Shopping for beauty products in Korea is an experience in itself (hey, don't worry, I did cultural things too!) and in Myeong-dong there is an entire street which I nicknamed "Skin Street" as it was home to all of the Korean skincare shops I came across - Etude House, InnisFree, Skin Food, Its Skin, Aritaum, Olive Garden, Nature Republic... It's clear that skincare and cosmetics are big business in Korea and feeling smug about my 10kg of baggage weight going spare (and adopting a "sod it I'm on holiday" attitude) I hit the shops hard.
Japan is almost as strong with its commitment to skincare and make-up - many of our journeys took double the time due to getting distracted in beauty stores in the underground train station shopping malls in Osaka. Since my gap year I have known that Japanese eyeliners and mascaras have no rivals - anything that can cope with the crazy heat and humidity is bound to be a winner. And don't even get me started on the too-cute packaging.
If an 11 hour flight isn't an option, Cult Beauty stock a range of Asian brands online and I make an annual giant order from DHC to fulfil my Japanese skincare needs. Beauty Mart is always worth a browse too.
|My sheet face mask collection - picked up from a variety of Korean stores with the "Will You Be A Cat" mask purchased in Japan. Most stores give you samples when you make a couple of purchases.|
|Anna Sui fragrance miniatures, Snail Solution Essence from Nature Republic, Baby Skin porestrips, serums from It's Skin, Skin Food's Pineapple Peeling Gel and Cheese Cleaning Foam and Hello Kitty cleansing pads.|
|Serums from It's Skin - all have anti-agining benefits and can be used separately or layered on top of one another. These were around £20 for the three - most Korean skincare is pretty reasonably priced.|
|Japanese make-up: Kiss Me Eyeliner (the packaging!), Pore Clear mattifier, Shiseido Mascara, 1 Day Tattoo Eyeliner (my absolute favourite). Korean lip tint and blusher (below) and a tin of 8-Hour Cream from the duty free!|
|Sugarball Water Tint (like Benetint) for lips and a cushion blusher - cushion make-up is huge in Asia and looks like the next base trend to be coming to the UK.|