I was coming out of work today and I asked my boyfriend to take me to Lotte Plaza. After a slight mix up, we ended up at H-Mart, and though we were surprised (he because he thought H-Mart and Lotte Plaza were interchangeable, and I because I didn’t know H-Mart existed in this state), I was happy to go right on in to browse.
By the time I walked out, I had with me an entire haul of new beauty products, and no food. Confused, my boyfriend asked why I had wanted to add an extra hour to our travel time by going to H-Mart for makeup and face wash that I could buy from Rite-Aid, Ulta, Sephora, Target (the list goes on) all of which are anywhere from five to ten minutes away.
To this, I firstly resisted the urge to be a smart-ass and explain that I didn’t ask to go to H-Mart, but Lotte Plaza. Secondly, I provided these reasons:
1. My skin is healthier.
Korean products do not result in the breakouts that domestic products have cursed me with. Originally, I was using Urban Decay’s foundation, and although I found that the tone matched my skin well, the coverage wasn’t great, and the formula got really gross and flaky after drying. I tried Mary Kae and the coverage was good and went a long way, but it was heavy and my skin reacted poorly to it. From Mary Kay, I went to Bare Minerals, which to date was the gentlest on my skin. However, it did not hide the redness in my skin well, and generally didn’t even out my skin tone well.
It was like I couldn’t win… Until I tried BB Cream.
My first time using BB Cream, I ordered Etude House’s matte formula in the lightest shade they had. Today, I bought Iope’s formula in “Ice Vanilla,” and I have to say that I like it just as much! BB cream is a great alternative to foundation because it tends to be a lot lighter on the skin, and the best part is that it has sun screen in the formula as well. For someone like me who not only has sensitive skin, but a sun allergy, this takes a few steps out of my beauty routine which is especially helpful during the work and school week. Additionally, BB cream smells really good.
2. Free Stuff! I repeat, free stuff!
The best thing that shopping in Korean beauty stores can offer is that there are so many samples and bonus products you get, it’s ridiculous! See the photo above? I bought two things, and walked out with seven. I bought the BB cream and the skin care set, and in addition, I received a sample cleansing set, two face masks, two sample firming packs, a refill for my BB cream (it’s air cushioned, but the mirror compact can be reused), and a full-sized hand wash. It was a hefty price, but I can honestly say that between quality and quantity it’s well worth it.
3. Customer Service
This point is entirely circumstantial, and can differ greatly for everyone, but I’m being honest. In my area, I’ve never had a good experience in a skin care shop or makeup shop where the employees have been as eager to answer questions. Because I have combination skin as well as a sun allergy, I need makeup that works well with troubled skin and also can tolerate being applied with sun screen. Unfortunately, not every employee is receptive to answering questions thoroughly.
The woman who helped me today was not only polite, but she wanted to help me find the product for my skin that would work best. After showing me the brand that she uses personally, as she confided that she also has combination skin, she told me that it has anti-aging properties that are popular for teenagers as well as young adults, explained that I don’t need to worry about all the anti-aging eye creams and things yet because I’m still young, and why having the cleansers are worth while. As she talked, she allowed me to sample the products, and when I told her that I wanted to look at BB creams as well, she perked up and said that she had a great recommendation that was also a promo item. That of course was the IOPE BB cream, which has SPF50+ sunscreen. The dream!
She allowed me to pick out which free face masks I wanted from a choice of six (shea butter, rice, bamboo, green tea, pearl, and another of which I have unfortunately forgotten), and then also guided me through each sample product that was thrown in which she honestly didn’t need to do.
It’s a great experience every time. Again, this is entirely circumstantial and I cannot guarantee that every H-Mart and Lotte Plaza in the world will have happy eager employees, just like I wouldn’t suggest every Sephora on earth has super disinterested employees. If you are in the same area, however, and you have access to Ellicott City’s H-Mart or Lotte Plaza, I will shamelessly advertise their excellent customer service.
Are there downsides? Yes. The only major downside I can think of is the price. It can be an expensive route to take because the products are imported, and the price of shipping is added on top of that for those who may only have access to Korean products online. For me, I budget by waiting for sales, or compromising some parts of my beauty routine by using domestic products in addition to Korean products. Memebox was an especially great discovery because the prices are far less hefty than in other online stores, and the shipping is free after spending $30.00.
Over all, I switched to Korean beauty products primarily because my skin responds better to the products.
It also helps that I find they make me super cute.