Shopping in Seoul: Korean Makeup Haul & Reviews

When I went to Seoul a couple of months ago, I indulged in a bit of shopping after a long 'no-buy' period. 

I'd wanted to post detailed reviews of the makeup and skincare products I'd purchased, similar to the beauty reviews on my old blog - but just never seemed to get around to that topic! There were so many other posts I'd wanted to write first. Now I'm happy that I waited since I could try the products for a long time.

So here's a lightning round of mini-reviews for my Korean beauty haul from February. 

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All products are bought by me without any sponsoring. 

Shopping in Seoul: Makeup and Skincare Haul and Mini Reviews. K-Beauty, VDL, Clio, Beauty People and lots of sheet masks.

When visiting Seoul to do some last minute shopping before attending a wedding, I'd been looking for lip products and a foundation and/or concealer since my old ones were empty.

Guest at a Korean Wedding: Do's and Don'ts and Customs

 Thanks to shopping with two beauty bloggers that know what they're talking about and had lots of recommendations, I went home with a bit more than I'd planned on. But first:

Let me geek out over color theory here for a moment!

Orange lipsticks are great for evening events! In dim light, red just looks dark or even black to human eyes, while orange is one of the colors that can be perceived even in relative darkness. That's why signs and clothing that need to be visible in darkness are usually bright orange or yellow. Since yellow isn't really a lipstick color I could ever pull off, orange is my color of choice for evenings, softly lit restaurants or bars - it just looks brighter and more lively than reds!

Enter the CLIO Mad Matte lipsticks. These matte lipsticks have a very forgiving texture. Instead of going on heavy and creamy, they're incredibly lightweight and just coat your lips with an intense punch of color. The finish feels slightly powdery, but while dry and matte in itself, doesn't dry out the lips or accentuate lip lines. 


I actually use this lipstick a bit like a lip tint for its staying power and adherence. 
The shade #2 Sunlit Orange was recommended to me by Ohmyglossblog (she has swatches of the lipstick here) and I wore this lipstick to the wedding event the same evening. It's a bright and intense color but works really well with simple eye makeup. 

(If you shop via Amazon for K-Beauty, you might want to use Ebates, especially now before the holidays - they offer a bonus of 10$ on top of the usual cash back if you sign up via a recommendation/ referral link until the end of December.)

Next, we visited VDL, where my search for a concealer evolved into the quest for the holy grail perfect cushion foundation. 

Shopping at VDL for Cushion Foundation 

VDL is one of my favorite Korean makeup brands. Their primers are wonderful, and they have a lot of high-quality lip products in a wide variety of colors and forms (cubic, for example).

So when their Metal Cushion Foundation was on sale, with two free refills in the bargain, I caved, swapped for a matching hue and went with the Moisture Glow edition in shade A201.

This foundation gives even very dry skin a flawless dewy finish. If you're not one for the dewy look, this isn't for you, but I live for anything that keeps my skin from drying out. 
I've since reached for this cushion a lot! It's very sturdily packaged, easy to clean and keep hygienic thanks to the metal cushion design, and re-applies without smudging. 


Now that temperatures here on Jeju Island have risen, I was positively surprised by how little heat and humidity seem to affect this formulation. I just set it with a bit of powder around my eyebrows and nose and it stays flawlessly in place, without turning greasy, accentuating pores or breaking me out, as heavy formulations tend to in summer. Two thumbs up for this one!

Seoul Shopping Trip: My Korean beauty and makeup haul illustration and a lightning round of reviews! VDL metal cushion foundations, Clio Mad Matte lipsticks and lots of sheetmasks.

VDL Color Makeup Haul & Blusher Review

The sales lady that helped me swatch products and find my shade had a really pretty blush on her cheeks, so I asked her which shade she wore... and tried it, loved it and bought it. It's their VDL Festival Blusher Creamy in 103 OK, a muted coral that leaves me with rosy cheeks, that works with pretty much any color combination (pink lipstick, orange lipstick... the neutral undertone of this blush goes well with anything) and has a slightly dewy finish.
Often, cream blushes dry to a powdery finish - which kind of defeats the purpose, in my opinion. I like to combine dewy foundation with similarly dewy blush, especially since my cheeks are the driest part of my face. 

I also received a free gift in the form of a lip tint: VDL Expert Color Lip Stain in 301 Absinth Mary. This smells divinely of roses and the muted burgundy hue looks grown-up without aging me (as darker lip colors normally tend to...). Not quite as long-lasting as the name suggests, but great color, finish and, again, that scent...!

Wearing the Moisture Glow Metal Cushion Foundation, a hint of the Festival Blusher, and the Beauty People eye liner.

