skincare routine — hook me up!”
Most responsible adults have a budget to keep them financially solvent. We budget for coffees, lunches for the week, entertainment, etc. If you’re the type that plays by the book, you might even have a skincare budget. Or maybe you’re like me and really have no idea how much you spend on skincare, either by willful ignorance (me) or by simply not keeping track.


I was tasked with coming up with a skincare routine by price — $100, $200, and $300 —and my interest was piqued. Let’s see what we can come up with under these parameters. For the sake of being fairly universal, I’m going to build these routines around normal skin, but the vast majority of these products can be used for any skin type.
Here, my picks for a great $300 skincare routine.


“I’ve got $300; let’s do some damage.”


More like, let’s prevent some damage … to your face!

$300 skincare routine


Cleanser: Innisfree The Minimum Facial Cleanser, $10


Just because we’re working with a luxury budget doesn’t mean we need to go all out on the cleanser front. Listen, in the end, a cleanser goes right down the drain; it doesn’t stay on your face. Innisfree’s The Minimum Facial Cleanser has a great low pH, it comes in a self-foaming pump so you get the cushiness of a high pH cleanser without all the moisture barrier damage, and it’s only $10! Win, win, and win.


Oil cleanser: Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, $28


Everyone needs a Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, even if you’re not on a luxury budget. It smells like a delicate rose garden, and you feel like royalty washing your face with it. Also? It’s a solid stick so it lasts foreeeever. It’s actually a great value for the price; it just performs like a luxury. As if it didn’t have enough going for it, don’t forget how travel-friendly it is.


Toner: SanDaWha Liposome Skin Softener, $28


This softener sure lives up to its name. For those not in the know, a softener is just a toner; it just has slightly different verbiage in Korean marketing. But this isn’t just any toner; it’s a marvelous, hydrating skin preparation that features Camellia japonica flower extract instead of plain water for the first ingredient. It also contains a host of other botanical extracts and anti-inflammatory ingredients that you’d expect to pay more than $28 for, especially considering you get a massive 5.75 fl oz of product in a sturdy glass bottle.


Serum: Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule, $23.98


I absolutely love propolis as a skincare ingredient. However, if you are allergic to bee stings, please either avoid this product or patch test and exercise caution! Propolis is derived from bee saliva and beeswax. It’s basically bee glue. This particular serum contains 80% propolis extract. It has a watery texture but with more viscosity feel, and it sinks in fairly quickly. Propolis is great for easing redness and irritation on the skin. Because of its calming effects, it’s also a favorite of people who battle with acne.


Serum: Su:m37 Secret Essence, $85


Our own dear Sheryll Donerson put this on my radar way back in the day. If you’re looking for an indulgent luxury essence, this is a good one. It’s extremely hydrating and soothing. If you’ve been neglecting your face for a while, have had a rough go of using acids, or just want some “screw you, I’m a queen” level care for your face, this essence fits the bill.


It has an earthy floral smell that just smells expensive, if that makes sense. Like, you definitely know this is a higher end product as soon as it hits your skin. The packaging is also elegant, if you’re into that sort of thing (I am. I am into that sort of thing.) This essences touts 80 plant extracts, ferments, and yeasts. Like, bruh, fancy AF. Splurge on this and have your Beyoncé moment every night.


Emulsion: SanDaWha Revitalizing Liposome Lotion, $30


Oh yeah, you’ve made the list twice, you’re so nice. (Read why in the $200 budget list.)


Face cream: Isoi Bulgarian Rose Waterful Cream, $86.28 


Here’s another little-praised brand that I fell in love with a while back. I tried the Isoi Bulgarian Rose Waterful emulsion a couple of years ago and was really impressed. When I saw they had a cream version, I gave that a shot and was equally impressed.


