2016 Korean Beauty Favorites

If there is one thing that I am consistently guilty of, it’s impulse shopping, and I’ve done a lot of it in the last few months. The first half of 2016 wasn’t rich in beauty discoveries, and soon putting even the smallest effort into my beauty routines became a chore rather than something I enjoyed, but luckily the second half of the year was far more exciting. In a bid to revive my enthusiasm, I decided to add some new pieces to my stash that would help me fall back in love with beauty again and put more effort into my skincare routine.

And now I’m sharing these heroes with you, so across makeup and skincare, here is the best of Korean Beauty 2016 had to offer.

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Whamisa Organic Flowers Eye Essence

I received two samples of this little slice of heaven in the Inspire Me Korea x Whamisa beauty box a few weeks ago and I immediately fell in love with it. Most eye creams aren’t hydrating enough for my very dry skin and won’t minimize my fine lines, yet this powerful and weightless essence gave instantly visible firming results for the delicate skin around the eye, and also brightened and diminished fine lines for a more youthful look. With a very decent price tag of 28.50£, it quickly became one of my favorite eye-cream.

Whamisa Organic Flowers Eyes Essence – Available at Whamisa.co.uk, Glowrecipe and Ebay

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Whamisa Organic Olive Leaf Mist

This silky organic spray-on moisturizer is formulated with a bunch of botanical extracts to hydrate and soothe dry winter skin. I can already tell that I’m going to be using this mist a lot during fall and winter as a replacement for the effective but definitely overpriced Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist. You can mist it on for a burst of soothing hydration any time of the day without disturbing your makeup (it didn’t make mine smudge or budge at all) as the lightweight formula isn’t oily at all and is perfect for all skintypes, oily and acne-prone included.  It’s really handy and I just love the formula and the two real olive leaves inside.

Whamisa Organic Leaf Mist – Available at Whamisa.co.uk, Glowrecipe and Ebay

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Sulwhasoo Essential Balm

This multifunctional balm is stunningly beautiful and a godsend for dry skin. Formulated with emollient oils and botanical extracts, it can be applied on the lips as a lip balm, around the eyes as powerful moisturizing eye-cream, as a cuticle softener, and also to soften dry patches and elbows. The tiny size of the jar makes it extremely convenient to carry around, allowing you to look and feel great on the go. Skincare experts may argue that storing plant extracts and antioxidants in a jar is nonsense since they break down in the presence of air, but because the jar is so tiny you will use all the product inside very quickly. While everyone can use it, I mostly recommend it to dry skin as people with oily skin may find it too much unless it is used at night time. This product is a serious game-changer in my winter skincare routine and a dry skin rescue product. Not only will this balm look perfect on your vanity table with its gorgeous gold & pink packaging , but it’s also the perfect size to pop into your make-up bag.

Sulwhasoo Essential Balm – Available at Yesstyle and Ebay

Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher

Nothing makes me more excited than discovering a brand or product that works wonders for my skin!  A few weeks ago, I found six samples of the Luminature in my sample stash and finally tried it. The hype surrounding Sulwhasoo is increasing with each passing day, and for good reason. My skin is particularly dehydrated this season, and for some reasons it feel like most of my skincare products somehow evaporate quickly, leaving my complexion dull and parched – but the Luminature has changed that. It’s a one-of-a-kind “top coat” that acts as an occlusive to seal in your previous skincare products, both as a moisturizer but also as a brightening makeup primer. Except the 90$ eye-watering price tag, there is absolutely nothing to dislike about it! Vegans can rest assured that the squalane in this product is plant-based and not from sharks liver. I probably won’t purchase the full size version anytime soon as I already splurged on skincare in 2016, but it is still an excellent addition for anyone who isn’t on a budget or doesn’t want to seal their products with an oil-based top coat.

Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher – Available at Yesstyle, Ebay, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus

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Su:m37 Secret Programming Essence

If I were to describe my ideal essence, it would be packed with powerful botanical extracts and provide visible anti-aging, firming, moisturizing, brightening and soothing effects to my skin. In other terms, it would be the perfect dupe of the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, and that is exactly what the Su:m37 Secret Programming Essence is. Formulated with 80 kinds of plant extracts, this carefully crafted essence combats signs of aging as well as  dehydration and lack of luminosity. Winter has the worst effect on my complexion, and I feel like the Secret Repair line breathes new life into my otherwise very dry sensitive skin.

