Fortunately, my father, a very wise man who had my best interest at heart, one day simply had enough and told me to STFU. He didn't say it like that of course. He used a lot gentler and a lot more fatherly words. But the core message was the same - if you don't know what you're talking about, it might be a lot smarter to just shut up and watch others make fools of themselves.
Before I had time to take his advice to heart, I stopped being a teen and, along with that, grew out of the habit of spewing nonsense.
Not everyone was as fortunate as me.
Then, there's this uniquely Polish genetic trait of compulsively correcting everything and everybody and thus, by pointing out the mistakes of others, proving one's own self worth.
I suffer from it as well. However, with age came the realization that 99% of the time I'd rather be drinking Starbucks, or watching my cat chase a newspaper ball than point out the minutiae mistakes of others. I mean, who cares? Right? Right.
However, every now and then, that remaining 1% kicks in.
One of my commenters, Alicja, a Polish woman writing her comments in English, does not share my love of Starbucks and cats. She'd rather be scouring the internet in search of errors in blog posts to point out. And as she's an expert on nearly everything, from economy to skincare, there are plenty of errors out there for her to correct.
Under the Dear Amore Pacific post she was an economy expert. What she said actually made sense. The only problem was that despite her English fluency she was unable to detect my sarcasm and irony and took the entire rant seriously. I didn't even think it was at all possible. I was so clearly over the top in that post... Oh well...
Under the most recent A-True review we see Alicja as a skin care expert, medical expert, cosmetics industry expert, beauty historian expert, Asian culture expert and a few others.
It started innocently enough. In a true Polish fashion, she pointed out my "misspelling" of a certain word. Somehow, it never crossed her mind that the word was misspelled on purpose - to avoid using a registered trademark.
In her comment Alicja attacked the quality of Asian skin care.
I could almost agree with her. Half the time I attack it myself. There are some brands that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole (or a hungarian, whatever...)
But then she took it a step further.
These Korean skincare products seem like a scam. Looking at the ingredients, there is nothing unusual or special in them...
I suppose she was referring to the A-True items I was reviewing. But then again I'm not sure. She didn't make it all that clear. And if that's the case, then what is she doing reading a blog devoted to Asian skincare?
Then she said:
Want tea in your skincare? You can actually apply cold tea directly to your skin and you will get the same benefits.
Really? The day they start making tea with sodium hyaluronate, then yeah, maybe.
She repeatedly referred to Asian skincare as "gimmicky".
Usually, when I see someone so misinformed that it hurts, I let them be. After all, ignorance is bliss. Let her be happy.
But Alicja didn't stop at that, oh no...
What piqued my interest was this part of her comment:
I do believe in sun filters and even though I am probably older than you, my neck looks younger for sure. It is maybe because I use no pillows (my doctor told me long ago that no pillows is better for your complexion, face and neck) or maybe because I use old fashioned European and American creams that are specially formulated for the neck. Thicker than for the face and very effective indeed. Examples: 3Lab SuperCream and 111Skin.
She says she's older than me but her neck looks younger. Whether she meant her neck looks younger than the rest of her, or her neck looks younger than my neck, that's debatable.
But that got my attention.
I like my neck and want to keep it looking young. Younger than the rest of me.
Just like Alicja, I also believe in sun filters. And I also sleep without a pillow.
Her doctor told her to sleep without a pillow. How interesting. If she only knew that sleeping without a pillow is one of these ancient "gimmicky" Asian skin care tricks to keep one's neck wrinkle-free.
In a later comment it did turn out her doctor was of Asian origin.
So... on one hand it's all "gimmicks", and on the other - it works? So finally, which is it?
Her mention of "old fashioned European and American creams" also got me very interested.
I love trying new things, and I don't discriminate. Asian, American, European, as long as it works, I'm willing to try it.
So I hopped over to the 3Lab website, started looking around and got a strange feeling of deja vu.
Take a look for yourself:
Ginseng skincare? Eastern therapies?
