Tag Archives: korean beauty

My k-beauty picks: More of the best cushion compacts

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Cushion compacts from Clio, Moonshot, The Face Shop and Tony Moly. SCREAMfmLondon

It’s time for a sequel to my first list of the best Korean cushion compacts! I’m simply enamored with this beauty innovation, and I can’t imagine ever returning to clunky traditional foundations. Korean beauty brands release new formulas and new collaborations regularly, so I’m always experimenting with the next great products.

Here are four more of my favorite cushion compacts:

Clio Kill Cover Liquid Foundation Cushion

This Clio cushion is absolutely amazing if you’re looking for a super full-coverage foundation. The Kill Cover cushion has an incredibly high-coverage formula for such a lightweight compact, and it’s great to work with if you want a really long-lasting, flawless makeup look. This is my go-to cushion for fancy nights on the town because it’s smoothing, moisturizing and brightening, and it really doesn’t require any touchups. Definitely recommended if you like full coverage foundations. You’ll be impressed with Clio’s Kill Cover compact.

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Tony Moly’s Pikachu Mini Cover Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Tony Moly Pikachu Mini Cover Cushion

Pikachu is having a big moment in Korea right now, so you’ll find various Pokémon in all the shops, on all the fashion and in all the beauty products. As I am very easily swayed by adorable packaging, I had to pick up the Pikachu Mini Cover Cushion from Tony Moly’s latest beauty collaboration with Pokémon. The line includes all kinds of Pokémon products, from face masks and cleansers to nail polishes and lip tints. This cushion is smaller than your average compact, so it’s great for on-the-go spot treatment. Although it’s cute, the formula is actually quite decent, and it provides good coverage. But I’m mostly in love with the detailed packaging, including the Poké Ball-shaped applicator sponge.

The Face Shop Oil Control Water Cushion

Speaking of adorable packaging, The Face Shop is also stocking some super cute character compacts at the moment. They have a Disney collaboration featuring a Monsters, Inc. cushion and a Mickey Mouse one, but I’m much more drawn to the darling Kakao Friends collaborations. The Kakao Friends are various characters used as emoticons on the Korean messaging app KakaoTalk. My favorites are Frodo, the dog, and Ryan, the bear. So, I had no choice but to buy this cushion compact featuring one of the best Ryan illustrations (he’s cheering for you amidst a backdrop of confetti!). It’s a light-coverage formula, so it’s best for daytime wear. This particular cushion is designed for oil control and boasts sebum-minimizing powers. But, let’s be real: I bought it for the packaging, and I’d do it again.

Moonshot's Microfit Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Moonshot’s Microfit Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Moonshot Microfit Cushion

I briefly touched on this cushion in my review of the moonshot x BIGBANG10 LUCKYBOX. Moonshot is the beauty brand owned by YG Entertainment, Big Bang’s record label, so all of the products are endorsed and modeled by YG artists like G-Dragon and Blackpink. I just dream of having skin as luminous as GD’s, so I am very drawn to this product. I really love the formula, the semi-matte finish and brightness of the Microfit Cushion. My only complaints are with the design: the applicator sponge broke really quickly, and the sponge inside that holds the product has gotten weirdly off-centered. While I’m disappointed with the durability of the compact, I’m still really into the product and will continue to use it.

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K-beauty review: moonshot x BIGBANG10 LUCKYBOX

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YG Entertainment’s cosmetics brand Moonshot presents its special Lucky Box event for Big Bang’s 10th anniversary. SCREAMfmLondon

As K-pop’s greatest boyband, Big Bang, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, its label, YG Entertainment, has pulled out all the stops so fans can make the most of the occasion. From concerts and an art exhibition to an in-theater movie and a line of makeup and skincare products, there is no end to the festivities.

I picked up the moonshot x BIGBANG10 LUCKYBOX for 70,000 KRW (about $62.70) at the BIGBANG10 concert in Seoul. The box features about six products from the cosmetics brand Moonshot (also owned by YG Entertainment) that are advertised by Big Bang’s G-Dragon and 2NE2’s Dara. Here is my rundown of the box’s contents:

All in One Moisturizer ($21.40)

First of all, this is a men’s product intended to keep your face soothed and moisturized after shaving your beard. Although this is not a problem I really have, I’m sure I’ll get some use out of this product anyway. It’s supposed to contain the qualities of a toner, lotion and an essence combined, and it’s said to even out the skin tone. If I never use it, at least I’ll have it on hand in case GD wants to spend the night.

Moonshot's Microfit Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Moonshot’s Microfit Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Microfit Cushion SPF 50+ PA+++ ($23.05)

This product is one I really love! It’s a layerable foundation with a light formula, and it really creates a smooth, poreless look. The Microfit cushion has become my go-to cushion compact for traveling and for going out. It makes the skin look flawless, and I really highly recommend it.

