As far as forays into Korean beauty go, you may have tried a sheet mask or come across Laneige skincare while browsing your local Sephora. But if you crave a more immersive experience I have exciting news: Vancouver's first Aritaum store has recently opened in Richmond's Aberdeen Centre. Aritaum (whose name means "place of beauty" in Korean) is owned by AmorePacific, the same Korean cosmetics and skincare juggernaut that owns well-known brands such as Laneige, Iope, Mamonde, Sulwhasoo, and Hanyul. Think of Aritaum as a Sephora-like, one-stop shop that showcases the best AmorePacific has to offer, in a 1400 square foot space where you can explore and and test to your heart's content. I was invited to check out Aritaum in person last Friday and was pretty excited with what I saw; more photos after the jump!
Fact: AmorePacific invented the original cushion compact. I was very impressed with the Laneige BB cushion compact when I reviewed it last fall because each detail was so well-executed, from the coverage and finish of the foundation to the SPF 50, the sturdiness of the compact, and the anti-microbial, non-absorbent puff. At Aritaum you can choose from not just Laneige, but Iope and Sulwhasoo's versions as well, and although there are slight differences in the formulas (Iope has more coverage, Sulwhasoo feels more lightweight because it's water-based), you can bet they're formulated just as thoughtfully.
Those who got hooked on Hanyul, Mamonde, Laneige, Iope, or Sulwhasoo skincare while abroad can find all their must-haves in a single place at Aritaum. Korean skincare regimens are notoriously thorough with many steps, which may come as a shock to North Americans who want convenience and multi-tasking products. But surely it's worth the extra steps to have a complexion as flawless as that of a K-drama ingenue?
Some high-level notes on the differences between the brands:
- Hanyul is "inspired by mother's wisdom" and uses traditional natural ingredients known for their medicinal benefits in Korea.
- Mamonde is "inspired by flowers" and uses florals and botanicals in their formulations.
- Laneige stresses "hydration first" and uses water in all its iterations—ionized, still, sparkling—to boost hydration levels in skin. (If you want to find out more about Laneige, check out my skincare review from 2015.)
- Iope is all about cutting-edge science and technology.
- Sulwhasoo has thicker, more emollient formulas and is suitable for more mature skin.
Deciphering which line, and more specifically, which products are right for you can be tricky, so when in doubt definitely ask store staff.
Aritaum also boasts an incredible array of sheet masks for every skincare concern imaginable, and they all retail for $5 or less.
This was a first for me: a two-step sheet mask! Purportedly the detachable ampoule of serum should be applied before the sheet mask and boosts its overall efficacy.
If you're not ready to take the plunge into full-on K-beauty skincare, why not start off with Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Ex? This product is meant to be applied after cleansing in lieu of toner, and it softens and refreshes tired skin while preparing it to absorb other serums and lotions better. Those who've tried it swear it's improved their entire existing skincare routine.
Colour cosmetics and skincare displays let you try and explore everything, but there are quite a few gems at the cash register too. I spotted this cleansing oil, a Korea Allure award winner (and you know those editors probably know their stuff).
Cushion compact puffs are designed to last the lifetime of the cushion compact (about 2-3+ months), so you technically don't need to replace them. But if you already have a liquid foundation you love, what about swapping your normal germ-ridden sponge for an anti-microbial version that won't absorb excess product? Personally, I love the idea and these Laneige puffs are only $3 each.
Two-toned lipsticks are all the rage in Korea right now (the ones shown here are by Laneige and cost $30 a pop). When applied, they impart a pretty ombré effect and help fake a fuller pout. The beauty writers I was with were curious but hesitant ("Will this make me look crazy?" one wondered), but if the bewildering success of cushion compacts and sheet masks is any indication, it won't be long before mainstream Western brands are introducing their own versions of the two-toned lippie.