1. The hottest beauty buzz is from Asia



    Exclusive skin care lines such as SKII, Kanebo Sensai, and Shiseido have become as familiar as Estee Lauder and Lancôme thanks to advertising and a celebrity following. Now smaller, more obscure brands of Japanese skin and Korean skin care are on the radar of beauty editors and skin care connoisseurs. The reason is simple: while Europeans and North Americans abused their skin with exposure to the sun, Asians have always prized a smooth, youthful, and unblemished complexion.

    The Asian approach to skin care is appealing. It focuses on thorough cleansing, often using a two-step process of cleansing first with oil and then following up with rinsable cleanser. Exfoliation is frequent but gentle, so skin is fresh – never red or irritated. The goal is flawless and glowing complexions.  Products combine natural botanicals from traditional medicine with science for products that feel good and pamper skin.  Skin is kept youthful and dewy looking with maximum hydration and efficient sun protection in the form of BB and CC creams.

    Paper masks containing super-hydrating collagen, potent anti-oxidants and other youth-renewing ingredients originated in Asia.  SKII’s masks are celebrity favourites and Proctor & Gamble, which owns SKII, was quick to introduce a more accessibly-priced Olay version. L’Oreal’s Garnier has its own popular line of Asian-style paper masks. In addition to these Western versions you can now buy a wide variety of popular Asian masks online.

    Recently, I tried Amarte, a luxury skin care line developed in Korea and brought to America by Dr.Craig Kraffert, MD, the founder of Derm Store.

    Real Housewife Adriana De Moura in an Asian-style paper mask

    Amarte means “to love yourself,” and the beautifully-presented skin care line feels like first-class TLC for your face. It is designed to address oily, dry, and aging skin.

    I was impressed by Amarte’s five step regime. The pale pink packing is a delight to look at and use. The air-tight pump bottles keep products fresh and hygienic.  I also loved the lovely natural fragrances of each product. Most importantly, the science behind the line is impressive. The advanced formulations are based on traditional Korean medicine as described in the “Donguibogam,” a historic doctrine of Eastern Asian medicine and philosophy and the latest Western skin care science.

    The cleanser and unusual exfoliating powder feel luxurious. The lightly cucumber-scented Aqua Veil Hydrator keeps skin hydrated all day. The Amarte HydroLift Cream, with its unique combination of botanical and marine extracts, is my favourite. My fair skin is irritated by most Retinol creams, and Amarte’s Omega-rich Argan oil formula feels silky. I also like having firming ingredients such as caviar and acacia collagen in the same cream.  The Natural Finish BB Cream and Eyeconic eye cream are also standouts. It has been a while since I have liked an entire line this much.

    Purchased directly from the company online, the products range in price from $35 to $80. There is also a special Heart & Seoul Collection of five products and two samples of the BB cream for $150 that is a bargain.