updated 15 Feb 2013, 13:14
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Fri, Feb 15, 2013
The New Paper
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Review: Korean skincare shop Belif

Secret shopper

Korean women are known for their flawless, porcelain-like skin.

While some credit their blemish-free complexions to the copious amounts of kimchi they consume, others attribute it to a meticulous skincare regime.

Two months ago, Belif, a skincare brand, set up shop here, joining other Korean beauty chains like Etude House, The Face Shop, and SkinFood.

The no-frills, peaceful vibe Belif exuded beckoned me to step in.

Would the shopping experience live up to my first impressions?

Signature style

Belif's main selling point is the use of natural herbs in its products.

Its brochure states that "synthetic preservatives, dyes, fragrances, and mineral oil" are avoided.

It used only "true, rare, and natural herbs".

It all sounded pretty good to me.

A deep pore care mask I had my eye on featured natural green clay from France and raspberry leaves, while a facial cleanser for normal and dry skin contained wormwood, known for its detoxifying properties.

I was further sold when every product I tested carried a light medicinal scent.

You say you use herbs?

Well, I sure smell 'em.

A sunscreen product in the form of a powder also stood out.

While I wouldn't say the concept is entirely new, few shops here carry non-liquid sunscreen, so this product might be useful for those who hate the greasy, sticky texture of regular sunscreen but still want some defence against the sun.

The black-and-white bottles Belif products come in are ones I would not think twice about displaying on my vanity table top.

The clear labelling of each product allowed me to see its name and method of usage at a glance.

Fancy designs and loud colours were absent, which gave the brand an air of legitimacy, so props for that.

Also, this is not a store just for women. Men and babies have their own range of products, which I felt was thoughtful.

Still, I think the brand could have done more in the department of ingredient lists.

I browsed one belonging to Belif's "Hungarian Water Essence", and was disappointed to note that not every chemical used was translated into layman terms.

"Lavandula Angustifolia", for example, had (Lavender) printed next to it, but I was left wondering what "Cyclopentasiloxane" referred to.

Staying away from jargon would certainly go a long way for a brand that claims its products are "safe and effective" for skin conditions, I reckon.

It also irked me that the brand's website had very little content in English.

While there were buttons to translate the page, this only worked for the headings of the various sections. The actual content was in Korean.

Price point

I wouldn't call Belif products cheap, but they're reasonably priced compared to high-end luxury brands.

A tube of facial cleanser (crystal cleansing foam fresh, 150ml), which the sales assistant said would last about five to six months, costs $33, while a bottle of Hungarian Water Essence (75ml), which claims to keep your skin moist and hydrated, will set you back $57.

The best bit about this store are the free samples it hands out.

Little 3ml satchets for you to bring home and try out so you don't spend your money on products unsuitable for your skin.


The brand clearly subscribes to the "less is more" philosophy.

Unlike other Korean brands, which have life-sized cutouts of Korean celebrities decorating store entrances, the decor here is minimalist.

Testers of the various products were displayed on brown, wooden racks set against white walls.

I fell in love with the classy, tasteful look which had a touch of warmth to it.

The sales assistants even wore outfits to match the store's colour code - white t-shirts and khaki-coloured pants. Cute!

What confused me were "dummy" products displayed - bottles and tubs which had no product in them.

Was this the store's stab at being clever?

I didn't quite get it. Instead, picking up a bottle in the store and finding it empty simply annoyed me.

May I help you?

The sales assistant who served me was warm - A little too warm.

Seconds after I stepped into the store, she gave me the lowdown on the store's philosophy and history, before going on to recommend me various products.

While I wouldn't consider her overly pushy, I wish she would have given me some time to absorb the barrage of information I was hearing instead of going on, and on, and on.

In a bid to get a moment of peace, I excused myself to "take a walk around", only to have her trailing after me barely a minute later.

So trust me when I say I appreciate the effort to provide a high standard of service, but girl, sometimes you've just got to know when to let a customer explore.


Belif is definitely worth a visit.

While this secret shopper can't vouch for the quality of the store's products, you can be sure customers at this store won't be snubbed or ignored.

Just beware of the over-enthusiastic sales assistant.

Check it out

What: Belif

Where: Wisma Atria, #B1-64

When: 10am-10pm every day

History: The Belif line of skincare products comes under Napiers, a British company which formulates and produces herbal products.

Belif products are developed in Korea, using formulas designed by Napiers. Its flagship store in Singapore opened in January this year.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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