South Korea 2015: Beauty Haul!

I’m not even done with my Japan entries, but here I am, writing a haul post because I just came back from Seoul a couple of days ago, and I want to tell the world how depleted my wallet is I was able to find fantastic things during my brief trip to the Land of the Morning Calm.

After eight days in Seoul (and Gapyeong), I can say securely say that Japan is still #1 in my heart, but South Korea is a beautiful country, special in its own way and definitely worth visiting many, many times.

Here’s a shot of all the stuff I lugged back home with me. Not a lot. Nope.

I’ll divide my haul into two posts. This one will focus on cosmetics, and the other one will show non-cosmetic items.

I’ve never bought so much stuff for myself from a trip abroad before. I went to the US, bought a rock at the Grand Canyon? (Yes, I made my dad pay for a rock.) Went to Europe, bought a postcard. Went to Japan, bought a dress and KitKat. That’s pretty much it usually.

I was looking forward to shop on this trip because Seoul is the land of kyeopta skin care and makeup. There are hundreds of options for toners, moisturizers, essences, serums, ampoules, cleansers, creams, mists, oils, masks, makeup—the list goes on and on and on. My fascination with skin care and makeup began the moment I started reading about the daily multiple-step skin care routine most Korean women follow, which reportedly range from seven to fourteen steps. Ain’t nobody Koreans got time for that.

I used to push toner aside to reach for tube after tube of moisturizer because one just won’t cut through the desert that was my T-zone, but now I panic when I’m close to running out, and I’m having a little problem with excess sebum surprisingly. I also really enjoy how effective cleansing oil is when it comes to making makeup with a lot of staying power melt off my face like fine butter. And I try to buy organic products when I can, especially when the company supports a good cause (shout-out to Human Nature).

But you’re not reading this blog entry to learn about my gross skin problems. Who cares about my oily combination skin when there are Korean beauty goodies to see? Hurry up and get started, Kay. Pali! Pali!

The Korean brand that got me really excited was Innisfree. A subsidiary of Amore Pacific (and named after “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by Yeats, a lovely poem), Innisfree is a nature-oriented brand that uses organic, eco-friendly ingredients and recycled packaging materials. It’s also where I spent most of my money! I think I entered every Innisfree store I saw. I became an Innisfree pabo. And I’m proud of it!


We arrived early in the afternoon at our hotel in Namdaemun. Since Myeongdong was near our hotel and there was a free shuttle service, I took my group there. Myeongdong is famous for being a shopping mecca. All the popular Korean cosmetic brands like Etude House, THEFACESHOP, Nature Republic, Laneige, Holika Holika, and Tony Moly are there; some even have several branches on one street. First day pa lang, shopping na agad!


One of the first items I got from Innisfree was from their olive line. It’s one of their most popular lines. I picked up the Olive Real Cleansing Oil first, followed by the Olive Real Skin (they call their toners “skin” for some reason) and the lotion. They smell fantastic. My mom also bought a bottle of this cleansing oil. My dad got the body lotion before we left Korea as well. I’m rubbing Innisfree love on everyone. You get Innisfree! You get Innisfree! Everybody gets Innisfree!


Next, I got another toner-lotion duo. This time, from Innisfree’s green tea line. Right off the bat, Innisfree products seem so refreshing. Like the olive line, Innisfree is famous for its green tea products. They have three green tea lines for different skin types: fresh, for normal skin; balancing, for combination skin; and moisture, for dry skin. I chose items from the balancing line because some parts of my face are dry while the rest are oily.


I was supposed to get the Olive Real Cleansing Foam and the Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask, but I got confused because I wasn’t able to check my shopping list before going inside the store. The pore clay mask was a little intimidating for this skin care newbie. And I was trying not to get too distracted from all the other beautiful items saying “Kay, pick me up! Kay, I want to go home with you! Kay, I’m so good for your skin because I’m organic! Kay! Kay! Kaaaaaaaayyyyyy!” So, I picked this little baby up. Not the olive cleansing foam, but still from the Jeju volcanic line. Win-win?


I was about to buy only one Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Powder at Myeongdong on our first day, but I stopped myself because I figured I could get more free samples if I bought the rest of the products on my list from different stores (#sneaky). In most Korean skin care stores, especially in Myeongdong, whenever you buy anything, they’ll usually give you free samples. You could end up with a single-use packet of lotion or a full-sized product if you’re lucky. And the shop assistants are usually generous with samples, more so if you buy a lot of stuff from them.

It’s a good thing I held off on buying that one powder because the next day, almost all the Innisfree branches advertised a 1+1 (buy one, take one free) deal on the No-Sebum Mineral Powder. Daebak, Korea. Daebak.


I think this is one of Innisfree’s newest lines because they’re handing out a lot of samples of these two creams. The Green Tea Seed Cream has been getting a lot of positive reviews from beauty bloggers and vloggers for its moisturizing … powers? (Yeah, I’m not going to quit my day job to become a beauty writer/reviewer person.) I’m a big fan of moisture. I felt I needed this in my life. But it’s summer in the Philippines now, so I’ll save this when it gets cooler approaching December.

