5 February 2017

Korean Beauty on a Budget - Survival in Korea

It's been over three years since I moved to Korea, but more than six years since discovering Korean skincare and makeup.

Here's a couple of lessons I've learned along the way on how to control my spending in Korea, how to get the products I love for cheaper and how to take advantage of being a resident instead of a tourist.

DISCLAIMER: I'm NOT affiliated with any of the brands or products mentioned. Just love me my makeup and skincare for cheap. :)

I remember the excitement of my first (uninformed) K-Beauty online purchase years ago. Of waiting for three weeks for that one package.

And then I remember going to South Korea for the first time and SPLURGING.
Back then (five years ago) online shopping wasn't yet as convenient and cheap, especially to my home country Switzerland. So of course, I had to go all-out in Korea and stock up on everything and anything. Perfectly reasonable:

  • It's all cheaper than in online shops.
  • No shipping!
  • Products that can't be found online are everywhere
  • Swatching and testing in store to prevent color mishaps make decisions easy
Really good reasons to spend a bit more, right?

Well, these reasons don't apply once you live here. Once I moved to Korea, I had to adjust my shopping habits - most of that happened subconsciously over the first year.

Suddenly, there was no time limit, and no reason to buy a lot at once.

Gradually, I learned enough Korean to find better deals than in the tourist districts.

Slowly, my perception changed from 'oh, a cream for just 20000\' to 'Heol (=Korean for 'WTF'), a cream for 20000\?!' - a combination of lower living costs and lower salaries made what once looked cheap just standard, or even expensive!

Temptation was everywhere. I had to stop myself from jumping at new products and shiny packaging all the time.

If you're in Korea for more than just a quick vacation, here are five tips to save on skincare and makeup, while still getting the products you'd wanted anyway.


While it's great fun to buy anything that catches your eye on a vacation, I did get overwhelmed trying to choose what to buy once I started living in Korea permanently. THERE'S JUST TOO MANY BRANDS. 

The easiest trick for me to stay in control of my beauty cravings was zeroing in on the brands that worked for me in the past: Brands my skin loved, brands where the formulations have never (or barely ever) disappointed me, or that fit my general price class. I made the conscious decision to ignore the rest. Yes, there's cute packaging and nice formulations and interesting colors just about everywhere - but I'll see those one day by chance, while shopping with friends or by getting recommendations. 

Brands I focus on: Innisfree (my skin loves their stuff, no allergies, no sensitivity; great products for simple makeup looks), Mamonde (their cheap sheet mask line is holy grail status for me, plus all their 'Rose' products), Sidmool (for natural skincare products like oils) and I keep my eyes on Espoir and VDL for the rare splurge on high-quality color or base makeup.

Focusing on only a couple of brands that work for your skin, your sense of aesthetic, your budget and preferences in ecology friendliness/animal ingredients and so on keeps you from impulse buying duds, makes it easy to keep track of sales and interesting releases and to accumulate member benefits... which leads us to:


As soon as you have an Alien Registration Card number, you can register for brand memberships and VIP programs. Depending on the brand, you'll get perks from higher sales (30% instead of 10% or 20%, for example) to points (that you can use to buy products in the future) to free gifts or birthday presents. Who doesn't love free stuff? 

'Greentea Club' Gifts from Innisfree I've been using up:
- A set of their super-food skincare with a Cleanser, Skin and Lotion
- A mixed bag of essences and creams and cleansers
- A small bottle of perfume

I've been on a no-buy from the beginning of November till now, beginning of February - but still got enough new products for free thanks to those memberships and by just using beauty points to buy specific stuff I've run out of. 

I'm a member of Amore Pacific (Iope, Mamonde, Laneige, Aritaum, Innisfree, Etude...) and then again specifically a member of Espoir, Aritaum and Innisfree for some extra VVIP perks. You gain VVIP (or Greentea Club for innisfree) status after a certain amount of money spent - which happened more or less automatically due to me buying skincare and makeup as gifts for whenever I went home to Switzerland. But even just the basic membership allows you to collect points, get birthday perks (extra points, 40% coupons...) and additional sale days throughout the month.

Recycling tip: Return your empty bottles and jars to Innisfree shops during their membership days to get a ton of beauty points! Returning them on normal days will still give you some points, too.

