Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Splurge & Steal of Asian Brands

[As published on HERE]

During our parents’ time, Asian skincare brands were rare. I remember in my hometown, the only Asian skincare brand in the supermarket was Shiseido. Everything else was French.
But as we started moving towards the era of J-pop, and eventually K-pop, the Asian beauty industry began to grow, and grow it did. We now have a wide choice of brands from Asia, ranging from all sorts of budgets, whether premium or pocket-friendly.
Personally, I prefer using Asian skincare because I feel that it was formulated with Asian skin in mind.
Let’s take a look at some of the beauty brands Asia has to offer:
(‘Splurge’ brands range north of RM100 per product whereas ‘Steal’ brands cost below RM50)

Splurge: Unico
We first heard about Unico when Bag of Love founder Mi Mi Teh introduced the brand in one of her now-famous beauty bags. The company that produces Unico products has a rather extensive range of products, ranging from cleansing milks to an array of masks for different skin concerns. The products don’t come cheap, but the ingredients and technology used are supposedly premium, natural and safe.

Steal: Safi
The number 1 Halal brand in Malaysia is manufactured locally, and has five different sub-brands: Rania Diamond, Rania Gold, Balqis, Natural and Fair Beauty. Its tagline, ‘selamat dan suci’ (meaning safe and pure), provides peace of mind for Muslim and non-Muslim users alike. Safi beauty products are available at major pharmacies like Watsons and Guardian as well as supermarkets and hypermarkets.

Splurge: Sulhwasoo
From the same company that brought you Laneige, is premium Korean skincare brand Sulhwasoo. The brand’s USP lies in its commitment towards Korean herbal medicine, and the products feature a proprietary blend of herbs, including Ginseng, Solomonseal, Rehmannia, White Lily, Chinese Peony and East Indian Lotus. In Malaysia, Sulhwasoo is available at Parkson Pavilion KL, Parkson 1 Utama and Parkson Gurney Plaza.

Steal: Etude House
Out of all its counterparts like The Face Shop, Tony Moly, Nature Republic, Skin Food and Holika Holika, Etude House is the most affordable. They’re often on sale (buy 1 free 1!!!), which is too good to pass up, and I always take full advantage to stock up on sheet masks. Although often unbelievably cheap, the quality of the products is actually not bad, so they’re worth a try. Plus, the packaging is just too cute for words!

Splurge: Cle de Peau
Owned by Shiseido, the rather foreign-sounding Cle de Peau is actually fully Japanese. A team of Japanese scientists work tirelessly to produce the best results using premium ingredients, and they are so dedicated in their work that there is a separate website showcasing their scientific discoveries. The Neuro Skin Theory, developed by the team, states that our skin has a brain of its own, and as a result, can think for itself, provided that it is given the right ‘information’ in the form of nutrients. Interesting.

Steal: Kracie
The Kracie empire doesn’t just cover skincare – it also includes pharmaceutical drugs and food. Even the skincare range alone is crazy extensive; but in Malaysia we can only get a selected number of products from places like Sa Sa and Aeon Wellness. The Na├»ve Face Wash and Hadabisei masks, for the under-RM20 price tag, are quite worth it, considering that they’re formulated and manufactured in Japan.

Splurge: For Beloved One
I remember my friend, who lives in Taiwan, telling me that the sheet masks from For Beloved One fared much better than a certain bestselling miracle water mask. For Beloved One products are quite matter-of-fact, bordering on clinical but without the boring packaging. Apparently the founder, Margaret Wu, a former magazine editor, was unable to find something that she truly liked despite having tried just about every product under the sun, so she decided to create her own. I wish we had more people like that in Malaysia. For Beloved One is available in Sephora stores.

Steal: Naruko
Created by the skincare guru Niu Er, the brand name Naruko actually has a hidden meaning: to be narcissistic, because one with good skin shouldn’t hide it. Each skincare range features a star ingredient (usually botanical and of Asian origin), paying homage to Niu Er’s passion for traditional Chinese medicine. The products are paraben-free, and are also free from artificial colourants and fragrances. Even the boxes can be repurposed into useful items such as pen holder or name card cases.

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