The beauty team tries quirky K-beauty trends

The beauty team tries quirky K-beauty trends

Seoul far so good

Text: Angelyn Kwek Renée Batchelor

Image: Vanessa Caitlin

What's it like sporting super shiny skin or straight, thick brows instead of your natural arches? The intrepid beauty team at Buro puts four Korean beauty trends to the test

For our Korean special, what better story to do then one where the Buro beauty team tried out some of the biggest (and upcoming) K-beauty trends and put these to the test. After all, Korea is where many of the buzziest beauty trends — from cushion compacts to ombré lips — first emerge before they either become worldwide sensations or weird, flash-in-the-pan moments. Did we look ridiculous? At times. Did we take more time to do our faces in the morning? Hell yes! What did we learn from the whole experience? Read on to find out.

Straight brows K-beauty trends

What exactly are Korean brows? Well, as popularised by actresses like Song Hye-Kyo, they are the full, straight, sometimes severe brows that almost all Korean women uniformly sport. The problem? I have a natural arch that is pretty difficult to disguise and beat into submission. To truly capture the trend, I needed to remove a considerable amount of brow hair both above my upper browline, and at the tapered end of my brows. This was not a sacrifice I was willing to make for this story (guess I'm not as intrepid as I thought I was), so I valiantly tried to recreate an approximation of it using a combination of brow pencil, brow powder and heavy-duty concealer to hide wayward brow hairs. It took me nearly 15 minutes just to get my K-brow on.

Burberry Beauty Effortless Eyebrow Definer in Sepia, Benefit Foolproof Brow Powder and Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer
Difficulty level: 3/5

Reactions: I did them first thing in the morning and tried to keep the rest of my face pared-down to avoid looking even more wayang that I already did. "You look a bit fierce," said one colleague. Another burst into laughter upon seeing my face. I snapped a photo and what's-apped my friends and asked them if it looked better with my glasses on. "No. You look like Groucho Marx," one amateur comedian quipped. Okay. Point taken.

Conclusion: Straight brows are not for everyone. Harsh, angular brows can make you look severe. Go with the brows that suit your face, and follow your natural brow shape where possible. I erased them with makeup remover at night before I could face the chagrin of my husband as well, as a girl can only take so much rejection. — Renée Batchelor

Jamsu beauty trend

What is jamsu? It roughly translates to 'diving' in Korean and is a makeup setting trend that has been making its rounds, but seemed kind of troublesome to do IRL. Who has the time to dunk their face in water for 30 whole seconds each morning, and who wanted to coat their face in that much baby powder? Undeterred, I found a bowl large enough to dunk my face in and put the entire thing in the fridge beforehand. Some time later, I started with a cream foundation and concealer and instead of baby powder I used translucent loose setting powder — after all I had access to tonnes of that stuff — applying it liberally all over my face with a large brush. It doesn't look as thick as with baby powder, so I didn't look as scary as Ju-on. Finally, after dusting several layers and nearly choking on the stuff, I proceeded to do the dunking. I lasted 17 seconds — the water is cold y'all – and then patted the excess powder and water off gently with tissues.

Clé de Peau Beauté The Foundation, $430, 3INA Loose Setting Powder and 13Rushes Universal Do-It-All Face Brush, $39.90


Difficulty level: 4/5 (because it takes effort and some time).

Reactions: The same observant colleague remarked, "Did you do something to your face? Your skin looks velvety and like you're glowing from within." Maybe there's something to jamsu after all. 

Conclusion: Surprisingly, this does give a pretty good result, leaving skin with a velvety-matte, soft focus finish without the need for expensive foundation, powders and setting sprays. The cold water seems to press the powder into the skin, setting your makeup for the day, though on dry skin like mine, it did feel a tad powdery at times. Go for translucent powder — I didn't have to wipe that much off after as it kind of disappeared into my skin. And give this a try if you have oily skin or makeup that simply doesn't stay on. — Renée Batchelor.

K-beauty trends pink blusher high on cheeks

It's the hottest way to wear colour, as seen on many a street style maven — we're talking both women and men — during Seoul Fashion Week. A full flush worn in an oval-ish shape stretching along the cheekbones, it riffs off the cherub-cheeked look, ramped up with a dramatic Korean touch. But let it be known now that I've never been big on blush (contouring is my ride-or-die), so this was a slight step out of my makeup comfort zone. It did take a while to get to OTT intensity, seeing as I needed to build up the layers as opposed to going in strong with a fully loaded brush and then blending it out. The latter method is more likely to land me with an unattractive ruddy look instead of a skillful, intentionally flushed finish. Also, note to self: Bring along your supplies, because you might find yourself needing to top it up in the middle of the day if the colour starts looking faded. Something I found out, spending a good few minutes at my desk after lunch sweeping blush on.

Korean beauty trends overt blush

Difficulty level: 1/5

Reactions: "You looked suntanned," said a clueless male friend. "It's a very dolly-looking effect," said a fellow beauty writer. And "you look so Korean today!" noted a colleague who was still feeling Seoul-ed up from her recent trip there.

Conclusion: Surprisingly, it actually wears quite alright in real life. Or maybe that was due to the shade I went with, which was a dusky peach compared to the eye-popping orange or coral preferred by the Koreans. That means you can cop this trend without being too out-there if you choose your blusher shade wisely. — Angelyn Kwek

Korean Glass Skin beauty trend

Brace yourself: This is next-next-level from the signature dewy look every Korean idol and their fans are known for sporting. Basically, it's a (godly) standard of skin where your complexion is so shiny, poreless and translucent looking, it gleams like a pane of glass — hence the name. Popularised by South Korean model Ban Seojin, this reflective look has taken off big time and there's not a K-beauty fan that isn't on the bandwagon. A spot of Googling later, I reached out to local e-tailer Evening Island to get my hands on the 7-step lineup from Korean skincare brand Yuri Pibu, because achieving glass skin requires an inordinate amount of time on your skincare regime plus dedication to a T. FYI, Yuri Pibu directly translates to 'glass skin', so you know it's legit. Swapping out my usual products for the glass skin routine, I began seeing my facial texture improve, particularly with use of the Phyton Peeling Gel exfoliator every other day. Worry not; it's made with fruit acids so it's not going to scrub you raw. I only got in a week's use, so I'm not exactly at the pinnacle of glass skin yet though my face is definitely looking glowier. In the meantime, I topped up with copious amounts of pearlescent liquid highlighter and a dewy finish cushion foundation to replicate the sheen. Fake it until you make it, gals.

Difficulty level: 3/5 (you can't be lazy, which is pretty hard).

Reactions: I kind of had to solicit comments, as it was my hair that attracted attention instead of my skin. My bangs were pinned back to give the glass skin look maximum exposure, which had almost everyone saying I looked different. Then came the remarks on my skin, once they were close enough to notice it was shinier than... well, ever, since I tend to favour a semi-matte look. There were interested folks who quizzed me on the trend but ultimately there were no takers as most of them deemed it too ludicrous.

Conclusion: It's an interesting look that gets raised brows once people sit up and realise your face can qualify as a light source, but as the day wore on, our humid weather ate up whatever glow I had, leaving me with less sheen and more slip as my makeup began melting without any powder or setting spray to lock it in. There's a reason why Singaporean ladies prefer matte complexions, after all. While it looks like it doesn't wear as well here as it would in Korea's seasonal climate, the 7-step Yuri Pibu regime is a solid gold star for me as it really gives your skin a boost in looking naturally radiant, even if the glow is subtler than glass skin-level shine. I'd say work the skincare, and que sera sera. — Angelyn Kwek

Read more stories from our Korean special here