The Beauty Passport, as a series, was born from a particular passion I indulge when travelling. I deign not to bring home tourist trinkets; photos and memories will do for me.
And as much as I enjoy perusing fashion whilst away, I know from experience that falling into the moment with an impulsively-purchased pashmina I’ll never wear again will only frustrate me when unpacking at home. For me, the holy-grail purchases from my travels are the beauty items I can’t get back home (and some of the most treasured times are the moments I spend sneaking off in pursuit of them). The best liquid eyeliner I’ve ever used was from a market in Iran. The most beautiful soothing rosemary facial toner was found hiding in a Sardinian pharmacy.
When I joined The Review at the end of 2019, nobody could have imagined how the following months would play out. I’m sure I’m not the only one frustrated by ‘what may have been’. My first year in the role of beauty and wellness writer has been an incredible rollercoaster of change within the industry which, whilst adaptive and most certainly progressive, has stuck to a firm and steadfast business model over the decades. Although online retail is nothing new, the rise to fill the void left by the closed doors of beauty halls has been huge. And with that, the expansion of specialist online stores, such as Kōsame, has had its time to shine.
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Bringing you the hand-picked best of K-Beauty since 2018, Kōsame provides the thrill of discovering purposeful, proactive and pleasing skincare that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Offering background on the persona of each brand and plenty of information on each product (should you need it), everything you need to make an informed decision is at your fingertips. It’s a one-stop shop for the discovery of dependable, diverse brands, developed from a heritage of traditional beauty, but with a modern, gender-neutral and inclusive view. So, let’s take a journey through a new routine with a Korean twist.
With their repertoire handily curated under the brand, product and skin concern, the search for a hydrating cleanser may lead you to Iunik – Calendula Complete Cleansing Oil. Suitable for all skin types, this nutritious cleansing oil gives you a deep and gentle cleanse in one palmful. Iunik specialises in clean beauty, with a spotlight on natural components and minimal, yet focused, ingredient lists. The beauty of this cleanser is in the blend: six botanical oils make up over 90% of the product, with calendula and jojoba seed soothing, balancing, and protecting your skin.
If the effects of winter weather are causing you to break out, a quick search for a mask under ‘blemish solutions’ brings us the beautiful Isntree – Real Mugwort Clay Mask. I was tentative on first use, I’ll admit; I’ve been let down by clay masks before. But unusually for a kaolin base, it’s mellow enough for even the most sensitive, dry or mature skin types. Powdered mugwort leaf offers incredible anti-inflammatory properties and, overall, the formula is incredibly sympathetic to compromised skin, whilst perfectly balancing, leaving no tight sensation post-use. It’s a must-have for a deep cleanse and the most gentle yet effective exfoliation.
When searching the site, you might be introduced to something new: Korean Skincare 101 – The Essence. At first look these liquid-filled bottles might be mistaken for a toner, however they are a much more multi-faceted product. Unlike a toner, the texture of essence might range from light and watery, through to a loose gel-like serum, or as with Dr. Ceuracle – Kombucha Tea Essence, a silky cream-like appearance. Not to be confused with a moisturiser, the essence is always lighter in density, allowing the actives (more concentrated than a toner) to sink uninhibited into the skin. Probiotic kombucha, alongside potent antioxidants camellia and schisandra chinensis extracts, all work to reinforce the skin’s natural barrier whilst hydrating – perfect for all skin types. But how to apply? Sweep across the skin after your cleanse using a reusable bamboo pad, or press into the skin directly from your hands for a more intense treatment before applying your moisturiser.
But what about when you do want a toner, simply to rebalance after cleansing? Right now, searches for ‘anti-blemish skincare’ and ‘how to fix mask breakouts’ are soaring and seem unlikely to drop anytime soon, but simple additions to your daily routine can make a huge difference. The entire Dr. Ceuracle Tea Tree range is specifically formulated to control breakouts, whilst maintaining a gentle touch for skin that’s stressed or sore. Unlike every other tea-tree-based formula, Dr. Ceuracle Tea Tree Purifine 70 Toner has no overwhelming astringent scent. Indeed, it has almost no scent at all despite tea tree extract making up 70% of the formula (hence the name), and its natural antibacterial benefits are aided by AHA and BHA which exfoliate and brighten. All in all, it’s a must-have for anyone struggling with the most modern and disheartening of skin concerns, maskne.
To finish off our routine we must close with a moisturiser, but let’s push the limits with our expectations. We want something suitable for sensitivity and truly moisturising to offset the winter chill. As ever, we’re concerned with anti-ageing components, but don’t forget our little mask breakout. Sound familiar? With all of these components popped into Kōsame’s search function, we discover Dr. Althea Azulene 147ha Intensive Soothing Cream with wonder-ingredient Azulene. Derived from chamomile, this oil swiftly soothes the skin, dutifully hydrating and improving the skin’s natural barrier protection, and has antibacterial qualities too. More than that, its natural aroma carries through, offering a herbal scent to this balm-stye cream, and with a naturally occurring blue hue, it gives an overall brightening and anti-redness benefits.
It is said ‘굴러온 돌이 박힌 돌 빼낸다’, or for those of us not fluent in Korean, ‘A rolling stone extracts a stone that is embedded’. Roughly interpreted, the new replaces the old when it shows its worth. I feel the same way about my new skincare regime. This voyage of discovery has already left me eager to explore further.