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Buying Makeup in Korea

As usual, my daughter and I went shopping today because it is Saturday.  The stores are always crowded on Saturdays because no one is at work, but they were even more crowded today, probably because many people are on vacation because of Christmas and  the New Year’s holiday coming.  I decided I needed to buy makeup because some of mine is getting kind of low. However, buying makeup in Korea is not the same as in America.

In America, if you buy a lot of makeup, you might feel like it is expensive, but if you just buy a couple of items, you don’t feel it is that expensive. However, any time you buy makeup in Korea, you feel it is just too expensive, even if you buy just a little.  You have to really think you need makeup to pay the prices they charge for it in Korea.  There is no Mabeline or other nice makeup brands here that are good, but not too expensive. It is all expensive here, and some are more expensive than others.  I like a particular kind of powder that when I buy it, I feel like I am buying gold, but the quality is like Mabeline.  In Korea, they want different things out of makeup than Americans, and I like a powder that won’t let me look shinny, but most Korean powders encourage the shininess because Koreans think shinny means healthy.  I can’t buy that powder at the local shop where I usually buy my makeup, but have to travel across town to a particular shop where the makeup is even more exorbitantly expensive.  Someone gave me a compact for a gift on my birthday once, and I like it so much, I make myself afford it.

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When you pick up the makeup you want, they put it in a plastic box with a “service” item and then lock the box. You have to take the plastic box to the cash register and pay, and then they will unlock the box and give you your makeup and “service” item. They do this for jewelry and other items too. (that “mango see” stuff is just a piece of cardboard stuffed inside the box and an advertisement.) 

I usually buy most of my makeup at a place called The Makeup Shop that is a small shop inside of E-Mart.  If you remember, I told you that E-Mart is the Korean equivalent of a Super Wal-Mart.  Things are cheaper, and you can find more there because the store is so big.  However, when you go to Wal-Mart, every part of the store belongs to Wal-Mart, but not so with E-Mart.  Along with the big grocery store, clothing store, toy store, etc., there are also several small shops run by other companies.  The Face Shop is one of those shops.  When I used to shop at the big E-Mart at Gimpo Airport before it closed, they had a Face Shop, and now that I shop at the E-mart in Gayang, they also have a Face Shop.  Face Shop must have a contract with E-Mart.  You can’t pick things up there and buy them at the regular check out stands. When I shopped at the E-Mart at Gimpo Airport, there was a separate cash register for the Face Shop.  In Gayang, when you pick up what you want, you give it to the girl who works there, and she registers it, then she puts it in a small plastic box along with something she will call “service” and then locks the box and hands it to you. You take the box to the cash register, and they can open the box at the cash register, and you pay for it.  There are many smaller shops inside of bigger ones that function like this in Korea.

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The “service” I got today.
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My drawer of Korean “service” makeup is full of lots of small packages bottles, and tubes that were given to me for free..

As for the “service,” many stores give “service” in Korea.  “Service” means they give you a free sample.  Today, my “service” was two pomegranate face masks.  I have a whole drawer at home of free makeup service items.  Sometimes I use them, and sometimes I don’t.  My older daughter who lives in America loves the small packages and the variety. She likes to play with these things, so sometimes, I gather a bunch of it up, put it in a box, and send it all to her.

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The items I bought today.
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This was one of the cheaper mascaras there, but it is still good.

Today, I bought mascara and cover up.  If you are part American Indian like I am, you will really feel the need for these kinds of makeup.  You see, American Indians have trouble with hair, and some don’t have eye lashes at all.  I am lucky because I actually have eyelashes, but without mascara, I look like I have no eyelashes because my eyelashes are barely there.  I used to wear more eye makeup than I do because of it, but since I began wearing glasses, eye makeup is just too hard, but I can see how plain I look when it looks like I have no eye lashes, so I continue at least wearing mascara.

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The cover up I bought has solid cover up on one end and liquid on the other end.

As for the cover up, many people probably need that.  I have had dark circles around my eyes since I was in my twenties.  I have researched trying to figure out why they are like that and come up with several ideas.  I was extremely sick for a whole year in my early twenties, unable to get out of bed or the doctor said I would die, and that may have caused my dark circles.  However, I have also read that people with a lot of allergy problems have a tendency to get dark circles.  Another theory I found is that people with dark hair and light skin get dark circles.  When I was in Romania, I really saw this because most of the country has dark hair and light skin, and everyone had dark circles around their eyes.  Perhaps the last one is right, but the other theories could be too.  My oldest son had red hair,(his hair turned white early) and he still has trouble with dark circles, and he has allergy problems, and my youngest daughter has my same coloring, and she has dark circles too, so perhaps all the theories are true.   Anyway, I pay the price even if it is expensive because covering those dark circles really makes a difference in what I look like.

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The liquid cover up is like a small bottle of foundation with an applicator.

The first time I bought cover up in Korea, the girl who worked in the shop tried to convince me to buy a liquid cover up, but I was used to buying the stick stuff.  She insisted that the liquid stuff looked more natural.  When I wear makeup, that is one of my goals, to look better, but look natural too.  I tried the liquid stuff, but it just couldn’t do the job.  After that, I couldn’t find the cover up with just the stick.  The only way I can buy the stick cover up here is to have one end of it a stick and the other end liquid.  I put the cover up in my purse, and if I am in a hurry and don’t get to put makeup on before I leave my house, that liquid cover up is just like foundation, so I use it for foundation in a pinch.

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Korean BB Cream smooths your face out like the foundation you buy in America.

As for foundation, I didn’t buy any today.  If you ask for foundation in a Korean makeup shop, they will say they don’t have it. They have no idea what it is.  However, they have something they call BB Cream.  BB Cream is basically foundation. They try to tell you it isn’t, but it is used the same.  The funny thing about BB Cream is that it is not always in natural skin tones.  You can buy it green, and I think I have seen it purple too.  I am not sure what the different colors are for, but if you put it on, it no longer looks green or purple, but skin tone.  When I first got to Korea, the foreign teachers at my university all got together and were talking about makeup, and one had bought the green makeup just out of curiosity.  She was from Africa and was black, and the green foundation didn’t look green at all on her. It looked good. We all thought it was very funny.  I bought the green stuff once out of curiosity too, and it looked normal on me too, but I didn’t buy any more after that. I bought regular skin tones after the experiment.

Something sold in Korean makeup shops that I never saw in America is mist.  Perhaps it is in America now, but I have seen several Korean women who really like the mist.  It is a spray they spray in their face after they have put their makeup on.  It moisturizes and makes them look shinny.  American women want to moisturize, but none of them want to look shinny, so they may not be selling the mist in America.

As for most of the makeup you can find in America, you can find it here, but just not the same brands, and much more expensive. You better get read to unload the money if you buy makeup in Korea. I only bought mascara and cover up today, and I tried hard to buy cheaper ones that were still good, and it cost me more than $20.00.  As I said, you have to really think you need it to buy it. I shop at one of the cheaper makeup shops; most places are more expensive than where I shop. I am 63 years old, so I need all the help I can get, but I still try not to spend too much.  It is a good thing I don’t go out everyday like I did when I was teaching because I won’t be using it up as quickly.

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