I’ve used a lower grade rose oil before and liked it. It’s said that rose oil has 20 times more vitamin A than a tomato and 17 times more vitamin C than a lemon, so they must be onto something here. But this line really takes it to the next level. I did some research and saw that Isoi uses top-rated prime grade Bulgarian rose oil certified by the Bulgarian government. Three thousand rose petals are used to create 1ml of rose oil. The Bulgarian Rose line uses this high-grade oil in every product. No wonder it’s so luxurious feeling and awesome.


This cream is extremely moisturizing and is more of a barrier cream, so it’s best used only at night, as I don’t think it would play well with makeup or sunscreen. However, it will lock in your layers of hydration from the rest of your routine and provide comfort and protection while you sleep. It’s like the world’s best smelling security guard for your face.


Total: $291.26


We did it! And at about $9 under budget, you know how I’m going to suggest we celebrate, right? Yep, a long-stemmed rose for your nightstand. You deserve it!


Looking for something more affordable? Check out our $100 skincare routine here, and the $200 skincare routine here.


What’s your skincare budget? If you had to pick, which of the above products would you incorporate into your $300 skincare routine?


Beauty & the Budget: The Essential $200 Skincare Routine

$100 skincare routine $200 skincare routine $300 skincare routine

Regardless of your skincare budget, it’s possible to build a solid K-beauty routine. So whether you’ve got $100, $200, or $300 to spend, there’s a whole host of products waiting for you. Here, our recommendations for putting together an effective K-beauty skincare routine if you’ve got $200 to spend.



“I’ve got a set budget, and I want to build a K-beauty skincare routine — hook me up!”
Most responsible adults have a budget to keep them financially solvent. We budget for coffees, lunches for the week, entertainment, etc. If you’re the type that plays by the book, you might even have a skincare budget. Or maybe you’re like me and really have no idea how much you spend on skincare, either by willful ignorance (me) or by simply not keeping track.


I was tasked with coming up with a skincare routine by price — $100, $200, and $300 —and my interest was piqued. Let’s see what we can come up with under these parameters. For the sake of being fairly universal, I’m going to build these routines around normal skin, but the vast majority of these products can be used for any skin type.


Here are my recommendations for a solid skincare routine if you’ve got $200 to spend.

“I’ve got $200 to play with; what’s good?”


A lot! With $200, we can expand a bit, go a little higher end in some areas, and dip our toe in the vitamin C pool.

$200 skincare routine


Cleanser: COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, $11.60


You’d be hard pressed to find a dud in COSRX’s entire product line. Whenever they come out with a product, it’s almost always a safe bet. When the market asked for a low pH cleanser, COSRX delivered. This cleanser is fragrance-free, so it’s safe for sensitive skin, and it foams up nicely if used with a bubble net.


Oil cleanser: Banila Co. Clean It Zero, $22


Once you’ve tried liquid oil cleansers, sherbet cleansers are the next logical, exploratory step. They have the benefit of being travel friendly since they’re not a liquid, and they work great to remove sunscreen and makeup once emulsified with water. Banila Co. Clean It Zero is the OG sherbet cleanser that we all started out on. It’s also a pretty great value at $22, because those 100ml tubs last forever.


Toner: Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner, $20


We’re back with some more Klairs love here, this time for their toner. No real acne triggers or irritants, and the inclusion of Centella asiatica extract (a great anti-inflammatory) is reason enough to give it a shot. This toner also works great if you want to give the 7-skin method a shot.


Serum: Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence, $20


This serum was the turning point for me with Korean beauty. Never had anything given me such results before I tried this. With the first two ingredients being snail secretion filtrate and aloe leaf juice, you know you’re off to an excellent start. If I were to have designed my own serum, it would probably have looked a lot like this. Check out the stellar ingredients on COSDNA to see what makes this classic so good.


Serum: Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop, $23


Hey Klairs, fancy seeing you again! When this vitamin C serum dropped, there was a lot of loud praise all-around. Vitamin C is a wonderful brightening ingredient, and this serum served it up. Featuring 5% stabilized vitamin C, this serum is a good place to start if you want to try out the benefits associated with it.


