Why K-Beauty Matters (to Me)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping my voice of reason shut away in the padlocked basement of my mind. Sometimes, though, usually late at night when I’m trying to choose between one of my many, many essences or serums or lovingly leafing through the hundreds of sheet masks in my collection, a muffled voice drifts up to the surface of my consciousness and asks timidly: Why does it matter? Beyond the therapeutic effects of my meticulously curated many-step skincare routine, what is it about K-beauty that has held my attention for so long?

The answer finally came to me last night. When it did, it made so much sense that I knew I had to share it with you all. Maybe I’ll find I’m not the only one who feels the way I do.

Fifty Shades of Snail skincare routine
I didn’t end up with a stash like this just because I wanted nicer skin. This is also an old picture that doesn’t reflect the extent of my current stash, which has started to take over my “pantry” and “linen closet.”

K-beauty has given me, for the first time in my 35 years in this skin, a sense of total comfort in that skin, and in my identity as a Asian American woman.

Before I explain any further, a disclaimer: This is not a piece on Asian or Korean pop culture, social norms, or beauty standards. I am categorically unqualified to write on those topics. I’m not a sociologist or a cultural anthropologist. Neither am I Korean, and I don’t presume to understand K-beauty or hallyu from a Korean perspective. In fact, I’m too Westernized to even speak from a Taiwanese point of view. I’m Asian American. That’s the perspective I’m speaking from. And I’m not speaking for anyone but myself, an individual. These are my thoughts and experiences alone.

To understand why it took 35 years and the cosmetic ripples of the hallyu wave to make me 100% comfortable in my ethnic and cultural identity, we have to go a few decades back (because I’m old as shit), to my school years in a medium-sized, vast majority Caucasian town in the Midwest.

I was the only Asian kid in my grade and one of only two in my entire elementary school, then one of four Asians in my middle school. My classmates were, in general, not what you’d call “interested in people who are different.” I don’t feel like dragging up too many specific memories of teasing and bullying and rocks thrown through our windows, so let’s just say that I was most definitely Othered and most definitely internalized it. Deeply. My elementary school years also coincided with a wave of Yellow Peril fear about the Japanese threat to U.S. manufacturing and commercial dominance. At least some of the kids around me surely heard some unpleasant things about my kind (Asian, not Japanese because that I’m not, not that anyone cared about the distinction anyway) at the dinner table.

Comparing myself to the Caucasian girls around me, I felt unfixably ugly, unfixably wrong. Largely ignored but sometimes taunted and sometimes rejected by boys of every ethnicity, I felt unfixably ugly, unfixably wrong. And looking at the images of Caucasian women that dominated the media and shaped my perceptions of beauty and femininity, I most definitely felt unfixably ugly, unfixably wrong.

What I mean by “unfixable” is that when your “flaw” is your ethnicity, when it’s in your very genes, then it doesn’t matter what brand of jeans you wear, or what size. As a kid, being the Other meant being lesser in a way that was impossible to conceal or to compensate for.

Things got a little better when I was accepted into an academically demanding, majority Asian boarding school for high school, but by that time, the sense of wrongness I felt about my features was deeply rooted. If I tried to buy foundation and couldn’t find a match, I never thought, Why is all this makeup so wrong for my skin? Instead, I perceived my skin tone as what was wrong. I read every issue of every major fashion magazine every single month, and instead of questioning why everyone they featured besides Naomi Campbell was Caucasian, I devoted myself to copying the models’ looks. The thought, always present but rarely examined, was: If I just get my eyebrows the right shape, if I just put my blush on the right way, if I just master eyeshadow so that it looks like theirs, then I’ll look like that. Just under that thought lurked reality: You’ll never look like that because your features are all wrong because your race is the wrong one.

I haven’t kept any pictures from my childhood at all (they’re all in the hands of various relatives). I so vividly remembered all of my facial flaws; I didn’t want to see them again or expose them to anyone else.

But here’s the weird thing. I know now, today, that I’m not unattractive by conventional standards. Today, I don’t feel uncomfortable wearing my face at all, whether I have makeup on or I don’t. In fact, I feel so comfortable in my skin that I’ve been freely doing something I once would have considered unimaginable: showing it to the world in various states of bare and freaky. Like so:

HERA and Peripera FOTD
Full face: Not a challenge to reveal anymore, but it would have been in the past.

But that’s too easy. Let’s see. It used to take me over a year of dating before I’d be willing to let any romantic partner see me without at least my eyebrows filled in.

Let alone with my hair back and making a goofy face.
Let alone with my hair back and making a goofy face.

And being seen as “weird” or “a freak” was my nightmare. I would have required absolute solitude and privacy to do anything like this:

Skin Factory Real Honey Moisturizing Ampoule mask cellulose mask sheet
Never. I never would have let anyone else see me in a sheet mask. (From my review of Skin Factory Real Honey Moisturizing Ampoule Mask)

Or this:

Like a clay mask, but 35% scarier.
Like a clay mask, but 35% scarier. (From my review of Lindsay modeling masks)

Or, for the love of all that is holy, this:

After applying Su:m37 White Award Bubble Detox Mask
That’s a pretty perfect illustration of the adjective “unflattering.” (From That Time I Victimized My Face with a Su:m37 White Award Bubble Detox Mask)

I could keep reposting comically horrible mask selfies all night long, but I think you get the point. I don’t feel ashamed of my face anymore, no matter what state it’s in.

I’ve also started to see my features in a completely different way. In fact, almost every day I have a weird moment where I can’t reconcile the face I see in the mirror with the face I hated when I was a kid. I haven’t had any facial plastic surgery, not even double eyelid surgery, so how could my features have changed so drastically? Is it possible that I never looked the way I thought I did at all? Is it possible that I only saw what I did because all my perceptions at the time and my memories later on were warped, in large part by having never seen women of my race held up as aspirational in the same way as women of the dominant race?

I think it is possible. In fact, I think that’s exactly what happened. Feeling Othered, I learned to see myself as I imagined everyone else saw me, and I imagined only the worst. I had no examples of Asian women presented as equal and aspirational in the popular culture of the time. That omission suggested to my impressionable mind that Asian women simply weren’t as worthy. There were, of course, examples of Asian women presented as sexually desirable, but in a gross, racist, fetishizing way that wasn’t about the women themselves but about the stereotypes they demonstrated. Even those women weren’t held up as something that women of the dominant race should admire or emulate. It was understood that they would never want to and had no reason to.