App recommendation: I downloaded the 'Beauty Point' app by accident when I actually wanted the Aritaum one. But no regrets! You get free points just for signing up, and can check the app for daily point events. 


Those sale days I mentioned? Every road-shop brand has them. Mostly over a weekend once month, with different discount rates depending on products and membership status. 

Patience is the key!

In my first year, if a brand came out with gorgeous looking lipstick colors, or new sheet masks, or just anything shiny, I'd pounce on it (as far as my wallet allowed, sigh). 
But the pattern soon became clear: A couple of weeks after a new release, those products would have an event sale, mostly a 1+1, to keep interest high after the first publicity flurry was over. 

Products that are higher up in the price range, like essences, serums and creams, don't do the buy-one-get-one-free but they will offer special sets or go on sale once a month.

  • Plan ahead, buy your pricier skincare products like creams and essences on sale days or with birthday coupons, and take advantage of the event sales for lip products, eye shadows, mascara, facial mists, sheet masks... 

  • This actually works on a smaller scale if you're a tourist, too. If you're in Korea for, let's say, 10 days, don't just buy all your things on the first day. You'll see the same stores everywhere, and at least some of your planned purchases will probably go on sale while you're in the country.


...or what I refer to as my 'hunting grounds'. Rawr!

Very likely, once you visit Korea, you'll be checking out shopping paradises in Seoul like Myeongdeong or Hongdae. There's stores of the same brands on pretty much every street.

They aren't all the same! 

Check out different stores in areas you frequent. Their product range will come in different sizes (less or more shades), new releases will arrive sooner or later and samples will be more or less generously given. 

  • Some shops seem to ALWAYS be out of swatch-ready tester products. 
  • Some shops are marketed towards tourists. Their sales assistants are mostly chosen for their language skills in Chinese and/or English, with lots of part-timers during vacation months. 
  • Large flag-ship stores will have the prettiest decor and the newest releases, but will also be the first to sell out during events. 

I chose 'my' shops after learning some basic Korean. Being able to just ask questions and get actual useful information instead of just a promotional speech was a criteria. If you like to get recommendations for colors, be careful: Choose a store where you like the staff's makeup! Seriously! There's a tendency to just recommend the lightest base makeup shade and the bestselling lipstick color, no matter if it suits you, so finding a shop with staff that knows their stuff is essential.

Perks of going to 'your' shop: You know how everything's organized, you can get to know the permanent staff, have fun chatting - and I've found they'll give you more free samples or be forgiving if you show up late to pick up your gift sets etc. 

There's also the whole 'deer in headlights' thing that can be avoided by being a regular customer: Once the local staff knows that you speak even a little Korean/won't try to ask questions in English, they lose that panicked look when you come through the door. ;)


Yes, even if you live in Korea.

There's two ways of profiting from online shopping in Korea that I want to mention:

Brand Websites: 
  • Most brands have 'online only' products that you can't find in physical stores. 
  • If you want to take advantage of sale days when you don't have time to run to a store, you can shop for discounted products online.
  • There's extra large sizes of bestseller products, or refill bags for cleansers and lotions, where you get more product for your money. Perfect if you want to re-buy your staples!
Third-Party Sellers:

Sites like the Korean gmarket, wemakeprice, ticketmonster and so on make it possible to find products at their sale price literally all the time. These third-party sellers are perfect for brands where you're not VIP member but would like to make one-time purchases. They allow you to use the site's general coupons for beauty products that are rarely on sale in their 'own' stores. These are the places where I go after limited editions (which are either sold-out or already discontinued) and get my higher-end makeup products for reduced prices. Why buy that VDL primer for 22000\ in store when I can get it for 16000\ online? 

As you can see, I love makeup and skincare. I have a kinda-beauty blog just because I want a reason to try pretty stuff and take pictures of it. But since I can't really prioritize beauty expenses (that honor goes to house payments, art supplies, family visits, FOOD :D) AND don't want to compromise when it comes to quality, I've become quite adapt at finding good deals, tempering my urges and planning ahead. If you're on a budget, I hope these tips can help you! 

