Last weekend, my boyfriend uttered my favorite string of words in the English language:
“Wanna go shopping?”
I love shopping in China, but the biggest issue with going shopping here is that half the time, I don’t know what the heck I’m even looking at. Not only can I not even begin to comprehend the ingredient lists, but when it comes to “talking shop” about beauty, Asia has a whole different vocabulary – both literally and figuratively. So believe me when I say that I have been eagerly awaiting this day–the day that my favorite “translator” offered his services free of charge.
In the US, we talk about wrinkles, anti-aging, antioxidant, evening out skin tone. But most of the time, we’re also talking about color matching, custom skincare regimens, and aging gracefully.
In Asia, we’re talking about water, whitening, snails (yes, snails), steps, salts (not oils), sheet masks and most importantly of all: having skin like a baby.
Asian skincare and makeup is all a bit different.
Different is good.
..but different is sooo confusing.
It’s like my whole beauty world gets turned upside down when I visit China.
For the first year, I kind of ignored it all.
But Asian beauty products are very quickly making their way to the US. Not just because they’re quirky, but because when it comes to skincare, Korea is truly leading the way. We share SEO keywords with “Dolly Wink” A Japanese brand that’s ultra popular for it’s lash and brow products. China is quickly sprouting its own sheet mask industry, mimicking Korean beauty at breakneck speed.
So what do I do when I visit China now? I embrace it.
Beauty shopping – or shopping in general – in China is like a sport. For this particular experiment I went to LaoJie – a shopping district in Shenzhen. There are thousands of tiny stores packed together tightly, similar to the electronics market here. You just never know what you’ll find.
Let’s see my big $15 haul:
- DIY sheet masks ($0.44 for 10) I can’t even find an equivalent of these in the US, but the tiny white pellets you see are sheet masks that are compressed and spring to life with water. You can soak them in whatever serum or mix you want (try the DIY BHA papaya/pineapple mask!) and wear these face masks while you work or watch TV. At $0.04/pc you really can’t go wrong!
- Eyeliner Brush ($1.17) I have been wanting to try a decent eyeliner brush for a while to turn my shadows into liners (shadow + water + liner brush = new liner), but with most brands pricing their brushes at $18 a pop it’s tough to justify the purchase!
- Fan Brush ($1.32) If you spend any time on Instagram, you have undoubtedly seen the Sigma Fan Brush used by every beauty guru to brush highlighter on their cheekbones, cupid’s bow and the tips of their noses. I’ve always thought this brush was entirely useless – what’s the point of a fan brush if you already have a highlighter brush?–and wasn’t willing to shell out the money to try it, but at $1.. why not? According to Sigma, the “Strobing Fan Brush features short, soft and dense.. fibers and is designed to flawlessly apply and diffuse powder and cream products down the nose, above the lip and at the center of your forehead.” We’ll see! I will probably use the Moonchild Palette and compare highlighter brush vs. fan brush.
- Tiny Oval Brush ($1.17) Even smaller than the brush I used in the Glossier Stretch Concealer review, this oval brush can be used for what? Covering individual blemishes? Eye makeup? I’m not sure yet, but it was so deliciously tiny and my test with the first oval brush went so well, I thought I’d give it a shot. There’s still not any cheap domestic alternatives to the Artis Oval Brushes ($40 each), but we need one!
- Heated Eyelash Curler ($2.79) Is it unbelievable that I second-guessed buying this product because I thought it was too expensive? On second thought, I’m worried about my lashes’ health! Actually, Ardell has one in the US for $4, and Blinc’s comes in at $24, so a $3 lash curler isn’t so crazy after all. Anyway, I hope my lashes don’t get burnt in the process.. but I am way overdue on try a heated lash curler. I’ll definitely review this one!
- Dolly Wink Eyebrow Mascara ($7.36) This was, in fact, the most expensive part of my haul. Dolly Wink is a big competitor of ours in the SEO space – as in, when people are looking for “WINK” they might get “Dolly Wink” and vice versa. Dolly Wink is a Japanese beauty company that makes brow color, falsies, eyelid tape.. you name it. Dolly Wink is a big seller on Ebay, Amazon – they’re pretty popular even in the US. This brow color was their “light brown” color, and it’s totally not a match for me, but I must try it anyway. Definitely reviewing this one for you.
- Konjac Sponge ($1.17) Okay.. this one freaked me out. The sponge was originally inside a package.. and wet. Like steamy.. in the packaging. Mold? mildew? Sanitation?! Yes, I was very freaked out. When I asked the worker, she said the equivalent of “More soft if wet.” Still feeling very yuck about the whole thing, but I saw a popular beauty blogger’s recent rave about konjac sponges recently and thought I’d look into it. Konjac sponges are made from the fibers of Konnyaku tubers and have antibacterial properties. They’re also gentle exfoliators. Here goes nothing!
I did pick up a snail mask too, not pictured. As weird as it sounds, it’s extremely popular here (I once went to a store that was dedicated to ONLY SNAIL products), and it must be popular for a reason.
So that’s it! A lot of you ask me what I do in China between factory visits, so I thought I would share for once ?
Let me know in the comments below what you’re most excited for me to review!
+ Let me know if I missed any awesome Asian beauty products/trends that you want to read about.
Shop the Affordable Domestic Versions of my Haul Below:
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