As far as I know, the hallyu wave and the K-beauty trend are the first time in my life that Asian women have been presented to–and accepted by–US beauty consumers as aspirational figures. Major mainstream publications like Vogue and Allure don’t just shill skincare from brands using the sunbathed tan of Caucasian celebrities anymore. They now regularly and enthusiastically plug beauty brands that sell product using images like Jun Ji Hyun’s dewily moisturized, pearlescent glow. The media isn’t presenting K-beauty as some exotic phenomenon to gawk at, either. Articles provide US-based stores’ contact info or links to online shops. Readers are expected to want to buy and use those products. Thanks to K-beauty, it’s considered totally normal for Caucasian women to look to Asian ones for beauty tips and makeup looks. Not for some yellowface roleplay in the bedroom. Just for everyday wear, as a way of conforming to a socially acceptable standard of attractiveness.

Normal is the word I’m looking for here. I have no desire to see Asian women set above women of any other race, because I have no belief in the superiority of any race. And it doesn’t bother me, a Taiwanese American, that the trend is specifically one of Korean origin rather than Taiwanese. This isn’t the time or the place for the artificial divisions and pointless resentments that nationalism creates. The thing that’s important is that K-beauty has normalized Asian women in the broader American culture. K-beauty frames Asian products, Asian aesthetics, and Asian skin as worthy of admiration and emulation by the general, non-Asian public. That is amazing. That is something that I, as a child and then a teenager, never in a million years would have believed could happen.

Another normalizing aspect of K-beauty is the incredible diversity of brands and aesthetics. It’s (mostly) not about exotic ancient Asian beauty secrets and geishas. It’s about:

K-beauty brands aren’t homogenous and monolithic. The fact that there’s something available for every taste is silent proof of the diversity of the women who use them. That fact alone has the power to erode stereotypes like a heavy rain on a SoCal cliff.

Holika Holika facial mist and Korean makeup
There are four distinct brand identities present in this one picture alone.

I’ve been really surprised and pleased by the longevity of the K-beauty “trend,” which at this point seems less like a passing fad and more like something with the potential to become a mainstay in beauty stores and on beauty shelves. Something with the potential to become normal, even among non-Asians.

These steps towards the normalization of Asian women have been nothing short of healing for me. It may sound silly and shallow to credit a beauty trend with finally making me completely comfortable in my own skin (and I had been making some progress for the decade and a half in between high school and the beginning of my K-beauty escapades), but it’s true. No aesthetic stops at the surface, but comes carrying baggage heavy with the weight of cultural and personal meaning. It makes sense that what lightened my baggage after all these years was the reversal of what made it so heavy in the first place.

Unpacking all the influences that have converged to produce and propagate K-beauty in the West would take a whole other blog post, or maybe a book. (Book editors: Email me.) There’s the Korean government and its promotion of Korean cosmetics abroad, the Korean brands who ventured beyond their own borders to take on new markets, the Korean K-beauty shops who make a vast array of brands and products available to their international customers, and the US-based K-beauty shops whose owners and CEOs eloquently promote their products and educate the public. But beyond those forces, there’s one particular influence that stands out in my mind as surprisingly powerful: the K-beauty blogger community.

See, one of the first questions many people have about Asian cosmetics is, “Will it work if I’m not Asian?” And if you’re not Asian, hearing an Asian tell you that it will may not be entirely reassuring. It’s Asian, it’s different, it’s for Asian skin not my skin. But to see beauty bloggers like Cat of Snow White and the Asian Pear and Tracy of Fanserviced (both white), and Dee of Adore Dee and Sheryll of The Wanderlust Project (both black) all passionately articulating how Asian products have improved their skin? That’s convincing. Kerry from Skin and Tonics is half Caucasian and half Asian. Coco, The Beauty Wolf, has Caucasian and Native American heritage (and, making her the ultimate stereotype-busting all-kill, a Korean male model for a husband).

There are South Asian K-beauty bloggers and Northern European K-beauty bloggers. K-beauty is also apparently a thing in Russia, where I’m sure it’s spawned a lively bloggerverse (ew, sorry, but in my defense, blogosphere is even worse) there. There are male K-beauty bloggers, too. Just think of Ryanraroar and Pico Prince. Meanwhile, Asian American bloggers like me and Chel of Holy Snails don’t speak from an “exotic,” “Asian” point of view, but as just your regular, homegrown beauty nuts with way too many products and a lot of thoughts about those products.

What these bloggers and the hundreds (thousands?) of others active in the scene prove is that K-beauty and Asian cosmetics aren’t just for Koreans or Asians. They’re for anyone who wants to try them out. Again, normalization. In my opinion, normalization is what benefits previously marginalized or Othered groups the most. The less differently we’re perceived, the less differently we’ll be treated. For me, that’s the ultimate goal. That’s why I have this blog and why I jump on any opportunity to share my take on K-beauty with a wider audience. And that’s why K-beauty matters to me.

Finally, I want to make it clear that this isn’t just about me and my feelings and my formerly poor damaged self-image. I have a son, as you may have noticed if you’ve ever looked to the right of my blog posts. My son’s father is Caucasian, but his mother is me. I don’t want my son to go through the same experiences I did when I was a kid. In the grand scheme of things, K-beauty may be just another beauty trend, but it’s one that I think has the power to help ensure that he won’t. In fact, I think it’s already had a significant impact.

What do you guys think?


64 thoughts on “Why K-Beauty Matters (to Me)

  1. Beautiful post, Jude! K-Beauty helps me feel better about myself. Which sounds pretty stupid to people who don’t get it, but it does! It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you don’t do great in school, when you disappoint your parents, when you’re fat, when you’re gay and live in a third world mainly Muslim country, and also a teenager.
    It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you constantly have to think about if you’re confident and show it too much, someone’s going to notice and talk about it again. And word will somehow reach my sister’s ear, who in turn will tell my parents about it and they’re going to lecture me again on why homosexuality isn’t normal, and I’m normal so I couldn’t possibly be gay.

    When I’m constantly told that I’m not normal, it just doesn’t feel so good, especially in the home you grew up in. Sure it feels really cool and very unique and fabulous at first, but really, I want to be like everyone else! What I thought was fame was actually infamy in my school. I’d tell myself that everyone was ‘jealous’, no one really was. They were just not ready to accept something new in their community so they bullied me because that’s how far their brains can stretch.