Emulsion: SanDaWha Revitalizing Liposome Lotion, $30


I love you SanDaWha Revitalizing Liposome Lotion. I just wanted to put it out there for the world to know. You are my favorite lotion to date, and I love your light layers of hydration and moisture. I wish I could buy you a beer. I wish I could buy you a distillery. This lotion features 40 botanical extracts. Forty! If you’re a fan of botanicals in skincare like I am, or if you’re just looking for a high performing lotion, you need this one.


Facial oil: Goodal Waterest Lasting Water Oil, $27.37


I once recommended this product to a friend who was suffering with red, irritated, angry skin that was in desperate need of some real hydration. She went out and bought a bottle that day and by that night she was messaging me, thanking me profusely. By the end of the month she had gone out and bought two more backups. As of today, she’s still a loyal Waterest Lasting Oil fanatic.


This stuff is fantastic. Truly. It’s the facial oil for people who don’t care for facial oils. It’s the facial oil for people who do care for facial oils. Really, it’s just an awesome oil-type serum that sinks into the skin immediately and provides plump relief and treatment. Love it.


Face cream: Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Cream, $45 


This cream is a true delicacy. It has a texture like no other cream I can think of. Almost gelato-like? It melts instantly on your skin and gives a glow like a perfectly lit talk show stage. I can’t really describe it to give it its due. Just creamy, dreamy, and oh-so-indulgent. Also, it smells exactly like honey. Calorie-free deliciousness. The first two ingredients are honey and Aureobasidium pullulans ferment, so go ahead and sign me up on that alone. Really, this stuff is stellar. I’d pay twice what they charge for it, but please don’t tell Banila Co. that!


Total $198.97


Nice! Just under $200. Let’s celebrate with a jar of some locally sourced honey!


Looking for something more affordable? Check out our $100 skincare routine here. If you’ve got a little more to spend, check out our $300 skincare routine here.


What’s your skincare budget? If you had to pick, which of the above products would you incorporate into your $200 skincare routine?




Beauty & the Budget: The Essential $100 Skincare Routine

$100 skincare routine $200 skincare routine $300 skincare routine

Regardless of your skincare budget, a solid K-beauty routine doesn’t have to be a fairytale. So whether you’ve got $100, $200, or $300 to spend, there’s a whole host of products waiting to make your complexion dreams come true. Here, our recommendations for putting together an effective $100 skincare routine.



“I’ve got a set budget, and I want to build a K-beauty skincare routine — hook me up!”


Most responsible adults have a budget to keep them financially solvent. We budget for coffees, lunches for the week, entertainment, etc. If you’re the type that plays by the book, you might even have a skincare budget. Or maybe you’re like me and really have no idea how much you spend on skincare, either by willful ignorance (me) or by simply not keeping track.


I was tasked with coming up with a skincare routine by price — $100, $200, and $300 — and my interest was piqued. Let’s see what we can come up with under these parameters. For the sake of being fairly universal, I’m going to build these routines around normal skin, but the vast majority of these products can be used for any skin type.


Here, we start with the $100 skincare routine.


“Here’s $100 — what can I do?”


A hundred dollars isn’t a lot these days; you probably spend more on takeaway food in a month. But while it doesn’t seem like a lot of cash to play with, I’m pretty sure we can cover all the basics and then some. It’s also helpful to keep in mind this is not strictly $100 a month — everything is going to last you for a few months at least.


$100 skincare routine


Cleanser: Innisfree Blueberry Rebalancing 5.5 Cleanser, $10


This is a great no-nonsense cleanser that has just the right pH and isn’t overly scented. It’s creamy and lathers more than other low pH cleansers I’ve tried. This is usually the cleanser I recommend most when people ask me what kind of foaming cleanser they should try first. It’s also cheaper than a drugstore cleanser, so this is a great start for our $100 budget.


Oil cleanser: The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil, $9.50


Another great entry-level product with a budget-friendly price. It seems that everyone has tried this little oil cleanser at least once during their K-beauty journey. It works well and it’s easy on the wallet.


