3 Ways To Upgrade Your Skin Care Regimen, Korean Style

 

Your skin feeling a little … meh? Are you bored with your basic skin care regimen of wash, moisturize, sunscreen? Or have you been fairly diligent about your skin care routine, but feel like the results have plateaued and need a little boost?

Well, look no further than to the skin care experts of the world — Korean women. They’ve nailed the 17-step skin care regimen, made BB cream a household name and mastered the no makeup-makeup look. In fact, they’re so far advanced in their skin care, they make us Americans look like Neanderthals.

Thankfully, we’ve got three easy ways for you to upgrade your skin care regimen. Make these switches and you’re bound to get some of that glow back into your complexion.

 

1. Bored with BB cream? Try the AIR CUSHION.

 

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When Korean cosmetic brand Dr. Jart+ debuted its BB cream to the U.S. market in 2011, it caused a sensation. Every cosmetic company rushed to put out its own version of BB cream and every alphabetic permutation thereof (CC and DD, anyone?). Now there are BB creams at every price point and in a much wider range of shades. But women in Korea are so beyond BB cream at this point; they’re obsessed with something even better (and no, it’s not EE or FF).

Enter the Air Cushion. The first one, Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+, was introduced by venerable Korean brand AmorePacific last year, but didn’t really take off. This summer, however, with all eyes on Iope (the Korean cosmetic line was featured prominently in the hit K-drama My Love From the Stars), their Air Cushion XP just exploded.

Inspired by a sponge-like “parking stamp,” the Air Cushion solved the problem of having to reapply sunscreen every two to three hours for effectiveness. Press on the sponge with a special ruby cell puff, which holds 1.6 times more water than a synthetic latex puff, and simply “stamp” (don’t smear or rub) on the liquid sunscreen onto your face, on top of your makeup. Since it’s tinted, the product blends in well even if you have foundation or powder. And a bonus: the Air Cushion imparts a perfectly mul gwang (“water sheen complexion” — that chok chok wet look Korean stars favor) look with one application.

Wanna try it out for yourself? Check out some of our favorites here.

 

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2. Toner too tight? Switch to a HYDRATING LOTION.

 

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A hydrating lotion — sometimes called “skin lotion” or just “lotion” — is different from the toner that we here in the States may have grown up with: that harsh, alcohol-based liquid we swept over skin with a cotton ball to wipe off any residual makeup that our cleanser may have missed. Rather, “lotion” is a post-cleansing hydrator, usually applied by sprinkling into hands and pressing the palms over the face to ensure proper penetration. Not only does it hydrate, it preps skin so that subsequent treatments can more effectively penetrate skin’s top layer, allowing all those expensive serums and creams to work more effectively with less.

Lucky for us in the States, we  don’t have to fly to Korea to get a hydrating lotion onto your bathroom shelf. Asian skincare companies available in the States already have a hydrating lotion in their line, and recognizing the brilliance of Asian skincare products, a number of non-Asian companies are coming out with their own versions. With a broad price range, these lotions are something everyone can get on board with. Check out some of our favorite hydrating lotions at all price ranges here.

 

 

3. Mask feeling meh? Go for a HYDROGEL MASK.

 

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When we think of old-school masks, we may think of thick, green-colored goo that we smear on our face while we wait for it to dry into a crusty mess. But that’s so 1980s. In Korea, sheet masks elevated the mask game, with cotton masks made to fit your face, complete with eye, nose and mouth cut-outs, infused with all manner of skin care ingredients. Apply for 20 minutes and your skin is left glowing, plumped and hydrated.

And while sheet masks are gaining popularity now in the States, a true skin care baller forgoes paper or cotton for the next evolution in sheet masks: a hydrogel mask.

A hydrogel mask or gel mask (Koreans pronounce “gel” with a hard “g”), “is made of polymers that are very absorbent and hold water against your skin,” says Jessica Wu, M.D., Los Angeles dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at USC Keck School of Medicine. “The mask traps water more effectively than a sheet mask because water evaporates more slowly from a hydrogel mask.” It feels different, too — like a solidified gelatin that is “more flexible and conforms to your face better than many cloth or paper sheet masks,” says Wu.

A favorite of Dr. Wu’s is Dr. Jart+ Water-Full Hydrogel Mask ($9). We like Korean brand Missha’s Prime 24K gold Collagen Caviar Hydro-gel Mask, about $22 for 3, which has a nice golden hue, so you look a little less freaky as you soak in the benefits. For a real upgrade, try When Mask, $28 for 4, which is made of a more eco-friendly bio-cellulose material — the fit is unsurpassed.

