Many of the innovations and cosmetics mentioned here may not be available in town yet, so keep an eye out for them when you jet out of the country.
#1 AFFORDABLE BESPOKE BEAUTY
The latest ranges of personalised cosmetics, though blended to match your unique preference, do not cost more than a regular off-the-shelf offering. And the concoctions are done speedily too.
When American beauty brand Prescriptives launched its custom-made make-up for women at its counters in 1979, it was way ahead of its time.
Today, there are bespoke lipsticks (such as Bite Beauty’s New York Lip Lab store that offers tailor-made lipsticks in a shade and texture that you want, whipped up on the spot), blushers and eyeshadows (by Cosmetics A La Carte London, available online and delivered straight to your door) to fill the personalised cosmetics gap.
Last month, British eye make-up brand Eyeko launched Bespoke Mascara - supposedly the world’s first personalised mascara service - exclusively at British department store Harvey Nichols.
For £28 (S$56), customers can choose from more than 100 combinations of brushes and formulas for their lashes. For instance, if one wants length and volume for thin, downward pointing lashes, a volumising mascara can be paired with a slim and curved brush for the desired effect.
The personalised mascara also comes packaged in a sleek, black monogrammed box (both pictured on top right).
Or perhaps you want your own unique perfume but do not want to fork out thousands? Do it yourself then. Los Angeles-based niche scentmaker Commodity specialises in perfumes that evoke familiar everyday smells, such as tea, whisky, rain, moss and paper (right, above).
It encourages its customers to mix and match the fragrances so they get their own scent cocktail.
Last month, it introduced its Mix Bars in Sephora stores in the United States. There, customers get to pick from eight of the brand’s perfumes and mix and match them by layering the spritzes. Or they can create unique fragrances by sticking to simple formulas provided by the brand. For example, a few sprays of Moss and one pump of Rain will get you Morning Fog.
Once satisfied, customers can stock up on the individual bottles that make up their signature scent.
#2 THE SUPER SONICS
When it was launched in 2004, Clarisonic opened up a whole new category of automated cleansing brushes using high-speed vibrations to deep cleanse the skin.
Now, there are a handful of new products that harness a similar sonic technology for other cosmetic purposes.
Available next month at Sephora stores here, the Color Me Automatic Foundation Applicator (right, top, $75 for the starter kit) claims to help one smooth on liquid or powder foundations with a sponge that vibrates 15,000 times a minute. The effect is a streak-free, porcelain-like finish.
Also hitting Sephora stores here in June is the Foreo Issa toothbrush (far right, $279). Unlike regular electric toothbrushes that clean with rotating bristles, the Foreo product gets rid of plaque with silicon bristles and sonic pulse technology. This toothbrush pulses 11,000 times a minute to sweep bacteria and stains away.
Clarisonic has also found a new use for its speedy oscillation automation: a pedicure system to buff rough, flaky skin from the heels and toes.
The Pedi Sonic Foot Transformation set (right, $290) contains a metal filing disc and buffing brush that oscillates at sonic speed, as well as a foot-softening balm, exfoliator and a gentle peeling serum.
It promises to be 10 times more effective than manual buffing and hits Clarisonic counters and Sephora stores here in July.
#3 GOING FOR GOLD
The precious metal is used in many skincare formulas, partly because it looks so good in a bottle.
And who is not tempted to slather her face in a beauty potion made of gold?
Although the benefits of gold as a skincare ingredient are widely debated, it is a component of French luxury cosmetic products such as Guerlain’s popular L’Or Radiance Concentrate With Pure Gold Make-up Base, where 24K gold flakes are suspended in a clear gel.
La Prairie’s Cellular Radiance Concentrate Pure Gold also contains specks of gold in a clear serum. The new Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask (inset, $147, from Sephora stores) goes the whole hog. The entire jar is filled with a shimmering yellow gold gel cream.
It contains pure gold and colloidal gold (which is fine and evenly distributed), as well as skin-plumping hyaluronic acid and magnesium-rich powdered peridot to energise skin.
And even if a product does not actually contain gold, the idea of it is equally appealing.
Australian label O&M Original & Mineral’s new Project Sukuroi Gold Smoothing Balm (bottom, $55, available in Sephora stores from July) was inspired by the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with gold lacquer, kintsukuroi. The shimmering gold cream treatment may not be made with the precious metal, but it is a blend of the nourishing omega-3-rich camelina oil, macadamia oil and keratin to treat damaged hair.
#4 MASCARA FOR ASIAN EYES
Curled and lifted lashes are a key focus for the hot K-beauty wide-eyed innocent look.
And there are lots of mascaras in the market that promise to tease, curl, lengthen, thicken and volumise fine, short, straight and stubborn Asian lashes. Many offer small brushes that claim to reach the tiniest of lashes.
But none can do it as effectively as South Korean brand Giverny’s Ultra Mini Sensitive Brush mascaras (above, 27,000 won or S$33.70, from selected personal care stores in Seoul).
Just 2.5mm wide, the mascara wand and brush is just slightly thicker than a toothpick. Its ergonomic structure prevents smudges - brushes that are too fat and wide tend to smear mascara onto the lids and corners of smaller Asian eyes - and lets you coat every single lash.
The mascaras are bestsellers in South Korea.
#5 LIP TATTOO
There is no need to undergo that unsightly procedure of getting your pout tattooed to give it a semi-permanent tinge of colour.
A new breed of lip products promises to give your lips a natural-looking stain that lasts longer than the average lip tint.