Toner: COSRX Galactomyces Alcohol-Free Toner, $16.47


You’ve probably heard a lot about galactomyces if you’ve done any kind of research on Korean beauty. Galactomyces ferment filtrate is a dupe of the main ingredient in the extremely pricey, $180 SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. This product features 10% galactomyces swirled within a solidly formulated toner. It’s a great way to break into ferments! If you like it, be sure to check out the COSRX Galactomyces Whitening Power Essence 95, which features 95% galactomyces at a similar price.


Serum: Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Serum, $23


I think this little serum doesn’t get enough love. It has a watery gel texture that’s not at all sticky and great for layering moisture. It has some great ingredients such as natto gum, licorice root, Centella asiatica, luffa, and aloe. It contains a lot of humectants and soothing ingredients as well. Sodium hyaluronate is one of my favorite for hydration, and it’s in there ready to plump you up. This serum isn’t dazzling, but it’s a solid “let’s do work” serum that will get the job done every time.


Emulsion: Goodal Moisture Barrier Liquid, $20.31


The Goodal Moisture Barrier line is absolutely solid through and through. It’s widely loved by just about every skin type, and you can usually count on it to come through and hook you up with hydration. It has almost no acne triggers in the ingredients, and it has a sturdy formulation that will put in work and build up that moisture barrier.


One of the things I love about this line is that it has a focus specifically on the moisture barrier, which is one of the most important things to focus on when it comes to beautiful, healthy skin. If you like this product as much as I think you will, definitely give the rest of the line a try.


Face cream: Benton Cacao Moist and Mild Cream, $16


This is Benton’s newest cream, and I just recently had the pleasure of giving it a try. If you’re a fan of their Steam Cream but are looking for something a little lighter for the summer (or for oilier skin), this is the cream for you. It’s very light and still manages to be very hydrating. I love it so far! The ingredient list is solid, short, and sweet. (Pun intended because it features 63% cacao extract and 10% cacao seed butter. And great, now I want some chocolate.)


Total: $95.28


We came in almost $5 under budget! Let’s celebrate with a milkshake! (I still have chocolate on my mind.)


If you can stretch your budget a bit more, some of our picks from the $200 skincare routine and the $300 routine are really worth splurging on.


So what’s your skincare budget? If you had to pick from the above, what would you have in your $100 skincare routine?


Beauty While Traveling: 7 Ways to Keep Your Sanity

beauty while traveling

If you’re at all into beauty, beauty while traveling may sound like an impossible feat or at the very least, oxymoronic, what with the stress, liquid restrictions, and lack of space. But it doesn’t have to be. Here, 7 ways your can maintain your (beauty) sanity on the road.



Whether it’s for business or pleasure, beauty while traveling is a real concern. It’s right up there with making sure your boarding pass is in order and that everything you can’t live without is in your carry-on. Your carry-on is your lifeline, so let’s get into some carry-on essentials.


Travel brushes


Traveling with makeup is its own chaotic insanity. Much like packing shoes, you’re kind of tempted to bring everything but the kitchen sink for those “just in case” moments, but resist the temptation and play it simple.


Plus, the less you bring, the less there is to lose! I had a friend insist on bringing her beloved brush collection on vacation once and a misunderstanding with housekeeping found her brush collection taken away with the rubbish. The horror!


For that reason, it’s always best to travel with brushes that are good enough to get the job done, but won’t break your heart to lose. A good travel set is the best thing to have on hand. Many different brands have them available.




Multitasking products are a must for saving space, and anything in stick form gets the thumbs up from me. Etude House Play 101 Blending Pencils can be used as blush, lipsticks, eyeshadow, you name it. They come in creamy, velvet, jewel, and jelly type finishes and have 33 shades to choose from. You can do an entire look with just these little sticks — they’re perfect!


beauty while traveling


Cushion anything


Another product I love to travel with is cushion-type makeup, and I don’t just mean BB cushions. Cushion blushes are some of my very favorite products out there. They impart a glowy flush that a powder just can’t achieve. Iope Air Cushion Blusher and Tony Moly Spoiler Mini Cushion Blushers are my two favorite out there. The shades of blush available between the two and the results they give you are stunning enough to build an entire look around. They’re also so perfectly portable that I can’t believe it took the industry so long to get behind it.