As for the eye cream, I wanted to try a more comprehensive skin care routine. I only double cleanse, wipe toner everywhere, and slap on a few pumps of moisturizer, but I’m not sure if I need an eye cream yet because I’m only 24 years old. Is age a factor? I’m not sure, but my eyes do get tired often because I never get enough sleep, and they’ve been getting a lot more attention lately since I started wearing mascara every day at work. Some people also don’t consider eye creams necessary, but I’m willing to try this one from Innisfree. Innisfree, my love. SSI, are you reading this? SM? If you could bring Innisfree here in the Philippines, that would be really swell. Thank you!


The Green Tea Mineral Mist up there is an impulse purchase. I’m so weak against 1+1 deals. But since it’s summer here, this might come in handy?


More makeup! I bought one Color Glow lipstick from Innisfree in this lovely bright red color. Very creamy.


The colors don’t show well in my photos because I can’t take pictures with a DSLR and edit in Photoshop to save my life, but these are two brown single eyeshadows. One is a walnut shade, perfect as an everyday brown, and the other is a shimmery pecan color I can use at night. At KRW 5,000 each, eyeshadow junkies will probably find it hard not to hoard these.


Finally, the last item I bought from Innisfree—this small eyelash curler. I apply mascara five days a week. It’s my favorite makeup thing. My eyelashes, like my hair, are incredibly straight, so I have to make room for a chunky eyelash curler in my makeup bag. I’m hoping this compact one from Innisfree will work like a charm. I took it out of the box, and I just can’t figure out how to make it work yet. To Google!


After Innisfree, I went to The Saem, a relatively new Korean brand endorsed by G-Dragon of Big Bang. I got their Healing Tea Garden (Tea Tree) Cleansing Water as a makeup remover. I’m a cleansing oil convert, but I’m still getting used to the feeling of oil on my skin after a long day.


Shot above: all the freebies I received from Innisfree and The Saem. They gave me a lot of great samples from the Apple Juicy line, more from the Olive Real series, and masks I’ll give to friends as pasalubong. And The Saem staff were just handing out snail masks to people who go inside their store. Freebies errrrwhere.


While we’re on cleansing water, here’s another thing I picked up, this time from Gangnam. Not a Korean brand, but Bioderma is known for its micellar water cleansers (shown above). Makeup artists swear by this product because it removes makeup very well, really quickly during hectic weeks when models have to run from one show to another and put on different faces in a short span of time.

Bioderma is available locally in the Philippines at Watsons, but I couldn’t resist this 1+1 bundle for only KRW 25,000 from a pharmacy along Garosu-gil. They were waiting for me outside in the cold. I don’t know what the store is grateful for by making a thank you pack, but no, thank you!


Another cleanser I’m excited to try is the classic Clean It Zero sherbet cleanser by Banila co. This is one of their bestsellers. It looks and feels exactly like it sounds, like sherbet. And my first impression is it smells like Victoria’s Secret Sweet Pea products. Brings back memories of high school. Haha.


Next brand: Beyond. Similar to Innisfree, Beyond is very nature-oriented and eco-friendly. They’re against animal testing and parabens. And I guess it’s very popular because Kim Soo-hyun (Dream High, My Love from Another Star) is their endorser, that cutie oppa.

I got an essence and the emulsion from their Organature Balancing line. I picked these up at the airport when I was trying to find stuff to buy with the Korean won I had left. I know an essence is like a pre-moisturizer moisturizer, but I’m still a little confused as to how it differs from emulsions, serums, and ampoules. There are some things only Koreans understand. For everything else, there’s Google.


The Beyond store I went to in Myeongdong had an awesome 10+10 deal on face masks for only KRW 9,500. Friends, your pasalubong!


I got one thing from THEFACESHOP. I tried to limit my list and budget to items I can’t get in the Philippines. We already have THEFACESHOP, Etude House, Nature Republic, too cool for school, Tony Moly, Holika Holika, Missha, and Laneige. All that’s missing is Innisfree! “When will this woman shut up about Innisfree? GOD.”

I went looking for THEFACESHOP’s Mango Seed Facial Butter in Gangnam because 1) I love mangoes; 2) I can’t get enough of moisturizing gunk; and 3) I saw a picture of D.O. from EXO endorsing this. Fool for flashy, pretty boy-driven advertising right here.

There was another jar like this, but it was called the Mango Seed Heart Volume Butter. From what I understand, that one is supposed to help people get a heart-shaped face—small, thin cheeks that taper into a V-shaped jaw line. There are drinks sold in convenience stores specifically for that purpose. I don’t know if they help, but those facial features are apparently what Koreans find attractive.

I find the lengths Koreans go to in order to live up to their beauty standards quite alarming. I saw countless plastic surgery ads in the subway stations featuring women with square jaws and monolids who underwent surgeries to make their jaws smaller and their eyes bigger, making them almost unrecognizable and look the same as all the women who went through the same procedures. It’s one thing to clean and improve your skin using drugstore products; it’s another to alter it irreversibly under the knife as a form of socially accepted behavior. More on this in another post perhaps.


