Seven months ago, I moved to Busan—the second largest South Korean city and home to millions of impossibly glowy complexions—to teach English at an all-girls middle school. My students can be sassy at times, but their beauty tips are always top notch. Last semester one of my eighth-graders showed up to class with perfectly stained red lips. Technically, they’re not allowed to wear makeup at school but the look was so A+ that I decided to let it slide.
In the days following, I started noticing hip kid after hip kid walking around with lips that looked like they’d just devoured a giant cherry ice pop. I soon spotted a poster in a store window that featured a bright pair of the trendy stained lips. Intrigued, I went inside and picked up a tube from the shelf. The label clarified that I was holding a peel-off lip tint. Wait, peel off? A little more perusing through the shop and I realized this is a booming K-beauty category, with options for eyebrows too. You paint the wet colour on, wait for it to dry, then lift it off as one big piece to leave behind a stain that lasts up to five hours for lips, and five days for arches. Excited, I took the goodies home for a little study session of my own.
With dreams of Cara Delevingne (and fears of Chewbacca), I picked up the brow gel and carefully painted it on using the small pointed brush. Once I covered the area, I looked ridic! My brows were extremely dark and goopy, like a Snapchat filter gone wrong. The instructions said to wait two hours so, after a Netflix binge, I peeled off the now dried-up gel from the tail end, nervous my hairs may come out with it. Phewf, I ended up with a nice tint—not as dark as the gel itself, thankfully—and no accidental waxing. The heads of my brows were a little intense, so next time I’ll focus on the tail end instead, where my brows are naturally sparser.
Satisfied with my on-fleek brows, I was ready for the peel-off lip stain. The formula smelled like strawberry lemonade with the consistency of thick and sticky costume blood. I found it dried up quickly, so I slapped it onto my pout at high speed. This wait time was way shorter—just 10 minutes—but it felt like forever because I couldn’t close my mouth or else my lips would stick together. Also, TMI but it was hard not to drool. After the sloppy drying period, I peeled the layer of red sticky goodness off in one fluid motion. I was left with lips that felt wonderfully bare, but with a perfect natural-looking flush that lasted the promised five hours.
The next day, with my brows still strong and my lip stain re-applied, I felt slightly self-conscious about the new look. Before I could greet my students good morning, they pointed at my brows and shouted, “Teacher!” I couldn’t tell if they liked them or not until one student sweetly said, “Your brows are very nice!” Another pointed at my lips and smiled with a thumbs up. If I just got approval by trendy Korean teenage girls, I must be doing something right. I wore the lip stain the following day and the reaction of my students was just as priceless. They gasped, pointed at my lips and smiled with an approved thumbs up.
1. Peel slowly. Forget the speedy Bandaid/waxing strip rip. The trick with peel-off products it to remove in one slow, fluid motion, so that you’re not stuck picking off any teeny bits left behind.
2. It takes time to save time. Although it took two hours on the weekend, my eyebrow tint saved me 10 minutes of prep time every day that week. For me, I way rather add this treatment to my Sunday chill time in exchange for less hectic mornings.
3. Novelty? Maybe… But why not? In Korea, if a beauty product isn’t innovative or unique, it won’t sell. These peeling products may seem a little strange, but Korea wouldn’t be at the forefront of the beauty industry if it wasn’t constantly shaking up the game.