Sorry this one is a long one…I think I just went overboard on this…so hear with me!
Being Japanese I should be more partial to Japanese products…but not for cosmetics (for the time being).
Over the years I’ve realized that there are some products I prefer from Japan, but in case of cosmetics, mainly due to location restrictions, I’ve had to make do with Korean ones which have been aggressively marketing world-wide. For instance Innisfree, THE FACE SHOP, Too cool for school and Etude House are three larger brands that you can see all over Asia outside of Korea and I believe they have been putting out products to the US and the EU. Don&t get me wrong I’m not saying these Korean ones are “inferior” in any way, because in most cases the Korean ones are more reasonably priced and better for m skin. I think it was just me being mentally dependent on some ones I just got used to using…
When I ran out of some of my Japanese cosmetics I was using during my time outside of Japan the default became Korean cosmetics…well at that time it was cheaper than some named brands most commonly seen outside the local pharmacies. Due to my sensitive skin I had problems with the commonly seen pharmacy brands like Maybelline…which are perfectly acceptable for mascara and such but not for basic skin care and foundation level make up.
So default lead me to Korean brands…or so I’d like to say but it does go a bit deeper than that because I’ve been using some Korean products way before I moved out of Japan.
When I was based in Japan I made a few trips to Seoul on my off time (since its only like 2 hours from Tokyo by plane and most travel shops have amazing deals including hotel and flight), with an affair of going to Little Korea in Shin-Ōkubo (新大久保) to see their goods. That is Japan’s biggest K-town and you will find everything there along with awesome tasting Korean restaurants. According to some (aka my partner KGB) ‘they have better Korean BBQ than the one we had in Korea!’
Another convenient way to get exposure was due to close proximity there are a LOT of online shops based in Korea that caters to Japanese customers. This was partly because back in the 90’s there was a huge rush for Korean drama and all the middle-aged ladies were all about short trips to Korea. After touring all the drama locations they would go to the Korean cosmetic shops (as it was way cheaper and packed filled with ingredients better for skin conditions than the Japanese ones) and buy out the shops. For a while (before China got traveling) every single shop in the main part of Seoul had a Japanese speaking clerk. Now you may notice that trend has changed to China and not every single shop will have a Chinese speaking attendant…sigh…
Sorry I was getting off topic there…in my short trips I would just buy Korean skin care items out of convenience. I mean it was so cheap at the time that it was much easier to find travel size items than carrying it in my carry on from Japan. Once I realized I didn’t get any severe skin problems using these products I started looking at Japanese blogs that featured Korean cosmetics. There are a butt load of Korean travel blogs in Japanese and I still use them for reference or just as daily read since it’s entertaining.
A lot of Korean travel blogs featured skin care items so I started exploring these brands branching outside of the main stream well-known ones…but I was a chicken so I just started usually with their face masks. No girl can have too many face masks! Then again once I got used to using the Korean masks and found some skin care items that were better suited my whole skincare regimen has turned to Korean products. There are a few items I would use from Japan but again being located outside of Japan I don’t ever feel like paying more than the base price of the items in the grossly overpriced market.
Another thing I realized on my way was how nice the Korean girl’s skin looked! I mean talk about flawless. Yeah, yeah coming from a more southern lineage (Japan) I will never be as white as these Korean girls (and also in my youth I lived in tropical countries and not have a permanent slight tinge of tan on my skin…), but I could do something about my pores and well the dullness of my skin. Granted Korea is the land of plastic surgery and most likely a lot of girls do get something “done”…I also heard rumors that the parents give their kids nose jobs as graduation gifts…but regardless of these rumors it is also the land of high-tech skin care.
There are lasers and what not for every skin problem, and even a way to increase collagen in your face (no this is not botox, although you could get some cheap botox done if that’s your thing). I never knew the importance of skin peels to help with skin turn over (this really helps with dull skin), and increase in collagen which helps to make your skin more youthful!!
The quest for eternal youth will probably be achieved in Korean soon enough. -I think-
Another thing that baffled me was how Koreans had a skin regimen for all seasons. I never knew you had to CHANGE your skin care in accordance with the season!! I mean who has the time?? Who the hell does that?? Apparently they do and now I have seen the light and try to alter some of my regimen with the season. However, when I lived in the land of eternal summer (Singapore) there was very little of that going on but now that I’m in London I did have to change some stuff in order for my skin to not fail me.
My Love affair with Korean products came from here. If I keep going I might bore people to death so I’ll stop while I’m ahead. You’ll probably see a few items here or there in my articles that will feature some products I’ve used. Some items I’ve stocked up so I can keep using it without having to go back…and some I’ve made a good source that can send it to me in person. Either way I am pretty set at the moment and my skin has been doing well even in this cold harsh dry London winter!
So what’s your skin care regimen? Do you think you’ll be changing it any time soon?