Marge’s Love Story With Korean and Japanese Beauty Products

My love affair with make-up started when I attended a seminar for a well-known western brand at a mall. It was a big eye-opener for me. The brand was very much into the natural look, the key to which was to wear their foundations with their signature yellow base. Sadly, their makeup was, at the time, over my budget. So later I looked around for something that would give the same finish and effect for a fraction of the price. That seminar was back in 2008. Youtube and blogging were on the rise so my search for alternatives was easy with the internet at my fingertips.

I became a subscriber of many YouTube make-up channels and make-up bloggers. After months of searching, I had narrowed my favorites to the three or five make-up channels that interested me the most. They espoused the natural look, and their tutorials and advice were generally directed towards individuals with my skin color. Plus the makeup brands they recommended were a lot cheaper than their western equivalents.

Another thing they had in common was their choice of background music for their videos - they all used k-pop music.

At the time, I was unfamiliar with Korean pop culture. As I continued to follow these beauty bloggers, I soon began to find myself really liking the Korean music they used even though most of the time I couldn’t understand what the songs were about. For someone who grew up listening to American/Brit music, K-pop was something new and refreshing, from the catchiness of their beats, their emphasis on dancing, and their artists’ great fashion sense. Rain, Big Bang and 2NE1, among others, caught my attention back then and they still remain some of my favorites artists today.

I soon began to watch Korean dramas as well. Boys over Flowers and You’re Beautiful were two of my early favorites.
Boys Over Flowers
You're Beautiful

The k-pop personalities (also known as idols) who catch my interest vary from season to season, depending on their look at the time. If I find them particularly appealing, I eventually find myself purchasing the items that they are endorsing.

Kim Hyun Joong used to be the sole endorser for Tony Moly. It was this brand that introduced me to how Koreans and other Asian countries market their products. From cosmetics to cellphones to alcoholic beverages, it’s likely that you’ll see Korean pop star on the packaging.

What’s even more interesting about Korean cosmetics is how they use male Korean pop idols to endorse their brand. Go into a Tony Moly store and you’ll find pictures of Kim Hyun Joong plastered all over the walls. And for every purchase, the store will throw in a gift, whether it’s a poster, a sample, or cosmetic item packaged with a picture of Kim Hyun Joong.

Kim Hyun Joong for Tony Moly

The use of male stars as endorsers is something unique to Asian makeup brands. We’re used to having the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, etc. endorsing western cosmetics. With Korean brands, however, expect to see the likes of Kim Hyun Joong (Boys over Flowers) and Jang Geun Suk (You’re Beautiful) promoting the latest Korean cosmetic product.

Jang Geun Suk for Nature Republic
The brand endorsers of Tony Moly are currently Song Joongki and T-ara :

As an alumnus of Boys Over Flowers, Lee Min Ho has always been on my radar, which means I pay attention to his endorsements. He used to endorse Etude House -- that was how I was introduced to the brand. This brand’s price range caters mostly to the students’ budget. Etude House stores can be found in many of our department stores in Metro Manila, and they recently opened shop in Cebu.

Lee Min Ho now endorses Innisfree. I have only one blog post on this makeup brand so I’ll be trying out more products from them this year.

Since Lee Min Ho, Park Shin Hye and even Song Hye Go, Etude House has moved on with new endorsers that have kept this brand on top of every teenager’s makeup list. Etude House has maintained its popularity thanks in part to Ms. Sandara Park, and most recently the pop group SHINee.

Sandara Park is particularly popular here in the Philippines for obvious reasons (they don’t call her the pambansang krung-krung for nothing). She continues to tweet in Filipino, and visits the Philippines every chance she gets. What better way for her fans to get close to this young lady than to try the products she endorses.

Another beauty icon I follow is Ms. Song Hye Go. Thanks to her and YouTube, I was introduced to one of my favorite Korean brands, Laneige.

Laneige’s skin care and face products, such as their foundations and bb creams, are now my favorites from Korea. I’m really glad this brand is found in Metro Manila as well.

I do find myself always following Kim Hyun Joong throughout his career, and through all his different brand endorsements. He has since moved on to a different Korean cosmetics brand: LG’s The Face Shop. Thanks to The Face Shop Philippines, a beauty brand for makeup and skin care, I was able to meet and have a picture taken with one of the biggest KPOP idols. This is definitely the best gift with purchase that I can ever, ever have.


So is it all just about the endorsers for me? No. I am always in pursuit of quality cosmetics. I’d recently discovered the wonders of Japanese make-up and skin care brands: Kanebo, for instance, specifically their Lunasol and Kate product lines. I also, on occasion, use Shu Uemura products.

Thanks to the internet, I was able to discover these Korean pop stars and the products they endorse. I found them such a novelty at the time and I even now, I can’t get enough of them! Four years later, here I am: a beauty blogger for Asian cosmetics, and a kpop enthusiast. Ask me anything you want to know about kpop idols and the wonderful cosmetics they endorse. I’ll be glad to hear from you.

Written by Sample Room Partner Blogger Marge of Kikay Trekkie. Read more about her love affair with Asian cosmetics at her blog!

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