If you’re a beauty editor, Cosmoprof can be one giant candy store. It can also be a massive obstacle course, one in which you’re dodging the fluff and gimmicky in an effort to suss out the next big thing, the true hidden gems.
And when that gem is hidden in an obstacle course that is over 250,000 square feet, with more than 1,000 exhibitors and 30,000 visitors jam-packed therein, well, let’s just say, Cosmoprof is as exhausting as it is exhilarating.
This year, Cosmoprof featured two Korea pavilions (yes, there were so many beauty companies from Korea, it required two dedicated sections). Of course, even those large areas couldn’t contain all the Korean beauty companies represented at Cosmoprof — it seemed everywhere you turned there was a Korean beauty company featuring the latest in technology (skin ironing, anyone?), skincare, hair care, body care, and color cosmetics.
So we swatched, slathered, sprayed, and even got “tattooed” (for real! See what I mean below). I was once again overladen with free product to test and review. (Not complaining!) After three days, my back ached but my spirits soared, inspired and rejuvenated by the best of beauty and reminded why I love this ever-growing industry. (Seriously, beauty people are some of the nicest people ever.)
We saw and learned a lot in three days, and we only scratched the surface. Nonetheless, here are some of the highlights of our experience there and the cool Korean beauty trends at Cosmoprof.
You may have heard of microblading, the procedure by which a thin row of needles is used to tattoo semi-permanent pigment into the eyebrow area for fuller, natural-looking brows. Well, welcome to the newest, more advanced way to get those perfectly natural Cara Delevigne-meets-Han Ga In brows: microneedling.
Microneedling is different from microblading in that you’re using a nano needle, not a row of needles, so you have far more control and precision in depositing pigment and shaping the brow. There’s also less pain, which my colleague can attest to. (After about 30 minutes of a topical cream anesthetic, she said she felt nothing while getting her brows done — and she admits to a low pain threshold. Check out our Instagram for a video of the procedure!)
Of course, your microneedled brows are only going to be as good as the artist doing the needling, and in this case, Sun Young Park of Beauty Briea is a true artist. As head of Beauty Briea, an “art makeup” salon and academy specializing in semi-permanent makeup and nail art in Incheon, South Korea, Park works with the steadiest of hands, creating needle-fine strokes with amazing precision. (I know — I sat there mesmerized for a good half hour before I started to see stars.) Park also developed the Ming-Ming-Briea (or MMB Solution) microneedling machine, which offers different settings for brows, eyeliner, lips, and hairline. MMB can also used for skincare, including wrinkle reduction, scar treatment, and brightening.
All I can say is that after seeing the final results on my colleague (with no swelling or bleeding or downtime whatsoever — we went to a gala a few hours later), I was blown away and wanted to immediately plunk down a fistful of Benjamins for the picture-perfect K-drama, crazy natural brows now sported by my colleague, who instantly looked 10 years younger. Sob. If only Cosmoprof were another day longer.
The V-line has been big in Korea as a coveted facial silhouette for some time now. And while cosmetic surgery to get that V-line is advertised all over Seoul, thank goodness beauty companies are looking for more innovative (and less invasive) ways to achieve the coveted look.
One such brand, Cell 97.7, offers a facial mist called First 3S Tight Junction Solution (sold with a serum as a set) that literally tightens and lifts the skin in minutes. They misted one side of my colleague’s face with the solution (yes, she was the official guinea pig), she gently patted it in (over makeup), and in seconds, her face not only started to feel tighter and more lifted, but you could see the silhouette of that side of her face smooth out, lift, and eventually look noticeably more V-line than the other side of her face (which was slightly more angled). It wasn’t so drastic that she looked asymmetrical, but if you stared at her straight on, it was definitely noticeable. She said that the tightened, lifted feeling lasted all night.
Another interesting company, Elra Story, offers a beauty tape that instantly lifts and tightens the skin. The woman at their booth showed me her tape — she had it right below the ear, pulling back her jawline so that her V-line was more pronounced. She said it felt totally comfortable, the tape is hardly visible, and you can apply makeup over it. Just check out this video:
The Plastipuff? The Plastisponge? Sorry, I don’t know what else to call this other than what it is: a flat, multi-layered piece of round plastic that is supposed to forever replace your ruby cell cushion puff. Because it’s made with multiple layers of thin plastic (and yet is still no thicker than a credit card), this “puff” remains pliable and soft, and because it’s plastic, it soaks up less of your cushion foundation while still purportedly offering the same coverage. (Think of it as the silicone sponge blender version of the cushion puff.)
I haven’t had the chance to try this with my cushions yet, and while it did look promising on the back of my hand when I tested it at the Lamy booth, I’ll have to get back to you on whether this will truly replace my ruby cell puff. I will say, if it works half decently, I may be inclined to convert because while I love cushions, I despise cleaning my ruby cell puff applicators.
Microneedling is usually associated with those little needle-filled rollers that look more like a torture device. The purpose of those tiny needles is to create micro-wounds on your face, allowing skincare ingredients to penetrate more deeply and to kick-start the natural wound-healing (and thereby collagen-generating) process of the skin. Elra Story Hyaluronic Acid Micro Patch takes the microneedling concept to another level. Their eye, forehead, and laugh line patches have tiny spikes that supposedly help deliver active ingredients deeper into your skin. And don’t worry — the spikes don’t hurt and they eventually melt away.
Modeling or rubber masks are great for deep hydration and really helping actives penetrate the skin. What they’re not great at is allowing consumers to do them at home, mess-free.
Oséque is promising in that their Premium Gold Film Forming Skin goes on like a regular mask and forms a film that is akin to a rubber mask. Just apply, let dry, and then peel off. I can’t wait to try this, and the brand has cool foaming cleansers that are worth testing, too.
I’m a sucker for skin analysis — if there’s a UV camera, a dark spot detector, or skin hydration monitor, I’m all over it. So I consider HiMirror my greatest skin friend (or frenemy, depending on the condition of my skin.) It analyzes your fine lines, your dark spots, your wrinkles, even your pores and texture. It tracks the progress of your skin, operates on facial recognition, and is hands-free. The best part is that it’s now available for consumers (so you can analyze the daylights out of your skin at home, not just at your derm’s office). At $200, it’s not cheap, but if you think about it, it’s actually priceless.
What Korean beauty trends are you most excited about?