Do you have some tips to stay on top of your beauty spending? How do you balance saving and 'treat yo self' bliss? Have you been to Korea and gotten some shopping done? :) 

Thanks for reading! <3

26 January 2017

Meet the Artist Tag & What's in my Bag Illustration

Edit 2017.02.02 : This post contains affiliate links (additionally marked with an * asterisk in the blog post), meaning I will make a small commission from anything you buy. View my 'About' page for the full disclaimer and my review policy! All products are purchased by me.

It's been a while - maybe because the holidays never end (after Christmas and New Year, there the Lunar New Year just around the corner), maybe because I helped with the finishing touches of constructing a tiny house, maybe because I just don't wear makeup that often in winter, when my cafe shifts are reduced.

But lately, the #meettheartist tag has been doing its rounds on instagram again. It did so two years ago, too, and that was more or less the beginning of my whole social media presence.

It marked my jump from just working at my desk, for my publishing company, to actually sharing my drawings and my interests online, and it's been the most rewarding journey so far!

I really didn't have enough space on that one sketchbook page for both my likes/dislikes, a self-portrait AND the contents of my bag.

use two bags: A small one for little errands, visiting friends and going out, and a large one for whenever I see a break in a cafe with enough space and wifi to work in on the horizon.

Since I've started an art portfolio site with its own art-focused blog (called 'Atelier' because I'm pretentious), I'll keep the bag break-down here to the beauty essentials:

Lip products are still a staple in my pouch, and I'm still a devout follower of Innisfree and Espoir when it comes to colors and textures (and prices, let's be real), but I've added the most delicious little lip balm by 'Hurraw!' to my collection. It tastes like coconut and I'll probably eat it one day by accident. 
You can find it here: Hurraw! Coconut Lip Balm (*) 
iHerb has been my savior since going vegan mid-2016, especially with their free shipping which is a blessing if I want to get my supplies to Korea.

Since winters are dry in Korea, my Hanyul Ja Woon Dan Moisturizing Cure Balm(*) has seen its return to my daily favorites. It works for everything, from under-eye wrinkles to nail cuticles. While Hanyul isn't the cheapest brand under the Korean sky, the investment was well worth it - I've been using the same tub for two years now and will have to hurry to use it all up before the expiration date gets embarrassing!

My winter cushion of choice is the Innisfree Ampoule Moisture Cushion, though I do prefer to wear a primer&foundation combo instead of cushions during the colder months, with the cushion only used for touching up.

For hand creams, I'm using up several old ones: 
- Innisfree Canola Honey, aka the scent from heaven.
- L'Occitane Creme Mains, aka the other scent from heaven.

L'occitane is more moisturizing, but also leaves my hands slightly greasy which is a big minus point for when I have to draw. I love to slather it on heavily whenever I leave the house, though!

I haven't changed all that much, have I?

Now 27 years old, I've become more organized, went from working for a publishing company to completely freelance, dabbled in new and fun art styles and adopted an annoying&cute street cat called Hedwig. 
By spring, I'll have been married for three years, two years will have passed since my last comic book (I really want to return to drawing comics, but freelancer life takes priority atm), and four years since I came to Korea for the first time. 

Thank you for sticking around and I hope you have a great 2017!

29 November 2016

Hanbok Illustration, Korean Traditional Wedding and new Stickers!

I finally managed to update my Etsy shop with motives I'd wanted to create for a long time: Hanbok!

Story time:

For my Korean wedding, I wore a hanbok. We'd decided to buy one instead of going for a rental since there's things like Chuseok and Korean New Year where I can wear it again, (theoretically. It's a pain to put on.) so we wanted good quality and went to this UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL shop to choose fabrics and cuts and accessories and I still love everything about it.

I've been interested in the different styles, textiles and the historical evolution hanbok went through ever since.

Two of the illustrations are personal: The lavishly embroidered wedding hanbok (that one was on loan, worn on top of normal hanbok) and the simple red-green one which is inspired by what I wore.

Case in point. (And it's so hard to find wedding shots with only me pictured - which sounds very egoistical but hey, I'm trying to protect my family's anonymity :D)

So really, drawing hanboks? Great fun.

There's a total of six ladies, and I decided to make stickers with these because honestly, they're adorable. I have literally no idea what you'd ever need Hanbok stickers for, but who cares?
(worst sales pitch ever)

As always, my stickers are DIY self-cut ones. Since they're larger than my usual stickers, it's surprisingly easy to cut them - and since they're transparent, the occasional hick-up will be invisible anyway.

