First impression of Lee Sung Kyung? She’s no Song Hye-kyo – which is sort of the point, maybe: She’s young, she’s now, she’s (more or less) just like us.
Having scrutinised her mug in person for a good half-hour at the recent reveal of Laneige’s Ion Orchard store, I’m happy to report that the newly minted face of the K-Beauty brand is the real deal; the 25-year-old model of the moment boasts the pouty puckers and delicate dewy complexion so coveted by aspiring Garosu-gil girls everywhere.
Here’s how to look like the ultimate ulzzang, Lee Sung Kyung-style:
1. Be scrupulous about skincare. Sung Kyung tells me that a flawless face begins and ends with a perfectly primed canvas: “I’m quite a stickler for cleansing and applying skincare in the ‘right’ steps, especially when time is not an issue for me.” How many steps, exactly? An auspicious eight; think cleansing oil, lotion, essence, emulsion, the works. Crucial caveats apply, of course: “ I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to discover for yourself what works for your skin,” Sung Kyung says. “You may find that you may require fewer or more steps than me.”
Oh, and call it nagging, but she also says that some form of sun protection is absolutely non-negotiable. “A good sunscreen is absolutely essential, and I don’t leave the house without it, even on my days off.” Some other practical tips: Don’t neglect your neck and upper chest; and seek shelter during the sweltering peak of noon. A swipe of sunscreen isn’t carte blanche for cavorting outdoors the whole day!
2. Give yourself a good rub down. Sung Kyung has a minuscule mien – so small, indeed, that she must surely qualify as one of those lucky ladies blessed with a “gua zhi lian”, or sunflower seed face. Her secret? Sung Kyung says she massages in her skincare to de-puff and detoxify her way to a V-shaped visage: “I use gentle tapping motions after each step as I find that this really contributes to the contouring of my face.”
Want to try it out for yourself? Always knead upwards against the forces of gravity and be sure to also focus on the pressure points at the side of the jaws and on the inner and outer eye corners, which are the key points for the drainage of toxins.
3. Indulge in some heavy “patting”. Sick of your foundation slipping and sliding off your face before lunchtime? Don’t throw in the sponge just yet. Sung Kyung says her secret to long-lasting makeup is a simple waiting game: “Always give your face some time to fully absorb each layer before adding the next,” she advises. Here’s a good rule of “thumb” (and I mean this quite literally): If your fingertips feel damp when you press them into your face, give the product another minute, then test again.
4. Test first, buy later. This tip ought to sit well with the Selca-snapping, Snapchat-shooting generation. “The new Laneige Beauty Mirror app is awesome for trying out virtual colours on your own face before committing to a purchase in real life,” raves Sung Kyung. “It’s also fun to use, especially when I’m bored and waiting for my friends to turn up at a gathering.”
5 . Lips or eyes, not both. When it comes to K-Beauty, it’s best to adhere to the cosmetics equivalent of the legs-or-cleavage rule: Choose to play up your lips or your eyes, not both. “My go-to look is all about a brown liner and coral lip,” Sung Kyung says. “But no cat eyes, please, as I generally prefer very natural-looking peepers that will make my puckers pop.” Key takeaway? Kylie Jenner was right, after all: Smackers are the ultimate style accessory!
6. Her #diediemustbuy beauty item? Drumroll, please: The Laneige lass is an enthusiastic endorser of the brand’s line-up of lippies. “I’m obsessed with the new Two-Tone Lip Bar ($34 each),” Sung Kyung gushes. “You get two hues for the price of one and in one swipe to boot, plus the creaminess of the formula means it can double up as a blusher in a pinch.”
Speaking as a lip lover, I can attest to the gorgeous glide and extreme emollience of the woman’s personal pick. It’s incredibly intuitive to use, too: Simply swipe the angled applicator across your mouth, press your lips together and voila! A virtually instant ombre pout.
7. Don’t be fazed by the blaze. Surprise: Sung Kyung says she adores the heat and humidity of sunny Singapore. “I know it can get quite sticky, but your climate is actually really hydrating and good for the skin,” she explains. “I know of many women in Korea who make it a point to visit saunas to perspire so as to purge toxins from their pores.” I suppose us Singaporeans should learn to be thankful that we’re steeped in a perpetual (and free!) steam sauna.
8. She’s all about that base. The holy grail of K-Beauty? Finding a fluid foundation that flirts on the edge of sheer and medium for almost-nude skin that’s yours, only better. “One universal bit of advice I’ve been given by the many makeup artists I’ve worked with is to apply your base makeup in as thin a layer as possible for a natural look,” Sung Kyung says. “Stick to hydrating formulas to prevent your makeup from caking, and blend well to avoid looking as if you’re wearing a mask.”
Here’s a handy trick to nailing that softly diffused, is-she-or-isn’t-she look the Koreans are so enamoured with: When you’re done with your foundie, press a piece of plush two-ply tissue onto your face. Don’t rub, just pat: This will take off excess product and allow a sexy glimpse of your real skin to glimmer through.
Right, then. Follow Sung Kyung’s tips and you’ll be well on your way to looking like one of those ruddy-cheeked, K-Drama lasses caught in a gentle garden drizzle – fresh, flirty and very Mul-Kwang-Pi-Bu!