Korean Beauty Adverts

Korean Beauty Adverts

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In what is sometimes described as the ‘war of the sexes’, a fascinating about turn can be seen happening in South Korea.

Sit and watch the world go by in Seoul’s cosmetics heaven of Meyong-dong, and you will see that 9 out of 10 teenage girls passing by are model pretty with makeup to match. Yet look at the adverts in all the beauty stores, or even some of the packaging illustrations, and it is boys you see promoting the latest skin care products.

I’m told these are usually celebrity boy band members, which might explain their flawless skin, perfect cheekbones and immaculate eyeliner. Presumably their pretty faces are more appealing to local ladies than some more generic picture of the ingredients in the face masks and creams they are gracing. They are all out there advertising clothes and other things as well – Korean teenage boys must be under so much pressure to look this good you have to feel sorry for them!

Eyeliner Ruler

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For all of you who find it really hard to achieve that perfectly matched pair of cat’s eye flicks, here’s a small bit indispensable piece of kit you need to have in your make-up bag.

S$2 buys a set of 3 short lengths of bendy, rubbery ‘ruler’ which you can use to draw the lines to the same length and at the same angle. Daughter #2 gave this the big thumbs up and said: “it’s cool! It can be really difficult to make the lines the same, the number of times you have to take it off to do it again… “

For added amusement, the rulers also have a cut out star and heart, so you can stencil those in as well. These are Korean, obviously.


Snow Bear

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It’s very hot at the moment in Singapore, by which I mean even hotter than usual. If you have to go outside, you find yourself pausing by every large store to enjoy the cool of air conditioning escaping from the open doors.

On Orchard Rd, the biggest shopping street in town, the best possible place to chill is Ice Lab. Here, in the cool white surroundings of a Korean bingsu café, it is actually snowing inside.

No kidding, a machine embedded in the ceiling, just like the ones in the kitchen churning out the soft flakes of frozen milk ice that forms the basis of bingsu desserts, turns constantly to shower a cute white bear with ‘snow’. The counter all around the bear, whose face is turned up to catch the snowflakes in his open mouth, gets a regular dusting of shaved ice as well, but it is all part of the fun and very refreshing.

One bowl of dessert is enough to feed a whole table, so it’s hard for one person to eat it all. But as my mango bingsu was so delicious, heaped with fresh mango and banana, with creamy mango ice cream and mango syrup on top, it was a close run thing and just as well I had skipped lunch. At S$15.50 for a single bowl, this is not a cheap treat, but the café as a whole is such a delight that it was worth every cent.

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Magic Steam Hair Mask

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This hair mask looked like it might be fun. I was particularly taken by the promise of ‘magic steam’ emblazoned on the package, although since most of the rest was in Korean I had to take the details of this on trust.

Once out of the packet it did not look very attractive – the ‘bag’ appeared very big and shapeless, and there seemed to be very little inside except for a few white blobs scattered around. But it fit reasonably well around my head, with plenty of room left in the bag for longer hair than mine. The sticky strip with which to hold it tightly closed was a bit tricky, although perhaps I should have spent more time checking out the mechanics of it before I started fumbling round on top of my head with something I could not see.

The instructions say to shampoo first, towel dry, fasten the bag in place then gently massage your head. I did all these things, then left the treatment to do its thing whilst I had a nice long shower. However, I do have to say that not only was there no steam, but my head felt slightly cold and prickly in the bag and I was very glad to pull it off after 10 minutes or so.

Despite there not seeming to be a lot of product in the bag, my hair felt thick with grease when I removed it, and it all smelled distinctly like hair spray. It took a while to rinse it out, and as there was no mention of applying the usual conditioner afterwards, I simply let it dry.

Several hours later, there was no smell and my hair looked very shiny. It did not feel as soft as usual, though, perhaps because I did not use my normal finishing touch of  L’Oréal Extraordinary Oil (which really is magic).

Final verdict: worth using as an occasional treatment, for the shine, but not a pleasant enough experience to incorporate into a more regular routine.

Janchi Bingsu

Category : Food



Bingsu is a traditional Korean dessert that has been taking Singapore by storm. At its heart is a large bowl of shaved ice, topped with any combination of fruit, ice cream, syrup, chocolate and nuts, often decorated to look like a small cute animal is peeping out of the top. The ice itself is usually not plain water but a sweetened, milky version which produces shavings like soft, sweet snowflakes. Tanjong Pagar, home to what is probably the greatest concentration of Korean bars, eating places and mini-marts in Singapore, recently saw the opening of 24 hour bingsu dessert café Bingki, which was impossible to resist.

Looking at the menu, cute ice cream bears in giant teacups aside, I was particularly struck by the idea of the janchi bingsu, which looked to be a dessert version of bibimbap – my favourite Korean meal. In the savoury version, a stone bowl of rice is topped with neatly arranged ‘spokes’ of meat, vegetables and spicy things, with a raw egg in the centre and red hot kochijan sauce on top. You stir all this together to mix the flavours, and tuck in.

The janchi bingsu (janchi means feast or festival in Korean) is a wooden bowl of shaved ice, with fruit and nuts laid out attractively on top in the same style. Here we had melon, mango, strawberries, grapes, blueberries and flaked almonds. There was whipped cream in the middle, topped with a melon ball to look just like the egg, and a small jug of strawberry syrup stood in for the chilli sauce.

It is as well to take a friend or two with you when you go to eat bingsu, as the portions can be enormous. With this one, we failed to finish the bowl despite bringing 2 healthy appetites and a free afternoon to the table. But I have to say that it was delicious, and, with all that fresh fruit, felt very healthy for a dessert café. The S$20 we paid for it, however, was perhaps a little steep, but it was good enough to go back for more some day soon.


Too Cool For School

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Too Cool For School is the brand name of this wonderfully quirky range of Korean cosmetics, designed for teenagers and irresistibly cute. This is the foundation, which has a handy highlighter and concealer duo hidden in the lid. Below is the matching blush, with a fluffy applicator puff nestling in the base of the pot. Both items also have a mirror under the lid, so you can easily carry out beautifying operations under your desk whilst pretending to retrieve books from your bag… Daughter #2 was the teenager who tried these out for me, and she was both charmed and impressed. These cosmetics were not cheap, at S$36.50 and S$20.30 respectively, but the special features and neat packaging made them worth the price. A winner!

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