I May Love K-Beauty, But I Also Love My French and Japanese Beauty, Too
Just because your love affair with Korean beauty knows no bounds doesn’t mean you have to be monogamous. Beauty — in all its glorious forms — is an open relationship that is not hindered by boundaries, especially when there is so much of the international beauty world to explore. Here, why contributing editor Coco Park loves her French sunscreens and Japanese hair care.
It was a whole lotta curiosity and a little bit of an adventurous spirit that started my Korean beauty adventure, and that same spirit has kept me on the path of international beauty exploration. People often ask me if I only use Korean products, which to me is such a strange question. Beauty isn’t like sports teams — I don’t only support K-beauty the way I only support the Montreal Canadiens (Go Habs Go! Boo Leafs!). I live in a very cosmopolitan urban area, full of treasures from all around the world, be that food, clothing, and even beauty. As a result, my teeming horde of beauty products (a story in and of itself!) looks like a meeting of the United Nations — it would be insane for it not to!
A lot of influence in my city is obviously French; we are a French-speaking province with the largest French community outside of France itself. This means that a large number of my neighbors are former Parisians, and with them come the best boulangeries, patisseries, crepes, and yes, French beauty products. We even get things that aren’t available in the U.S. like great sunscreen formulations that offer better protection from UVA radiation. Let’s just say that most U.S. sunscreens don’t even meet European protection standards. As a result, a lot of my friends go on sunscreen shopping sprees when they come to visit me, loading up on all the great European offerings we have available at the local pharmacies.
Some favorites of mine contain Tinosorb and Mexoryl, my personal #SquadGoals. The La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Targeted Protection Stick SPF 60 is perfect for around the eye area, tops of the ears, and nose. I go back and forth between that and the Vichy Idéal Soleil Stick for Sensitive Zones SPF 60; they both have the same Mexoryl XL and other UVA/UVB filters and cost the same, but my pharmacy always has specials on one or the other with lots of free gifts so I just go with whichever one is on sale when it’s time for a re-up.
For all-over sunscreen I like the Vichy Idéal Soleil SPF 60 Cream, which is also formulated with Mexoryl XL. I use this on my face and body, although if you have oily skin you will probably find this too emollient for your face. I’ve also been using it on on my kids this year (with face touch-ups from a handy A’Pieu Power Block Tone Up Sun Cushion); they both line up dutifully for a fresh coat before going outside. My husband especially likes this one to protect his tattoos from sun damage since it also acts almost like a body lotion.
Japanese hair care
If France is my go-to country for sunscreen, Japan has definitely made a name for itself on my head.
In continuing on with my international beauty adventure, I’ve been veering toward Japanese shampoos lately. We have a local J-beauty store here that stocks their shelves with all sorts of concoctions from Japan with ingredient lists that read more like skincare than hair care. The Botanist’s line of botanical shampoos caught my eye when I spied licorice root, avocado, and macadamia nut in the mix. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it was also the minimalist hand-drawn-looking packaging that also caught my fancy. The fruit floral smell is especially refreshing on a hot summer’s day. I’m also a fan of their hair masks; my hair is always super silky after a one-a-week whirl in the shower with one.
I recently picked up the Belluga Amino Damage Care Shampoo and Treatment set on a whim just because the bottles looked fancy. It had little English information available on the packaging, but googling later I found:
“Made with amino acid-based cleansers, this hair care line provides moisture while gently cleansing the hair. It gently cleanses excess sebum and impurities in the pores for a healthy scalp condition. With 18 amino acid serum ingredients, repairing raw keratin and collagen are added. It retains rich moisture to the hair and repairs deep damage in the hair. Non silicone shampoo”
This, for me, was a major score! It was a really nice shampoo and conditioner that didn’t weigh my hair down and did a lot to contain the frizziness of my newly bleached summer hair.
Since I am an admitted smell slave (fragrance has a lot to do with my overall satisfaction of a product, and I can’t write without my trusty scented candles), my all-time favorite Japanese haircare line thus far has been Tamanohada Shampoo Naturally Refreshing and Fragrant in No. 000 Lavender, which seriously smells like you’re just out here naked chillin’ in a field of lavender. It is amazing. It also comes in other fragrances like Gardenia, Rose, Orange, and Fig. It’s like a veritable botanical garden’s up in your shower when you mix and match this line — I absolutely love it. Not to mention, it doesn’t gunk up or dry my hair out like a lot of Western shampoos.
Where will my journey take me next? I’m very much open to anything from anywhere. I spied a very exciting Hungarian cleansing balm the other day that almost made it into my basket until I saw the $110 price tag. My adventures know no bounds, but they very much do have a budget!
Tell me your favorite international beauty discoveries! I’m always looking to try new things — as long as they’re not $110!