    Okay so I’m getting off topic lol. As I apply my essences, as I massage my face with cleansing oil, as I apply a sheet mask on to my face, I feel like I’m giving myself the love that I yearn from my community. I give myself the acceptance and the love, enough of it to nurture my own self. To love this body of mine that I’ve ruined, to love this face of mine that my hormones have completely fucked up LOL.

    And look at all that K-Beauty has given me! I’ve started a blog, I’m doing research, I got to become maybe even friends with two of the my most respected bloggers, I know what an emollient is! It’s brought me knowledge, it’s gotten me new friends, it’s given me something to look forward to, and something to share with the world.

    Sorry for the essay hahaha! Maybe I’ll copy and paste this onto my college essays.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I understand completely. I’m so sorry that you have to endure bullying and intolerance not only from your peers but your family as well, but you sound like you’re definitely taking that negativity and putting something positive both out there and into your life. Keep blogging and good luck with your college essays as well, dear! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehe, thanks so much! It’s not always easy, and I don’t always make a fuss about how I have it so bad or whatever. I mean, I’m still breathing, my eyes work, I’m not losing my memory and I’m still mentally stable! That’s how I got myself out of being depressed and eating every 19-20 hours, I counted my blessings. I shared this in hopes of anyone going through a similar situation possibly learning from my experience and making it a little easier for them to cope with their circumstances.

        Thank you for your support! It means a lot. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Me too! I think a major reason why I am suddenly so obsessed to Korean beauty is because I feel like the products were meant for me, like they were specifically created to target Asian skin. In the United States, it was hard to find anything that worked for me. I could seriously relate so much to what you were saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, it’s the colors! If I go to drugstore or Sephora and pick a powder or a lipstick or something, 70% chance it’s going to look a bit off on me because of undertones and etc. I can look ONLINE and pick out an Innisfree or Iope or Etude House color, it comes in the mail, and 99% chance that it just works. Amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What do I think? I think I have a tear in my eye! What a thoughtful and downright beautiful post. I want to go nail this up in every town square of the Internet.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I LOVE this post. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I have many thoughts about it, so I’m going to write about it later. Long story short is that I went through a similar experience of feeling like “the other”-even within the black community because I didn’t fit into the stereotypical black person mode. Traveling and living abroad is what helped me accept myself. I got into asian beauty while I was in Korea more as a practicality, but I fell in love with it because it helped me take care of myself and it was fun to do!

    However, I am confident that your son’s generation is going to be much more inclusive. If US demographics continue the way that they are, more mixed-race children will become more of the norm.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi! So I finally posted my response! I originally wrote a novel so I let it sit for awhile so that hopefully I could it make it more concise. This was the concise version hehe

        Liked by 1 person

  5. even though I am white and grew up in a midwestern town that was basically all white, I can relate to your post. See, kids rejection of other children isn’t just on skin color or sexuality or religion, but family too. My mom is from Switzerland, a beautiful redhead blue eyed woman, who spoke with a thick Italian accent. My mother is vivacious, talkative (even when folks can’t understand her!) and I got so much crap from kids because of her accent. I remember one time, some kid called my mom a “monkey”. Why? Because he thought my mother spoke gibberish and he thought that was a huge insult. My mom laughed it off, but it hurt me deeply to think that people though she was a monkey. It even affected my relationship with my mom as a teen, as I would be so embarrassed by her accent and the teasing I would get at school.

    As a kid, you just want to blend in, you don’t really want to stand out and bring attention to yourself – you want to be accepted. It also didn’t help that my father was very strict and that caused more issues in “fitting in”. I felt more free when I left my sleepy home town and did my first move to Los Angeles in the 1980’s, as that started opening my eyes that being “different” was something that was okay. Teens are so hard on each other.

    K-Beauty allows me to connect with other people who may not be aware of it ~ my co-workers are so interested in my boxes that are stamped from S.Korea and I am always giving out samples at work! haha My mom is enamored of facial sheet masks and sleeping packs after I introduced them to her last year ~ you should have seen her reluctance to try a facial sheet mask initially, but then with a glass of wine, Game of Thrones on TV, I helped put one on her and we sat down for a K-Beauty Spa Night with “You Know Nothing, Jon Snow” on the TV! She is always asking me for the tomato leaders and MBD red wine masks 🙂

    Fantastic post! I did enjoy reading it and it did remind me of the angst of being different and trying to fit in…It does get better as you get older ~ although I still have scars from it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post! I had a slightly different experience growing up (in the 1990s in a predominantly Asian-American pocket of California), though I’ve since run into many people and incidents that remind me that American society has a long way to go when it comes to accepting minorities in general and, within that, Asian Americans. Because most of my experiences with discrimination, with being the other, have only come during my adult life, I do have some mild worries about the K-beauty trend and the way it is presented in Western media as exoticizing Koreans (and therefore Asians or East Asians generally). It’s something that I think is seen in some articles on different Asian cultural trends or, say, articles on Korean plastic surgery. I do find the potential “normalizing” effect you mention to be something good and valuable. There’s been a lot of times where I’ve encountered something at work or in an interview where I felt like the interviewer was seeing me as this strange, foreign stereotype and all I wanted was to be seen as normal. All this is to say, I really appreciate hearing your perspective.

    That being said, r/AsianBeauty and the blogger community (and the skincare lessons I learned from them) have been extremely valuable to me personally! I have bad acne-prone skin that my prescription medications were no longer helping, and after years and years of that, I credit some of Kerry/Skin and Tonic’s recommendations, especially, with finally getting my skin under control.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “I do have some mild worries about the K-beauty trend and the way it is presented in Western media as exoticizing Koreans (and therefore Asians or East Asians generally)”

      Yes, definitely. We’ve had lots of lively discussions about this sort of thing and the problematic Eurocentrism that’s present in a lot of mainstream coverage of East Asian beauty standards. I struggled with whether to touch on those, but you’re totally right and they’re very valid concerns.

      The most irritating thing for me about a lot of coverage of K-beauty is that all the focus is on this WILD AND WACKY 25-STEP ROUTINE!!, but what makes it better–in my eyes at least–is that despite shades of exoticism, at the end of the day, the majority of those articles *are* selling it to their mainstream non-Asian audience. It’s not so much “LOL those Asians are so crazy” as it is “uhhh those Asians seem to know what they’re doing, we should do that too.” That’s a pretty fascinating shift for me.

