Watch Out, Western Brands…K-Beauty Is Coming for You Faster & Better Than Ever Before

A few weeks ago, I took a survey asking what most influences me to purchase a beauty product: Posts/photographs/reviews on sites like Violet Grey or Into The Gloss? An advertisement on Instagram? There were a few more choices, but these two stuck out to me…especially the option to choose “an Instagram advertisement.”

It’s been a joke for a while: “my FBI agent is watching me…I know it!” There have been a lot of “experiments” in which it seems quite obvious: our phones & other technological devices are “listening” to us – whether or not they’re listening to our actual voices is debatable, but the concept of our social media ads are being tailored to fit our personal interests like a glove has become an (almost) undeniable fact. I do a Google search for a Chanel lip gloss – the next day, a post by the re-vamped Chanel Instagram page (@welovecoco) is at the top of my Instagram timeline. Coincidence? After having this happen time & time again, I’ll go with: “No.”

What we discuss online is now used as a tool to draw our attention to things an algorithm knows we’d like. It sounds scary – & maybe it is – but I’m not here to talk about the future of technology at large; today, I’m simply acknowledging how I was put onto this brand (hint: Instagram).

It was no surprise once I saw more than a few of ads similar to these that “Nooni,” the brand behind the lip oils, masks, & marshmallow maker was a K-Beauty brand. Why? Usually, K-Beauty products are incredibly cheap, packaged in an eye-catching, fun way…oh! They don’t break the bank, either. Cute, cheap, effective? Nooni is one of the brands that perfectly demonstrates the “blueprint,” so to speak, of K-beauty. It’s hard to resist.

One of the only reasons to not like K-Beauty is the fact that many brands tested on animals – a turn off for many, whether they’re vegans, vegetarians, or just like to keep their skin routines cruelty-free. However, this is quickly changing – in fact, by the end of 2018, animal testing on cosmetics/skincare will be illegal. By this time of year, almost all K-beauty brands are already on the cruelty-free level, & those who are not will have to be by December 31st, 2018 – otherwise, they’ll be illegally manufacturing products. (For more on Korea’s ban of animal testing on skincare &/or cosmetics, read here

Nooni is one of many brands now following Korea’s new cruelty-free policies. With no product over $40, packaging that looks pretty on a top shelf, & 5-star reviews, it’s hard to resist the temptation. After months of Instagram ads, a couple Google searches, & some YouTube videos demonstrating how to use some of the products as well as some first impression videos, I was ready to give the brand a try. None of the products I purchased by Nooni were over $15 – real steals! I decided to go for the things I’d been most attracted to on the Instagram advertisements: lip oils, lip mask, cleanser, & cleansing device. Meet the new family below, & get a good look at my thoughts on this brand & its products.

Deep-Cleanse Snowflake Whipping Cleanser

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$12 for a 5 oz. bottle of cleanser? That alone was a good reason to try it out – especially after looking at the ingredients list. “Enriched with anti-aging Pearl Powder and a unique complex of 7 white flowers….this cleanser brightens, hydrates, and calms skin,” claims the brand’s official summary of the product. The most beneficial ingredients used are Kaolin, Rose Extract, Jasmine Extract, & Pearl.” The ingredients listed are not usually ones that go into a $12 product…let’s think more of a $50-ish product. Still, here stands this cleanser. It’s also added that it’s great for sensitive skin, a relieving thing to catch my eye on the description on the back of the product.

How to use this cleanser? Well, there are two ones: squeeze a pearl-size amount of the cleanser onto your hand, then create a lather by adding some water & rubbing hands together. Apply the foam (it “magically transforms from a silky cream into a snow-like fluff that gently removes light makeup, impurities, and sebum) to your face, then massage in gentle circular motions for 10 to 15 seconds. Rinse your face – done! The second method is more fun, & involves another product by Nooni. Read on!

Marshmallow Whip Maker

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Again, this product is tempting simply because of its $6 price tag & aesthetic appeal. This is a device that “instantly transforms any facial cleanser into a fluffy cloud of rich foam that cleanses deeply & more gently.” Do you have a foaming cleanser that you already love? This might take it up a few notches! The whip maker creates “micro bubbles” – also known as “lots of foam” – & these bubbles reduce friction, making it less likely for the cleanser to drag over or tug the skin on your face. This means it’s better for your face in the long run, & it makes you look fresher & brighter in the short run. Just like the Nooni Snowflake Cleanser, this is great for sensitive skin. I decided to give these two things a go as a duo, & was eager to see what exactly this “whip maker” would do to my face.