Size comparison of the original watercolor and ink drawings vs stickers. I really like how the floral patterns for these two turned out!

Two of the Hanbok ladies are available as mirrors in a card format. I chose the Gisaeng (on the right) and the pretty young lady.

The mirrors are made with stickers on a stainless steel surface, so they're sturdy and don't scratch easily - and since they're the same format as credit cards, they should fit into all kinds of purses and mobile phone cases.

Some additional sketches for Hanbok designs. Until now, I've mostly just focused on the Joseon period (which already features a huge variety of designs over the centuries), but since I've started working on a webcomic concept that's set a bit earlier, I'm looking forward to tackling the Goryeo period, too!

I'm also catching up with some Korean historical dramas / Sageuk. For research reasons. Of course. It's strange how I rarely manage to get past the mid-point of modern day dramas, but historical ones? I'll get totally invested. Maybe the themes just appeal to me more.

I didn't manage to get through Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (sketch above) but loved the pretty setting, costumes and the camera angles/lighting choices in the first couple of episodes. My all-time favorite has to be Queen Seon-Duk, Six Flying Dragons aaaand Arang, which is Fantasy but totally counts.

Thank you for reading this super short, very promotion-heavy blog post, but I'm trying to spread the Hanbok love here :) Hope you like the designs, and do tell me if you're into historical K-Dramas!

7 November 2016

ILLUSTRATION: Coloring Books and Printables

Hi everyone!

It's been a while since I've blogged about art projects, and I can actually give a legit excuse for that. Most of the projects I've been working on were coloring books, so I had to keep things quiet until those actually went to print and on sale. (Spoiler: One's out! Yay!) Any other work was... scientific illustrations, complete with NDAs and not really blogging-appropriate aesthetics.

Fun times.
Luckily, Inktober came along to get me out of that nothing-to-show slump!

I'll do a full inktober recap once I've scanned every. single. thing. but for now, here's a focus on coloring pages I created during that month.

You can find free printable coloring cards at the end of this post, so scroll down if you'd like to try those.

But first, I wanted to introduce one of the coloring books I finished recently.

 Amazon Link
Coloring the cover was so much fun because COLORS. 
Created together with Author Francis Keene who came up with the idea of a farmers market themed coloring book, this is by far the cutest coloring book I've worked on! There's a total of 30 pages with illustrations ready for coloring, ranging from detailed looks at spices and teas to an entire market layout.

I can't really show you entire pages, so here's some close-ups!

There's book shops, antique shops...

DIY stalls with crafts ranging from pottery to woven rugs...


Even a stall with Korean street food made it into the book!

I'm really happy with how this one turned out. If you'd like to get a copy of your own and look at the full images, you can order the coloring book "Whimsical Patterns - Farmers Market" on amazon.

I'd love to hear your opinion or see some colored pages!

If you'd like to start small with just single images, I've created two coloring cards you can print yourself:

One was a winter/autumn themed card. I like the idea of a season full of snow and pumpkin spice and soft cardigans, but then the reality of wet shoes, gray days and coldcoldcoldCOLD(!) hits.

The illustration thus shows winter how it should be.

It's a 12.5 cm x 18 cm (5x7 inches) format card that you can print on paper of your choice and color in. Have fun! :D

The second coloring card is all about National Novel Writing Month (which is going on right now and I'm procrastinating by blogging, but hey, I'm on track) - so books, more books and pretty writing utensils.

Same format as the winter card, but there's two options for you to choose from: A black-and-white version and a gray-and-white version. If you'd like to color in something with a softer look, give the gray lines a go.

These printable cards are only temporarily available for free here on the blog - I'll move them to Etsy in December since I want to start offering downloads over there.

Have fun coloring! If you've printed and colored one of these, I'd love to see a picture! Just mention it to me on Instagram (#evydraws or just directly @evydraws), Twitter as evyclocharde or over on Facebook evelynedraws.

My own colored versions will soon be back from the printer, so new textiles, stickers and hand mirrors are on their way!

Thank you for reading and I hope you like the cards and/or book! <3

27 October 2016

Dewy Red - Innisfree Creammellow in #8 Review

Winter is coming (...) and I'm revisiting my old favorites for the colder season. That means lipbalms, the return of facial oils and my Creammellow lipsticks.

