I visited several countries in Asia this summer and have been saving up my purchases to talk about them all together now that I’m back. Asia has some great shopping – the photo above is from Singapore’s Orchard Road, a Vegas-like strip of 27 beautiful shopping malls. I mostly bought skincare because it was my first proper opportunity to try out the Asian brands I hear about every so often on the internet, but there are a few makeup products sprinkled in the mix, as well.
These purchases came from stores in India, Singapore, and Taiwan, and a number of the companies I purchased from are Korean. I’m going to try and keep my comments on the products to a minimum since I really haven’t been using any of them for that long, though I’m sure I’ll write more about the individual products further down the line. I tried my best to keep up with how much I spent on everything, but many of my receipts are in Chinese and thus are fairly useless for reference, so I’m mostly working from memory and from some photos I took while on the go. I’ll move in mostly chronological order of when and where I bought things – here we go!
First, there was only one purchase in India that I didn’t fit in to my Ayurvedic skincare post, and it’s this Maybelline Colossal Kajal eyeliner. While in India I saw this advertised on TV as India’s favorite kajal, and while I’m not sure if there’s any truth to that, I thought it would be fun to try when I spotted it in a department store for only around $3. As far as I know, this is only available in India, but people do appear to sell them online.
Next was a very basic purchase, an Icarlus lip balm, after running out of my Sunny Honey beeswax lip balm while in China. I was surprised to see lots of balms were priced at $9+, but this one was more like $7. Still more than I was hoping to spend, but I went for it. This one is really nice, has a very light pink tint and adds some flattering shine while providing some moisture. The problem is that it’s packaged in a lipstick tube, and the balm is way too soft for that. It got kind of messy in the tube, and it went fast – I’m almost completely out of it already.
Here’s another basic, some Guardian facial cleansing wipes. Guardian is a drugstore chain in Asia, and once I was in Singapore these wipes were the cheapest ones I found. I think they were around $4. They’re great at removing face makeup but don’t do so well with waterproof mascara. No strong smell, and not too drying.
Now we’re getting to some of the fun stuff. I stopped in Etude House while in Singapore and bought my very first legit Korean BB cream, the Etude House Precious Mineral BrightFit BB Cream. This is a luminous BB cream fit for dry, normal, and combination skin types. The formula has an SPF 30 plus whitening, anti-wrinkle, and anti-darkening properties. Note: I don’t think “whitening” means lightening an overall skin tone but rather easing dark spots. This particular product was also on sale when I bought it, and I think I spent somewhere around $20 for it. The shade that the sales associate recommended is pretty perfect, it’s a teeny bit light on my self-tanned skin but will be wonderful to reach for throughout the cooler months that are approaching.
Update: see my full review of the BB cream
I also had to try one of the Etude House Lovely Cookie Blusher, and picked out the shade #11, Peach Choux Wafer. These are so cute and small, and are available in a range of candy-colored pinks and peaches. Conveniently, the puff is totally useful if you don’t feel like reaching for a brush. This was around $13, not a bad price, and it’s really a fabulous product. I’m already in love.
I also bought an Etude House eyeshadow brush, which came in handy when I had to get dolled up for a wedding later on. I hadn’t been using eyeshadow for a long time while traveling, and I actually hadn’t brought a basic eyeshadow brush with me. This one came home with me because it was only like $5. Frankly, I don’t think it’s any better than the ELF brushes which are a little cheaper, so I feel like I overpaid a bit, but ELF wasn’t available in Asia (and if it were, it’d probably be more expensive there, anyways).
Etude House also gave me my first taste of the samples that Asian beauty stores like to hand out. There’s a fun mix of stuff here – a brightening serum, a brightening essence, a facial cleanser, a hair conditioner, and a lip tint. I think you can tell from this small smattering of products I left with that Etude House has some serious whimsy and girlishness going on.
I saw a couple of tempting versions of Maybelline Baby Lips in Asia, but usually they were really expensive compared to the US. Finally, I saw this one in a Taiwanese 7-11 on sale for around $3 and had to try it. They call this “pink glow” which I think is a little deceptive, as the balm itself is entirely colorless. I think it’s formulated to really just enhance your natural color (rather than muting your color, as some lip balms can do) and give you a fun scent. It’s basic but fine and I’ll totally use it, but I’m just glad I didn’t shell out a lot of money for it.
I stopped in an Innisfree store while in Taiwan, but generally was a little overwhelmed by the high prices. I ended up walking away with a few small things, the first of which was this Green Tea Mineral Mist. I think this small size was around $7, and it seemed like a fun thing to try out.