 

The Beauty Photoshop Experiment On A Woman Of Color

 

You may remember 24-year-old journalist Esther Honig who did the original beauty photoshop experiment which revealed the various ideals of beauty around the world. Honig sent her picture to people in over 25 countries and asked them to use photoshop to “make her beautiful.”

The goal of the experiment was to get people to reconsider the beauty standards and expectations that they hold themselves to. What is considered beautiful in one country doesn’t apply to all.  Ultimately, she wanted to prove that beauty ideals are subjective and we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we don’t fit just one standard of beauty. Proving her point, all her pictures came back looking drastically different.

But journalist Priscilla Yuki Willson was left with a lot of questions following Honig’s experiment. Most importantly, Wilson (who is half black, half Japanese) wondered how these standards would be implemented on a bi-racial woman of color. After all, the multi-race community is the fastest growing community in the United States. Following Honig’s footsteps, she decided to conduct the experiment herself.

“It’s a dialogue that specifically addresses race and ethic features in an industry where beauty standards are apparently euro centric,” she said.

The results? She discovered that countries who were more accustomed to diverse ethnicities, such as the United States, had very little to change from her original photo. Other countries, such as Vietnam, left her nearly unrecognizable.

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Original Photo.

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Photoshopped in the United States.

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Photoshopped in Vietnam.

 

To see more of the photoshop results, click here. 

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Korean Beauty: The Best, Most Wearable K-Makeup Trends To Try

 

Everything out of Korea seems to be hot these days, from K-pop to kimchi to K-dramas. Add to that list Korean makeup trends that are a fun way to switch up your look. Here, easy how-to’s to get the K-makeup look.

 

IL-JJA BROWS

Korean women are all about the dong-an (baby) face, and the quickest way to get this look is with the il-jja brow. Named after the number “1,” il-jja brows are straight across the bottom, without a pronounced arch, and with a shorter and fuller taper at the end. Contrast this with a “western style brow, which typically has a high arch with a skinny tail end,” says makeup artist Christina Choi. “The il-jja brow gives you a more youthful look.”

 

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The color is important, too. Use a brown powder one to two shades lighter than your natural brow color, like Christina Choi Cosmetics’ Chai Eyeshadow. (Korean vlogger Dayomi uses Smog from Urban Decay’s Naked palette for her brows.) “Using a firm angled liner brush, dip your brush into the shadow and start outlining the top part of your brow using feather-like strokes,” says Choi. “Avoid creating a high arch — keep the line straight. Next, fill in your brows and then outline the lower part of your brow.” If your natural arch is too high or you don’t want to look too cartoon-y, do a modified il-jja like Jun Ji-Hyun’s, which has a slight curve.

 

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WATER SHEEN COMPLEXION (MUL GWANG)

 

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Another Korean beauty requirement is mul gwang — that super-shiny, almost wet-looking complexion. But don’t go overboard and look, as one Korean woman put it, like you have Pond’s cold cream smeared all over your face. To get just the right balance, Korean vlogger Dayomi applies a mixture of liquid foundation and a dollop of Vaseline with a foundation brush, finished with a touch of mineral powder. For less over-the-top luster, replace Vaseline with a face balm or try a cushion compact — a BB cream in a liquid sponge compact — that’s currently all the rage in Korea. To prevent slippage, Choi recommends finishing with a light dusting of translucent loose powder, focusing on the outer perimeter of the face, then lightly dusting towards the center.

 

 

GRADATION LIPS

 

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The last step in a perfectly dong-an look is the “gradation” lip. Also called the gradient lip, it’s an ombré effect with the strongest color on the inner lips, gently fading to a soft, blurred effect at the lip line. It’s not as extreme as you see on runways — it’s a more subtle gradient effect that just makes the lips look airbrushed. To achieve the look, apply a matte-ish pink on the entire lip (don’t use a beige or nude, lest your lips look super thin) and then apply a hot pink gloss along the inner edge of the lips. Gently press lips together to blend the color out, almost to the edge of the lips, but not quite.

 

This story was originally published in Audrey‘s Fall 2014 issue — get it here.

MUST-TRY Korean Beauty Trend: Ombre/Gradient Lips

Already tired of ombre hair and ombre nails? Don’t give up on the ombre craze just yet! This summer, we’re encouraging all of our readers to try out the growing Korean beauty trend, ombre lips. We know what you’re thinking– this just looks like someone who ate a cherry popsicle. But trust us when we say there is much more to this look than what meets the eye. In fact, a quick glance at these celebs may have you convinced soon enough.

