I first thought of this idea when I saw an American youtube “beauty guru” (seriously, who invented that term?) give TonyMoly’s Delight tint an abysmal performance rating after she tried to use it as a lipgloss or liquid lipstick. If a lot of us Westeners expect Korean brands to be used to work with Western trends and beauty norms, then we should also expect Western brands to be able to work with Korean trends. Seems fair, right?
So I decided to put some of my makeup to the test to see if I could create a makeup look inspired by Korean trends using Western brands. Later on, I’ll use Korean brands to create a very Western look.
Spoiler alert, the first day of this experiment was not a resounding success. If this was debating, this performance would get a 73 or a 74. Slightly below average.
I used my normal skin routine, which is a mixture of Korean and Western method and products. My skin was in a fairly normal condition today, some slight redness on the cheeks and slightly tired overall. No major spots or dry patches or anything. I did not use a primer because I honestly forgot.
Trends I tried to include:
-Puppy eyes (eyeliner pointing slightly downwards rather than up like in a cat eye)
-Eyeshadow duo look (two colours, one on the inner side and one on the outer side of the lid)
-Aegyo Sal (best described as puffy under eyes or enhancing eye bags)
-Gradient lip, later changed to pink lips.
Naturally there are other trends out there and other ways to achieve them. I’m by no means an expert on Korean beauty trends but therefor chose some well known ones that are quite accessible.
What I used:
Foundation: Chanel’s Perfection Lumière Velvet Smoot Effect Makeup in 20 Beige
Moisturiser: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula’s Daily Calming Facial Lotion.
CC Cream: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula’s CC Cream in Light/Fair
Concealer: Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer in Light Warm
Eye Shadow: NYX’s Natural Shadow Palette
Eyeliner: Rimmel’s Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer in 221 Sable.
Mascara: Lancome’s Hypnose Drama in Black.
Lip: Maxfactor’s Flipstick Colour Effect in Bloomy Pink
How did each trend go?
Dewy skin – This was really difficult since the foundation (my only Western foundation) is matte. My first attempt was to mix it with the moisturiser, but whilst this resulted in a shinier look it also meant that an already light-coverage foundation now gave the effect of only a tinted moisturiser. I said “fine, I have concealer”. The concealer did not help cover any of the red spots noticeably but did an ok job with my dark circles. It was really difficult to make it blend into the rest of the makeup and whenever it was touched by a brush or finger, a nice imprint could be found. I’m not good with concealers, but man did this one disappoint me. Tried CC cream on the red spots, helped a little but would probably have worked better if I’d used it before the foundation like a normal person. In the end I ended up just reapplying pure foundation to the red areas realising that my face would still be uneven in regards to colour, but now 50 shades of beige rather than red. Not happy with the result at all. I miss my BB cushion.
The photo here below shows a lot of the things that went wrong with the look, including the fact that multiple high-end products failed to hide mild redness (which shouldn’t be a thing), some of the eye products just wouldn’t stay on, and the mascara being a bit clumpy. The highlighting of the inner corners of the eyes is seen better in a photo you’ll find near the end of the post. Oh, and I usually just leave my eyebrows the way they are. Looks pale up close, but better from a normal distance.
Puppy eyes – I’m better with puppy eyes than winged eyeliner and find that it works better for hooded eyes than a traditional cat eye, for a day look I often use this rather than a Western look so I felt pretty comfortable with it. Brown eyeliner is fairly popular for Korean day looks since it gives a softer appearance than a black eyeliner but still frames your eyes. The conclusion is that I need a new eyeliner. The Rimmel eyeliner looks good but it’s gone in 60 seconds. I have watery eyes and thus ‘waterproof’ is not a bonus but a necessity. It’s easy to apply, it just doesn’t stay there. After trying to telepathically glue the eyeliner to my face, I turned to the mascara. I’m not that big on mascara and my go-to one is Korean. So I used the one I have, which is the Hypnose one. It’s bold and dramatic, it’s a pretty good mascara but prone to clumping. I’ve noticed as I’m typing this that my right eye and my nose are a bit… runny and irritated, so there’s a chance one of these products has expired, which would in turn affect their performance. But yeah, creating puppy eyes with Western products is fairly easy.
Eyeshadow duo look – Korean trends put less emphasis on the crease and the outer v than almost any western trends. Why? Different eye shapes. Emphasis is instead on brightening the eye, often by using two different and rather bright shadows. I put my usual beige colour (third from the right) from the NYX palette all over my eyelid (taking into account that I have hooded eyes and accommodating for that) and then added the more red/orange colour (third from the left) on the outer third of the lid. I used the light colour on the far left to highlight the area under my brow.
Aegyo Sal – this is a trend that just doesn’t exist in the west. It’s believed that bright bags under your eyes makes you look younger and more innocent. This is usually done by adding a bright shiny shadow or eyeliner in white/gold/pink to highlight the area. Like, “Look! I haven’t slept well, see!”. You can probably tell this isn’t my favourite trend and it didn’t get better after I realised I don’t have any light eyeliners from Western brands. So instead I added the sparkly golden eye shadow (second from the left) to the inner corner of my eye and the aegyo sal area. Can’t tell if it hit the mark quite well or if my eyes are just baggy today, but the added sparkle does help brighten the eye.
Gradient lip – this ombre or gradient lip is often achieved by using a lip tint on the inner parts of your lip, a concealer to tone down the lip line, and a gloss over it to make it look more alive. My concealer did not wish to play this game and instead crept into every single fine line on my lips (which had been moisturised and weren’t particularly dry). The Maxfactor flipstick wasn’t absorbed into the lips in the way a tint would be and thus didn’t create that Just Bit My Lip kind of look. Realising it wasn’t working, I decided to do a simple pink lip instead. I never wear pink lips, so it was still outside of my comfort zone but it was at least doable.
Have I changed anything since then?
So, it’s been a while since I put the makeup on, and by now I’ve cheated by adding a lip balm that is Korean. Not because Western lip balms wouldn’t have worked but because it was the one I had in my bag.
Don’t try to create glowy skin with a matte foundation. It will backfire. I’ve done the moisturiser trick with other foundations before and it has worked a lot better. Use a medium coverage foundation that you mix with the moisturiser since it does dilute the product.
A lot of my problems with this look stems from the goddamn concealer. It did not work to cover redness, which I relied on it to do, and it just didn’t want to play the lip game. Maybe I’m just bad at using this product but it was more trouble than it was worth. It was also the main reason why a true gradient lip wasn’t possible. Perhaps using lipsticks in two different shades would work better?
I said f-you to the common trend of using blush on your cheeks because they’re red enough as it is.
Contouring isn’t commonly used in Korean makeup and if used it’s very subtle (jawline and nose mainly), so it was’t something I thought worth exploring. I don’t really do contouring so I would have been bad at it no matter if I tried the Korean or Western way of contouring.
Overall, this was quite challenging and in a lot of cases there was just no chemistry between the trend and the product. I should have used a primer since some of these products just seemed to vaporise on my face. I also need to check if any of the eye products have expired since my eyes got irritated.
If you want to incorporate some of the common Korean trends into your Western makeup, I’d go for the puppy eyes and the pink lips. If you have eye bags and want to embrace it, then the aegyo sal trend might be an option.