Su:m37 Secret Programming Essence – Available at Yesstyle, StyleKorean, Ebay(1), Ebay(2) | Special gift set (best value)

Su:m37 Secret Repair Concentrated Eye Cream

The Laneige Water Bank Eye Gel has been my only eye-cream for the past two years, but as time goes by I feel like my under-eye area needs richer moisturizing products. As most eye creams I have tried in the past cause milia to form underneath my eyes, I’m always extra careful when it comes to eye creams and no longer purchase a full-sized product above 30$ without trying a few samples at first. The Secret Repair Concentrate Eye Cream has an outrageously high price tag of 65$ for only 20ml, and even if the packaging is stunningly beautiful I will not purchase a full-sized eye cream so expensive before trying it out for at least 2 months. Still, eager to try it, I was made aware of samples available on Ebay for an enchantingly low price tag of…  12.92$. I admit that it can seem a little weird to pay for something that’s supposed to be free, but if you think about it I got 30ml (30 pieces, 1ml each) of eye cream for only $12.90 instead of 20ml for $65, and one sample is more than enough for not one but two applications. But the best part is that I won’t have to dip my fingers in the jar, avoiding bacteria that would deteriorate the beneficial ingredients. For such an affordable price, it’s impossible to resist.

Su:m37 Secret Repair Concentrated Eye Cream – Available at Yesstyle, StyleKorean, Ebay | Samples version (30 pieces)

Su:m37 Secret Repair Concentrated Cream

Packed with fermented botanical extracts that will repair and firm damaged skin, this luxurious moisturizer is another dry skin saviour for winter. I’ve been using it religiously every night for the past 20 days and I love how it moisturizes, soothes and brighten my skin while I snooze. Just like the Secret Eye Cream I mentioned above, I didn’t want to splurge 110$ on a moisturizer I wasn’t even certain to like, so I ordered 30 samples of it for only 13.20$. The full-size is only 50ml, and one sample is enough for the entire face and neck. Again, this is more convenient for me as I won’t have to dip my fingers in the jar. I’m still unsure whether I will buy it the full-size or not since I find samples more convenient, but the pretty packaging of the Su:m37 Secret Repair Concentrate Cream is easy on the eyes and hard to resist.

Su:m37 Secret Repair Concentrated Cream – Available at Yesstyle and Ebay | Special gift set (best value) | Samples version (30 pieces)

Hera Oil Serum Magic Formula

It is safe to say that in the recent months, I have fallen head over heels in love with this highly moisturizing and firming serum. The brand contact me upon release, as soon as I knew exactly what this product was I knew immediately that I had to have it and that I was going to love it. There’s nothing that excites me as much as a new Hera product, but this serum is on another level! I was about to order the full-size (40ml for 68$, which is pretty reasonable since Hera is a truly excellent high-end brand) when, despite the excitement, I remembered the single but significant problem I encountered with my beloved Hera Biogenic Effector : product waste due to problematic packaging. While I absolutely worship the Biogenic serum, using a solid-coloured pump bottle instead of translucent bottle means that you can’t see the quantity of the product left, but even worse it’s not possible to pump the remaining serum at the very bottom. I decided to spare myself a few tears of anger and instead purchased a sample set of 50 pieces for 20.99$. There is no doubt that I will purchase the full size version later – probably around Christmas, but at the moment the samples are a purchase I do not regret.

From the moment I started using this serum I became seriously hooked as the lightweight gel-like texture that turns into a nourishing oil that quenches skin’s thirst – and without clogging pores. The Hera Oil Serum Magic Formula is truly magic in a bottle for dry, dehydrated skin in search of intense hydration as it moisturizes even the driest skin from the very first application.

Hera Oil Serum Magic Formula – Available at Ebay(1), Ebay (2) | Special gift set | Samples version 30 pieces, 50 pieces

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Banila Co Miss Flower & Mr Honey Essence Oil

Is there anything more satisfying than finding a holy grail beauty product for an incredibly affordable price? Whilst higher-end brands typically spring to mind when weighing up your facial oil options, I was thrilled to find this alternative to my Hera Age Away Oil at such an excellent  price. Banila Co is a brand mostly known for their makeup products, and I have to admit this oil was a little bit of an impulse purchase- but definitely not one I regret. Packed with nourishing ingredients, this rich oil has quickly become an essential as it gives my complexion a naturally radiant and dewy glow. We all know maintaining a beautiful, radiant and moisturized complexion in winter is much more of a challenge for us dry-skinned types, but by using this as a moisturizer or as a top coat to seal my previous skincare products it‘s much easier to keep my skin nourished, radiant and moisturized.

