The KCON Phenomenon
KCON is an annual convention that makes its way to several cities across the globe, with Los Angeles always being a stop on the list. Elizabeth and I recently attended our first KCON and learned that it's not just for K-Pop - it’s a convention and music festival dedicated entirely to hallyu (Korean wave). It celebrates all things Korean: beauty, fashion, lifestyle, food, and of course, music, with a K-Pop concert at night. I’ll admit, I never quite got into K-Pop, but when I found out there was going to be a K-Beauty block at the convention and that our fav K-Beauty inspo Charlotte Cho (co-creator of K-Beauty retailer SOKOGLAM, author of the Little Book of Skincare) would be there too - I knew we had to go. After quite easily convincing Elizabeth and our coworker Jessenia, we headed up to KCON on a whim. We attended Saturday, the second day of the three-day convention.
Although Elizabeth and I were still coming down from our Beautycon high which was just the weekend prior, we were really excited for all the K-Beauty products, panels, and the thought of seeing #girlboss Charlotte Cho (we actually got to meet her!) at KCON. We may have been crazy for attending 4 conventions in a row, but we were just as thrilled for this one as we were all the others. Like Beautycon, this was going to be our first time and we had no idea what to expect. I watched a few KCON vlogs and they were all extremely hyped but mostly about music. I couldn’t find anything about the K-Beauty block from last year and there was no information from KCON as to which brands or vendors would be there. I anticipated there to be so much to see and hoped we wouldn't be too far out of our element, but we really went into it with a happy-go-lucky attitude.
The convention was broken up into 5 main areas or “zones” - all of which contained K-Beauty throughout. There was so much to do at KCON but I'm just going to hone in on the K-Beauty portion. I’ve written a section about each zone and spotlighted a few brands found in that area. The zones were: K-Beauty Block, Korea Zone, Sponsor Zone, CJ Cultureplex, and Marketplace.
Of course, the first thing we did was make a beeline for the K-Beauty block. It occupied a corner of the convention center with a mix of popular and lesser-known K-Beauty brands. We were happy to see big names like The Face Shop and Tony Moly - both well established in the Western beauty world - but also new favorites like E-Nature and AprilSkin. Even MyBeautyDiary was there, a company that originates from Taiwan and known for putting sheet masks on the map. Style Korean was there selling a number of products, managing giveaways, and handing out product sample pouches. All the booths had incredible deals such as buy one get free, buy 5 masks get 1 free, 50% off deals, etc. I did pretty good and only walked away with a couple of sheet masks from MyBeautyDiary, Pokemon character masks from Tony Moly, and a nice booklet of samples from E-Nature. Elizabeth picked up the Birch Juice Hydro Program travel kit from E-Nature as well as their Hydro Sleeping Pack.
In addition to K-Beauty, Perverse Sunglasses was at the K-Beauty block selling their sunnies at convention prices ($25-$40). Perverse is a new venture by Toni Ko (creator of NYX Cosmetics). I have to give them a shout out because I’d been eyeing their frames for a while on social media and this was the perfect time to scoop up a pair (or two). I chose the styles Luxe 2 and Dean, while Elizabeth picked up Dawn Patrol. What I love most about these sunglasses is that they fit really well on Asian faces (or folks with lower nose bridges, wide faces, and high cheekbones). The frames sit above my cheeks so I don’t have to worry about messing up my makeup or trapping oil/sweat on my face. I would highly recommend them to everyone; they are affordable, stylish, and great quality shades.
K-Beauty Block Brand Spotlight:
Korea Zone (Beauty & Lifestyle)
The Korea Zone turned out to be one of my favorite sections. It housed over 50+ “mini” booths dedicated to K-Beauty, K-Fashion, and K-Lifestyle. There were vendors everywhere you turned and I'll admit it was a bit overwhelming at first. We were pleased to find that The Lotus was selling their 3 step spa sheet mask set for only $5 total (retails at $8/ea) and their Lotus/Camellia mist and Lotus/Lemon mist for only $5 each (retails at $33/ea). Another favorite was Frudia who had a great deal on their entire fruit-derived collection. We picked up a travel size version of their Citrus Brightening Cream for only $3, and we received a couple of samples with our purchase. Several other booths did sheet mask giveaways if you posted their hashtag or followed them on social media - of course Elizabeth and I were more than happy to participate.
