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Beauty is Boring: Made in Korea

From snail extract to adorable packaging, the beauty products we’re coveting the most right now all happen to hail from Korea. We sent makeup artist and photographer Robin Black of Beauty is Boring a bunch of products from TONYMOLY, The Face Shop, Holika Holika and Peripera to play with and report back. 

Read on for her insider tips and tricks and her how-to for a tangerine dream beauty look using our favorite Korean brands.

Cult Beauty: Mizon

With a focus on skincare over cosmetics, a commitment to harnessing both natural ingredients and scientific advancements, and a good dose of imagination, the Korean beauty industry is light-years ahead when it comes to innovative products. We fell hard for cult brand Mizon, whose product range includes such peculiar delights as King to the Kong No. 1 Kings Berry Aqua Step-Up Cream,  Ultra Wonder Power Jelly Sun and All in One Snail Repair Cream. To celebrate the launch of Mizon at Urban Outfitters, We called on NYLON Korea beauty editor Lee Bo Mi to give us the 411 on her country's beauty bounty. 

Hi Lee! How would you describe the Korean woman's approach to beauty?
Korean women like bright and glowing skin and natural make up because they want to look young.

Why do you think the Korean beauty industry is so much more advanced than ours in the US? 
Most Korean woman care about how they look because it’s a representation of themselves to others. And they're very curious. Because of that, they always want the new thing. Beauty brands [here] are always trying to catch their attention.

What’s your daily beauty routine? 
I try to keep a simple beauty routine. It’s not always good to use too many skincare products. First of all, I clean my make up with a gentle milk cleanser and then wash my skin with a homemade soap I made without any chemical detergents. After that, I apply a plankton essence—it prevents moisture from leaving the skin. Then I use a propolis ampule that relieves redness. Lastly, I apply a cream with alpine berries to lock in moisture.

What products can't you live without? 
Cushion foundation! It makes my skin glowing and healthy in ten seconds. I think Korea has the only cushion foundation in the world. It’s sort of a compact version of liquid foundation, BB cream and CC cream in sponge, and we use the puff to apply it on the skin. This puff is very special; it has millions of holes (like the skin’s pores) and it absorbs well and spreads the foundation evenly on the skin.

Who is your beauty muse?
Jennifer Aniston. She is a perfect example of natural makeup.

Have you tried Mizon products? We’re obsessed with them! 
Yes. I used Mizon Twilight Essence Mist. It’s great. I don’t like face mist, because when I use a face mist I feel my skin gets drier, but Mizon’s is different—it contains serum and birch water. After I finish my makeup, I often spray it on and it makes my skin glow!

What are your top beauty tips and tricks? 
When I use mascara, I don’t apply eyeliner. I just put tons of mascara on my bottom lashes for a 1960s Twiggy look. 

What are the new advancements in skincare coming out of Korea? 
Skincare with fermented ingredients. It’s a kind of “slow” beauty product that uses Korean botanical ingredients.

Cult Beauty: Etta and Billie

Alana Rivera is the woman behind Etta and Billie, the handcrafted skincare line we have to thank for this delicious Horchata soap. Alana was kind enough to let us know a little bit about her business, how she uses her essential oils, and the surprising scent mistakes she's made over the years.
Interview by Katie Gregory

How did you get your shop up and running?  
I started soap making in 2006 while working an extremely soul-sucking job. I enjoyed the product making process so much that I decided to turn it into a business. But, it was a very gradual process. I went to get a certificate in Herbalism in 2008 and launched the business in 2009 on Etsy. Then I got my first wholesale account, more followed, and things grew steadily from there. I quit my day job in the Fall to follow my dream full-time.

What is your favorite product you sell?
My favorite product is body oil but soap is by far my favorite thing to make because I get to be really creative. The product that many customers keep coming back for are the scrubs, especially the Grapefruit Cardamom. People love the combination. (It's one of my personal favs, too.)

Body oils seem so amazing, but we're lost! How do you recommend we use yours?  
Body oils can definitely seem a bit intimidating, but they are surprisingly versatile once you know what to do. I use my body oil like a lotion, as a hair treatment and in the bath. If applying like a body lotion, apply a few drops right after you get out of the bath or shower (you can even apply some as a face moisturizer in a pinch or if you have dry skin). I rub a drop through my hair when it's wet as a leave-in conditioner and sometimes use a tiny bit on dry hair to tame frizz. Adding a drop or two to your bath is a really wonderful way to add scent and moisture. I always take a small bottle with me when I travel because it's so multipurpose.

