Reported and written by Tracy Zhang and Tiffany Ayuda
When it comes to makeup, the one-size-fits-all model rarely holds up. The Western brands we see everywhere have engineered a spectrum of products aimed to fit the needs of all women, but for many Asian American women, it’s sometimes difficult to find beauty products that work with our various skin tones, pin-straight lashes and range of eyelid differences.
As an alternative, Mochi scoured the local shops in our nearest Chinatowns and Koreatowns in search of the best and most popular Asian beauty brands available in the States, and we were happy to discover a variety of products made for the average Asian girl. Below, our verdict on some of the most popular products.
It’s hard to resist liquid eyeliner marketed as one-day tattoo, like the one from K-Palette. This Japanese brand primarily sells eye makeup—mascara, eyeliner and brow products—that can be found in Sasa, Watsons or the occasional Japanese marketplace. I picked up a Real Lasting Eyeliner at my local Japanese supermarket for around $17, expecting decently long-lasting eyeliner that wouldn’t differ too much from my current drugstore favorite. What I got, however, was something you’d be hard pressed to find at your local Walgreens or Rite-Aid.
The 24-hour eyeliner is marketed as waterproof “long-wearing liquid eyeliner” that can withstand humidity and protect against dry weather, with a microfiber brush to ensure precise application. I picked one in Jet Black, which the package, if you’ve ever seen it, surprisingly did represent to scale. While intriguing, the ultra-fine tip can be a problem during application. It has a 0.1 cm-thick tip, which is about one-eighth the size of the average liquid liner tip, and draws a line thinner than an ultra-fine Sharpie does. On the eyelid, this line is so thin that it’s barely visible. In order to create a traditional liquid eyeliner look, you need to draw four or five strokes to achieve the same effect—so as a daily liquid liner, it’s entirely impractical.
That said, this product is helpful for more intricate looks, like winged eyeliner. I was able to outline precisely where I wanted my eyeliner to go, then fill it in with either the same liquid eyeliner or another gel one. It’s also useful for creating a very thin line along the bottom lash line to subtly define the eyes.
As for the “One-Day Tattoo” claim, I felt that the staying power of this eyeliner was only mediocre. While it didn’t fade or smudge, it could be rubbed off and came off easily with water—but that might just be me, most liquid eyeliners stay well on me anyway. I’ve had better luck with L’Oreal and Revlon eyeliners. So while $17 was a bit too much to fork over for eyeliner that wasn’t really waterproof or generally practical, this one’s fine tip makes it a unique pen to have in my collection.
With more than 190 retail stores and cosmetic counters in Asia, Sasa sells more than 400 skincare; fragrance, makeup and hair care brands. If you live in the New York City area, you can find Sasa Beauty shops in the Manhattan and Flushing Chinatowns. Most of these Sasa Beauty shops also offer spa services, so you can get facials and massages after a long week.
When I walked into a Sasa Beauty shop in Chinatown, I was immediately approached by an aesthetician that spoke about their line of products and services, and I was tempted to schedule a facial there when I got the chance. Among Sasa’s collection of Asian skincare, I looked at everything from whitening creams to blackhead-remover toners, and then ended up purchasing a red shade of ParaDo Essence in Gloss. Keep in mind that all the labels are in Chinese, so if you don’t understand any of the packaging, feel free to ask someone.
The ParaDo lip gloss comes in a twist applicator, much like the lip glosses that Stila offers. The application is smooth and leaves just the right amount of shine. At first, I was a little intimidated by the red color, which looks very bright on the package. But after applying the gloss, I quickly found that it only provides a tint of color, great for a rather natural look. Throughout the day, I reapplied the gloss to keep my lips moisturized. If you wear lipstick, the gloss works as a great top coat. At $8.25 a pop, the ParaDo Essence in Gloss is a great competitor for drugstore buys.
When I first heard of BB cream (short for blemish balm cream), I was ambivalent about the skin-perfecting properties of the wonder cream that’s become one of the most popular of beauty products in Asia. Reviews raved about its ability not only to make your skin look airbrush-perfect, but also to improve the texture and tone of your skin. The inspiration for this beauty product lies in a German ointment that helps soothe and rejuvenate the skin of patients who have undergone laser skin surgery. In Korea, cosmetic companies married the soothing formula with foundation, and the BB cream craze was born. Soon enough, Korean actresses and models began using BB cream to create that porcelain-skinned look. Since then, many cosmetic companies like Missha, Lioele, The Face Shop and BRTC have formulated their own BB cream, but all promise the same benefits.
Despite my initial skepticism, I firmly stand by this product after a week’s use. I bought Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream, which acts much like a tinted moisturizer but better. What I love most about it is the natural look and feel it gives. I no longer need to use foundation or powder because it already gives off that airbrushed look. The product conceals my blemishes well, I’ve seen some improvement in the fading of old acne scars, and I like that it contains SPF.
Note that the BB creams usually only come in three shades, but the color oxidizes quickly and blends well with your natural skin color. The No. 23 shade I purchased is great for medium to olive skin tones; I’d go with No. 21 for fairer skin tones and No. 31 for darker ones.
Regardless of what BB cream product or brand you choose, from Lioele Triple the Solution BB cream to BRTC Jasmine Water BB cream, this brand really delivers great coverage, and has the right balance of moisture and skin-improving properties. Feel free to experiment with different brands, all with a variety of benefits. Keep in mind that shipping costs from official online stores tend to be expensive, so look on Amazon or eBay for cheaper prices. BB creams can costs anywhere from $18 to $40 for the higher-end brands.
The Face Shop’s White Mud Nose Pack
The Face Shop is a Korean makeup and skincare store that is known for their facial masks. I decided to try the White Mud Nose Pack, a peel-off mask designed to remove blackheads and unclog pores like the popular Biore nose strips. The product, which comes in a tube and has a thick glue-like consistency, takes 10-15 minutes to dry.
I personally love the White Mud mask. I don’t use it exclusively on my nose—I’ve found the mask helpful on the clogged pores on my cheeks and chin as well. To make the mask more effective, I always steam my face right before, so that my pores are already open, and use more than one layer. I first spread one thick layer over problem areas, wait about 10 seconds, then add a second layer to make sure all pores are covered. This is not the easiest mask to peel off, which is part of what makes it so effective, so be sure to wait until the entire mask is papery to the touch first. If you have sensitive skin, the mask can sting. But once you peel it off, you can see the gunk the mask pulls out of your pores. Afterward, I always wash my face to close up the pores and rinse off any remaining pieces of the mask, then wake up the next morning with noticeably smoother skin and smaller pores.
The packaging doesn’t specify how often to use the mask, but this isn’t for daily use. It can leave your skin pretty sensitive, so I’d suggest using it weekly and to avoid over-exfoliating your skin. The White Mud Nose pack is found at The Face Shop stores and costs $13 per tube.
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