Tag Archives: beauty balms

My k-beauty picks: Best cushion compacts

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A small fortune in BB creams and cushion compacts from Banila Co., IOPE, Holika Holika and Etude House. SCREAMfmLondon

This time last year, I shared some of my favorite Korean BB creams. Now it’s time to discuss South Korea’s most recent foundation innovation: the cushion compact. These cute, travel-sized compacts contain a sponge soaked with the foundation formula and a separate area for the uniquely designed sponge applicators. The creams provide light coverage as well as SPF, hydration and anti-aging ingredients. They’re so easy to use, there is no reason to return to clunky bottled foundations.

So, here are my picks for the best Korean cushion compacts:

IOPE Air Cushion Compact

I’ll start with the most obvious choice. The IOPE Air Cushion Compact is so popular in Asia that — allegedly — one is sold every 30 seconds. If you are going to buy one Korean makeup product, this should probably be it. It offers great sun protection (SPF 50), has cooling properties and lightweight coverage, so it’s perfect during the summer. It’s offered with natural, coverage or shimmery finishes. I chose the one with more coverage, but it is still one of the lightest creams I own. It’s sheer and blendable, and the sponge applicator helps the product go on super smoothly. This compact is legendary in Korea, and it’s worth checking out.

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Banila Co.’s VV Bouncing Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Banila Co. VV Bouncing Cushion

This is a product that I actually mentioned in my BB cream post last year, and it is still one of my absolute favorites. Of all these cushion compacts, the Banila Co. Bouncing Cushion provides the best and fullest coverage, so it can be used on a wider range of occasions for a wider variety of makeup looks. This is also the only compact that doesn’t use a sponge soaked with the formula for application — instead, you press the rim of the compact to dispense product as needed. I love the detail of this packaging, and the product works amazingly well. Cannot recommend this cushion enough.

Etude House Precious Mineral Magic Any Cushion

The Etude House Magic Any Cushion is more of a primer or base product to use before adding BB cream or foundation. These cushions are intended to create a smooth surface, moisturize and eliminate redness before you move on to the next step in your makeup routine. Etude House offers the compacts in three shades: pink, mint and peach. Pink is meant to lessen the appearance of dark circles and brighten pale skin tones. Mint helps cancel out redness, blotchiness or uneven skin color. Peach is meant to brighten dull skin and create a glowy finish. This product doesn’t really provide any coverage, but it prepares the skin so you can get the most out of your other compacts. I really enjoy using the mint cushion to begin my makeup routine.

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Holika Holika’s excellent and amazing collaboration with my favorite Japanese character, Gudetama, the lazy egg. SCREAMfmLondon

Holika Holika x Gudetama Face 2 Change Photo Ready Cushion

Ahhhhh. It’s so cute. Honestly, this formula does not really match my skin tone. But do I care? No, I do not. I allowed the salesgirl to swatch it for me, but I already knew that I would buy this product anyway. I love the entire Holika Holika/Gudetama collaboration. The cushion compacts come in three different designs, but the shades don’t vary much (very light with pink undertones). It provides a dewy finish, which is very popular in Korea but can be off-putting to anyone with oily skin. For me, the product is perfectly nice, and I will continue to use it just because. The coverage is fine. The product is fine. But the packaging is to die for(!!!), really. I love it so much.

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My favorite cushion compacts from IOPE, Holika Holika, Etude House and Banila Co. SCREAMfmLondon

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My picks: Best Korean skincare for pores

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One of my overflowing skincare shelves. SCREAMfmLondon

The first time I washed my car after moving to Los Angeles, I was really confused. Did I drive through something weird? Why was the water black? It took me a while to realize that’s just the dirt in the air. It was soon in my apartment, gathering on my windowsills. It continued to be black. I was horrified that this was also the air I was breathing and touching with my skin all the time…

And that is how I came to be really diligent with my skincare routine. Soap and water would no longer cut it — I needed to really deep clean my pores and do it regularly. I’ve since tested many dozens of products, gotten a pretty solid routine down, and found that no country creates better skincare products than South Korea.

So, here are my picks for the best Korean skincare products for cleansing, covering and caring for your pores:

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A’PIEU Moisture Pore Cover Balm. SCREAMfmLondon

A’PIEU Moisture Pore Cover Balm

I love this product so much. It is a transparent balm you apply to your skin before makeup to even it out, minimize pores and create a smooth surface. It smells powdery fresh, and it goes on so smoothly. It’s also just delightful to apply this — it feels like you’re gently massaging the most luxurious, velvety serum into your face. The effect is immediate: your skin will look soft and perfect. It’s also moisturizing (obviously, hence the name) and can help hide enlarged pores, fine lines, acne scars, etc. The balm even comes with a little spoon in the package to keep the product hygienic when you scoop some out. They thought of everything.

Etude House Zero Sebum White Sebum Clear. SCREAMfmLondon

Etude House Zero Sebum White Sebum Clear. SCREAMfmLondon

Etude House Zero Sebum White Sebum Clear

This product is amazing! Etude House actually has a small collection of Zero Sebum products, and now I plan to pick up every single one of them because this White Sebum Clear is so wonderful. It is a cream that you apply to afflicted areas (chin, nose, forehead, etc.), leave on for a few minutes and then wipe off. It is supposed to melt away the lumps of oily, waxy sebum that can build up on the face. The first time I used it, I didn’t notice that it did anything and thought it was a dud purchase. However, when I tried it again a while later, I noticed the difference immediately. I applied the cream at night and cleaned it off before bed. The next day, my skin was already noticeably smoother and my pores clearer. Now I use the product regularly, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Mamonde Pore Corset Blackhead Heating Oil

This cleansing oil is really interesting. When you pump it out of the bottle, you can feel it heating up in your hands. It gets even hotter as you apply it to your face. The warming effect helps clear away built-up dirt and makeup in your pores, and then you finish the process by rinsing your face with cold water to tighten the pores again. It’s supposed to cleanse, mildly exfoliate, and control sebum. I like this cleansing oil, and it leaves the skin feeling clean and soft. But, although it boasts Persian lilac as the main ingredient, it definitely feels more chemically. You don’t want to get it in your eyes or mouth because it burns horribly and tastes worse. Not that that’s happened to me, of course.

Caolion Premium Blackhead O2 Bubble Pore Pack. SCREAMfmLondon

Caolion Premium Blackhead O2 Bubble Pore Pack. SCREAMfmLondon

Caolion Premium Blackhead O2 Bubble Pore Pack

It’s very fun to have a reliable face mask to slip into your skincare routine every so often. I like this one from Caolion, which contains charcoal powder, ginkgo balboa leaf extract, oat flour and other ingredients that are supposed to help cleanse pores. You massage the mask into your dry face and, in a few minutes, it will begin to bubble up with tons of micro oxygen bubbles that are intended to deep-cleanse the pores, hydrate, eliminate excess sebum, and remove dead skin cells. I noticed an immediate difference in my skin the day after my first use of this pore pack. My face was clearer and brighter. Plus, it just feels kind of weird and relaxing to have the bubbles fizzing on your face. Definitely try this mask out. It’s an experience.

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.