Tuesday, March 17, 2015

K-Beauty Part II; Where to Buy Korean Beauty Products

Now has shops in NY & NJ!

It's true that Korean beauty shops have begun popping up all over the US.  Sephora now has a dozen or so Tony Moly products online (I haven't noticed them in the store...) and they have Dr Jart plus  their own Sephora version of the sheet mask (which is pretty new). Urban Outfitters has a massive Korean beauty section ( as well as a ton of 'online only' products; *they ship within the US only). Tony Moly is probably the most visible Korean brand newly emerging on the American market.  Aside from Sephora and UO, there are 3 locations in NY ( a brand new one in Chinatown), a huge location in Annandale, VA and locations in LA and SF.
Tony Moly is way into adorable, and here in the states, we love it!!!

Nature Republic also has stores in NY, NJ, and CA.

The Face Shop also has stores in NY and CA.

 I have shopped in each one of these stores in New York City.  They are pretty tiny in their K Town and Chinatown locations but I am told are more spacious in the Queens locations.  The Face Shop is said to have a location inside the H Mart in Chicago. (H Mart is a chain of grocery stores that I believe is nationwide.)
Last weekend I went to the H Mart in Kennesaw, GA (a sizable Korean community just north of Atlanta) and there was this Amore shop.  Amore is the parent company to many brands including Sulwhasoo, Laneige, Etude, Innisfree and Iope.
Every one of these shops offers a membership card which will give a discount after spending a certain amount and I think they all also give you 10% off during your birthday month.
So, there is Urban Outfitters, which is everywhere, and you may have an H Mart in your town that will have a skin care shop inside.  If you don't have that (too bad because the grocery shopping at H Mart is amazing!).... then you always have the internet.
MEME BOX is a wonderful site.  You don't have to sign up for the monthly box, you can buy any product and any box, anytime.  The prices are good, they ship from SF and they even have some of their own 'xo meme' items made for them in Korea. Check it out memebox.com.
Charlotte of Soko Glam

sokoglam.com is another awesome site.  It's NY based and also ships from US so again 3 - 4 days as opposed to 4 - 6 weeks from Korea.  Soko Glam is thoughtfully curated by the lovely Charlotte (pictured) who travels to Korea regularly to stay on top of the newest/latest.
And then of course, there is EBay.  I have purchased from f2plus1 and been happy with the whole experience.  They have a 99% positive feedback after 68000 sales so not a lot of risk here.  It does of course take around 6 weeks for shipping. The inventory is gynormous and it's easy to spend lots of time wandering around in this ebay store.  
I forgot to mention that all of these stores and f2plus1 on ebay give fairly generous samples.  I got no samples from MEME and have not purchased from Soko Glam although I would guess samples would be involved.  The samples are great for introducing you to all these wonderful products and helping put together your own skin care routine.
To sum it all up, there is nothing standing in the way of any American beauty junkie buying all the Korean products your bathroom can handle.  I am in love with some of these products and will give you my personal feedback and faves in the next post.  Meanwhile, go buy a memebox starter kit and have fun!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


I love, love, love Korean beauty products!  I have been using them for quite a while and I have to say I don't think I have purchased a single dud.  From skincare to make up to hair care, every product I have tried has been worth repurchasing.  That is saying an awful lot because I am picky and I have all kinds of skin, make up and hair issues that I have never been able to deal with until taking a chance on some of these rather foreign sounding products.  They really give you your money's worth!
So, I am going to walk you through...
First off, there are so many new sources popping up that buying these things is not a problem.  Understanding the different ingredients and attitude towards beauty and make up might be the bigger issue.  Not all products have a lot of English on the label. But,  South Korea has very high standards; these products use more natural and plant-based ingredients than most western products and they are usually very helpful in store or online with all questions.   I will direct you to very legit sources, so truly,... no worries.
  I'm breaking this subject into a 3 part post because there is soooo much to cover.  This first part is to show the packaging, marketing, and just plain unusual visuals for most people unaccustomed to Asian products.