      Kerry’s recommendations are pure gold! Most of my early routine and early HGs were things that she’d raved about, and I can’t remember a single time she’s led me astray.

      Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this lovely piece. I’m a Caucasian woman who cares very deeply about social justice issues so this struck a chord with me.

    Beyond K-Beauty normalizing Asian beauty in western culture I also hope that K-dramas will influence Hollywood to cast more Asian American actors as the main characters.

    Inclusion benefits all of us. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, and thank you for your perspective 🙂 I have heard of several networks and studios trying to remake K-dramas for American audiences (for example, a while back there was a talk of ABC–I think–doing an American version of My Love from the Star) but I would really hope they don’t just whitewash them, as that misses such a huge opportunity for change.


      1. I’m a pessimist by nature so yeah, that tells you what I think of a US version of K-dramas. I have no doubt that whitewashing would happen 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I rarely comment on blogs, even if I’m a reader (and I am a frequent one here! I have always enjoyed your friendly, goofy, and approachable “voice” in your posts). However, this beautifully self-reflective and honest post spoke so strongly to themes that remind me of my own experience that I felt like I had to say something. So, first of all, thank you for this.

    Secondly, as many people have already said, so much of what you said really resonated with me. I’m half Thai and half Austrian, was born in Bangkok, but moved to the United States (to the deep South, no less; thanks, Mom and Dad!) when I was very young. Growing up, I was either ignored, teased, and exoticized/fetishized and have so many painful memories of those experiences. I very literally had a man once look me full-on the face and say, “Me love you long time.” I’ve had others who didn’t want to refer to me by my “American name.” They wanted to know my “real” name (never mind that Susie was the only name my parents ever gave me), my “Taiwanese” name (because Thailand and Taiwan are the same. Because all Asian countries kind of just blur together). I didn’t look like the models or actresses depicted in Western media (either American or what I’d see when I’d visit my dad’s home regions of Germany and Austria). I didn’t look like the models or actresses I’d see when I visited Thailand. For a long time, I felt completely confused about my physical appearance and how it was perceived by others (I have another vivid memory of asking my mother, “Am I ugly?”) and was only certain about the fact that it was all wrong.

    It’s been a long road to get to a point where I actually feel good about how I look. A big part of that has been finding a partner who is very vocal about finding me very attractive. Another part of it has been working in a field that picks apart the interaction between the identities we hold and our sociopolitical realities in shaping our experiences and the way we see ourselves (I’m a psychologist). Now, when I look in the mirror, I finally feel beautiful. I came across K-Beauty long after I made that internal transition; however, it is a big part of how I celebrate and honor that feeling.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences in such a thoughtful and relatable way. It meant a lot to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading my story and sharing yours in return 🙂 That “not quite X and not quite Y, doesn’t fit anywhere” feeling is something I know very well just from being ABC. There’s the obvious inability to fit in in the US, but going back to the motherland, we find out that we don’t quite fit in there either, even if the only things that set us apart are mannerisms, dress, and accent. It’s frustrating, though I do see it as a challenge and a growing experience now.

      It means a lot to me that you guys are responding with your own stories.

      And whyyyyy did our parents have to choose the most inhospitable places to put down roots!


  9. I may have teared up a bit as I read this. Thank you for trusting your readers to share this personal story. I’m a white girl, but K-Beauty and the larger umbrella of Asian Beauty have been important to me in terms of finally feeling comfortable in my skin. Like you, I’m finally okay letting people see my bare face, whereas I used to hate swimming because my make-up would wash of and people would see how awful my sensitive, acne-prone skin looked (or so I imagined). Cosmetics-wise, certain BB creams (like my beloved Dr. Jart Gold Label) flatter my skin way better than any Western foundation ever has.

    Moving beyond skincare for a moment, while I am heartened that the Korean wave has been popular in the U.S., and love a good Asian drama, what I really want to see more of is depictions of Asian Americans in the media, instead of Asians as the “Other” who come from other countries. To this end, for all its flaws, I’m excited that the sitcom Fresh off the Boat has done so well and that this year we will have two sitcoms featuring Asian American families on network TV (the other being Ken Jeong’s Dr. Ken)–even though I don’t like sitcoms as a genre, I will watch them because I want them to succeed, plus they’re hella funny. And there are shows with more of an ensemble cast that feature Asian American actors who don’t have to fake a Mr. Miyagi foreign accent–very happy to see the sumptuous Daniel Henney coming to primetime on a Criminal Minds spin-off.

    I know the above is a tangent (and now I’m salivating over thoughts of Daniel Henney), but I think it’s important that Asian Americans and Asian American culture gain visibility alongside the acceptance of cultural imports from Asia. Of course it’s not so clear-cut, and especially in today’s age of globalization, the East-West binary doesn’t really hold (if it ever did). I’ll stop here so that I don’t turn this blog comment into Anna Karenina, but in sum, the gist of my comment is that I hope that the acceptance of the Korean wave and Asian beauty will also lead to more acceptance and awareness of Asian Americans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you! I was really excited for John Cho to star as the romantic lead in a network show (and pretty disappointed when Selfie was canceled after, what, about 15 minutes?) but at the same time, John Cho is an amazing example of how perfectly non-Other an Asian lead can be. Harold and Kumar and Star Trek don’t turn him into a Mr. Miyagi at all, and his roles work so well becuase of that and because he’s just awesome.

      Man, I want to like Ken Jeong because he’s talented, can be hilarious, and is really personable, but I just can’t with the role he played in The Hangover 😦 Even if he and the director meant it as tongue-in-cheek or satirical at all, I don’t think it played that way for a lot of viewers. Just kind of ill considered. Sigh.

      And there’s my tangent of the day.


      1. Yeah, I can’t stand the caricature that Ken Jeong plays in the Hangover franchise (which honestly I don’t even care for as movies), but I’m hoping he’ll be better on his own TV show. I feel that his Hangover character reinforces a lot of bad stereotypes.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. When I was in high school I always wondered why the makeup tips in most magazines didn’t work for me. When I followed makeup tutorials for Caucasians I usually ended up looking like I got punched in the eyes ha ha. I thought I must just be really bad at applying makeup. I finally found out about Asian beauty youtubers and looked at Japanese magazines instead. After practicing using those sources as reference, I was finally able to apply makeup that looked good on me and all kinds of people began complimenting it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, same here! Actually it took me until this year to realize I should look at makeup tutorials for Asians to get best results. I go look at a few Pony videos once in a while and finally picked up the kind of techniques I wish I’d known a long time ago.


