Iā€™m Kristel. I vlog. I blog. Professional makeup artist based in Manila. 300 hours training in Make Up For Ever Academy, Seoul, South Korea. I live makeup, you have no idea.

Korean Culture Shocks

So... I've been here for about three months, and it's been amazing. Korea is such a fun and funny place. It's modern, but has a lot of history and character. It's quirky, but just enough to make you go aww instead of aw hell no!

My only exposure prior to coming here was a short previous trip, makeup brands and less than five K dramas. I guess you could say I'm a complete tourist to Korea! Living here after pretty much staying in the Philippines all my life, it's safe to say I was culture shocked more than a few times.

  • The seasons don't follow my class schedule.
Aba malay?! I only dealt with two seasons: hot and hotter. Old joke, but true. I thought when I came here in time for the fall semester, it would actually be fall weather- a bit windy and with falling leaves. And the next quarter of the year would be winter, with the seasons following my school schedule give or take 3 days. And why not?!

Actual fall lasted about three weeks, and winter started late October*. It will probably end on February. Four months of bitchin' cold winds and uphill terrain whoo -_-

*This is probably not true but my tropical body feels like it is already winter and it has already snowed, so...

  • No tank tops
In my previous trendspotting post, I wrote about Korean girls and their microshorts/skirts. I noticed because shorts and skirts get really short here... about 1cm below the crotch. Nobody bats an eye even though people have beautiful legs.

However, don't wear a tank top or anything with a scalloped neckline. THE STARES. I don't know why but even somebody with a concave chest like me gets stares the moment I bare my shoulders or go a little lower than a scoop neckline.

Moral lesson: It's apparently okay to walk around in panties as long as you match it with a poncho.

  • People are insanely helpful
How many times have I gotten lost that a shopkeeper or random stranger dropped everything they were doing and actually took me to where I needed to go... regardless of how out of the way I am. I wasn't just given directions, I was literally escorted to my destination.

Additionally, customer service, especially regarding returns and exchanges, are top notch. In the Philippines, I would have to have a published best-selling novella of reasons, a wealth of time to manage the transaction and an army of clones to follow up with point personS about a potential return or exchange. Here, I just bring the receipt and say I bought the wrong thing.

I didn't know I could do that with my salt, though. So all 3kg of it is still here.

  • Everyone's addicted to coffee... especially Americanos.
I have no explanation. You can never walk more than 50m without passing a coffee shop or three. Everywhere serves Americanos, and I almost never find creamer sachets nor milk pitcherlets (yes, that's a word.) Competition also forces people to come up with weird themes, like the Poop Cafe.

  • K Beauty is not all it's cracked up to be
Fun stuff aside, this is the saddest culture shock I face. I came here all starry-eyed and begging to be restrained from overbuying... but a quick swatchfest at Ladies' Street left my heart shadowed and my wallet, full.

It seems that with the pressure to market using KPop personas, many brands pour budget into talent fees and product development comes secondary. Packaging and formulation technology here is still much trendier than elsewhere, but sooooo many products are unreliable. Swatches are almost always off-tone from the actual product or advertorials, so many goods apply streaky / wear off so easily, BB creams almost never blend with my skin tone... 

In hindsight, it was a bit much to expect a 100% home run on each and any product I saw... but it was a bit disappointing to find out there were just as many flops here. Good Korean makeup is still extraordinary, but I didn't expect to have to work as hard to find them. I'm sure in time I will learn the ins and outs of trustworthy brands and product ranges, just as I did when I started blogging in the Philippines. But yeah... Not 100%.

Reboots and Domain Squatting

Trendspotting in Korea: Sporty Look and Primadonna Regrets