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In Vogue

Thursday October 8, 2009

A study in beauty

The dollhouse called Etude offers a multitude of colours and funky beauty accessories.

EVERY once in a while, a beauty company goes in search of that perfect face that will capture the essence of the brand. Female celebrities, sports stars and even socialities have raked in millions on endorsement deals alone.

On the other hand, while male celebrities are sometimes chosen for fashion or perfume ads, seldom do you ever see a man heralding a beauty brand. Images of rugged masculine stars like Pierce Brosnan or popular Asian faces like Takeshi Kaneshiro have been used for mainly male targeted products.

The man for the job: Korean celebrity Lee Min-ho is the face for beauty brand Etude House.

Last February, Korean star Lee Min-ho, 22, from the hit drama series Boys Over Flowers, made headlines when he signed on as the face of the beauty brand Etude House for US$5mil (RM17.5mil). This follows the popularity of Hallyu (the Korean wave), which have made exported Korean TV dramas and remakes of pop music all the rage in China, Hong Kong and even Malaysia, and stars like Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo, household names.

Lee is not about to don eyeshadow or any of the other funky colours offered by the brand any time soon, but you can be sure the fans will be there in droves when the handsome star appears for any of the publicity campaigns! The decision to sign on a male star was a deliberate marketing strategy as the brand's clientele is quite young, different and upbeat.

Etude, owned by Amore Pacific, is by no means a new one on the beauty beat, having been on the Korean skincare scene for 30 years. In 2005, the brand decided to expand into concept stores, and came up with the make-up, skincare and beauty accessory brand shop called Etude House to cater to young women.

The name Etude (French for "study") takes its inspiration from three sets of solo piano studies by musical genius Frederic Chopin. The brand's mission is: "To create an environment where customers can feel they are fairytale princesses in their romantic boudoir adorned with ornate trinkets and femininity."

Young girls will find it hard to resist the attractive offer to play with colours in a lifesize dollhouse, where customers can just walk in to the stores and enjoy being pampered, test and try the beauty and skincare products before buying.

"In South Korea, the brand appeals to those in the 17- to 22-year-old segment but in Malaysia, we find that it's popular among those in their 20s and 30s," says senior manager (business administration) Ben Lee.

Products are derived mainly from plant, fruit or floral elements. Etude's extensive range offers unique high-quality products in creative distinctively unbashful girlie packaging.

"That's why it may take a little longer to see results as the ingredients are all natural, compared to the other brands which tout the latest research but use chemically-derived ingredients," he adds.

One of the hottest buzzwords in beauty circles is BB cream, and this is Etude's biggest crowd puller. Said to be created by German dermatologists, BB cream (which stands for Blemish Balm) was first formulated as a treatment foundation cream for those who have undergone skin-peeling treatments (such as laser treatment), made popular by Korean celebrities.

Touted to be a one-stop solution skincare product combined with make-up, Etude House came up with its own version called BB Magic Cream that sold like hotcakes in South Korea. The latest addition to its growing range is the Precious Mineral BB Cream in Sheer Silky Skin SPF30/PA++ and Sheer Glowing Skin SPF30/PA++.

The Silky Skin BB Cream is claimed to cover blemishes with pigment coating to prevent oxidation of oil and air on skin, and improve skin texture. It contains botanical extracts of lemon, grapefruit, acerola and lavender to promote a brightening and refreshed look for combination and oily skin. The results are said to be akin to a 3-in-1 product for whitening, wrinkle treatment and sun protection.

The Sheer version employs the same technology with moisturising benefits, but tailored for normal to dry skin.

The mascara is also popular, designed to be water- and oil-proof for long lasting and fade resistant, giving better eye, lash and brow definition. The Proof 10 Mascara is complemented by the Proof 10 Eye Primer which helps improve eyeshadow durability, preventing clumping, fading and flaking of eyeshadow.

The brand also carries a fantastic range of colours for nails, lips and eyes, and cute blushers that look like toy stamps as well as quirky items like mascara accessories (resembling tear drops), hand and foot treatment masks, and Moistful Cream (a moisturiser/facial mask).

Prices for Etude range from RM2.90 to RM69.90. There are 11 stores nationwide located in leading department stores.

For details, call 03-6257 8405.

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