Ombre lips, also known at gradient lips, has been a popular look in Korea for years. It picked up tons of fans when a few members of Girls’ Generation used the look for their “I Got A Boy” music video back in 2012.

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SNSD’s “I Got A Boy” Concept.

Since then, gradient lips have popped up everywhere in Korean pop culture. Actress Yoon Eun Hye rocked the look in the popular drama “I Miss You” and more recently, actress Han Ji Min took part in a stunning photo shoot for Elle Korea where she showed off her (you guessed it) gradient lips. 

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Yoon Eun Hye in “I Miss You”

Han Ji Min for Elle Korea

Han Ji Min for Elle Korea

There are a number of reasons this look picked up popularity. Blogger Wengie points out that gradient lips creates small and innocent, doll-like features which fits perfectly with Korea’s “cute” obsession. On the other hand, others point out that a deeper shade of red on the inner lip has the opposite effect. Lips can then achieve the “just-bitten” sexy look.

Clearly, gradient lips can work for all sorts of faces and can quickly transition from innocent to sexy depending on your mood.

So how exactly does one achieve ombre lips? Luckily for you, gradient lips are quite simple:

 

 


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STEP 1: Go nude! (Well, just your lips.) Apply nude lipstick onto all of your lips. You can also use concealer or foundation to get the desired shade.

 

 

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STEP 2: Apply red or pink lipstick to the inner portion of your lips. You may reapply the color until you reach your desired shade.

 

 

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STEP 3: Blend outwards by dabbing it with your finger or smacking your lips together. Be sure to keep the color on just the inner portion of your lips to achieve the gradient look.

 

 

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STEP 3: Move away from innocent to sexy by emphasizing the umph– I mean, the color. Add a lip tint to your inner lip once again.

 

 

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STEP 4: Apply lip balm to the outer edge of your lips.

 

 

And that’s it!

Check out the video tutorial below for a better look at how it’s done with various shades.

Trending in Korea: The Makeup Hotel

 

Korea’s the country known for its pink women-only parking spaces (though China now also has them), so it’s no surprise that the next evolution in female specific amenities now include the so-called makeup hotel.

First, some background.

When you’re visiting Seoul, and it’s cosmetics and skincare that you want, you devote a day to shopping in Myeongdong. Located in a historic section of Seoul, Myeongdong is a makeup lover’s paradise, with store after store of Korean cosmetics brands from the mainstream (Missha, Etude, Skinfood) to perhaps the lesser known (Baviphat, Tonymoly) to the cool (Too Cool For School). It’s almost always crowded with women in groups of threes or fours, loaded down with shopping bags, rabidly speaking in Chinese or Japanese. Add to the cacophony saleswomen in front of every store, calling out in (bad) Chinese or Japanese (and the occasional English), waving a free sample sheet mask, and you’ve got a perfect picture of Myeongdong.

One hotel has taken advantage of its location in the bustling shopping district and one-upped everyone else: The Hotel Skypark Myeongdong’s new women-only floors. Not only are these floors exclusive to female guests, they’re decorated either in a dollhouse theme or like a log cabin in the woods. In the dollhouse floor, the rooms are Malibu Barbie-pink and filled to the brim with chandeliers, tufted pink furniture and flowery wall decals that say “Princess” or “Play House.”

 

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And it’s not just the decor. Instead of the usual cheap-y, travel size shampoo and shower gel, you can avail yourself of an array of full-size lotions and creams from well-known Korean brands. And you don’t get a mint on your pillow at turn down; instead you are greeted with best-selling sheet masks and palettes of eyeshadow.

Oh, but the pink madness doesn’t stop there. Sure, the log cabin women-only floor, designed in collaboration with Korean brand The Face Shop, offers a more nature-inspired experience, with pale green and brown tones, eco-friendly furnishings and organic fabrics. But the rest of the public spaces in the hotel are littered with too-cute little vanities filled with makeup by Etude House, one of Korea’s top-selling makeup brands (and known for their over-the-top princess design). Just think of it as a Sephora-meets-Holiday Inn.

More photos below.

 

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Incorporate This Asian Skincare Must-Have Into Your Regimen: Skin Lotion

 

The international hit K-drama My Love From the Stars launched a number of trends and worldwide obsessions, from actress Jun Ji-hyun’s lipstick (the mere rumor that her coral-pink color came from YSL caused a worldwide shortage of the shade) to anything from Korean brand Iope, which was prominently displayed in the star’s boudoir on the show. Apparently, you can’t find Iope’s top seller, Bio Essence, in duty free stores at Korean airports because of all the Chinese tourists who are buying the hydrating liquid by the boxful. (And at $60 a pop, it ain’t cheap.)