Update: see my full review of the mist
The other purchases I made at Innisfree were these It’s a Real Squeeze masks. I couldn’t read the backs of the masks since the text is in Korean, so I picked out Green Tea and Kiwi because … they sounded nice? There were a ton of options to choose from, and I think they were somewhere between $1 and $2 each (they sell more expensive masks, as well).
Update: see my full review of both masks
Innisfree also provided samples of their Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask and Soybean Energy Essence.
I found a Nature Republic store in Taipei, and this was a store I really wish I could revisit on a regular basis. I love that they had different price points, from budget buys to high end stuff, and I found a few things to take home with me while still keeping my spending under control. I found another small, cheap facial mist to try out, the Vitamin C Facial Mist, which was also somewhere under $10. I also bought their Provence Lip Essence balm, which was around $7, and the Original Power Energy Ampoule. The range of ampoules (sort of like serums) were on sale for half price, and I’m looking back at my receipt and think that I paid about $12 for it. Their toners looked fantastic but weren’t discounted and came in fairly heavy bottles, so I passed on those for the time being, but they’re already on my list for “next time”.
Nature Republic also gave me an Argan 20 sheet mask and a handful of Snail Solution packets for free samples. I love that Asian beauty companies (and consumers, I assume) are crazy for the snail goo, and I’m more than happy to give it a try. I did also buy a couple of discounted snail goo sheet masks at a drugstore, but it looks like I neglected to photograph them. I’ll share photos of those when I break them out and give them a try.
I also found a Holika Holika store, and happened to come upon a pretty great store-wide half-off sale. I wanted to get a toner, and decided to try their Fairy Water Pure Aqua Skin. The Fairy Waters are pretty budget-friendly, the only downside is that I don’t know anything about them, as I can’t read the ingredients which are printed in Korean. They have two versions, a Pure and a Fresh, which are different colors but smelled pretty much the same to me. I ended up buying the Pure version because it seemed to be more popular and I bought the last one in stock. I think at half-off, I paid around $7.
Update: see my full review of the toner
Despite only purchasing one small thing, Holika Holika also gave me this great bag of samples. I took the photo of it when I got it, but I ended up packing it up without fully exploring what’s inside. I’m saving that fun for later, I guess!
Next, I have some products from Taiwanese companies. I first came across the brand 1028 Visual Therapy in a Singaporean Sasa beauty store, where I swatched some shadows. They had three dessert-themed 6-pan eyeshadow palettes, and I really enjoyed the colors in the one called Brownie Eyes, a palette of satin and shimmer neutrals (the other two are called Toffee Eyes and Macaron Eyes). The other two had different tones in them as well as more glittery finishes. I paid around $25 for this in Singapore, but I later saw it’s actually available for a little less in Taiwan, maybe around $18. I’m sort of picky with my neutral shades, and really enjoy these shadows. I’m not beating myself up for overpaying because the one Taiwanese drugstore I found the palette in didn’t display it well and didn’t allow you to swatch, so I wouldn’t have known what it was if I hadn’t seen it in Singapore.
Update: see my full review of the palette, including two eye looks
I was on the lookout for more pieces of the 9 and 10-step skincare systems that the Korean market is known for, and ended up getting these products from the Taiwanese company Ceutical Plus. A Sasa sales associate recommended the brand to me when she saw me looking at cleansers, and cleansed and moisturized my hand as a demonstration. I ended up leaving the store and thinking it over before returning to buy the Aqua Collagen cleanser, lotion, and cream. They were offering a buy-2-get-1-free deal on the brand, so I paid just over $30 for all three products. They’re pretty big sizes, too! They’re supposed to be best sellers in Taiwan, and they have gentle, fragrance-free formulas.
Update: see my full review of all 3 products
I wanted to quickly grab some moisturizing masks when I realized that the airline was going to hold on to our bags during our 20-hr layover in Beijing. My boyfriend was relieved to not have to carry the bags around, while I kept imagining my face shriveling up from dehydration. I basically kept the Guardian Facial Cleansing Wipes and these My Beauty Diary Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Masks as a short-term replacement for all of the liquids checked away in my luggage. It worked out ok, too. The boxes of 2 masks were on a buy-one-get-one-free offer at 7-11 at the airport, so I walked away with 4 masks total. I still have one more to use.
Update: see my full review of the masks
I’m pretty excited about all of this, and I’ll keep in touch about how everything works for me! Have you tried any of these out before? Have you explored Asian beauty products much? I’m still just really beginning to learn about the market, so I’d love to hear about your experiences.