  11. Ohh Fiddy…what an insightful and thoughtful post from you today. :insert standing ovation gif here: I saw shades of myself in what you were saying happened to you while growing up. As a Black woman who grow up in Panama in a predominantly white area in the ’80s who also read tons of fashion magazines from cover to cover, I also often felt, and was made to feel, very much the Other. There was a lot of casual (and not so casual) racism, some of which I noticed right away and some I’m only even realizing years later was actually racism. As a kid I didn’t know any better, and as I got older I managed to forget about a lot of those instances, since it’s not something anyone necessarily wants to think about.

    But yes, I distinctly remember internalizing all the subliminal messages those magazines and other media threw at us about our skin color or facial features being “wrong”. In fact, I remember wishing as a kid that I could have long straight hair or thinking that my nose was too wide or big. It was much, much later that I could look in the mirror and realize that I had a regular sized nose that’s actually pretty cute and that I like my fro, thank you very much!

    I so agree with you about the way that the Hallyu wave, with its K-drama and K-beauty and Kpop, has made people realize that Asians can be beautiful and desirable and all that good stuff, or not, just like every other race in the world can be. All this focus CAN be a bit fetishizing in some respects (:coughsomekpopfanscough:) but all in all I think it’s a good thing.

    I also think it’s good for Americans to know that they’re not the best at everything, that there are other just as valid, unique and interesting cultures out there. That it’s ok to want to learn about other people. That it can be eye opening and very rewarding to take in other points of view.

    So yes, I started out with Kpop but am enjoying my venture into AB and learning how to pamper my skin in a more global, less rigid way and I have people like you to thank for making it seem accessible and easy to do, so thank you very much for that.

    Tl;dr- This was an excellent post that made me think. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you Fiddy ! Such a honest post, I’m sure many recognize them-self in the story, you encouraged me to write a similar post about me and K- Beauty 🙂 I’m interracial (mother Ukrainian, father Lebanese) and grew up in Western Europe, its not easy to fit in and make sense of it as a kid/teenager, so I understand what you must have gone through.
    Before fully joining the AB community, I thought I was the only one with Kbeauty having a therapeutic effect on me, being more confident with my skin. Now I know I’m not alone ))

    It worries me too that there is a common misconception in the west, for example that Koreans (or Asians because hey many don’t make the difference here…) are so beauty obsessed they all do plastic surgeries and use 100 products because they are not confident and have a low self esteem. Many people in the west don’t really accept skincare routines, for them skincare it’s nothing more than a regular moisturizer. If it goes beyond you are either superficial, rich or wasting your money. I find it personally difficult to explain to them, why my skincare routine is so important to me and why I care so much about my skin.
    Somebody recognizes this generalization ?

    XxX Maya

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally recognize that generalization and it is indeed problematic. It is similar to the specifically K-beauty related stereotype that all Koreans are skincare experts or something. They’re consumers like us, with varying degrees of interest and knowledge! However, I do think it’s true that beauty standards in East Asia generally are much more rigid than they are here and have more practical bearing on someone’s life (for example, the practice of attaching a picture of yourself to a job application).


  13. I absolutely loved your post. I am Caucasian, but I grew up watching Russell Wong on a late-night show in which he was a leader of a group of detectives (or were they vigilantes? Ugh, I can’t remember) – the point is, I had such a crush on him. I was a teenager, and his character was butt-kicking, smart-talking, in-control awesomeness! With a hot body, by the way.

    No need to recite the whole thing here, but I suffered incredible cruelty from my peers growing up (sadly, in a predominately white neighborhood) for a myriad of reasons (developing early is a standout example. Classmates, boys and girls, would try to grab my chest or feel me up. So weird, so degrading). Feeling different and ugly for me was experienced at a gender level, to which the girls in my class participated equally with the boys in sharing their combined acts of torture. To this day, my sister and I believe that my old neighborhood was actually a hellmouth disguised as a town. Children can be evil. (See: Lord of the Flies. Yea, my childhood.)

    Anyway, my point is this: I watch K-films because the men and women are equally naked in bed scenes. I hate American and European films where the women are fully naked (frequently! so frequently!) at the drop of a hat and the men are fully clothed (how’s that for some good ol’ western misogyny?). (Shoutout to Germany for showing naked men in films!). I rewatch Monster with Lee Min Ki because (spoiler) Kim Go-Eun’s character gets him, with no justification or (American-branded) moral hand-wringing or pontificating. I watch and re-watch The Man from Nowhere after a bad day because by God, he’s got guts and no equivocation. Um, plus he’s hot. And so is Kim Sung Oh – best looking psychopath ever.

    I follow my own K-beauty routine because (1) it works and (2) it gives me actual options. The Western beauty lines have a lot of skin care products that don’t actually do anything different – same formulas, different packaging. A whole lot of nothing, and some terrible salespeople sometimes. When I go to K-town (NYC), the people are nice and helpful.

    I watch Running Man because it actually makes me laugh. When KJK pulls out the old Sparactus act, I laugh. When Song Ji Hyo stands up for herself, I cheer. When Yoo Jae Suk loses his pants and is wearing orange underwear (yet again), I laugh hard. Running Man isn’t mean. The Real Housewives are mean. The Bachelor is misogynistic. American reality TV is sensationalist and cruel. I’ve lived through enough mean girling and boying. Running Man is refreshingly earnest. (the other really funny show, though, is Vicar of Dibley! Love that show. LOVE DAWN FRENCH! oh, and AbFab. Love Jennifer Saunders!)

    I’m not saying that one culture is better than another or that each culture doesn’t have its own issues to contend with, particularly with the treatment of women. I’m just saying that my entertainment choices tend to follow K-films and Running Man (and a couple dramas here and there) and the K-beauty movement hit me at a time in my life where I was looking for choices and for things that worked, without the hype or push to buy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! There’s really something sadistic about a lot of American “reality” TV. It seems that schadenfreude is the expected emotion that viewers are supposed to feel. I love Running Man! It’s so fun to see them competing in such a good-natured way, and celebrities taking part so enthusiastically. The best for me was the Jung Woo Sung Grim Reaper episode.