Sheet masks


At this point, this may be the biggest “duh” ever, but sheet masks are a traveler’s best friend. If you have an early flight and can’t be bothered to do your usual routine before arriving at the airport, sheet masks are perfect in a pinch for combining both the toner and essence steps. If you’ve done your routine and just want to bliss out for a while, they’re great for that, too. They’re also great on long train rides or if you’re carpooling for a long stretch on business. (If you’re the passenger, that is. If I pull up next to a car with someone sheeting while driving, you’re getting posted to my FB for the amusement of my friends. 😉 )


I really enjoyed the last few Moksha masks I tried. They come in both cream type and essence type masks, which is great depending on the time of year you’re traveling and your skin type or even just preference.


beauty while traveling




For ease of use, portability, and multitasking, I think the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing stick is an absolute must have for traveling. It can function as both your first and second cleanser if need be, and there’s no worry about any leakage or spills since it’s in a solid stick form. I really wish more companies would do cleansers in a stick. There’s a reason why this product has a fanatical cult following — it’s perfect!


If your skin is oily and you really feel like you need a second cleanser that’s just as portable, Iope Enzyme Powder Treatment Wash is ideal. This wash comes in a fine powder, kind of like detergent, and foams with the introduction of water. What I appreciate about the Iope Enzyme Powder Treatment Wash when compared to other powder washes is this one isn’t drying and it doesn’t have an insane pH. It clocks in right around 6, which is perfectly acceptable.




If you’re traveling by plane, you already know you’re limited as to what you can bring on in terms of liquid. So be sure to stock up on samples of your favorite creams and serums if you ever come across them. You can always decant your favorite products into travel safe containers, but if you do have the chance to get the samples of your faves, it’s always easier to go that route.


Traveling by rail is a little easier, but you’d be surprised at the size of your regular routine and how much precious packing real estate it takes up if you try to bring it all on the road. Investing in a cute travel kit and hoarding samples are the way to go. Just remember to be safe and toss those samples after a year if you haven’t used them yet! Better safe than sorry.


beauty while traveling




Even though I don’t have acneic skin, whenever I travel for an extended period of time, I have breakouts. I don’t know if the new water hardness, pH, or just stress of it all is the culprit, but I can be guaranteed a spot or two. For this reason, I always have a pimple patch on hand. COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch is an absolute lifesaver. Slap one of these babies on a burgeoning whitehead and overnight it will magically suck out all the infection. It’s some next level wizardry. Seriously, it’s miraculous. The formerly red, raised, and angry spot will be either completely or near flat, and nothing that a wee bit of concealer can’t fix.


In all seriousness, I keep a toiletry bag packed with most all of the products I’ve mentioned ready to go at all times: sheet masks, cleansing stick, powder wash, samples, travel brush set, makeup sticks, and cushions. I keep it in a drawer next to my passport, and it really helps to know I’m prepared for anything, even if I have a last minute thing crop up. As morbid as it sounds, it’s also been a lifesaver for unexpected hospital trips! And if it’s good enough to keep me covered in emergency situations like that, it’s certainly good enough to get me through traveling.


Being prepared is a great feeling. It’s one less thing to worry about, and it helps me enjoy the moment and focus on other things that might need my attention. Like where in the hell are my sunglasses? Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!


How do you beauty while traveling? Share your best tips below!


K-Beauty For Deeper Skin Tones: What Works, What’s on a Wish List

deeper skin tones

Let’s get real: K-beauty has a ways to go before their color options encompass most of the skin tones in the world. (But then again, Western brands only recently started offering a wider range of shades.) In the meantime, one woman of color talks about what really works for deeper skin tones (and her wish list!).



