Monthly Archives: July 2015

My picks: Best Korean BB creams

A section of my BB cream collection. SCREAMfmLondon

A section of my BB cream collection. SCREAMfmLondon

Since 2011, BB creams have been a presence in the beauty section of US stores. BB creams (aka. blemish balms, beauty balms, beblesh balms — whatever tickles your fancy) are one of my favorite cosmetic products for their all-in-one functionality. Ideal for anyone who wants to spend as little time as possible getting ready in the morning (that’s me!), BB creams serve as a primer, moisturizer, foundation and sunblock. I started loving them a few years ago, but the creams have been popular in Korea since the 1980s. Korean brands continue to innovate the balms, evolving into CC creams and cushion compacts (“air cushions”).

Here are my picks for the best Korean BB creams, foundations and more:

Banila Co. VV Bouncing Cushion

I am loving this Banila compact. It’s sleek and easy to carry with you throughout the day. It contains collagen intended to firm, lift and plump the skin, and it has an SPF of 50. And the cream has a great, light coverage. The packaging of this product is also really cool: you press down on the compact to dispense the cream onto the puff and then apply it to your face. It also comes with one full refill! I walked into Banila to buy a different cushion compact, but I’m very glad that I was persuaded to pick up this one.

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Skinfood Pore Fit Cushion Bottle. SCREAMfmLondon 

Skinfood Pore Fit Cushion Bottle

This is the weirdest beauty product I own. The Skinfood Pore Fit Cushion Bottle is a substantially-sized metal canister that you switch on and shake up as if you were going to use some spray paint. Then, you pump the lid a few times to dispense the product onto the cushion. Then, you open the lid and apply. I’ll be honest with you: it smells a lot like nail polish remover, and that doesn’t sound like a quality something would have if it was good to put on your face. But this cream makes the skin look so smooth and bright. It also has an SPF of 50, and it feels really cool going onto the face, which is refreshing for enlarged pores or skin that is affected by heat.

Mamonde Total Solution Moisture BB Cream

Mamonde serves as a good everyday BB cream when you haven’t got time for all the bells and whistles that go along with fancy spray paint bottle foundations. It has a lower SPF (just 35), but it provides very good coverage and really evens out the skin tone. Mamonde products, unfortunately, come in extremely light shades, but they blend into the skin quite well to effectively brighten and conceal redness. This BB cream provides more thorough coverage than some of the others, as it is a traditional pump bottle rather than a cushion compact. I really dig it on days I look and feel particularly tired.

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Skin79 VIP Gold Super BB Cream. SCREAMfmLondon

Skin79 VIP Gold Super BB Cream

This is the product I have been using for the longest. There are about 5 million variations on the Skin79 BB creams depending on your skin type — the VIP Gold is a bit richer for creamy application and full coverage. Like the Mamonde, the Skin79 BB creams come in a very specific shade of very light, but once this product oxidizes, it matches my skin color quite well. It is moisturizing and provides a kind of dewy finish. Also, I like the cool holographic bottle. I’ve been enjoying this BB cream for many months now, and I definitely think it’s worth a try.

Food: Mizu shingen mochi ‘water cake’

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Mizu shingen mochi aka. “water cake” is this summer’s trendiest dessert. This strawberry-flavored cake was served in Myeongdong. SCREAMfmLondon

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “The problem with desserts is that they’re just too corporeal”? Have you been longing for a more abstract — perhaps even metaphysical — after-dinner treat?

Well, the search is over. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll come across this year’s most conceptual dessert trend: the Japanese water cake.

Mizu shingen mochi originated in the Japanese Alps, but it’s been gaining popularity worldwide this summer.

The cakes are round, translucent variations on the traditional mochi rice cakes, and they’re usually served with sugary syrup and kinako soybean powder on the side.

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Japanese-style water cakes for sale in Seoul. SCREAMfmLondon

While last year, the croissant-donut hybrid cronut had customers lined up outside Dominique Ansel’s New York bakery for hours and hours, these water cakes have customers trekking out to Yamanashi Prefecture (a two-hour drive from Tokyo), where they climb a mountain before reaching the hour-long line to order a dessert. And, like the cronut, the mizu shingen mochi is specifically trademarked to one owner: the Kinseiken Seika Company.

Legend has it these special water cakes are jellies made using solidified water from one specific source on Mount Kaikoma and are so delicate that they’ll only retain their shape for about 30 minutes at room temperature. Although, now that they’ve reached the likes of Seoul and Orange County, Calif., I’m going to surmise that the process is a little less special and a little more like the making of Jello Jigglers.

The cakes are pretty cool to look at — but they’re kind of just gelatin in a fancy outfit. The soybean powder is the best part, adding a much-needed punch of texture and flavor to the relatively tasteless treat.

Water cakes are worth a try for the novelty, but nothing to get worked up about.