      You’ve made some really really good points in your comment. Lots of food for thought about the different gender expectations. Thank you for that 🙂


  14. Jude, what a beautiful post! Thank you for putting this out here. I can’t say I have had the same experience as you race-wise, but I definitely relate to the feeling of having unfixable flaws. Let me explain. I am quite pale (~NC10) and growing up in a northern suburb of Los Angeles made loving my porcelain skin very difficult. In my area, even most Caucasians were naturally darker than I was and wanted to become even tanner. Now I try to avoid it, but even if I tan, I’m only about NC15. I felt ugly for a long time because my skin was so light. I didn’t buy a single pair shorts for 5 years (!!!) from ages 13-18 because I was so embarrassed by the color of my legs and how “blindingly white” they were. I hated it when people said, “Ugh I’m so pale” and they were still several shades darker than I was. Talk about feeling insecure!

    Then when I started experimenting with makeup around age 17, it was a nightmare trying to find a foundation that didn’t make me look like an Oompa Loompa (I’m 24 and it’s still not great). Not to mention that most shades that light are pink toned, and I am of Italian descent with neutral/olive tones. The whole experience was so frustrating! (WOC, I can only imagine your pain.)

    Eventually, I did learn to accept, and even embrace my skin tone, and Kbeauty helped reinforce this idea that pale skin is beautiful. Although I’m relatively new to Kbeauty, and I certainly don’t agree with the idea that you should lighten your skin tone to make it more beautiful, I appreciated the fact that here was a community where my skin tone wasn’t “pasty” or “unhealthy” – how many times have I heard “You should get some color on you!” or “Are you okay? You’re looking a bit pale.” Kbeauty words for skin like mine were “translucent,” “glowing,” and “ethereal.”

    So while I don’t have the same experience of embracing my identity that Kbeauty helped you achieve (which is AWESOME!!!! by the way), it definitely helped me embrace what has always been one of my biggest insecurities regarding my appearance. For that, I’ll be grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope it didn’t come off as some, I’ll admit – privileged, girl whining about how hard her life was. (I’ve never felt ostracized, but we definitely all have our insecurities.) I think you understood that I just wanted to share my experience, not compare it. One day my skin will look as glowing as yours! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Just wanted to chime in because Mara, you said all I wanted to say! 🙂 The constant refrain of ‘you look sick!’, ‘you should go out into the sun more!’ was never meant to be mean (though it felt like that anyway to an teenager-me) and I never felt out of place because of it – just incredibly insecure and self-conscious. Now I actually feel like celebrating it!

      @ Fiddy Snails, thank you so much for this post! Especially now that Korean and Asian beauty products and routines get more and more popular all around the globe, it’s so nice to read about the effect it had beyond just new products and fancy routines to write about! Skin and beauty in general has so much to do with our self-perception and confidence, and the wider the array of beauty standards and products and perspectives to choose from, the better! 🙂 I love reading your blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve never really felt ostracized for being Asian since I grew up in a SoCal city that’s pretty much 50/50 white and Asian and was placed in classes that were pretty much all Asian. It wasn’t until I become a student at the university I’m in now that I’ve met so many diverse individuals. Instead of feeling that I was too Asian to fit in, I was too white-washed, too Twinkie, too Americanized to fit in. I ate peanut butter jelly sandwiches for lunch. I barely speak my “native” language. I didn’t wear skirts and I hung out with boys (because they didn’t really give a shit what you looked like back then). The Asian girls in my classes had flawless skin and were thin and I…..didn’t. But that’s okay because even though I have a battlefield face and a more curvaceous figure, it’s through k-beauty that I feel like I’m actually trying to take care of my skin. I may be skincare and makeup obsessed but I don’t do it for other people, I do it for me. Kids are mean and that is all. *drops mic*

    Liked by 1 person

  16. There are so many things swirling around in my head right now, as I read this. It brings back floods of memories and emotions that I think I’ve somehow padlocked years ago. Here is my jumble of thoughts:

    I grew up near SF but in a suburb that was conservative and majority white. My nominal race (I’m Chinese + some Korean) was a non-issue so long as I didn’t behave in a way that identified with that race. As long as I maintained a general indifference / passive disdain for all “weird” Asian things, like anime, Taiwanese and Japanese pop (K-pop hadn’t really caught on yet), Hello Kitty, and didn’t bring weird Asian pack lunches or snacks to school (my parents both worked so I grew up on school lunches and lunchables), I was 90% immune from being “Othered” (I feel entirely unqualified in using terms like these and am probably using them wrong, fyi). I had (white) friends who would make unintentionally off-handed comments about the “Asian kids” and then would add, “but of course we don’t mean you because you’re not really Asian.” I didn’t think much of it at the time- if anything I always felt like an unwelcome outsider to the Asian communities at school, but I realize that was probably my own fault – I didn’t exactly seek out connections with those people and in retrospect, I do feel like I may have intentionally emphasized how different I was from them.

    When I was 22, a roommate of mine got me really into anime, and then at 25 I got really into Asian Beauty. With both of these hobbies / obsessions I feel like I am reconnecting / making peace with a culture I previously rejected. I mean, I have a degree in English with a concentration in modern Irish literature – I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading and learning about a culture and time period of a country I’ve never been to and that has no bearing on my life, and yet have spent so little time with my own culture. With the normalization of K-beauty plus other factors such as the mainstream-ization (is that a word) of Kpop (the New Yorker did an excellent feature recently) and K-dramas (now easily found on Netflix), hype around Asian chefs who are not only talented but are known for their personalities (Roy Choi, David Chang, Eddie Huang), and advent of an Asian-American family sitcom, I feel like I can nowonly openly embrace my own culture without fear of being marginalized (again, unqualified to be throwing these words around, bear with me) but have more reason than ever to delve in and explore it to its full capacity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s so great to hear your story! I definitely feel you on the “but you’re not REALLY Asian so you’re cool” line. Sometimes we want approval and acceptance so much that we just overlook the nasty undertone of that kind of “compliment.” It’s nice to get a bit older and gain some maturity and perspective.

      Man, I was all about the school hot lunches even though the stuff my mom made was universes better.