Makeup again! This post doesn’t have much order, does it?

At Aritaum, only one item was purchased. Aritaum is a Korean brand, of course, but their stores also sell products from Iope, Laneige, and Mamonde. One of their most popular lip products is the Honey Melting Tint. I chose mine in a color called Bitter Rose, a dusty, dark pink shade. It’s similar to my Happy Skin (Honeymoon Glow) and Snoe (Vintage Rose) lipsticks. I tend to gravitate towards this color for some reason. I love my Happy Skin lip crayon, but the Snoe lipstick … not so much. It has a nauseating lipstick smell (like the Ever Bilena ones), which I really don’t like. The Aritaum Honey Melting Tint fortunately doesn’t have that, so I can finally set aside the Snoe lipstick until further notice.


Last cosmetics purchase! Last one! You made it to the end of the post! Go ahead and have a Rocky moment. Here ya go, champ.

3 Concept Eyes (3CE) is a makeup brand popularized by Style Nanda, a well-known South Korean retailer of hip, modern apparel and accessories. From what I’ve read, 3CE was named so because it keeps to a versatile color base of pink, orange, and beige, which can compliment all skin types.

I went to the 3CE section at Lotte Young Plaza in Myeongdong and bought their Triple Shadow in # NO NO NO, the Undereye Flash eyeliner in #4 Brown Sugar to make my eyes look more awake, and a Jumbo Lip Crayon in Bohemian Pink. The pink is a little too pale against my skin color after I tried it again today. Must have been the weird lighting at the store that made it look better on me.

Again, the eyeshadow colors don’t show well in the photos (my bad, so bad), but the one on the right is a subtle gold shade, the middle is a plum eyeshadow, and the left one is a soft tan color. They’re not matte, but they’re great to use for a day-to-night look. It also reminds me of an Iora eyeshadow trio my mom used a lot until she hit pan on all three colors.

And that’s it for cosmetics! Part 2 of my South Korea haul series features all the stuff that won’t go on my face, but are pretty darn cute too. Read about it here.


10 thoughts on “South Korea 2015: Beauty Haul!

  1. Fara December 4, 2015 / 12:36 PM

    Ah!! What a haul… I can wait for this winter trip for my shopping haul in Korea. I saw you bought lots of innisfree products.. do u have any recommendation as to which is a must buy? Honestly, i haven’t tried any of innisfree products before…
    Great post by the way! ^0^

    • kaygemzon December 4, 2015 / 4:52 PM

      Hello! From Innisfree, I absolutely loved the No-Sebum Mineral Powder (the mattifying power of this baby is A+), the eyeshadow singles (the only eyeshadow in my daily makeup routine), the Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam (my skin feels so squeaky clean), and the Green Tea Seed Eye Cream (a miracle for pandas). I’d invest in their masks, too!

      I’d hit up Beyond, too, if you like Innisfree. They’re also an eco-friendly beauty brand. I hope you have a great time in Korea this winter!

  2. Aisha February 15, 2016 / 9:31 AM

    I really enjoyed reading this post! I’m kind of obsessed with South Korea and can’t wait to visit 🙂 How was the temperature when you were there?

    • kaygemzon February 16, 2016 / 3:26 PM

      I can’t wait for you to visit, too, Aisha! We went there around end of April, and it was still pretty cold. Especially at night!

  3. wadduppp April 20, 2016 / 12:19 AM

    how did u pack all of these? u know how there are liquid restrictions in the airport? and u can only bring few liquids

    • kaygemzon April 20, 2016 / 1:30 AM

      Thanks for your question! I just made sure to pack all the liquids, creams, and gels over 100ml in my check-in baggage. Actually, I just squeezed all the liquids, creams, gels, and makeup in my luggage even if they were below 100ml because I didn’t want to carry them in my purse.

      As long as I didn’t carry a liquid or a container exceeding 100ml or 100g in my hand-carry bag, I can breeze through check-in and screenings. And I’ve never been stopped before for having too many 100ml containers inside my check-in baggage. People can bring home drinks, liquor, or larger liquids as long as they check them in.

      So, that’s my tip: If you can pack everything in your check-in bag, do it. Sit on that thing, will it to close, zip it up, and be on your way. 🙂

  4. Arlu May 17, 2017 / 12:41 PM

    Hi! I’m going to korea in december this year. It’s my first time travelling out of the country and all alone too! I’m flipping out! lol 🙂 Anyway, how much was your budget during your shopping trip? 😀

    • kaygemzon May 17, 2017 / 1:05 PM

      Hi! I think we spent around Php 20,000 for a week-long trip (Seoul and Busan)? This includes airfare, food, accommodations, transpo, and entrance fees. Note that we got our airfare cheap (around Php 5,000 roundtrip) and stayed in affordable hostels. And this estimate doesn’t include shopping. 😁

    • kaygemzon May 17, 2017 / 1:06 PM

      Good luck! I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun. Korea is very foreigner- and solo travel-friendly. 😉

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