Wearing the Moisture Glow Metal Cushion Foundation, a hint of the Festival Blusher, and the Beauty People eye liner.

Korean Brand "Beauty People" Eyeliner Review

Last but not least, I found an eye liner by the brand Beauty People, called the "First Highliner Brush Unit Pencil". While I'd seen the brand pop up here and there on Korean beauty blogs, I'd never tried a product of theirs before. The eyeliner (or highliner? What does that even mean??) is very buttery and applies smoothly - perfect if you hate tugging and dragging at your eyes! The shade #5 has the (ridiculous) name "Madonna Lusty", a neutral brown that's just light enough to work for under the eyes and dark enough for the upper lid. The brush at one end works surprisingly well with the melting texture of the pen, and I've been using this eyeliner a lot for quick makeup application since it's hard to mess up the application. It dries quickly and doesn't smudge. 


K-Beauty Sheet Mask Haul at Olive Young

And since you can't go beauty shopping in Seoul without grabbing at least one sheetmask, I somehow ended up with four. Seoul and its polluted air always wreck havock on my skin, so I was looking for a pamper session.

The Vitamin Water sheet masks had a jelly texture that was fun and cooling, but other than being moisturizing, I didn't notice much of an effect. 
The MediHeal Collagen Impact Essential Mask one though - that one worked wonders on my tired skin after I'd returned to Jeju from four days in Seoul! It actually plumped my skin visibly and smoothed the annoying lines around my mouth temporarily.
I've yet to try the 'White Truffle Oil - Aquablend Oil Pocket Mask' by Leaders Insolution, but am looking forward to it just for the strangeness. If it doesn't smell like a mushroom risotto, I'll be very disappointed. 

VDL's Cube lipstick is part of my lipstick sticker set - head here for the  printable! 

VDL's Cube lipstick is part of my lipstick sticker set - head here for the printable! 

That's it for my Korean beauty haul & mini reviews. 

I'm normally not a huge shopper (budget constraints cough cough) but when I do, I prefer choosing products that work in different combinations and situations, like the blush, and am always on the look-out for additional gifts and sale events, which are abundant in South Korea - if you ever go shopping in Seoul, keep your eyes open! :)

iHerb Haul - Vegan in Korea

My latest iHerb haul for living as a cooking-mostly-from-scratch, on-a-budget vegan living in South Korea. This post contains affiliate links, all products are purchased by me. 

While South Korea is a paradise for online shopping in general, iHerb still is my go-to source for certain organic, vegan or natural foods and supplements. I've used iHerb even before I went vegan, mostly for facial oils and similar natural cosmetics that went well in combination with my Korean skincare routine. 

My most recent iherb haul as a vegan living in Korea. Staple products for cooking from scratch, sweet treats and coffee. 

My most recent iherb haul as a vegan living in Korea. Staple products for cooking from scratch, sweet treats and coffee. 

Staple ingredients for 'international' vegan recipes 

Korea has a traditional cuisine rich in vegetables, grains, beans and seafood which has in recent years evolved to include a lot more meats and dairy. Living on Jeju Island gives me traditional temple food restaurants, organic tofu places and a variety of rice cakes and Jeju-style breads, but limits some other foods.

So while I can easily find a lot of staple products on local markets, others are harder to come by - especially following 'international' vegan recipes and meal plan tips can be a bit of a challenge when bananas are on the expensive side, almond milk can only be found in the large supermarket an hour away, oatmeal isn't the cheap staple grain you might expect, and avocados are pretty much non-existent.

My latest iHerb haul - cart overview.

This is where iHerb comes in handy. While I can't order any fresh produce, they have a lot of specialty food available that is hard to find on Jeju in particular. I order from them once every three months (which is how long their loyalty coupons last after each purchase) for just enough value to get free shipping.

Of course, I also buy the occasional special treat (because who could resist?), like in my latest haul a dark coffee by the brand 'Kicking Horse' - 454 Horse Power Dark Whole Bean Coffee. One can never have enough coffee beans, and I already can't wait to use that beautiful packaging for something else #recyclelikeaKoreanahjumma 

Creamed coconut for my curry cooking needs, and coffee-scented lip balm by Hurraw! because coffee-scented everything is good in my book.

Creamed coconut for my curry cooking needs, and coffee-scented lip balm by Hurraw! because coffee-scented everything is good in my book.

On that note: I also got myself a new Hurraw! lip balm - coffee scented! These aren't the most moisturizing lip balms in the world (they give instant moisture, but it doesn't last particularly long) but they just taste so good I can't resist. I mentioned their coconut version here.

