I’m in the mood for Korean makeup today, so let’s take a short breather from western beauty products, shall we?
As a K-beauty rookie, there is honestly no better place to buy Korean cosmetics than from their country of origin itself. Even though the prices between the products in South Korea and Singapore may only differ by a few Sing dollars (so I don’t feel much of a pinch if I end up not liking the product), the latter does not necessarily get to enjoy the latest offerings at the same time as the South Koreans do. Some took months (e.g. The Face Shop X Disney) to appear on our shelves, whereas a handful (e.g. Tony Mony X Pokémon) never made it. On top of that, there are also brands (e.g. HERA) that are not available here in Singapore. Hence, I made it a point to visit the shopping districts during my first trip to Seoul last July and while at the Myeongdong branch of Lotte Department Store, I chanced upon the VDL booth which had their displays and products all tied to a summer theme they named Awakening.
For the uninitiated, VDL (Violet Dream Luminous – whatever that means..) is an international cosmetic brand founded by South Korean corporate giant LG – or more precisely The Color Lab, a carve-out of their household and health care unit – in 2012. Since landing on Singapore’s shores in 2013 with their first outlet at Suntec City, it has grown to 5 islandwide, including 2 at heartland malls. But despite the relatively widespread availability here, it was only during this work trip (shout-out to BLS Korea for the wonderful opportunity 👄 More on this another day) that thrust me out of my comfort zone to give this brand a try.
You see, Korean beauty products have been taking the world by storm, so much so that countless Korean cosmetic brands (with dubious-sounding and grammatically incorrect English names, no less) have emerged out of nowhere the past few years, seemingly riding on the coattails of the Hallyu phenomenon. No doubt, that got me a little sceptical about the quality of the products (and also a small part of me had refused to jump on the bandwagon). There were, of course, prominent brands which have been in existence long enough to be considered reliable in my book. But as a newcomer in the market, VDL was certainly far from that. Still, I don’t shut myself out from new or unknown brands so long as they don’t cost an arm and leg and are safe to use (especially on sensitive skin like mine).
In case you haven’t noticed, single-colour lipsticks are so yesterday.
Multiple-tone lipsticks has been all the rage recently, thanks to the obsession with ombré lips. The craze is understandable – after all, it reduced what was traditionally a three-step technique to a single swipe and the effect is a gorgeous just-bitten look! Clearly, it is such a big hit with the Koreans (and in fact, the rest of the world) that virtually every Korean beauty brand has its own permanent line of two or three-tone lipsticks. VDL, for one, has its own range of three-tone lipsticks known as Tint Bar Triple Shot.
Available in 6 juicy colours (#102 Triple Berry / #103 Triple Fuchsia / #104 Triple Swag / #503 Triple Cherry / #504 Triple Scarlet / #602 Triple Orange) from this Awakening collection, these three-tone lipsticks are a tint, lip-balm and base in one which promise a “perfect gradation and more vivid colouring with a single touch”. Each of them features a main, sub and base colour and smells like candy/bubblegum.
1. Main Colour
Enriched with Royal Jelly extract, this colour layer brightly stains lips as it moisturizes, preventing drying and chapping.
2. Sub Colour
This lightly tinted balm conditions and seamlessly blends colour into your lips for a natural, gradient effect.
3. Base Colour
This lip base naturally blends the lip line with your original skin tone and evens out and nourishes discoloured, dry lips into a smooth, even base. The base prevents feathering and creates a purer, lasting colour effect.
Before moving on with the reviews, I would like to comment a little on the packaging, which is pretty much similar to those in the regular line. VDL never came across as a budget makeup brand… until I saw the packaging of Tint Bar Triple Shot – white, brittle frosted plastic material with a chunky appearance to boot. Seriously? It feels as cheap as it looks, not forgetting it is also ugly. On top of that, I have to be really gentle with the lipstick or the body of the tube would easily detach from the reflective base when I twist up the bullet. The quality of the packaging is, to say the least, poor, and I’m sure most drugstore makeup brands make better packaging than this. To think VDL is owned by a multinational conglomerate corporation, I find this highly unacceptable..
Anyhow, after spending a couple of minutes swatching and contemplating on what to get at the booth, I picked up two of the Tint Bar Triple Shot lipsticks and was given a free mini ceramic hair straightener 😮 One perk of shopping directly in brick-and-mortar stores in South Korea is that you will mostly likely receive a truckload of freebies and samples in return for your purchase, regardless of how small it is. Love the generosity of the South Korean retailers! It’s also a perfect excuse to return 😜
#102 Triple Berry
There are several ways to use these triple-tone lipsticks. Depending on your preference, you may apply the base colour on the outer lip line and main colour on the inner, and glide it sideways along lips to create the standard gradient lips. Otherwise, you can also place all three sections of the lipstick vertically on the lips and glide it sideways to achieve a milky effect. I prefer the intensity of the gradient to increase as it spans outward (i.e. western style) because the colours look fuller and more pronounced on me that way. But I will update this post with additional pictures if I decide to do the Korean way. Perhaps.. tomorrow 😉
Triple Berry consists of mainly low-contrast soft pinks/corals and so you need to exert right amount of pressure (on the darker pink, for instance) to show the clear distinction between the colours. It has an oily texture which enables it to work very smoothly across the lips and keep the lips feeling moisturised. On the downside, it is not very long-lasting and since the base colour only acts as a conditioning agent, it does not contain any pigment. Although it has a pretty even colour consistency (with minimal skipping), it requires several applications for the main and sub colours to be reasonably opaque. Still, Triple Berry lends a nice twist to conventional pink lipsticks and is a gorgeous everyday lip colour to wear for any occasion.
#104 Triple Swag
I had bought Triple Swag with the expectation that it would give an ombré of the three depicted colours (because somehow I did not swatch this before buying), but only to realise later on that there is zilch colour payoff from its base colour. How disappointing ☹
Similarly, Triple Swag goes on slick and more opaque (as compared to Triple Berry) with a slight sheen to it. It has an emollient and lightweight texture but the greasiness can be a little too much to bear, which also causes the lipstick to wear off very easily. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a two-tone lipstick with a starker colour contrast, this is it. It has hot pink as the main colour and bright warm orange as the sub – almost like the colours of sunset and the combination looks absolutely unique and stunning. That said, it would require more effort to blend the harsh lines, and I think this shows up more prominently against fair skin tones.
Having already used these multiple-tone lipsticks, I kinda understand the hype around them now. Contrary to the strong and heavily pigmented lip colours made by western beauty brands, these lipsticks give a softer touch to our delicate Asian features while exuding a feminine and sweet vibe. However, I wouldn’t consider any of these VDL Tint Bar Triple Shot lipsticks three-tone since only two of the three colours show up on my lips. I feel a bit cheated.. 😣
What are your thoughts on them? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!