Iope Bio Essence is a part of that step in any respectable Asian skincare regimen that includes what is called “lotion,” “skin lotion” or, to some old-school Koreans, simply “skin” — a water-like solution for the face used after cleansing.

It’s different from the toner that we here in the States may have grown up with — that harsh, alcohol-based liquid we swept over skin with a cotton ball to wipe off any residual makeup that our cleanser may have missed. (In Asia, a double cleansing method — makeup remover and then cleanser — does away with the need for a post-rinse “toner.”) Rather, “lotion” is a post-cleansing hydrator, usually applied by sprinkling into hands and pressing the palms over the face to ensure proper penetration. It’s a step that “provides hydration to the skin that might be stripped during the cleansing process,” says Diane Nakauchi, skincare expert and CEO of Japanese skincare brand Koh Gen Do. Like a vitamin drink, skin lotion usually has “humectant properties to help hold in moisture,” she adds, imparting a translucency to skin.

Today, Asian skincare companies are bringing these post-cleansing hydrators — whether called “lotion,” “water” or even “toner” — to American consumers, and American skincare companies are quickly jumping on board. And these newest iterations of lotions go beyond just hydrating — some balance skin’s pH levels; others refine and exfoliate. But perhaps the best reason to add lotions to your skincare regimen is what they all do: prep skin so that subsequent treatments can more effectively penetrate skin’s top layer. The result? All those expensive serums and creams work more effectively with less.

If you’re located near Los Angeles, there are plenty of Korean beauty boutiques in Koreatown that have Iope Bio Essence in stock. But you don’t have to fly to Korea or Los Angeles to get a hydrating lotion onto your bathroom shelf. Asian skincare companies available in the States already have a hydrating lotion in their line, and recognizing the brilliance of Asian skincare products, a number of non-Asian companies are coming out with their own versions. With a broad price range, these lotions are something everyone can get on board with. Check out some of our favorites:

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Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Lotion II: A botanical-based gel-liquid with time-release moisturizing agents from the skincare line used on major Hollywood sets from Dallas Buyers Club and American Hustle to Glee.

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Clinique Even Better Essence Lotion: The line’s first “watery lotion” — inspired by its Asian consumers — hydrates with its breakthrough NMF Complex to increase the production of the essential building blocks of skin’s natural moisturizing factors.

 

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SK-II Facial Treatment Essence: The prestige Japanese line’s cult favorite product contains more than 90 percent Pitera, their signature skin refining ingredient that boosts the skin’s natural surface rejuvenation process. 

 

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Laneige Power Essential Skin Toner: The popular Korean brand, known for its scientifically engineered Optimal Mineral Water in their skin refining toner, as well as the rest of their Water Bank line, is finally available to the American masses at mega retailer Target. 

 

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Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Balancing Water: A gel-like water with white ginseng and mulberry root extract to brighten, exfoliate and balance skin’s pH levels. 

 

 

Photoshop Experiment Shows Every Country Has A Different Standard of Beauty

If you pick up a dictionary and look up “most ridiculous beauty test in existence,” you’ll find yourself looking at Asia’s Finger Trap Beauty test. Fine, it may not be in the dictionary, but that’s certainly how we feel about a “test” that judges beauty based on whether you have a tall nose, a small jaw and really long fingers.

Twenty-four-year-old journalist Esther Honig seems to be on the same page as us about these ridiculous and unattainable standards of beauty. Honig recently did a experiment about ideal beauty around the world and the results reinforce what we’ve believed in all these years: There is no one standard of beauty.

Think about it. If the Asian Finger Trap test determines beauty, then what about those, like myself, who don’t pass this test? Does this mean we should go cry ourselves to sleep because no one will ever find us attractive?

Nope, I don’t think so.

Honig recognized that one person’s perception of beauty is completely different from the next. How can we think of a single test as the all-knowing judge of beauty when the definition of beauty is constantly changing? In Asia there’s the finger trap test, but in America there’s the “thigh gap” obsession. Clearly, those are two very different scales and yet they both “determine” beauty. Confused? You should be.

To prove her point, Honig contacted 40 Photoshop-savvy individuals from more than 25 different countries. Their task was simple: edit her photo and make her beautiful.

The results blew her away. All the Photoshopped images were drastically different from one another.