The formula works with Niacinamide to brighten and firm the skin, while Royal Jelly Extract, Propolis Extract and Honey Extract (along with many plant extracts & oils) moisturize and nourish. According to Cosdna, there are only two potential acne-triggering ingredients, which is a huge relief for those of us with troubled skin. The only thing that I dislike about this oil is the unnecessarily sweet scent, but r for the beautiful skin-nourishing qualities I can let it slide.

Banila Co Miss Flower & Mr Honey Essence Oil – Available at Yesstyle and Ebay

Su:m37 Secret Repair Oil

I received this facial beauty oil as a gift from Su:m37 for my birthday and I couldn’t be happier about it. This lightweight facial oil is infused with Su:m37’s signature fermented plant extracts to rejuvenate tired skin and gently nourish dry skin. While people with oily or acne-prone skin may have had problems with other beauty oils, this one doesn’t seem to cause breakouts or irritation amongst my acquaintances. My battle with dehydrated, dry, parched skin seemed never-ending, but after using this face oil for a few weeks, I definitely feel like it quenches my skin’s thirst and improved its texture. It’s totally worth splurging on.

Su:m37 Secret Repair Oil – Available at Ebay | Gift set (same as mine) | Samples version (30 pieces)

Laneige White Plus Renew Original Cream & Essence

Dehydration and dullness are two of my biggest concerns, and I can confidently say that this duo has worked wonders for them. Although I am a fan of the pricier Hera White Program Radiance line (I recently shared a more in-depth review about the Biogenic Effector, yet I can’t help but give it another mention!), Laneige’s affordable prices allow me to maintain a radiant complexion without breaking the bank. Formulated with a multitude of moisturizing ingredients and two powerful skin-brightening ingredients, Licorice Root Extract and 6% of Niacinamide, this rich complexion-enhancing duo promises to improve a dull complexion whilst still promoting hydration.

Laneige White Plus Renew Original Cream – Available at Target, Yesstyle, Ebay and StyleKorean
Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence – Available at Target, Yesstyle and Ebay

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Hera UV Mist Cushion Ultra Moisture

I first used this product a couple of years ago, but as I’m not a fan of cushion foundations I soon forgot all about it. Don’t get me wrong, I find cushions really convenient, but they just don’t suit my skin as they tend to cling to my dry patches, emphasizing my pores and settling into fine lines. However, earlier this year, I finally gave in to all of the rave reviews about it and decided to purchase this much-hyped base again – and the second time around it was a really good decision.

I overcome the dryness by supplementing it with a spray-moisturizer like the Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist, or more recently the Whamisa Olive Leaf Mist, throughout the day whenever I use it. It’s now taken its rightful place as my foundation choice when I’m running late, although it’s not a base for those who prefer a full coverage finish, as a luxurious lightweight base it’s definitely worth looking into. It offers long-lasting, buildable sheer to medium coverage and now I’m all for UV Mist Moisture Cushion.

Hera UV Mist Moisture Cushion – Available at Ebay | 2016 Limited Edition

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Banila Co It Shimmer Base

The Becca Backlight Priming Filter is well-loved – but I think this moisturizing and brightening primer might be the perfect dupe. Over the past few weeks I have been reaching for it more and more not only as a brightening primer, but also as a subtle highlighter. It blends beautifully, and helps to give my complexion a gorgeous radiant and dewy glow.

Banila Co It Shimmer Base – Available at Yesstyle, StyleKorean and Ebay

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Laneige Jet Curling Mascara Ex

These were so many interesting mascaras released this year, but this one really caught my eye (pun intended). My eyelashes are very short, very thin, and always need a lift and volume, but this highly-pigmented little gem  lifts, curls and separates them all day long without smudging or clumping. The secret to that long-lasting lift and curl? It’s formulated with a lightweight gel instead of water.

Laneige Jet Curling Mascara Ex – Available at Yesstyle and Ebay

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3CE Gel Eyeliner

Eyeliner is my make-up must-have. I can’t leave the house without it on – that’s how much I love it.  My staple at the moment is this waterproof and highly pigmented 3CE gel liner. Whether you are using it for a softened natural wing or a more dramatic look, it works flawlessly every time and doesn’t smudge at all.

3CE Gel Eyeliner – Available at Yesstyle and Ebay