  17. Great article! When I first started trying AB about a year ago I wasn’t sure if I would be welcome with my genetic makeup (blue-eyed redhead with super fair skin and mixed with native american features), so I mostly lurked on the fringe. Western skincare was killing my skin; dry, oily, flaky, itchy, red, and broken out. All the skin problems, yea! When I thought of what I wanted my skin to be I though of Michelle Yeoh, Gong LI, and the few asian models I had seen. As fair as I am my skin was closer to theirs than to any one in the West. Tanning was a non-possibility as my skin has 2 shades: Strawberries and cream or lobster red. Kerry of Skin&Tonics was my gateway when I first googled asian skincare. From her I found you, Chel, Sheryll, CoCo Tracy, Cat, and all the lovelies on reddit and instagram.
    For my part I get the never quite fitting the mold: I was homeschooled, and have a very different personality anyway. My red hair is polarizing: either hated or fetishized. I made my peace years ago that people would either love me for genuineness or hate me for that very genuinity because it showed their lack, and as a redhead I was not created to blend in, but to stand out, so I better develop the personality to match.
    After a year of learning about AB I am completely sold, so much so I want to make it available to a wider audience, and am in the works to launch a US based AB ecommerce store. Perhaps what really makes me love the AB online community so much is that silly abbreviation: YMMV. It says so much with so little. No right or wrong way to care for your skin as long as it works. As I explained to a little boy I used to nanny when he asked I was so light when he was so dark: look at the world. So many plants, trees, and flowers. So many animals, birds, fish, and bugs. Mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers, and oceans. Even clouds, and skies. All different. How boring would it be if we all looked the same , spoke the same, and behaved the same? You wouldn’t only eat apples all day, everyday, so why restrict the variety of your friends?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Just wanted to say I love this post. I’m hoping for more “normalization” of all culture and skintones and am encouraged by the rapid changes we see in many facets of life (e.g., gay marriage). Who knows what your son will be experiencing by the time he’s in high school? –Angela

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I love everything about this article. I had some bizarre moments growing up in a small town in the southern U.S. My appearance is what I now like to call “ethnically ambiguous-looking,” and as a young girl, it resulted in a couple of jerk kids in my neighborhood calling me by some sort of racial slur, but never the “right” one. They couldn’t tell what I was, they just saw me as “not white.” I remember at the time that I wasn’t angry that they were throwing slurs at me; I was mostly annoyed that they couldn’t even come up with an accurate one.

    Once I moved into my teen years are started getting into skincare, one of the things I loved about it was that it wasn’t dependent on skin tone the way makeup was. Don’t get me wrong — I love makeup — and my skin tone — but it presented a set of challenges that skincare didn’t, especially since I happened at have skin tones & undertones that don’t quite match up with the majority population. But man, if I’d had access to Korean products (or any Asian products at all) as a teen, I would have been elated!

    I love having access to them now. And I love that my skincare choices have opened up as well. There are so many different and interesting product types available now, and though I am obviously a lover of many Korean products, I think their popularity has also inspired more innovation for U.S. offerings, and will be opening doors for products from other countries. I’m excited to see what the next few years will bring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, as a fellow ethnically ambiguous-looking person, you just brought back some memories of childhood-me, furiously telling people, “If you want to tease me, at least get it right!”

      Also hijacking a little to say – your post on being both warm and cool-toned was a revelation for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. This post made me cry. I have thought I was ugly for almost as long as I can remember. I have always had low self esteem. And seeing media with a general standard of beauty that is unattainable for me didin’t help. I’ve always looked different. I am a black girl with native american in my background. I have medium skin with a yellow undertone and fine wavy
    hair ( but I look clearly ” ethinic” or non- white). I don’t fit into any stereotypical racial look but as a black person and a person of color in general I strongly feel, as you said, like an “Other” in suburban USA. You just get the feeling like white is the
    norm. White is pretty and you’re different. I am lucky to be homeschooled and fairly sheltered so I wasn’t exposed to kids in all their evil.
    I still struggle with hating how i look and low confidence but I think I’m
    getting better and I hope to be as comfortable with myself as you are one day. You inspire me so much and you are so beautiful!

    For some reason the thought of ” but what Korean beauty’s just for asain skin” my sister asked me that and I said ” when you think about it, is western skincare designed for us either?” I don’t have aisain features but I don’t have western features either. As soon as I learned about Korean skincare and beauty I somehow knew it was for me and I love that it is promoting diversity.

    Thank you for this post I think I needed to read this. :,)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much sharing your response! It has meant so much to me today to read so many kind comments from so many women who have been through the same thing. I’m really happy that you’re getting better ☺


  21. Is that why you went ape on Paula for her justified criticism of K-beauty? Pride is fine but you might wanna let that voice of reason out of the basement more often.


    1. That was quite a long time ago, so I’m afraid I don’t remember too many specifics, but no, that had nothing to do with this. I believe my problem with that blog post had to do with the sweeping, patronizing generalizations it made about an incredibly diverse cosmetics industry–and the Western consumers who show interest in it. Her company certainly makes some effectively formulated products, which would be able to speak for themselves without the unfortunate anti-competitor bias her marketing team has become notorious for. Thanks for reminding me of that, by the way! I think I’ll give it a re-read and see if my perspective has changed at all.

      My voice of reason is fine where it is. It’s well fed, with plenty of reading material to keep it busy and resources to get messages to me when needed.


  22. Nicely said! And as a middle east background person I can agree in some of the points, too. Especially, when I was looking for my right shade in foundation I never had a good suited color for me among the available western products. When I ordered my first BB cream I was so relieved to have finally found a match for my skin tone.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I’m so happy to read this post! There are so many things that resonate with me. Several others have mentioned feeling “Othered” in their comments, too, and V.Rex and Angeline mentioned something that particularly struck a chord. I was born in Hong Kong, but moved to the States at the age of 5. That means my spoken Cantonese is passable, but I can’t really read characters. Since I currently live in the States (but am visiting family in Hong Kong as I type this…), I’ve always felt a little tossed between, neither (HK!) Chinese enough nor American enough. I never liked my face, since it didn’t look “normal.” Only now, in grad school, am I becoming interested in what my face and body looks like and what fits me, rather than feeling sub-par because I will never look white.