These three are somewhat unsettling in their childlike imagery.  I'm not sure but I think the idea is that you are using a product to achieve a more youthful skin... "Goodbye Oil Tank"?  Obviously something got lost in the translation but I'm sure if you have an oily skin issue this product is for you.
The  'pig nose' black head strip, sounds gross but I would wager that this 3 step kit does a better job than the Biore one strip.  I'm not sure how a vibrating action is going to make your foundation more 'jewelry' like, but they do put a lot of research into these products and I won't poo-poo it until I've tried it.  The 'whitening' products are mostly 'brightening' in that they are not going to bleach your skin, they are going to usually have a high SPF and a a light tone coverage. 'Milky Dress' and 'White Virgin' may sound contradictory but it's just one of those uortunate word choices.

These three make up products are from Etude House, a very popular make up brand.  They seem to love fairy tale packaging.  The fragrance of Versailles looks a lot like Disneyland castle but 'Etoinette' is happy there.  And who can possibly resist buying Princess Happy Ending blush. ( I bought a bunch of these and gave them to friends!)  The thing is, these are not cute novelty items. They are amazingly high quality products that in my opinion kick ass. Their  American counterparts don't really give the same value for money spent.

Moving on from the slightly creepy packaging, there is also some crazy cute packaging like this!
The Tony Moly brand has lots of cute animal packaging, even for their serious skin care products  (I use the Panda night cream that comes in a cute Panda jar. It looks more like a gift from a children's birthday party but honestly it's a serious night cream.)

The issue here is just a matter of translation.  The fact is that they are putting amazing ingredients into these lip tints and they are not only color rich but full of natural skin conditioning plant extracts.

I wanted to cover these odd marketing and mostly just bad English translations so that you would understand that this is part of the process when starting out on your K Beauty journey.  Do not be put off by this and don't think this is just for teens.  These are grown up products and many are amazing multi-taskers.  In Part Two I am going to give you help on how and where to buy these products and in Part Three I will give a review of some of my faves... spoil alert - the adorbs picture at the top, Peri's Tint,  is one of them : ) !

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


With Valentine's Day a few weeks away, I began investigating EROS.  I didn't realize how under-informed I was.  I have to admit I didn't even know  the entire myth of Eros and Psyche.  Nor did I understand the modern day psychological definition(s).  So I hope I can shed some light for others equally confused.  Although, I didn't research the history of Valentines Day... that will have to remain a mystery.

Psyche in  ancient Greek basically translates as the soul.  So the story of psyche is about the journey and metamorphosis of the soul.  Psyche herself is strapped with the 'curse' of being so beautiful that men believe her to be a goddess and consequently no man will marry her.  Aphrodite is so jealous of this situation that she tries to arrange Psyches' marriage to a monster and asks her son Eros to execute this plan by shooting his arrow of love in all the wrong places.  But, when he sees the tragic and beautiful psyche awaiting her fate he falls in love with her and whisks her off to his castle.

She is asleep during this voyage and wakes to find herself on the grounds of his palace, assuming it is the house of the monster she is meant to marry.  She resigns herself to her fate. 

When Eros comes to her at night in the dark he is tender and loving and sweet and they share many happy nights together.  They are thoroughly happy even though Psyche has not yet laid eyes on him and will not as this is his  one rule.  Until her jealous sisters show up and convince her that she must sneak in on him and see what kind of monster he really is.  She drips oil from her lamp on his arm and wakes him and for one second she lays eyes on her beloved in all his god of love glory and he leaves.  Never to return because she broke the rule and hence lost his trust.  After carrying out some very impossible tasks including going down to Hades she wins him back and they marry by the hand of Zeus himself. 

It's a beautiful story and full of meaning and possible interpretation that I will let you ponder for yourselves...
In the modern world the word Eros is defined thus:
the sum of life preserving instincts that are manifested as impulses to gratify basic needs, as sublimated impulses, and as impulses to protect and preserve the body and mind.
Eros (concept) : love mostly of the sexual passion.  The term "erotic" but also in a wider sense almost an equivalent to "life force".
Plato, Freud, and Jung all spent a bit of time discussing Eros.  They sort of explain Eros as man's desire for wholeness and truth etc.
You have to admit Eros does indeed inspire.  I don't really know the connection between Cupid and Valentine's Day but I prefer the art depicting Eros over that of the chubby baby with an arrow.  On the other hand some Valentines Day cards are pretty cute!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Yes, actual cursive!