It’s rather hard to explain how to use the whip maker, but it’s certainly not difficult to figure out once you read the directions & maybe watch a youtube video or two, if you’re anxious you’re doing something wrong (been there…many times!). Memebox has some demo videos on their page here, if you want to be absolutely sure you’re going by the books.

The similarities that method one (cleanser only) & method two (cleanser plus whip maker) both require a pearl-size amount of product. Using a small amount & getting good effect is always a big factor in whether or not I’ll repurchase something. How long will it last? Is this small product worth refilling within three weeks? With a 5 oz.+ bottle of cleanser & only one dot required for each cleanse, it’s safe to say you get a lot of bang for your buck – especially with the whip maker. Add a pearl size amount of cleanser to some water (there’s a dotted line showing where to fill the water up to) push the little pump up & down until the cleanser has foamed into a meringue-like cloud. If you use the whip maker properly, the pearl-size dot of cleanser will have turned into a cloud of tiny bubbles that fill the entire cup that makes up the whip maker. Apply tiny bubbles onto face, massage for 15-30 seconds, then rinse with warm water.

So – how was my first experience using the cleanser & whip maker duo? Very fun, very positive, & I could see an immediate difference. After gently wiping the foam away from my face, I looked up to see brighter, softer skin that looked fresh & glowy. It reminded me of the Pixi Oxygen facial – the bubbles permeate your pores & draw out impurities without having to scrub all over your face. The scent of the cleanser is really nice – not too sweet, not too musky, just pleasantly, vaguely floral. The foam, of course, smells the same as the cleanser.

Now – even gentle foaming cleansers can dry out my skin, so I wouldn’t use this as a daily cleanser – I can see myself using it three times a week, perhaps. My holy grail cleanser is still (& probably always will be) Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser; non-foaming cleansers are most gentle to my skin. Still – it’s good to get some bubbles on my face once & a while, & I think this cleanser & whip maker have convinced me to put bubbles on my face a little more than once & a while. It’s done no harm so far – in fact, it’s done a good deal of good. Is it possible to purchase a $6 “whip maker” & then immediately see your complexion brighten up, freshen up, & soften up? I’d have said “no,” in the past, but Nooni proved me wrong.

Appleberry Lip Oil / Applecoco Lip Oil

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I know, I know. ANOTHER lip treatment product? I’ll be honest: yes. These were the first things I saw on my Instagram page: the colors were pleasing (Appleberry is red, Applecoco is golden, & Applemint is pale green) & the design was minimalistic in an elegant way – for a cheap price. I was genuinely curious to see how this lip oil would feel – usually, lip OILS tend to sink into my lips & leave them dry & flakey, in need for a scrub & an intense overnight lip mask. This was not the case with these lip oils – they’re not sticky like a gloss, but they don’t have a balm texture, either. I wore the Applecoco for a whole day, reapplied a few times, but never had to excessively pull out the product. It looked like I was wearing lip gloss; at the same time, it had a slightly more subtle shine, perfect for a day when you need some hydration but would like to glam it up a little rather than grab a chapstick.

Why apple in these oils? Well, apple water instantly hydrates the skin & sloughs away dead skin – a hydrating lip exfoliator, if you will. This is what keeps your lips from drying out as they might from a slightly more oily lip product. In the Applecoco (a golden color in the package that applies clear), coconut oil adds an extra splash of hydration. Some of you may know – I’m not a huge fan of a coconut scent. This product has almost no scent at all – & I can’t detect any coconut scent; I can pick up a little bit of an apple smell. If you’re not a fan of coconut-scented products like me, this is one you’ll receive all the benefits of coconut oil from without having to smell a scent you don’t like. If you don’t mind coconut, this is still a good product! It’s hydrating, it amps up a chapstick kind of day, & – again, it’s cute.