For most K-beauty fans, Korean skincare is our common ground. We all love our multiple-step routines, rave over our favorite cleansers, and help each other on the search for our holy grail products. However, for women of color, Korean makeup may seem exclusionary. With most brands only offering two to three shades for each BB cushion release, even someone as faired skinned as I am find themselves locked out of a lot of face makeup options.


Nothing makes me feel more frustrated in the beauty world than discovering a new favorite BB and knowing that I can’t share the excitement with my friends. But the market is slowly making headway, and Korean makeup does not start and stop with the BB cushion. There are a wide range of products for both the paler and the deeper skin tones among us.


When thinking about this story, I also immediately thought of my dear friend Tiffany Peterson, a longtime K-beauty fan, active in the K-beauty scene in NYC and beyond. Tiffany is from the Bronx in New York City. She’s a health advocate who fell head over heels for Korean pop culture and beauty.


Tiffany’s Korean beauty journey started with her searching for solutions for her acne scar woes online; four years later she’s now a self-taught aficionado. She’s well-known in the NYC K-beauty scene and has even been featured on South Korean television. Tiffany is one of my favorite people to shop with, so I wanted to get her take on the issue as a woman of color with a deeper skin tone, starting with her favorite K-beauty brands.



Clio - Peripera - Pro Single Shadow - 30 colors



The brands


“It can be challenging as a Black women to find Korean beauty brands with makeup I can actually wear. So far I’ve been surprised and wonderfully delighted by Laneige, Tony Moly, Clio Professional, Peripera, and The Face Shop. I hope more Korean brands begin to expand their product ranges to encompass women of all shades. As frequent users of their skincare, it would be amazing to see them branch out so we can also experience their makeup lines.”


Eye makeup


“When it comes to eyeshadow, I absolutely adore the Clio Professional brand. Their formulation always delivers a smooth, creamy, and opaque application every single time.


“I also love how playful they are with such an extensive color range that you’re sure to find a shade to fit your complexion. Their Pro Single Eyeshadow is super convenient and wonderfully equipped for the gal on-the-go. Their pro single eyeshadow in the color Cat Breeze is what I currently use to accentuate my natural everyday look.


deeper skin tones
Some of Clio’s highly pigmented Pro Single Shadows, including Tiffany Peterson’s favorite, Cat Breeze.



“Another convenient travel eyeshadow I’ve grown to love is the Over Girl Edge Stick Eyes from The Face Shop. It comes in a slim tubular package you can twist and apply without using fingers or a makeup brush. My two favorite Over Girl shades are PK02, which is a shimmering mauve with gold specks & BR01, which is a shimmering copper brown gold.”



Lipstick & blush


“I absolutely adore the packaging of Peripera Rouge Pang. Each color glides on smoothly with a creamy satin finish. My favorite shades are PP02 and RD09. Their lipstick shades are very pigmented, which is perfect for brown skin girls looking for a Korean makeup brand to try.”


deeper skin tones
Peripera Rouge Pang


I asked about blush, and the outlook wasn’t so rosy. She says that she hasn’t found a Korean blush she loves yet, so she sticks to Western brands, opting for a bronzer in lieu of a blusher. She prefers IMAN sheer finish bronzing powder as a complexion enhancer. “It’s a featured Ebony Magazine Best in Bag Winner, so you know it’s good!”


BB cushions


As I mentioned before, most BB cushions are only available in woefully few shade options. I wanted to know if she had any workarounds to cope with the lack of BB cushions available to her.


She says: “The lack of cushion compact offerings for women with darker skin tones is something that honestly breaks my heart.” (It’s a sentiment I’ve heard time and time again from my women of color friends and blog readers.) “I’m lucky to be able to use the Laneige BB cushion in Dark. It’s still fairly light for my skin tone, so I can only use it during the winter months when my skin is fairest due to less sun exposure. It’s one of my favorite base makeup options; I love that it contains SPF 50+ and leaves me with a moisturized ‘no-makeup’ look.”


deeper skin tones
The women on the cover of the author’s book.



