The New Cult Drugstore Brands To Buy

These come from all over the world and are exclusive to Guardian here.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

These come from all over the world and are exclusive to Guardian here. They have a strong following in their places of origin, simply because they’re great products at great prices.

The makeup brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously

What: I’m Meme, the inhouse brand of South Korean beauty e-tailer Memebox.

From: Seoul, launched in 2014.

Background: Memebox has four private labels under it – Nooni, Bonvivant, Pony Effect and I’m Meme. The first three are minimalist – even simple – brands, and the e-tailer was looking to create a more “energetic” one. Enter I’m Meme, the fast beauty brand that doesn’t take a toll on your wallet. How fast is it? The brand rolled out 394 products from 2015 to 2016.

Why you should buy it: We like it for its oh-so-cute packaging, what with its heart-shaped lipsticks and eyeshadow-and-cheek-colour “cubes”. Beyond that, the products are created for the fast-paced millennial life. The I’m Meme Multi Cube Eye and Cheek Palette, for example, combines four eyeshadows and a blusher in an on-the-go compact.

What’s sold in SG: Only the best-selling products from Seoul are available here; in South Korea, customers are treated to both permanent and seasonal collections.

The skincare made from nature’s products in New Zealand

What: Antipodes, a clean-certified vegetarian skincare brand.

From: New Zealand, launched in 2007 .

Background: Creating skincare wasn’t initially on the cards for Elizabeth Barbalich. She started out wanting to pursue a greener lifestyle: Her family, with three kids under four years old at that time, was already eating what they regarded as an immuneboosting diet of superfoods, raw juices and supplements. She had also made the switch to green cleaning products.

She felt her skincare should be as eco-friendly as the rest of her lifestyle, but couldn’t find products that were hydrating or gentle enough for her dry, sensitive skin. So with her background in biology and medical technology, Barbalich started creating formulas from scratch at home.

Why you should buy it: Barbalich tests all trial formulas on her skin for at least 18 months before she green-lights any. Her checklist: Products need to guarantee stronger, more radiant skin with visible results; they have to support collagen, elastin and antioxidant activity; textures should be smooth and velvety.

To ensure the brand leaves the smallest carbon footprint, ingredients are either sourced from local producers or harvested from the rainforest. For example, the avocado oil comes from orchards in Hawkes Bay and Northland in the north, while the manuka honey used is from a family-owned supplier that sources it from a Maori tribe in the south. Mamaku black fern and totara (a native hardwood) come from the NZ rainforests.

What’s sold in SG: Only skincare, currently. In New Zealand, the brand also offers makeup such as mineral foundations and lipsticks. Its products are sold in 3,000 stores in NZ as well as on its website.

1 Manuka Honey Skinbrightening Eye Cream, $69.90.

2 Apostle Skinbrightening Serum, $69.90.

3 Manuka Honey Skinbrightening Light Day Cream, $75.15.
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The skincare formulas that reflect a father’s love

What: Papa Recipe, an organic skincare brand for sensitive skin.

From: Seoul, launched in 2012.

Background: Founder Kim Han Kyun was one of the first male beauty bloggers in South Korea when he started in his early 20s. He was so interested in beauty that he went on to study and apply for a licence in skincare formulation. He even started his own beauty brand, Costory, in 2012. It flopped because he couldn’t compete with the larger, more established brands.

But things changed when he started blending organic jojoba oil at home to soothe his newborn daughter’s eczema. It worked so well on her that Kim decided to sell it online, and launched Papa Recipe that year.

Why you should buy it: Kim ensures the ingredients used are gentle enough for babies and pregnant women. The brand’s pioneer range, the Bombee Mask series, is still a bestseller today because it is effective, yet soothing enough for irritable skin. It comes in seven variations: Original Honey, Black Honey (with ceramides), Green Honey (with avocado), Red Ginseng Honey Oil, Whitening Honey (with diamond powder), Rose Gold (with rose and gold extracts), and Honey Butter Cream.

What’s sold in SG: Only the Bombee Mask series for now, and only the first four of the seven masks listed above. Papa Recipe is sold exclusively online in South Korea, where it offers other ingredient-based skincare ranges, like eggplant and seawater, for different skin concerns. The ranges include cleansers, toners and ampoules.

1 I’m Tic Toc Lipstick Stain, 10 shades, $19.90 each.

2 I’m Mesh Cushion, five shades, $39.90 each.

3 I’m Meme Multi Cube Eye and Cheek Palette, five variations, $32.90 each.
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The first-of-its-kind mascara created by two men

What: Flowfushi, a leading Japanese makeup line.

From: Tokyo, launched in 2010.

Background: Founders Hiroshi Imamura and Masayuki Kuwajima knew nothing about cosmetics, at least not back then, but they shared the same dream – they wanted to create a beauty product so revolutionary it would be the first of its kind on drugstore shelves.

The inspiration came when Imamura, who was working in hospital administration, learnt about end mineral, a mineral used in medical treatments to stimulate blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. Its effects inspired him, and the duo (with Kuwajima working as a systems engineer then) decided that a mascara would be the best product to tap into its benefits. The duo were also aware that Japanese women can’t live without mascara.

Why you should buy it: The Mote Mascara, with its end mineral-enhanced formula, is makeup and lash care in one. The ingredient keeps the lashes conditioned and nourished, just like a lash serum. The long-wearing formula also washes off easily with warm water – no tugging or dragging the skin. The product now has nine variations for different lash looks.

What’s sold in SG: Flowfushi is expected to launch at Guardian in the first half of 2019. At press time, it was not known which products would be available in Singapore. Mote Mascara aside, the brand also offers eyeliners and lip products in Japan, all containing the patented Flowfushi end mineral. – CT

1 Moteliner Takumi Liquid Liner.

2 Flowfushi Mote Mascara.

3 Lip 38°C Lip Treatment. Prices unavailable at press time.
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Black Honey, Red Ginseng Honey Oil, Green Honey and Original Honey masks. Prices start from $21.90 for a pack of five.