I Went to Seoul for the First Time & Came Back with 5 Holy Grail Products
A self-proclaimed beauty traveler does more than a little damage on her first visit to Seoul. What she discovered were 5 holy grail products she didn’t realize she would never be able to live without.
I’m not gonna admit I flew to Seoul for beauty, but I’m not saying I didn’t, either. As a self-proclaimed “beauty traveler.” I spend my vacation time fawning over the latest and greatest of my current destination’s local, home-grown brands. With new formulations and innovations pouring into the Korean beauty industry almost daily, I felt beyond inclined to experience what the beauty capital had to offer to me firsthand.
Needless to say, it was a beauty addict’s paradise: whole streets lined with beauty shops, spas, nail and hair studios, you name it. Beauty filled much of the retail space in Seoul, including subway stations, grocery stores, and business centers. While I expected to come home with a lot of “souvenirs,” I wasn’t expecting to find products that exceeded my lifelong faves.
So yes, I went to Seoul for the first time and all I got were these 5 holy grail products.
Etude House Ion Water Coconut Hydrating Serum Mist
I’ll be honest. I had absolutely no idea what this product was when I first saw it. In fact, I still had no idea what it was when I bought it. Why wouldn’t I buy this, though? It had all my favorite buzzwords in the description.
But what the hell is it? Cleansing water? Facial oil? Serum? Facial mist? Staying true to my beauty addict self, I became quickly engrossed in research and testing.
The outcome? Just picture me, three days later, waiting at the Etude House register with two more bottles of this elixir, already preparing for the inevitable restock. I had become obsessed with this mysterious mist and all its powers.
My theory on the weird name is that it’s more of a suggestion list, as this product is literally a cleansing water, facial oil, serum, and facial mist. Not only is this wildly multi-purpose (see my guide below), it does all those things well.
As a cleansing water: On light makeup days, spray your entire face and wipe with a cotton pad. Follow with your usual skin routine.
As a facial oil: Apply the mist to areas that are prone to dryness to hydrate and prep the skin for skincare.
As a serum: For quick, lazy skincare days, apply a generous amount of mist after cleansing. Finish with an oil-based moisturizer and eye cream.
As a facial mist: For on-the-go, instant hydration, hold the mist 7 inches from the face and spray. The mist can also be used to revitalize makeup.
Too Cool For School Glamrock Urban Chic Eyebrow Pencil
One of my first jobs in the industry was for an eyebrow specialist who would fly to Korea just to source her brow products. It’s safe to say that I had an idea of what Korean brow products could offer — I had already fallen in love with The Face Shop Brow Master Eyebrow Pencil (in fact, it was the only brow product I packed) and was eager to discover what else these brands could offer.
Enter Too Cool For School’s Glamrock Urban Chic Pencil, the ideal ashy-toned pencil for gorgeous, no-fuss brows. In our current beauty climate where warm toned makeup reigns supreme, it was a breath of fresh air to see a brow pencil not only work effectively, but come with two cool toned options. With its unique triangle tip, hair-like strokes can be applied with extreme ease, leaving you with a stunning, natural-looking brow. Achieving the look is a piece of cake, too: Simply fill in anywhere hairs are sparse. Blend with the spoolie tip for a bushy, youthful, your-brows-but-better effect.
Clio Kill Cover Highest Wear Foundation
I’m usually a light-to-medium, moisture cushion kind of girl; they’re comfortable, glowy, and give the “pretty girl” effect I’m looking for daily. On days when I’m feeling particularly extra, though, I go straight for this. This foundation is actually magic — despite the intensity in coverage, it blends out effortlessly, creating a real-skin, even complexion that is to die for. This is a lovely product for anyone with texture issues — coconut oil keeps skin hydrated, while glycerin ensures your skin maintains a flawless look all day. Bonus points for sun protection: Clio boasts a 50 SPF PA+++ throughout their entire Kill Cover line.
For best results, apply a thin layer (it’s all you need) on the most pigmented parts of your forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin, and blend out with your favorite beauty sponge. Lightly set with a translucent powder and continue with your personal makeup routine.
Mamonde Age Control Power Serum
I’ll be the first to say that I’m a total ingredient nerd when it comes to skincare. While Korea is known for their consistent innovation, it’s nice to see lines find inspiration from tried-and-true ingredients that can guarantee effective results.
In this case, we’re talking about camellia. An old-school staple in Asian women’s beauty routines, this classic extract has an endless amount of beneficial properties. Camellia is a powerful antioxidant with high levels of epigallocatechin gallate, otherwise known as EGCG. EGCG is a polyphenol, meaning it protects the skin from damaging free radicals. This slows down the aging process while saturated omega-9 provides moisture deep into the skin, effectively plumping fine lines and wrinkles with continued use.
The benefits don’t stop there. As if camellia extract’s anti-aging benefits weren’t already enough to leave me in absolute heaven, Mamonde Age Control Power Serum contains anti-inflammatory properties that assist in reducing multiple forms of discoloration, including sunspots, rosacea, and scarring; this also makes it ideal for sensitive skin. An absolute treat to wear day or night, it quickly absorbs and allows other products to lay beautifully.
Etude House Hot Style Photo Hair Liner
In terms of hair, I’m a natural blonde who was less than blessed in the thickness department. Actually, I’m kind of surprised that I had never tried hairline makeup, as my hair is one of my biggest insecurities. As a bottle brunette, things can look kind of wild when my roots aren’t touched up; pair that with my pale skin, and I can be serving some true receding hairline realness.
With this little guy, though, I can get away with not going to the salon every four weeks, which for me, is major. This was a total game changer during my travels; it created shadows that perfectly mimicked hair, blending my roots in with the rest of my tresses and boosting my confidence about 1,000%. The blending sponge is really effective in blending the product without smearing it — think of a beauty puff for your scalp. While you’re at it, think of this product as a total lifesaver.
Did you discover any holy grail products when you went to Seoul or anywhere abroad? Let’s talk about it!