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Moonshot Cream Paint in 104 Pink Punch. SCREAMfmLondon

Cream Paint ($20.58)

This cream paint is a multipurpose lip and cheek tint with a creamy texture and a powdery finish. I received the cream paint in color no. 104, pink punch, which is a bright magenta color that I quite like. I don’t normally wear lip or cheek products, so I’m glad to have the opportunity to experiment with this one and see how it turns out for me.

Line Performer Pencil ($14.82)

This is a waterproof pencil eyeliner that I received in color no. 01, deep black. Most intriguing is the included blending applicator and sharpener. This pencil is supposed to be great for both smokey eyes and sharp cat eyes, but I’ve pretty much transitioned to exclusively using eyeliner pens, so I haven’t taken the time to try this out yet.

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G-Dragon’s signature scent by Moonshot: GD Eu De Toilette. SCREAMfmLondon

GD Eu De Toilette (65,000 // ~$58.22)

The Lucky Box came with a small sample of G-Dragon’s signature scent, but I actually purchased the full-size, 50 mL thing because I really dig the scent. It’s advertised as a unisex fragrance, so it’s a bit more subtle. A breakdown of the perfume shows three different groups of scent: the top layer being grapefruit, lemon, tangerine and cottonwood; the middle layer is sage, seaweed, jasmine and bamboo; and the base layer is ambrette, cedarwood, musk and patchouli. I really enjoy this fragrance, and I’m really happy with the purchase. It doesn’t even give me a headache after wearing it for a while — the true test of any perfume.

Multi Protection UV Bouncer ($28.81)

This is kind of a base product that moisturizes the skin while providing protection from UV rays. It can be used as a primer under foundation, and the gelly formula can be cooling, soothing and refreshing. I imagine this would be a nice product to use during the heat of the summer, but as it’s moving into fall now, maybe it’ll have to wait until next year.

Everything Else

The rest of the Lucky Box is filled with postcards and pictures of GD and Sandara Park, Moonshot’s two main YG models, as well as a commemorative BIGBANG10 sticker. Some Lucky Boxes allegedly contained signed Big Bang CDs or tickets to the art exhibit, but I had no such luck. All-in-all, I’m happy with my Lucky Box and I’m glad I had the opportunity to pick one up and participate in all the Big Bang 10th anniversary madness. Keep it coming, YG. I’ll probably buy anything G-Dragon is trying to sell me.

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

My k-beauty picks: Best Korean cleansers

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Some of my favorite cleansing and exfoliating products from The Face Shop, Neogen and Etude House. SCREAMfmLondon

As anyone will tell you, cleansing and removing makeup are some of the most important steps in a skincare routine. In South Korea, double-cleansing is such a popular practice that many people use two or three different cleansers and makeup removers each night.

Here are a few of my favorite Korean products for cleansing, exfoliating and removing makeup from your face:

The Face Shop Face It One-Step BB Cleanser (Oil to Foam)

I love this cleanser! It is so cool. Typically, in Korean skincare, you will cleanse first with an oil-based cleanser and then follow up with a foam-based cleanser (this is the double-cleansing process). This Face Shop BB Cleanser is both in one bottle: it goes on as a sweet-smelling oil cleanser that works quickly to remove makeup and BB cream, and then turns to foam when water is added to complete the cleansing process. This product is really great. It removes makeup well and saves time during a nightly skincare routine.

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Neogen Dermalogy Bio Peel Gauze Peeling Wine exfoliating pads smell amazing and make your face super bright! SCREAMfmLondon

Neogen Dermalogy Bio Peel Gauze Peeling Wine

It’s important to exfoliate a few times a week to get rid of dead skin cells and debris that can clog pores. These Neogen cleansing gauze pads combine manual exfoliation (scrubbing the skin with something textured) with chemical exfoliation (certain ingredients like lactic acid that reach deeper into the pores to help clean). They smell like delicious grape soda and contain red wine extract, an antioxidant, which also helps exfoliate. The treaded side of the gauze pads cleans off the skin while the more cushiony side absorbs and distributes the formula. These are effective and fun to use. I highly recommend them.

Etude House Magic Bubble Brush Peeling Foam

This Etude House cleanser is also a nice exfoliant. The bottle comes with an attached soft rubber brush that dispenses the foam cleanser when you press down on it. It’s ridiculously easy to apply and to clean the brush after use. The product works well to brighten and massage the skin while you cleanse. I noticed an immediate different in my skin after the first few uses: it was brighter and clearer as soon as I rinsed off the foam. It’s a little drying, but I like this product well enough, particularly for the convenient packaging and quick results.

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Point Deep Clean All-in-One Cleansing Tissue with moringa seed. SCREAMfmLondon

Point Deep Clean All-in-One Cleansing Tissue

I feel like it’s nice to have these cleansing tissues on hand when you don’t have a lot of time to do all the cleansing but know you can’t go to bed without removing your makeup and washing your face. These work surprisingly well to remove makeup quickly. The ones I use contain moringa seeds, which are supposed to provide a lot of benefits to the skin. These seeds are said to be very good for pore-purifying and can also protect skin from things like pollution, smoke and smog.