In the days before the Laneige BB cushion, I personally struggled to find a BB shade dark enough to cater to the models we used in our book, Korean Beauty Secrets. For two of our models, there was only one shade in the entirety of the K-beauty that worked, Missha’s #31 Golden Beige. So I’m glad to see there is at least one cushion option out there now, and with its success, hopefully more and more will follow.


The wish list


In that vein, I wanted to know if Tiffany had a wish list that could be fulfilled: Which K-beauty products would she like to see made with women of color in mind.


First on the list, not surprisingly, is a BB cushion. One with “a deeper shade range showcasing at least five to eight or more variations of dark shade.”


Next on the list was blush. “Deeper berry hues are preferable for women with darker skin,” she says.


Finally, Tiffany hopes for “richer pigments so that the color can be seen prominently on women of all shades. Not everyone can do a pale gradient lip color, so expanding opacity would be best.”


Most importantly, Tiffany recommends doing your research. “As an avid user of K-beauty who understands the difficulty of finding Korean makeup brands that work for women of color, I’d suggest searching the online Asian Beauty community for others like you. We’re not alone! There are so many of us online on Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter. Try searching the Instagram tags #BlackGKbeauty or #BlackGirlsofKbeauty.”


Here’s to hoping for more diversity in K-beauty — a diversity that accurately represents its fans around the world.


What are some of your favorite products for deeper skin tones? Do you have a wish list for K-beauty brands for your particular skin tone?


This Is Why These 6 Glossier Products Are Really K-Beauty Dupes

Glossier products are K-beauty dupes

There’s a lot of hype around Glossier’s beauty products, and for good reason. They’re cool, they’re innovative — and they’re just like a lot of K-beauty products that have been around forever. Find out why these 6 Glossier products are K-beauty dupes. (Oh, and did we mention the K-beauty products are more affordable?)



Glossier’s products have made a big splash in the mainstream beauty community lately. They’ve been seen on stars walking the red carpet and are promoted by countless influencers across social media and in print. Their selling point is slick minimalism and innovation.


If that sounds familiar it’s because Glossier, in my opinion, has borrowed heavily from Korean beauty. When people were raving about whatever Glossier’s product du jour was, I was sitting there like “OK, that’s really cool, but I told you about an identical product years ago!” It especially hit home when their much anticipated sunscreen debuted and everyone was hype as hell for the “never seen before” clear gel-like formula.


Only wait a minute — those of us in Korean beauty (and the all-encompassing Asian beauty realm) have been dutifully applying our Asian clear gel sunscreens for several years now.


Of course, that’s not to say Glossier’s products aren’t good; it’s just that there’s a well-established dupe (or should I say, OG) in Korean beauty for just about every one of their best sellers. And the Korean version is usually cheaper. Read on to find out which six Glossier products are K-beauty dupes .


Glossier products are K-beauty dupes


1. Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35 ($34)


Make P:rem Capsule Sun Gel SPF 50 PA+++ ($32)


A clear gel sunscreen that works well under makeup? No white cast? Awesome! But ummm, sis, what if I told you that you can have the same thing but in the much safer SPF 50 PA+++? Look no further than Make P:rem Capsule Sun Gel.


Glossier products are K-beauty dupes


I certainly wasn’t the only one to make this connection when I heard about the launch of Glossier’s much-hyped sunscreen. Reddit’s Skincare Addiction was all over it. They also pointed out that the Make P:rem version is cheaper while giving you 250% more. The formulations are not an exact dupe, but for that precious added SPF and value for the price, I will gladly give Make P:rem my coins.


2. Glossier Super Glow, Super Bounce, Super Pure serums ($28 each for 15 ml)


Shark Sauce ($29 for 30 ml)


On their website, Glossier’s description for each of their serums list their star and ingredients and then let you know what they’re targeting. Dark spots, dehydration, and redness are the troublemakers on the chopping block and some of the star ingredients are niacinimide and hyaluronic acid. Each serum is $28 or you can get all three in a Super Pack for $65.