“I hope this forces viewers to reconsider their concept of beauty and the expectations they hold themselves to,” Honig says. “When we compare unobtainable standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all that more elusive. It almost neutralizes the belief in a universal beauty.”

So the next time you feel ugly because your strong eyebrows simply can’t conform to the trendy short and straight “K-pop eyebrows,” remember in India, you’d be gorgeous.

You’re welcome.

Before & After: Indonesia

Before & After: Indonesia

Before & After: India

Before & After: India

 

Before & After: Philippines

Before & After: Philippines

Before & After: Vietnam

Before & After: Vietnam

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Before & After: Morocco

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Before & After: Argentina

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Before & After: United States of America

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Before & After: Chile

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Before & After: Kenya

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Before & After: Serbia

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Before & After: Pakistan

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Before & After: United Kingdom

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Before & After: Bangladesh

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Before & After: Bulgaria

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Before & After: Sri Lanka

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Before & After: Israel

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Before & After: Greece

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Before & After: Bangladesh

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Before & After: Italy

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Before & After: Serbia

(Source 1, 2)

Skin Care Products, Not Just for Women Anymore

Ladies, be prepared to move all your eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks, eyeliners, and your hoards of lotion and bb cream’s aside. Men’s skin care products are on the rise and you know what that means – we’ll have to share the bathroom sink every morning. Gasp.

You can thank those fair-skinned, pretty boys in K-dramas for this latest craze of men’s beauty products in Asia. Apparently we’re not the only ones these days who are swooning over them – men are too. Well, maybe not swooning exactly, but they are definitely taking notes on how to attain silky, smooth skin.

According to an article on Wall Street Journal, the largest market for men’s skin care is China at $974 billion, and is expected to increase up to 1 billion dollars by next year. Korea is closely behind at $635 million, and North America is at $286. With this craze, you would think these products come with Scarlett Johansson’s face plastered on them or something.

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For now, we’re not complaining (too much) at least…unless all their products start taking up too much of our space. Then, we’ll definitely have a problem.

Editor’s Beauty Picks: Summer 2014 Issue

We feature dozens of beauty products every issue, but this is the post that’ll tell you what we’re really coveting for ourselves here at Audrey. Check out the best of our Summer 2014 issue:


Rodial Glamstick

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These tinted butters go on super smooth (like butta); contain vitamin E, cocoa butter and hyaluronic acid spheres, which attract water to the skin; and smell amazingly like coconut. The colors may look bright (my favorite is Psycho, a rosy coral that looks a lot like Korean actress Jeon Ji-Hyeon’s famed lip color from the mega-hit Korean drama My Love From the Stars), but they go on creamy and sheer — perfect for summer.


Laneige BB Cushion SPF 50+

laneige bb cushion

Audrey‘s art director is obsessed with Iope’s new Air Cushion XP SPF 50+, a liquid foundation in a compact that also provides SPF 50 protection. If you can’t find it online, try the BB Cushion from Laneige, its sister company. They’re both made with their signature signature mineral water, but Laneige is now available at Target.

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Get amazingly dewy skin like Yulia Saparniyazova at Tracy Reese.

 


 

Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Cloths

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These cleansing cloths (the cotton is certified organic in Japan) are just so good. They’re not oily like some, and they don’t even feel that wet, which is amazing considering how well they remove makeup and even sunscreen. (And they’re the perfect size for getting at every corner of your face.) Infused with nutrient-rich thermal water from the Yumura Hot Springs in Izumo, Japan and white birch sap, harvested for only three weeks in early spring, these cloths are on my short list of beauty products I’d actually buy.

 


M.A.C Alluring Aquatic Lipstick in Pet Me, Please

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At first I thought this frosty nude was a bit too Miami old folks’ home, but apply it over some lip balm and you get a glowy-y sheen that brightens the entire face.


Ioma Flash Youth Eye Contour Concentrate

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With a high concentration of active ingredients (a rare 26%), this serum works 360 degrees all around the eye contour, not only addressing the downward drag of the subcutaneous fat in the orbital region which causes eye bags but also lifting sagging upper eyelids, a major sign of premature facial aging. I absolutely love the immediate cooling effect when you apply it, and throughout the day, I literally felt a tightening (at first I thought my eye cream wasn’t working!) as the lifting element went to work. This one’s a bit pricey ($165!), but worth every penny.


Osis Dust It

osis dust it

This mattifying hair powder really separates and texturizes and yet is not stick and leaves hair just malleable enough to reshape throughout the day.


Get Audrey‘s summer 2014 issue here!