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.

SMTown: Studio and dance class

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The studio on the fourth floor of SMTown at COEX Artium, guarded by Jonghyun. SCREAMfmLondon

SMTown Studio: Music Video, Photo, Recording, Hair & Makeup, Vocal, Dance, Dress

As you ascend to the top floors of SMTown at COEX Artium, the services become more deluxe. While you can purchase k-pop merchandise on the second floor, you can actually star in a k-pop music video on the third!

At the SMTown Studio, fans can be professionally styled with SM-approved costumes, hair and makeup; trained to create an audio recording of their favorite song; taught the corresponding dance moves; photographed and photoshopped to their hearts’ content; and filmed in a duplicate of their favorite music video. It honestly all looks like a ton of fun — especially if you have slight delusions of grandeur and a lot of money to blow.

The SMTown Studio packages range in price from about $30 (for a simple tour of the space and a commemorative photo) to $500 (for a two-hour video recording session). Most packages hover around the $100-200 range. A one-hour, one-on-one dance class costs about $100 (while a group class is around $80). A one-hour vocal training and recording session is $150, and it costs $200 (and, apparently, one and a half hours) to have your hair and makeup done.

I took a tour of the studio space that culminated in a one-hour dance class.

The tour begins at the makeup station, where marble tables are piled high with rows upon rows of blush, eye shadow, brushes and more. The walls are all covered with mirrors and “the best selfie lighting ever” (their words — not mine). I do not doubt, though, that SM Entertainment’s makeup artists could work some serious magic on us all with their superior beauty knowledge. It’s a tempting package, for sure.

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SMTown photo studio. SCREAMfmLondon

Behind the makeup station is the photo studio. It’s a pretty cavernous room decorated with yet-unreleased photos of SM artists for the guests to ogle. If you’re a fan of photoshoots, I’m sure this is a good one. I am not a fan of photoshoots, but they took a few photos of me anyway — and specified which way I should stand to make it easiest to photoshop.

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Some of TVXQ!’s costumes on display at SMTown. SCREAMfmLondon

My favorite stop on the tour is the wardrobe area. It’s a beautiful room full of costumes SM artists have worn onstage or at special events, all grouped by band and labeled with the individual members’ names. It was amazing to see these outfits up close and to examine all the details: every epaulette on SHINee’s jackets, every rhinestone on TVXQ!’s sleeves. Everything is so pristine, except for the scuff marks on the fabulous shoes. I loved it so much.

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The hard-working shoes of a k-pop star. SCREAMfmLondon

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SHINee’s outfits on display at SMTown. SCREAMfmLondon

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So much beautiful crushed velvet. SCREAMfmLondon

Next, we visited the vocal recording rooms. Allegedly, the rooms are really, really used by actual SM artists. This was emphasized many, many times during the tour. There are a number of different recording booths equipped with what is supposed to be the best, most advanced audio recording technology out there. I would not know the difference, so I’ll have to take their word for it.

From there, we journeyed through the hallways to the music video studio. The room is divided in two halves: EXO’s “Growl” on one side and Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” on the other.

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Music video set for EXO’s “Growl.” SCREAMfmLondon

This room was a little awkward for a few reasons. First, there were quite a few people sitting right in the middle of it doing some work on their computers while we’re just traipsing around, taking pictures of stuff.

Also, I happened to be there not long after Tao officially announced his departure from EXO and his subsequent lawsuit against SM Entertainment. It was a little too obvious that his name had been hastily painted over on a few of the walls while it still appeared on others. Awkward.

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Tao’s name hastily painted over at bottom right. SCREAMfmLondon

Once we departed from there, it was time for our dance lesson led by a professional SM choreographer. We stashed our belongings in fire engine red lockers that read “DREAMS COME TRUE” across the front and took our places to learn the dance for EXO’s song “Call Me Baby.”

The pace of the dance was very quick, but the instructor was patient and helpful. One hour was not enough time for any of us to master any of that, but we worked hard, and it was a blast. It seemed to go by very quickly, especially since a lot of time was taken when cameramen came in to record our practice and interview a few of us (including me, for some horrifying reason) about our interest in k-pop.

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Inside the SMTown dance studio. SCREAMfmLondon

It was a great class, though, and I was sad to leave. I could definitely imagine spending hours every day trying to perfect those dance moves, if I only could afford it.

The SMTown Studio experience was an interesting one. To be honest, the studio tour is a little boring and doesn’t offer much beyond selfie ops (and not very spectacular ones at that). I would recommend heading straight for your area of interest (singing, dancing, fashion) to maximize your enjoyment of the studio.

Check out my guide to SMTown’s SUM Celebrity Shop and LIVErary Café here.
Check out my guide to SMTown’s 3D printing theater here.

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.