Here is how it works: Fresh out of the tube, the formula is a thick coloured gel. Spread it evenly on the lips and it will look like a high-shine lipstick. Let it sit on the lips for about 10 minutes until it dries. Then peel the gel away to reveal the pretty stain.
The Berrisom My Lip Tint Pack (right, 15,000 won or S$18.70) is available in a variety of shades at selected personal care stores in Seoul.
In Singapore, the SkinAz The Kissable Lip 24H Lip Tattoo (far right, $24.90) is available at Sasa and BHG stores, as well as at Skinaz.com.sg.
Without touch-ups, these lip products will last at least a day on the pout.
#6 OXYGEN IN A CAN
Bubbling oxygen masks - cream or gel masks that bubble up on their own to lift impurities from the skin - were a hit in the last couple of years. The popular ones are from Bliss and Peter Thomas Roth.
American skincare brand Kate Somerville has unveiled its DIY oxygen treatment DermalQuench Clear Anti-Acne Treatment (right, $94) which is literally an oxygen facial in a can.
Just like how the oxygen facials in beauty salons pump pure oxygen into the face through a high-pressure spray device, the DermalQuench infuses the skin with oxygen, moisturising hyaluronic acid and a mattifying oat extract through the slim nozzle of a spray can.
Spray the refreshing product all over the face and massage the bubbly and watery serum into the skin.
An anti-wrinkle treatment version is also available in Sephora stores.
We expect similar brightening oxygen treatments for at-home facials to be churned out soon.
#7 BEAUTY SLEEPOVER
The overnight mask made to boost beauty sleep, so your skin supposedly repairs itself more effectively while you rest, was popularised by South Korean beauty brand Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask. Now brands such as The Body Shop and Taiwanese label For Beloved One have their own versions.
Laneige will be rolling out its Lip Sleeping Mask (above, $27) next month. The berry-scented balm is made to melt dead skin cells and moisturise dry lips as one sleeps.
American haircare brand Living Proof has also come up with the Night Cap Overnight Perfector version (above, $36, available next month in Sephora) of its best-selling Perfect Hair Day multi-purpose tress serum.
Touted on the label as the “ultimate beauty sleep for hair”, it promises shiny and manageable hair that lasts up to five shampoos. It is also easily absorbed, so it does not leave stains on the pillow case.
Before long, we think, there will be beauty masks that will help you make the most of your sleep, from head to toe.
An overnight hand mask, anyone?
#8 JELLY AND PUDDING TEXTURES
Forget about creams, gels and liquids. Some of the latest cosmetics come in wobbly jelly and pudding textures.
Such products leave a cooling sensation on the skin and are more lightweight than gels and creams.
South Korean beauty brand Moonshot's Color Moonwalk Jelly Pot eyeshadows (right, 22,000 won or S$28, from Moonshot, 111 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul) come in a variety of metallic shades with subtle shimmer.
Blend a tiny scoop of this jelly on the lids with your fingertips for a bold and dramatic pop of colour that dries quickly. The neutral pink-based and beige-gold shades double as blushers and highlighters too.
South Korean label The Saem's new Green Pig Collagen Jella Pack (right, 25,000 won or S$31, from The Saem stores in Seoul) looks and feels just like a pudding. Rub it onto the skin and it leaves behind a thin layer of moisture that keeps skin supple. Keep the jar in the fridge for an extra soothing treatment.
Stila's new Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush (right, $37, available at Sephora stores in June) comes in a watery jelly formula that leaves skin with a pretty and sheer wash of colour. Dip fingertips onto the net at the mouth of the pot (so you pick up just the right amount of product), and blend onto skin for a post-exercise glow.
#9 CUSHION COLOUR MAKE-UP
BB cream and foundation cushion compacts are now all the rage.
Invented by South Korean beauty conglomerate Amorepacific, there are at least eight brands of compact cushions - from Lancome to Laneige - available in the local market now.
Inspired by a stamp ink pad, the liquid formula is soaked in a sponge, so it does not spill when kept in a make-up pouch. Cushion compacts offer a lightweight finish and watery glow that enhances the complexion. So far, only base make-up versions are available in local stores.
But judging by the popularity of such compacts, which are convenient and effective, we bet there will soon be cushion compact eyeshadows, bronzers and even lip tints.
In fact, in Seoul, the brand IOPE offers two shades of blush in cushion compacts (above, 27,000 won or S$34 each, from IOPE counters in Seoul) that give skin a fresh and light tinge of colour.
A highlighter cushion compact by Laneige is already available there too.
#10 CORAL EYESHADOW
Many make-up artists would agree that coral - pink-ish orange shades in general - is one of the most flattering colours on fairer Asian skin.
It adds a liveliness to the skin’s yellow undertones that a pink blusher cannot achieve.
So naturally, coral lipsticks and blushers are bestsellers across many brands right now.
In South Korea, the make-up artists even bring the bright coral shade up to the lids.
Before you baulk at the thought of wearing a pink-orange eyeshadow on your eyes, just think of a peachy coral shadow as blush for your lids.
It is a simple way to make the eyes look brighter and less tired.
The trick is to do it with a light hand.
After applying a primer on the lids, blend just a hint of matte coral shadow on the middle of the lids.
Then line eyes and apply mascara very subtly (so you do not cross the line into drag queen make-up).
If you like, apply a shimmer coral shadow on the lower lash line.
Coral eye colours (right) are widely available in Seoul. The few brands that offer coral eyeshadows here include M.A.C and Make Up For Ever.
This story was first published on The Straits Times Urban on 17 April 2015.