I've reviewed shade #3 'Cream Coral' previously but actually bought both at the same time (yay 1+1 sale events). The Creammellow range by Innisfree is perfect for the colder months, with a very moisturizing formula (containing Camellia Oil) that hides my terribly flaky lips.

Red lips~ 
The one I'm reviewing today is my favorite red lipstick, shade #8 Moist Dewy Red.

I've yet to find another Korean lip product that combines strong pigmentation, a neutral red shade and wearable, moisturizing texture (plus affordable pricing...) and believe me, I've been searching.

The Creammellow line was a follow-up to the Color Glow Lipstick by the same brand, sporting a creamier, heavier texture but similar design. Overall, the colors are also more durable, glossy and the release was autumn-themed, with the marketing focusing on deep or muted/nude shades.

Back then, finding good MLBB nude-ish shades or darker reds was still a bit of a struggle in the very brightly colored Korean lipstick world, so I went with the mentioned Cream Coral #3 and Moist Dewy Red #8 for their novelty.

The rose gold accents differentiate the Creammellow lipsticks from the Color Glow's silver ones.

Fair warning: I do find the actual color just a tad cooler than the official swatches suggest. Just the tiniest bit, but still, for red hues, that can make all the difference depending on what you're looking for.

It depends a bit on the lighting, and strangely on the amount of layers I apply. The first layer seems slightly cool-toned, but a second layer goes away from pink undertones and leaves me with true red lips.

One lightly dabbed-on layer.

Second layer on top for stronger pigmentation.

Really like the even adherence to my lips and how the Creammellow lipstick makes
them look healthy and moisturized.

HUGE PLUS: This lipstick leaves an actual stain! The swatch on my arm left a red stain even after 8 hours and being washed off with water. It's a bit less forgiving around oily foods, but still, the staining power does pack a punch.

(Direct sunlight) - stain left after eating noodle soup and doing outdoorsy stuff for a couple hours.

The color lasts about 3 hours without eating, and fades very prettily without settling into lip lines or leaving uneven color - something Innisfree has managed really well with their lip products in general.

One layer, cloudy day natural lighting.
I'm getting old lol... 

Now for the sad part:

It seems the Creammellow line has been discontinued. They don't show up on the Korean innisfree site anymore (the Color Glow line has disappeared a few months earlier, too), having been replaced by the Real Fit Creamy Lipstick line.

Ironically, my review of the #3 Cream Coral lipstick literally ended with: "They won't run away." Nope, they ran.

While the Creammellow lipsticks are still available in global online shops, I did find a possible replacement for this particular shade. #4 of the Real Fit Creamy lipsticks is called exactly the same as #8 here, and the color does look similar (I never trust official swatches, though) if more warm. The finish seems more glossy, but again, that might just be the swatch and lots of Photoshop.

The new Real Fit Creamy line, #4 Moist Dewy Red
My favorite Korean beauty blogger on Naver has posted swatches of the entire line. I like her pictures since she doesn't Photoshop too heavily (a lot of Korean bloggers crank up the exposure and blurr all lines until all lipsticks look the same) and her swatches are all very accurate. Her swatch looks really similar to what I currently own, so maybe the actual color is the same and only the formulation has changed. #fingerscrossed

On that note, other shades of the Creammellow range that pop up in the new Real Fit Creamy range:

Creammellow #4 Warm Coral Grapefruit Tea is Real Fit Creamy #2.

Creammellow #7 Cherry Red is Real Fit Creamy #3.

Sadly, my old fav #3 Cream Coral is nowhere to be seen.

I want to take a look at those in store to compare the texture, too.

Some red lipsticks age me by about five years, so now that I've turned 28, I love that this one DOESN'T. 

Future restocking options aside, I really love this shade and line in general. 

- Strong, buildable pigmentation
- Brightens complexion instead of aging up
- Creamy texture that blends out lip lines and hides chapped lips
- No need for lip balm before use
- Very moisturizing
- Leaves a red stain
- Fades evenly
- Wearable red hue for daily use with one layer
- Strong enough for evening makeup with two layers

Affordable at 12000\ per lipstick, the new Real Fit Creamy line retails at the same price. 

Thank you for reading! :D Have a grumpy Hedwig to finish...

Two layers of the lipstick #8 - I like how well this shade works for casual settings, too!