    2 HK Chinese parents (clearly non-European/white face), a running habit (darker skin) and a mostly white neighborhood means that people have asked, point-blank, “What ARE you???” Sadly, the best answer I’ve ever come up with was, “Hyphenated…!” from being Asian-American >_< Oh, and glasses are perpetually falling off my non-existent nose 😛

    I stumbled upon Fifty Shades of Snail (and Holy Snails, and Snow White and the Asian Pear, and many others!) a week ago, and it totally changed my perspective on self-care. Sunscreen in Hong Kong is completely different than the ones I can find in the States, too. I've been inspired to start washing my face properly 🙂

    And, Fiddy, I love your face!!! Your expressions made me laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Love this post. (I actually “liked” it and then had to uncheck it when I realized I was still signed in under my work account. :p) But love!

    A Korean American girlfriend and I were just joking this weekend, that because of K-pop and K-beauty, we Asians are now finally cool!

    Loving your blog, too. It’s really helped me understand and get into this K-beauty thing. And I LOVE THAT you are 35! I’m a few years older, and am really super glad you can speak to skin care products that I might actually use—and well, have purchased and tried because of you.

    Love, love especially that your beauty is clearly more than skin deep. There’s a super beautiful person inside you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and thank you for the kind words! I’m really surprised at the response to this post, and it means a lot to me to be able to communicate with so many readers so honestly like this 🙂


  25. Wow, while I m not Asian , I am African America and my elementary and middle school expierence was quite like yours. I understand having a cultural expierence that means so much because I stopped relaxing my hair , back when I was growing up straight hair was a big thing because no one seemed to want their own hair pattern, now the natural hair community is booming and I’m wearing my hair natural and flarironed but I don’t feel like one is better than the other like I once did

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I don’t feel like one is better than the other like I once did”

      Yes! It’s strange how it takes so long for us to come to that realization really! I bet your hair is beautiful either way 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m a Korean who grew up an expat in a different Asian country. I grew up struggling with beauty in general not because of ethnicity, but because of my self-perceived inability to conform to what was held up as beautiful for an Asian in Asia. And K-beauty was more or less thrust at me by the older women in my life, along with a buttload of stereotypically unapologetic directness about the quality of my looks from others as well. By the time I had lived in Korea for several years as an adult, I developed something of a sense of personal animosity towards the obsession with physical beauty there.
    Reading your story was the first time I’ve ever thought the K-beauty industry might actually have some positive effects. It’s also very instructive on how much my perspectives and experiences can differ from that of AAs who were born and/or raised in the US. I suppose I want to say thank you for sharing your perspective and adding to my life education 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey. I can definitely understand where you’re coming from as well. I’ve often observed how rigid the beauty standards are in East Asia (and how unrealistic they are for the vast majority). I wouldn’t want to have grown up under that pressure (even as an ABC, I got plenty of tastes of the relatives’ bluntness). Thank YOU for sharing your experiences! I’m so happy that this post has been able to spark such discussion and honesty from all of us.


  27. I’m commenting really late, but I had to say how much I enjoyed this post. It’s wonderful that you feel better in yourself! I think finding something *for you* can really help self-esteem and confidence. I hope I am on that road too, if a little behind you 🙂

    I’m an absolute Asian skincare and beauty noob, I started looking into skincare around my 33rd birthday, so three months ago, and between your advice and Kerry’s I feel like I’m finding my way 🙂 I don’t think I’ve said it before, so thank you for the inspiration and knowledge! Also, I’m mixed – one quarter black – and I had a d’oh moment recently realising that my skintone is pretty close to the midpoint of many Asian beauty lines, while Western makeup theory tends to label me “olive” and then suggest orange and/or green, neither of which are amazing on me. Natural pinks and browns – it’s like a whole new world 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Wow! I can so relate to this post about being East Asian in the West and how similar our experiences are! Growing up in a society and being like you said “othered”, different and trying to look like someone else not because you want to but because there were simply no other standards. All colours, sizes, shapes are beautiful but it took me more than 30 yrs to learn that and accept myself and embrace my own skin.
    It is like the story about The ugly duckling.

    Thank you, thank you for sharing your story, you just became a sister to me ❤


    1. Thank you for sharing your feelings right back at me! It can definitely be a long road to self acceptance coming from our kind of background. I’m so glad you’ve gotten there too!


  29. I’m glad that k-beauty was able to be the catalyst in your seeing yourself in a more positive way! I’m relatively new to it but I love k-beauty and t-beauty. The only criticism I have is that a lot of products emphasize whitening the skin. As an Afro-American I don’t want to walk around with a white face (as if hyperpigmentation and light spots on my cheeks isn’t bad enough) and brown limbs. However, I do want to achieve a more even complexion. I do a lot of research on the ingredients of popular beauty products I come across, especially the ones that say “brightening”, and even straight up “whitening”, and I’m convinced that the “whitening” is actually merely mild “brightening”, as evidenced by the fact that I have yet to see k- and t-beauty users walking around with white (as in, melanin completely gone) faces due to k-beauty and the fact that niacinamide and the such hasn’t ruined my melanin (but it has even me up a little). So common sense tells me that my melanin has nothing to fear from these products as long as I buy from reputable companies. Still, it’s somewhat of a slap in the face (however soft, because there are much, much worse things in the world to behold) to see things like the packaging of NRK’s Arbutin sheet mask depicting a brown bear wearing a white bunny rabbit mask, with what appears to be an invitation to a white party on the floor. No lying though, I did laugh because it’s an utterly absurd depiction; I don’t think anyone would pay money to make their face a completely different color than the rest of their body. I just wish that modern Asian beauty brands wouldn’t emphasize “whitening” per se. Other than that, I want to say that a lot of the other k- and t-beauty trends get it right and are great for all women. To me, it represents giving yourself the permission to take time out for yourself, to pamper yourself affordably at home, and breaking out of the normal mundane beauty routine. My beauty routine before k-beauty feels like a bleak, bland dream where I was never truly satisfied.


    1. I agree with you completely on how troubling the constant emphasis on “whitening” is 😦 I don’t know what it will take for colorism in Asia to lose its death grip on beauty ideals. Totally agree that those “whitening” claims are nothing like the bleaching that they sound like, however, but it’s the whole idea that effects are presented as such to make a product more appealing.

      And that bleak, bland, unsatisfying dream? I flash back to those times every time I visit the beauty section of the drugstore or supermarket!


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