Glossier products are K-beauty dupes


I’m very happy that Glossier is moving serums to the forefront of skincare, but you can get a much, much better formulated serum for much, much cheaper. Not to mention you don’t have to buy three separate products to get all the benefits of Glossier’s three serums. The cult fave Shark Sauce contains that precious niacinimide and hyaluronic acid, but it also has the added benefit of licorice root, sea kelp bio-ferment, and green tea extract. Holy calming hydrating redness fighter, Batman! All that for $29!


3. Glossier Cloud Paint ($18)


Peripera Ah! Much Real My Cushion Blusher ($16)


Glossier products are K-beauty dupes


Out of all of Glossier’s products, this one is first choice of almost everyone I know as their favorite. It gives a gorgeous sheer wash of creamy color. What’s not to love? They also have four very pretty shade selections.


But my first thought when trying them was, “This reminds me of something.” Then it dawned on me. This was a lot like Peripera Ah! Much Real My Cushion Blusher! Both offer the exact same kind of beautiful flush that looks both fancy and natural at the same time; however I’m going to have to give Glossier the win for this product, as they offer four shades that work for a wider array of skin tones. Peripera only has three shades.


4. Glossier Haloscope ($22)


Innisfree Mineral Fit Stick (about $11)

& Nature Republic Botanical Stick Highlighter (about $10)


Sticks are my jam. I love a good stick. I could live on sticks and cushions alone. When we were writing our book, Korean Beauty Secrets, the Innisfree Mineral Fit Stick and Nature Republic Botanical Stick Highlighter became instant favorites on set. Many of the models were asking where they could get their hands on them.


Glossier products are K-beauty dupes


So I was amused to see Glossier’s Haloscope on many influencers’ Instagram accounts. Haloscope comes in a pink, bronze, and iridescent white shade. Innisfree and Nature Republic both have the bronze and pink shades covered, but with more pigment and shine. They are lacking the white shade, but VDL makes a nice iridescent highlighter in that color if it’s an absolute must for you.


5. Glossier Soothing Face Mist ($18)


SanDaWha Camellia Flower Hydrating Mist ($16)


Glossier’s face mist is essentially just rosewater with aloe leaf extract. That’s not a bad thing; it’s a perfectly nice formula for a facial mist, if not a little bland. It does have the fancy sounding honeysuckle extract, but it’s way down at the end of the ingredient list. Also, $18 gets you 118 ml of product.


Glossier products are K-beauty dupes


Meanwhile in Korean beauty, $16 will give you 80 ml of SanDaWha’s Camellia Flower Hydrating Mist, a 92.52% camellia flower-based spray that is also packed with licorice root extract, green tea extract, pea protein, pea extract, aloe vera leaf water, chamomile extract, hyaluronic acid, rosemary extract, and rose oil. Sign me up for that one, please.


6. Glossier Boy Brow ($16)


Literally hundreds of dupes from every major brand 


Boy Brow was the product that really launched Glossier into prominence, which was puzzling to me since there are so many brow gels and mascaras out there. Anastasia Beverly Hills already had the popular Tinted Brow Gel, not to mention brow gels and browcaras being a mainstay of Korean cosmetics since forever.


Glossier products are K-beauty dupes


Almost every K-beauty brand has a brow gel or browcara, and they usually come in more than three shades, which is what Glossier has to offer. I could throw a dart at a board full of Korean cosmetic brands and find you a dupe. So pretend I did, and pretend it landed on The Face Shop Designing Browcara, because it’s got a similar brush and it offers five shades instead of three. Also it’s like $5.


Look Glossier isn’t bad; I’m not trying to rain on their parade. They’re a fun, new brand, and I’ve bought their products. Hell, I’d gladly accept them if gifted to me. I’m just sayin’, Korean beauty is the OG.


What has your experience with Glossier been? How do they compare to Korean beauty dupes? Let us know in the comments below!


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