A couple of months ago I was trying to read my own handwriting and was struggling to make out the scribble, as usual.  I suddenly realized how depressing that was.  I never had beautiful handwriting but  what it had degraded into was so far from art and culture that I was ashamed.  Yes, shame on me for being so lazy and pudgy and sloppy and, well, modern. 
I love gorgeous handwriting and calligraphy and always find scenes in movies that show a lot of handwritten notes and people at their writing desks to be quite sexy.  And here my lazy modern scribble was a distinct mockery of that romantic art.  Something needs to be done!

I started using these children's practice sheets ( you can get here).  Exactly like grade school worksheets with the dotted line in the middle.  They're awesome!  It's actually really fun being back in first grade.  Especially with no teacher and no smarty pants with excellent penmanship to make you feel under pressure.  You realize the genius in that paper with the top and bottom bold line and the fainter broken line in the middle.  You have no choice but to make your letters the proper size.  I can remember dying to get to use the regular 'college ruled' paper like my older brother and sister.  I just didn't appreciate how good I had it ; )

The next thing I did was to start writing letters to a friend a few states away.  We text all the time, of course and the 'pen pal' thing is one way ( not everyone wants to get down and dirty with stationary, stamps, mailboxes...).  But I'm committed.  It has been several months and I have written a letter a week.  And I have improved.  I am now kind of proud of my envelopes and I hilariously fret over which stamps to buy.

That's right people!  And yes, that round one is a stamp!

I cannot wait to use these.  I just used up my really pretty bird stamps and was thinking I would have to buy something dumb and generic and OMG... classic Batman.
I went through my pen holder and put all the pens into categories of CRAP AND I HATE THESE, GOOD AND I LIKE THESE, and SOMEDAY I WILL GET GOOD ENOUGH FOR THESE.
as follows:

I can't imagine a pen I hate writing with more than the TD Bank pen.  And I have tons of them.

I totally thought I lost my silver Tiffany pen but it turns out it was just really tarnished and in my pen holder the whole time.  I polished it up for the photo.

These disposable fountain pens are inexpensive and very nice but for some reason my handwriting always looks shaky and I make mistakes more often than with a ball point.  I assume it's because those pens make me nervous somehow, like they are a little out of my league.  But I will continue this discipline until I have flawless writing and can get up the nerve to try a real fountain pen.

Oh yes, this will be me.

And then one day I will be sending some very, very classy mail indeed.

Monday, December 15, 2014


this is not my house, but I almost wish it was...

It really seems like there are way less decorations everywhere I go than usual.  The skimpy tree and one single strand of garland is almost worse than nothing at all.  I don't know if it's a symptom of PC non-Christian corporate policy kind of thing or just laziness or actual flat our apathy... But it really sucks.  So, even though Christmas is only 10 days away, it's not too late to do your part.  Throw a party!  Invite everyone over and make decorations, make cookies, make punch, make MERRY!!!

I had my tree trimming party over the weekend and I made this non-alcoholic punch which I highly recommend.  Of course you can serve all the booze you want but this punch is seriously thirst quenching and the kids will get a nice sugar rush : )

I also made these chewy molasses cookies.  The recipe is here.  Make sure to have a lot of milk on hand because these cookies beg for it.

I found these adorable nutcracker cupcake wrappers at Target.  I just made chocolate cake from a mix and buttercream frosting then pressed a handful of shredded coconut from Trader Joe's into the frosting.  Pretty and delicious!

Don't forget the classic popcorn and cranberry garland!  I think it totally makes the tree complete.  Just pop the cheap grocery store bag of corn the day ahead of your party.  It's much easier to string when they are a bit stale as they don't split as easily when you stick the needle through.

I bought some boxes of plain Christmas balls in red, silver, and clear and glue and glitter.  Some people are a bit more successful at this craft than others : ))  But everyone has fun trying!

