Bottled Roses

South Korea's beauty industry is rapidly growing as the pioneer of innovative products going beyond textbook routines and beauty basics.

So why are women worldwide flocking to the world of K-Beauty for the newest makeup trend or skincare tips? Mix top quality and drugstore prices together, jampacked with functions and benefits to last 10-step routines, wrapped with genius packaging - and you get the babies of K-Beauty empire.

Did I mention the exotic ingredients? Koreans aren't afraid to put benefits found in foods and animals to multiple uses, including their diets and skincare. Ever heard of creams made out of snail slime? Sounds strange, but heard the stuff works! Its regenerating and firming properties make it a top-selling skincare ingredient on the Korean market. 

Before I get to horse oils and bee venom serums though, let me introduce you to a K-Beauty product with a universally loved beauty ingredient: roses.

#1. Mamonde Rose Water Toner 

A lovely rose toner you can use in 3 different ways!

1. Toner
After cleansing, apply on your face with cotton pads to prep for skincare.

2. Mist
Keep in a mist bottle for a daytime refresher. 

3. Mask
Drench 4-5 cotton pads and apply on your face as a brightening mask. After 10-20 minutes, or when the pads start drying, remove and gently pat the face to absorb the nutrients. Proceed with lotion.

 

My favorite use is the mist! I keep the bottle in my bag and spray throughout the day. It immediately refreshes and hydrates - and takes me to an imaginary rose garden for a moment. 

Benefits
Killer scent and super hydration. Contains 90.89 rose water. Loaded up with nutrients that smells good and works wonders on summer skin. Great for calming and hydrating. 

This just might be your next alternative for your favorite rose toner.

#2. Mamonder First Energy Serum 

Koreans are all about fermented products. This serum contains 60-day fermented flowers, or "flower vinegar." It has anti-aging and brightening benefits. It sets the face for skincare, with an extra dosage of nutrients. (Y'know, fermented superpowers!) Read more about benefits of fermented beauty products here.

This serum is a unique product that I haven't found likes of in the States. Instead of a typical sticky liquid you associate with serums, the formula is non-sticky and clear with a lotion-like texture. You apply it as the first step in your skincare (even before toner) not to wipe away excess dirt, but to boost the skin before thicker lotions and creams. You can use a cotton pad or apply directly and pat to absorb.

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When I first saw these products in Korea, I fell in love with their packaging. During the holiday season, Korean beauty brands release redesigned versions of their best-selling products, often with more product and same price. These limited "special edition" babies sell out immediately once they hit the market.      

I happened to be one of the lucky ones when I scored these two items. Holiday or not, both products continue to fly off the shelves of a well-known Korean beauty brand, Mamonde. 

I'm just as in love with these two items as the first day I laid eyes on them - and it doesn't look like my affections will run out anytime soon. 

What are some of your favorite K-Beauty 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.

Beautified

Last month, a sweet friend of mine bought me flowers. 

Just because. 

I recall I didn't feel my best that day and frowned at the flaring acne on my face.

But those flowers made me feel so beautiful and loved for simply who I am.

It didn't matter how crappy or unattractive I felt because she saw me as I am.

 

That has been my personal conviction and challenge. 

To see and affirm my Beauty in the state of naked and pure.

 

If you are without your talents, makeup, clothes, relationships, and values, can you still love yourself as much as you do?

"When do you feel most beautiful?" 

For me, the revelation pays a visit in unexpected and unconscious moments. 

I've discovered that I feel most beautiful when I'm fully myself. 

When I'm fully immersed in the present moment - absorbed in whoever I'm with or whatever I'm doing - but not how I look or sound.

Then, in a split second, my heart briefly wanders to the subject of myself. The air is perfect, I feel joy radiating out of me, my heart pounds from the exhilaration of life - and boyyyyyy, I feel beautiful.

In Captivating: Unveiling The Mystery Of A Woman's Soul, John & Stasi Eldredge shares how a woman "possesses a beauty all her own to unveil… and the heart of a woman longs to unveil beauty."

I constantly remind myself that it's not a sin to feel beautiful.

"I am beautiful."

The beauty is already in me.

The emotional response to beauty cannot be sinful, but only natural.

Unfortunately, the media-defined beauty perverts this pure desire in the woman's heart.

I'm so inspired by women like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, whose expressions are results of artistry with integrity. Their journey may have taken trial and error, but their voice and image now stands as its own brand, hailed worldwide as one-of-a-kind. But instead of their talent or artistry, the spotlight is usually on their faces and bodies.

I recently discovered an article with side-by-side images of women celebrities as their recent and younger selves. The results? Slimmer noses, flawless skin, and skinnier figures. 

Their media-filtered "beauty" produces more harm than good. It distorts the eyes of men to cultivate unrealistic standards while it deceives the women that she is not good enough.

The constant internal battle for the woman is not just against other women, but the rest of the world. 

Because her value is often in her image. 

Her conformity chains and enslaves her to the impossible standards of perfection.

As Beyond famously sings in her song "Pretty Hurts," perfection is a disease of a nation. 

Perfection is the "new thing." The efforts to make parts of our physical appearance look smaller or bigger for the sake of "better" is a constant struggle, and even a lifestyle for many women. 

These "beautified" perfect faces and figures are neither natural nor realistic. They reflect a man-created beauty, and not the Beauty already in them.

The human-achieved "perfect" looks lack the true essence of beauty that shines through one's imperfections. 

We each carry a fragrance, a presence, a quirk, and a voice so unique to how we are made. But it's our choice to let it express and manifest into the sight of others. 

It's more than a hobby or interest, but the entity of who you are. It's not just your strengths or victories, but also your imperfections and wounds.

Without the inclusion of both good and bad, you are only an empty shell with a mask of "beauty" missing the true Beauty.

 

Your true beauty just waits for the right time to shine.

Not only to shine on its own, but shine into others and inspire them to discover their unique beauty.

 

You stare at a masterpiece and are so drawn to it. You try to figure out what it is - the elements, the style, the colors - and maybe you end up finding it, but what truly captivated you from the beginning is not how it looked, but how it made you feel. 

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou

 

True beauty exceeds physical attributes. It stands tall, with a beaming smile, and a confidence that illuminates into the world to mesmerize those who behold it.

True beauty is vulnerable and courageous. It's an inside-out expression. There is no masking or hiding, but is a full-on glorious exposure of who you are. It never condemns or judges the others, but embraces and encourages them.

True beauty is owning up to the essence that only you carry - and letting it shine fully.

 

True beauty never looks like something, but definitely feels like something.

It's breathtaking and refreshing and inspiring all at the same time.

You lack the words to describe, but all you are sure of is that you want more.