And those packaging designs... They looked vaguely familiar, don't they?
I started reading the ingredient lists. Here's the one for the neck cream recommended by Alicja:
It looked suspiciously Asian influenced.
I poked around the site some more.
And may the wonders never cease!
Marine infused skincare, fermented ingredients, ginseng.
And get that - even a cushion product. For all of US$100.00.
Yes. A cushion for one hundred bucks.
I admit, I am very curious. I'd like to try it.
Hmmm... This is what an "old fashioned" American company looks like?
I went to the "About Us" page.
And yes, you guessed it. The company is run by an Asian-American couple.
And yes, you guessed it again. Of Korean origin.
Which brings us to this point - just how much of a wanna-be nouveau riche (or utterly lacking in common sense) our dear Alicja must be? I mean, to shell out all that money and not even look at the ingredient list, or check out the company's webpage?
The other company - 111Skin also sells ridiculously overpriced skincare with such breakthrough ingredients as hyaluronic acid and arbutin. And oh yes, lots of centella asiatica. And ferments.
There are two possibilities:
- 1. All that matters to Alicja is the price tag - the bigger the better.
- 2. She just randomly picked those two companies as examples of what she thinks a fancy older woman would buy and never actually tried their products. Because I just can't believe she was never curious about the companies and what they stand for.
3Lab is Korea-lite for affluent American women, who like Alicja, shun Asian skincare. Their products copy Sulwhasoo, su:m37, Lirikos, Amore Pacific and just about every other high end Korean skincare company out there.
111Skin is for affluent women who like to brag just how much they spend on their cosmetics. I'll pass. Any company that charges almost 600 pounds for a jar of cream, yet can't properly spell "glycerin" on their website is not worth my time.
Alice didn't have an answer why, if she thinks Korean skincare is a scam, the products she recommended came from Asian-inspired companies?
She skillfully deflected this uncomfortable fact and started to talk about placenta.
Now, placenta is a common cosmetic ingredient, not only in Asia. These days most companies use sheep placenta. And it's no coincidence that the majority of new western arrivals on the cosmetic placenta scene hail from Australia and New Zealand.
Alicja was quick to inform me how her placenta was taken away from her, allegedly to be sold to Korean companies for skincare purposes.
Which lead me to believe that Alicja gave birth a long while ago. Or her placenta was taken for a more shady reason.
Very conveniently for her story, Alicja, though perturbed by what happened, chose not to pursue it further. Strange indeed.
Human placenta is expensive to procure and many companies prefer less risky and more easily obtainable animals product.
While placenta has been used as a folk remedy in many cultures for thousands of years, skincare benefits of placenta haven't been conclusively researched. Alicja likened this placenta craze to a cream containing fat-free milk and marketed to naive women, who are afraid of getting fat.
The main difference that fat-free milk is fat-free milk, and placenta is a nutrient rich substance was lost on Alicja. She claimed to have an embryologist in her family who "looked into it for her."
I was duly impressed. As no substantial research on placenta skincare benefits has yet been published, it was truly impressive to have someone do all that research just for her. Because how otherwise could she have arrive at the conclusion that the placenta hype is "BS".
So is collagen in skincare, as the molecule is too large to penetrate the empidermal layer.
And so is Human Oligopeptide-9, one of the key ingredients in Alicja's favorite neck cream, as again, hard science has proven that the molecule is too big to penetrate the skin.
I asked Alicja about her double standard regarding ingredients, but sadly, instead of answering, as most people when they ran out of credible arguments, she deflected and changed the subject.
She changed the subject several times.
One of the topics she gave us her expert opinion on was this:
When I see Asian skincare and makeup companies imitating, yes, imitating American products and ideals, I just feel bad for them. There is no need to get lighter skin at all. I will never understand why Asian women should desire to have lighter skin. The horrible bleaching products are really a cultural misunderstanding.
The incredible thing is that it was written by a person who claims to have lived in Asia in her younger days. Indonesia, to be exact. Wow! Alicja is just like Barack Obama! Incredible.