Did you ever mix up a scent you thought would be amazing that just… wasn't?
Yes, although most of them turned into scents other people love. When I first formulated the Cedarwood and Bitter Orange soaps, I was going for completely different scents. For the Bitter Orange, I had envisioned a really lovely citrus-sweet orange-blossom type scent (I was going to call it Orange Blossom). When I mixed up the scent, it just smelled intensely bitter, nothing like I had imagined. I was able to add some additional essential oils to get it closer to what I had wanted, but there is only so much adding you can do before it really starts to get worse! When I poured the soap, I just hoped for the best. After the curing process, I still didn't like it and wasn't sure if anyone else would either but it was so pretty that I had to take it to craft shows with me. So I re-named it Bitter Orange, and to my surprise, people actually really like it. It's a seasonal soap, so I only make it a few months out of the year but it has some die-hard fans that would love to be able to get it year round.  

When you go about mixing up something like the Horchata scent, how long does it take you to get it right?
The Horchata took only two batches to become perfect. It was mostly just fine tuning the scent strength. It all depends on the how complicated the scents are, but I usually get it right within two batches or less. I don't do small test batches. I just get an idea, sketch out how I want the soap to look, think about the scent, sniff a few bottles of essential oil, come up with a scent recipe and go for it!

What are some of your favorite gifts to give for the holidays?
I love finding a unique item for each person on my list, whether it's jewelry, ceramics or a great printed t-shirt. Or giving something that I've made myself, like vanilla extract or rosemary salt.  

Favorite gifts to receive?
I always enjoy getting items that are something I may have mentioned in passing to a friend or family member and then forgot all about it until it shows up. I love a surprise!

What's next for Etta + Billie?
Well, I've always got ideas for new products; developing new ideas is one of my favorite things to do. I'll likely be adding candles and liquid soap to my offerings next year. As far as scents go, I'm toying with a scent based on Dynamo Donuts', iconic Maple Bacon Apple donut or one of my other favorites, the Chocolate Rosemary Almond donut.

Where can we find you online?
Check out my website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Beauty DIY: Perfect Party Hair

Need a cute hairstyle for all those upcoming Holiday parties? We've got you covered! This video shows how to do the perfect braided crown hairstyle, as well as easy, effortless waves. We're already picturing how beautiful we're going to look standing under the mistletoe this season. —Katie

Cult Beauty: TONYMOLY

If you've got a penchant for lip gloss and heart meltingly cute animals, then you'll definitely want to delve into the cat-adorned cosmetics brand TONYMOLY. The line has a great mix of items, including lip glosses, face mists, lotions, face masks, solid perfumes and more. (And they're all packaged adorably, which is the most important takeaway here, people.) —Katie

The 411: TONYMOLY is a South Korean brand that was founded way back in 2006. While all their products aren't shaped like a cat, the ones that are became something of a cult hit over here in the U.S. Until this year, though, the products were nearly impossible to find in the states. Unless you were ordering from shady sellers on Amazon or buying overseas, you likely couldn't get your hands on these gems. But that's not the case anymore, because now the TONYMOLY brand is available on our site for the first time ever. (You're welcome.)

Why we love it: The packaging, DUH! Because, hello, look at how cute these things are!? Who wouldn't want to slather apple-scented moisturizer onto their face from an apple-shaped container? If only all my moisturizer containers were so literal, life would be a lot more fun. Plus, the little bunny lip crayons are the perfect conversation starters. If you're feeling a little lonely at school, just whip one of them out and watch everyone jump over themselves to marvel over how adorable you are.

We want: Everything? But the products that I loved the most were the Hello Bunny Perfume Bars (above). The scents are far from sophisticated, but they remind me of high school, in a good way. My favorite scent was Pom Pom (aka Green Tea) - it smelled like a sweeter, punched-up version of actual green tea. The perfumes are easy to rub on, and I found that the scents actually lingered for most of the day. Score. The tubes are adorable (BUNNIES! BOW-TIES!), and their pastel colors and chunky shape helps them stay visible in the bottomless cave that I call a purse.