What about Appleberry? Appleberry is for a day you might want a little tint to your lips. It applies & wears the same as the Applecoco lip oil – it just has a sheer wash of color to it. The same apple water formula keeps lips soft, while a slight tint to the product gives a fresh, pinky-red splash of elegant color. This one has quite a strong smell – 50% apple, 50% berry. I have no problem with either of those scents! I’ve worn this one out, too – the “almost a gloss but not quite look” is continued here. The tint gives no extra shine, just a pop of color. Slapping this on as your lip of the day is valid – I’m sure I’ll be doing that a lot, since it’s so easy – but this is a lovely way to pull off the “popsicle lip effect” that’s currently trendy. Apply a little lip stain (an actual stain, not a gloss or lipstick) in the center part of your lips, tap it outwards to create a faded effect, then grab the Appleberry & slide it all over your lips. It’ll create an incredible ombre effect!

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On left: Applecoco Lip Oil. On right: Appleberry Lip Oil

If you’ve seen a Nooni brand ad pop up on your Instagram, you might be wondering where the pale green one is: Applemint. I wondered the same thing standing in the Nooni section at Ulta, hoping I’d be able to get my hands on the pale green one for the sake of aesthetic. Still, after reading about this lip oil, it’s clear that it’s not just “pretty” – like Appleberry, it not only does what the transparent Applecoco lip oil does, it has an extra effect, thanks to the mint. A “mint-infused formula stimulates skin, making lips appeal more full.” This is basically like a plumping lip gloss, except with a more subtle effect. I saw a couple of reviews complaining that the lip oil didn’t have any long-term benefits, but I don’t believe that was ever the intention for this product. Let’s face it: unless you’re getting lip injections, no magical gloss, treatment, or oil will keep your lips looking fuller than they naturally are for more than a few hours. No – this won’t make your lips grow (at least, I don’t think so!), but it will make them feel cooler & look a little plumper for a little while. Also, it’s a pale blue-green. I know I keep saying it – I’m just sad that the store (Nooni is carried at Ulta) didn’t have the one that looked most unique to me. I’ll keep my eyes peeled – hopefully, I’ll get my hands on one soon.

Applebutter Lip Mask

When I unscrewed the cap of this lip mask, I smiled in relief. A little spatula rested on a plastic barrier between the product & the product’s lid. This is one of many things I love about K-beauty: everything comes with a tiny spoon – extra sanitary!

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This mask really does smell like apple butter; I wouldn’t recommend eating it, but a little got inside my mouth & it kind of tastes like apples, too (don’t try this at home; I don’t condone it…it was an accident I swear).

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As you might guess from the lip oils above, this product contains apple water to buff away dead skin & enhance hydration. “Say bye to flaky, cracked lips with a thick, velvety lip mask that can be used day or night to alleviate and soothe dry skin,” exclaims the product description. How to apply? “Use attached spatula to lift out a pea-sized amount of product, then smooth an even layer over clean, dry lips.” This product can be used as a sleeping mask for the night, of course – & works as a day-time lip balm, too. It can even be used in a thin layer as a prep for lipstick. After waking up the morning after I tried this lip mask, I’m happy to say that the magic ingredient (apple) worked once again. I’m still putting Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask as my number 1 lip mask, but this one is nothing to sneeze about. Plus – it’s cheaper by $5. If you’re a lip balm fiend like me, you’ll love this. If you want an effective lip mask but not spend too much finding one, you’ll love this. If you love apples…if you love lip masks…if you love soft lips…well – you’ll love this, too!

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Does Nooni being a K-beauty brand make it harder to purchase in the United States? No! In fact, thanks to the slow & steady takeover of K-beauty, Nooni is available not only on sites like Memebox (an online K-beauty shop similar to Peach & Lily; both sites carry various Korean brands) you can now test out the lip oils, the lip mask, & a few other things in Ulta stores – & you can order Nooni online on Ulta’s website, too. They make it really easy…& there’s just one more reason to fall in love with Korean beauty brands.

That’s all I have for you this time, so I’ll ask: do any of you have K-beauty products that have helped your skin level up without breaking your bank? If so, I’m always here for good recommendations. In the meantime, have fun playing with face wash that looks like meringue & soft, sweet-smelling, glassy lips. That’s a pleasing sentence; it’s encouraging me to catch a nap. First, though: let me grab my lip mask.

Love,

Sofia