Ah... Where should we begin...
I thought that anyone who is familiar with Asia, and a person who used to live here certainly should be, is aware of that fact that Asian preference for lighter skin has nothing to do with imitating American beauty ideals.
Unless, of course, Americans invented time machines and visited, oh, let's say 8th century Japan, and even earlier - Korea and China.
Or maybe it was the other way round? Maybe it was the Heian era courtiers who time traveled to the "west" circa 19th century and were so taken with the glorification of pale skin by the upper classes that they decided to bring that idea back to their own timeline?
Only Alicja knows that...
The rest of us, backed up by historical research, cosmetic history research and cultural anthropology, knows that in early Asia pale skin was a hallmark of high breeding. Of women who didn't have to slog in the rice fields. Of women who had the time and resources to spend on cosmetic pursuits.
In other words, pale skin in Asia was desirable for the very same reasons it was desirable in 19th century Europe - it was a status symbol.
Imitating Americans? Don't think there were any light skinned Americans prancing around in 8th century Japan. Maybe imitating Europeans then? Very unlikely.
Here is a very good summary of the evolution of Japanese beauty ideals - The Fair Face of Japanese Beauty - Cosmetics for Japanese Women from the Heian Period to Today.
I didn't even know it was available in English.
Incidentally, it was referenced, just a day before Alicja left her comment, by one of my favorite bloggers in this post.
And as to "Asian skincare and makeup companies imitating American products"?
Surely, Alicja meant it as a joke.
And if not, then unfortunately for her, industry analysts disagree:
The influence of Asia in skin care is expected to remain a strong highlight in 2015 including novel concepts, products, formats and benefits. To exemplify, Neutrogena’s latest offering – one of the last innovations to hit the shelves in the US in 2014 – claims to bring Asian technology to the West. Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost range consists of three key products; a Gel-Cream, a Water Gel and an Eye Gel Cream which aim to lock in moisture and draw water into the skin. Hydration is considered to be a key benefit in Asia, from cleansers to toners to face masks and moisturisers.
Skin care is expected to continue to have an Asian trend focus with Chanel’s newest product to hit the shelves in the US called Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro-Serum, indicating that the quest of hydration is set to be strong across both side of the price spectrum. Asia is also influencing skin care as the region is well-known for multi-step routines involving an array of products, with many Western brands adding product offerings like essence and emulsion to their portfolio. Examples include Philosophy’s Brighten My Day All-Over Skin Perfecting Brightening Essence and Embryolisse Emulsion Hydra Mat Freshness Care, among others. The trend has also transpired in colour cosmetics where after the explosion of BB creams across all markets, air cushions a new make-up format from South Korea has started moving west too. L’Oréal’s Lancôme is the first Western brand to adopt this trend, with its Miracle Cushion foundation.
Though again, there's this possibility of time travel - from the late 20th century in Asia to the US in 2017, where Asian cosmetic undercover agents saw all these amazing western products packed with ingredients of Asian origin. They brought them back to their time, reverse engineered and voila! Asian skincare explosion.
Of course there is this inconvenient fact that two of the worlds oldest cosmetic companies are Japanese - Shiseido (founded in 1872) and Kanebo (1887).
For those who still don't believe where the current skincare inspirations come from, here is another entry from Euromonitor - Asian Shades of Skincare.
Alicja claims to work providing solutions for her clients.
Let's hope her solutions are in a field that she is more familiar with than cosmetic and skincare industry.
I don't think Alicja exists.
Nobody is that ignorant. Nobody can function with such a myopic view of the world (as evidenced by other thoughts in her comments). What a sad existence that would be.
I think Alicja is a persona created by someone to get a reaction out of me.
In that case - congratulations.
PS. First rainbow powder ever? Formulated by Shiseido in 1917.
But I'm sure those f*ckers just time traveled again, and stole the idea from Guerlain Meteorites, those Japanese bastards!