An Ode to K-Beauty

"Cleanse, tone, moisturize...Repeat.

The skincare mantra widely used by girls and women of America. 
The three-step process tested and approved by skincare experts for decades.

During my teen years, I adopted theses steps into my routine, as well as weekly exfoliators and face masks. The major players of my beauty collection were from drugstores, with the exception of occasional splurge in back-then beauty hub of wonder, Sephora. I recall the glee when I purchased my first Purity Made Simple cleanser. I proudly grabbed the 16oz bottle and milked that thing for months. 

While I sometimes abandoned weekly "luxury" treatments from laziness, I remained faithful to the three-step routine for years. Then, during my visit to Korea last summer, the growing empire of K-Beauty flipped my world upside down - and my beauty routine has never been the same. 

Long before my visit, I had access to K-Beauty products through relatives who brought back five-step skincare sets from recent trips. The problem was my naivety that gladly abandoned its tediousness to the good old three-step skincare. I thought, "why use an essence (Korean toner) AND emulsion (Korean lotion) AND cream when I can just slap on do-it-all lotion?!". Blasphemy. 

In recent years, K-Beauty inventions like BB and CC creams rose to fame in American beauty circles. The once exotic beauty experiments from Asia quickly became the most-coveted beauty trend. Makeup brands produced imitation products left and right while mainstream brands like Sephora and Urban Outfitters endorsed and sold K-Beauty items. 

I knew Korean beauty lingos and tried few essences and BB creams. I thought I was somewhat familiar with K-Beauty, but my first-hand experience in Korea presented a whole new world to me: 

Beauty stores, known as "road shops", line up in every main and local street corner - as accessible as Starbucks or 7-Eleven in the States. The overly friendly and enthusiastic saleswoman who knows exactly the cure to your skin problems. In her hand, the golden solution to your skin, among an overwhelming collection of products of various names and colors with functions for just about every skin need. A handful of skincare and makeup samples stuffed in the bag with your purchases. Echoing reminders about membership deals and discounts on your way out. Advertisements on subway stations, grocery markets, fliers and TV screens enticing your wallets open to get your hands on the newest product endorsed by an A-list celebrity...  

I returned home, overwhelmed and enlightened, with a suitcase full of K-Beauty products. South Korea proved worthy of the buzz in the beauty department - and drastically changed my perspective on beauty. As K-Beauty continue to climb the ladders of the international beauty scene, I don't doubt it will quickly alongside the thriving global markets of music and technology in Korea.

Stay tuned for posts covering K-beauty tips and products!

Dainty and Lovely Things (And Creative Process)

I stumbled upon a Tweet I wrote at the end of 2014.

I recall something took me away from my normal pattern - and I recorded the epiphany in 140 words. 

A floating thought solidified into something tangible.

If I did not express, I wouldn't have been able to return to this moment of revelation:

Creativity is giving yourself permission to suffer until something gives out through expression.

Recently, I've been pondering about the relationship between creative production and self contentment.

As a creative being, I find myself in a constant cycle of up's and down's. There are days when my creative flow feels inactive. There are other days when I produce like crazy, usually without the plan or intention of doing so. By crazy, I'm talking about explosive amounts of expression colliding with adrenaline, energy, and joy. These are moments when I feel like I'm flying even though my feet are still. After a long thread of mundane, I find myself in my prime element. 

Like that Katy Perry moment when she rises from fear and roars the whole forest to silence.

Source:  Buzzfeed

Source: Buzzfeed

If I don't act on the rising sparks of creativity, the potential for something remains stagnant and collects dust in an enclosed box. As long I try to ignore its existence, the creative juices hidden somewhere beneath the box beckons me to take a look. 

I woke up that afternoon feeling nothing less or more than normal. I had some flowers lying around. Next thing I know I'm standing by a window in a million poses to get the perfect lighting. Three hours later, I have 500 pictures. Exhausted and overwhelmed, I leave the images - until they haunt me back to themselves. Again, the beckoning of something - the responsibility of an artist, my perfectionist mindset, OCD?! - that tells me to take a peek and while I am at it, maybe share it with the world.

Regardless of the what, I produced and now I present. 

These images are not trying to say something or hold a deeper meaning beneath the surface. They are simply a reflection of who I am and where I am as a person and an artist. They are a process, not a completion. They are steps towards a destination, but not the destination itself. 

I realize this process applies to every aspect of life. 

Thoughts pass by and realizations evoke us constantly. But only an active choice to sit, reflect, and apply the passing moment provides the opportunity for growth. When we lose focus from daily distractions, the to-be revelation will return over and over again - until we give it the time and attention it needs to soak and absorb into our being.

Into a better, maturing version of you, renewing day by day, unseen now, but to be seen in the near future. 

To solidify a thought, I must act on it. 

As an artist, my action for the passing realizations manifests through creative expression.