I also bought what I thought at the time was coconut milk, but actually turned out to be something even better: Creamed coconut, which arrived as a solid block thanks to the slightly colder temperatures on that day. I keep it in the fridge now. To use the creamed coconut, you mix it with two parts warm water. I've used tiny portions of this (one tablespoon at a time) to mix into curries and baked goods and it gives just the perfect hint of coconut. Its expiration date is in 2018 and I plan on buying more of these since they're easier to store than normal coconut milk.


Sweet treats and peanut butter from iHerb. Vegan haul.

Sweet treats and peanut butter from iHerb. Vegan haul.

Vegan delights:

Another special treat: GoRaw Choco Crunch Sprouted cookies - I normally don't buy processed foods since they're more expensive than just getting the raw ingredients and making/baking/cooking myself, but these seemed really hard to make myself and looked delicious. I loved them! May have eaten all of them over just a few days... I'll probably not re-purchase since they are quite expensive, but will give the chai version a try instead!

I also got some new peanut butter by the brand 'Bell Plantation'. I'm definitely a 'crunchy' person - for some reason, smooth peanut butter is gross to me. The brand was new to me, but the tub was really cheap and it definitely passed the taste-test! It has a bit of a denser texture than other peanut butters we'd tried, and I personally prefer this. Goes really well on fresh baked bread! It's currently sold out on iHerb, but luckily I still have more than half of the jar left. Fingers crossed for its swift return!

Vegan baking staples for bread, banana bread, sweets... cacao nibs, coconut flakes and Muesli. Yes, I put Muesli in bread. Sue me. 

Vegan baking staples for bread, banana bread, sweets... cacao nibs, coconut flakes and Muesli. Yes, I put Muesli in bread. Sue me. 

Superfood, secret bread ingredients and favorite breakfast muesli:

Organic raw cacao nibs by Now Foods. Cacao nibs have become popular in Korea lately, but are still very much over-priced around here. 
Look, I want to say that I only use these for baking or in smoothie bowls (something I rarely make, by the way...) BUT to be completely honest I just eat these by the hand-full. Don't judge!

Flaked, unsweetened coconut is another baking ingredient. I like to just toss ingredients into a single bowl and make random breads, and coconut flakes are a new addition to that ingredient-roulette I've got going. They're delicious on and in banana bread!

And then, of course, with me coming from Switzerland, I need Muesli. This one by Bob's Red Mill comes closest to my personal preferences - not too sweet (I hate most of the crunchy granola ones, especially since in Switzerland, we mix our Muesli with fresh fruit and yogurts that automatically make everything sweet enough) with a nice mix of dried fruit bits, different grains, seeds and nuts. 
I normally don't care for gluten-free products, but the mix for this one is just too good to switch to another one.


Swiss muesli breakfast habits, living in Korea

I mix my Muesli with basic oats, and generally use a lot of oats during the day. Hot oatmeal with cinnamon is one of my favorite comfort foods, and I mix oats into my breads (both sweet and plain) or to balance out excess humidity when making vegan bean burgers or lentil meatballs. They're great in smoothies, too, especially for busy days when there's no time to cook or prepare any elaborate meals. 

It's way cheaper to buy oats online if you're not keen on GMO - pretty much all of the affordable options in Korea are import products with no special certifications. Locally grown oats are more expensive and are mostly not for use as cereals, but to mix into rice when cooking.


Baking bread in Korea

While there are a lot of bakeries in Korea, taking inspiration from France, Japan or even Germany (I see Bretzels everywhere lately), I still prefer to bake my own breads, both sweet and 'normal' ones. Bread isn't particularly cheap here - except maybe basic toast - and I just love full-grain breads with crunchy crusts too much to go for the mostly sweet and soft breads that are the most common here. 

Jeju has a lot of traditional breads like barley buns with our without filling, but not a lot of people bake themselves or even own an oven, since traditional Korean breads are steamed instead.

I get basic whole-grain wheat flour at the local supermarket (it tends to be cheaper than actual white flour!) but most Korean whole-grain flour is still pretty bland, so I like to order special flours online to mix with my usual fare here. This Dark Rye Flour really adds flavor and texture to bread even if I only use a little bit for each batch. Currently sold out, but the brand has a lot of different flours to try if you're into baking. 

Vegan staples haul from iHerb, illustration. 

Vegan staples haul from iHerb, illustration. 

That's it for my vegan staples haul from iHerb! As you can see, I'm a total bread & carbs girl. Not saying this is the healthiest haul in the world (definitely not) but it sure is delicious and gives me a lot of basic ingredients to cook and bake from scratch here in Korea. 

Do you use iHerb? Any product you'd recommend - I'm always on the look-out for new muesli or sweet treats. :)