Pandora has a multitude of Christmas playlists.  My favorite one is called Christmas Radio.  And if the tree and baking aren't enough to fill the house with scent it's both pretty and tasty to light a bunch of scented candles - pine, cinnamon, apple etc.  It hardly costs anything to do this.
I almost feel like the movie Elf where I am trying to save Christmas spirit to make Santa's sleigh fly! Come on everyone, I'm not singing all by myself, I know you're out there!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014


Glass perfume bottle by Roger Gandelman

I am inspired to write this little "update" (my last perfume post was 2 1/2 years ago...) by the commitment I have just made to my 20015 New Years Resolution.  I am finally going to finish the natural perfume course that I started 4 years ago.  I have begun revisiting Fragrantica, a site I have been a member of for around 4 years.  I have posted about a dozen reviews over there... 12 divided by 4... Yeah.  Not exactly diving in head first to the perfume pool.  So, now that I have announced my commitment to the Internet, it's time to pick up the pace.

Top Notes: Green Leaves; Bergamot
Middle Notes: Lily-of-the-Valley; Lilac; Jasmine*
Base Notes; Sandalwood; Civet
*the middle notes other than these take a neutral stand for me so I'm skipping them in my list

Diorissimo was created in 1956 and is centered around Christian Dior's favorite flower - Lily-of-the-Valley.  He was kind of obsessed.  It has wonderful folklore in France and is symbolic of hope, happiness and joy.  This scent, it would follow, evokes such feelings.  Especially if you are French. And from the 50s.  And are lucky enough to have a bottle of the 'original recipe'.  It seems in these modern times Lily-of-the-Valley is synthetic, as is civet.  That said, the modern version is still giving it's all to make Christian Dior full of joy, wherever he may be.  The scent is very Euro/French/lunch at a Parisian bistro/Springtime/riverbank/gloves/snappy little dress... It's 50s Dior!  In other words-awesome!

Top Notes: Bergamot; Orange Blossom
Middle Notes: White Flowers; Musk
Base Notes: Leather; Wood

Gucci Premiere was created in 2010 and is supposed to invoke the red carpet experience... Not for me.  First of all, the 'red carpet experience' for most of us is not terribly exciting.  And the words 'red carpet' evoke the scent of desperation, synthetic aspiration, and prescriptive meds.  Not really a good perfume experience.  Luckily this scent was inaccurately named.  I like it very much.  It is a romantic night out kind of scent.  Soft, sexy, powdery, gentle.  Way too intimate for the red carpet.  I picture an art deco dressing room with a small window open and a breeze fluttering the curtains while a woman of substance sits at her vanity, fixing her lipstick and layering that last spritz of Gucci Premiere before stepping out for an evening to remember.  An evening that does not include photographers.

Top Notes: Pink Pepper; Lotus Flower; Orange Blossom
Middle Notes: Pink Peony; Wild Rose
Base Notes: Amber; Musk; Blonde Woods

David Yurman's Delicate Essence is a fresh floral that is indeed delicate.  With it's main flower being Rose it does not scream Rose, as many others do.  I like this scent as a daytime, even morning, scent.  It is sort of dreamy but also clean and thoughtful.  It was inspired by the gemstone Pink Tourmaline which I like quite a bit so I think the inspiration was a success.

Top Notes: Bergamot; Mandarin; Lychee; Lily-of-the-Valley
Middle Notes: Tuberose
Base Notes: Caramel; Sandalwood; Vanilla; Musk

Dolce and Gabbana - The One Desire is delicious.  I would call this a gourmand even though it's categorized a floral oriental.  The caramel and vanilla are enough to make you think of dessert.  In a good way.  Like a gorgeous chocolate bite with a glass of champagne or a sweet after dinner wine... I don't know.  Something to do with a fantastic dinner and now it's time for a yummy sensual lingering treat.  That's this perfume.  Actually, I could imagine falling asleep after a lovely evening like that and still having a bit of this on my wrist to send me off to a perfect sleep.  ( And the bottle is gorgeous!)

I do love perfume.  I have no idea why it has taken me forever to finish my perfumery course ( which is complete when I create my own scent!) but I will surely be posting more fragrance reviews in 2015!