Korea Zone Brand Spotlight:
Innisfree was the only K-Beauty brand in the sponsor zone. Unfortunately, they weren’t selling their products but had a TON of samples. We got samples of their Pore Clearing Clay Mask with Super Volcanic Cluster, It’s Real Green Tea Squeeze Mask, and best-selling Intensive Green Tea Hydrating Serum. They had testers on display for their new My Cushion customizable compacts, a claw machine filled with Innisfree products, and super cute photo ops! The staff was really friendly and more than willing to take cute pics for the gram.
The CJ Cultureplex was an interactive zone featuring companies under the CJ corporate (conglomerate that runs KCON) umbrella. We discovered SEP Beauty which had innovative new products such as liquid sticker nail polish and a range of beautiful lipsticks/lip tints, which will be sold at Nordstrom. Olive Young, which is basically the Sephora of Korea, also had a large presence. Their space had testers on display of featured brands and popular products. It was a great opportunity to sample things in person but unfortunately no products were for sale. However, if you shared a pic of their booth on social media, you were given a nice little sample pack which included a sheet mask, sample serum, gel cream, and cleanser. Stepping into Olive Young gave me major FOMO about not having a K-Beauty store of this magnitude in the U.S.
The Marketplace was made up of rows of merchants mostly dedicated to K-Pop and K-Fashion, but we found W2Beauty in the mix. W2Beauty had a seriously awesome swag bag. We had to sign up for the W2Beauty online community in order to get the bag, but it was filled with amazing goodies including my personal fave: a foundation brush in the shape of a fish!
Learning from the best: K-Beauty with Charlotte Cho
The highlight of our day was attending the 1:00 o'clock panel: Charlotte Cho’s DIY Skincare, featuring Charlotte Cho, YouTuber HeyitsFeiii and special guest Michelle Phan of Ipsy. Charlotte Cho is one of our biggest K-Beauty inspirations and both her book, The Little Book of Skincare, and Triple C Lightning Liquid Vitamin C serum have helped Elizabeth and I achieve our dewy skin goals. The girls went over their K-Beauty stories and routines, as well as shared tips and answered questions from the audience. It was awe-inspiring to see these game changing boss ladies in the same room and knowing everyone in attendance had the same shared interest in K-Beauty. Personally, I thought Charlotte was very humble despite all of her successes. She didn't take any opportunities to plug SOKO GLAM, her book, or her products and continuously praised the rest of the panel and audience on their skin. If you didn't know who she was, you would think she was just another skin obsessed fan like the rest of us. After the panel, Elizabeth, Jessenia, and I raced up to the stage to meet Charlotte. It was hard not to fangirl but she was very down to earth and easy to talk to. She was super nice and even liked our photos on social media after, which says a lot about who she is.
Elizabeth and I agreed that Charlotte was the sweetest!
All in all, KCON was nothing short of amazing. It was totally worth it, especially at ~$20/day for just the convention alone (not including concert). There was a lot of Korean culture to explore outside of K-Beauty, such as the Winter '18 Olympics in PyeongChang, Flower Boy Cafe, and K-food trucks as well. I know one thing for sure, I will be back next year. We ended up with SO many samples and products to take home and play with. We’re planning to blog about our K-Beauty hauls from KCON and Beautycon so let us know if there are any products you'd like us to spotlight! Here's my spread from KCON!
To Be(auty) Continued...
For those interested, there will be a new K-Beauty convention by the creators of KCON launching this November called Beauty Crush USA. I’ll be attending so please say hi if you see me! The sheer amount of people and products at conventions can get overwhelming, so is waiting in lines, but I hope our convention posts help serve as a guide of what to expect. If you're just getting into K-Beauty, be sure to read my 10 step routine rundown as a starting point so you'll be as ready as ever come Beauty Crush time. Overall, I expect it to be another great K-Beauty experience and I'm definitely looking forward to it.