Thanks, Parasite for reminding all of us about the power of K-Beauty

One word that seems to never leave the side of K-Beauty is “trend.”

Because, let’s face it: like the many beauty routines and products that have come before it, Western beauty reporting tends to view Korean beauty as nothing more than a short-term blip, rather than a cultural movement based on generations of skincare and cosmetic rituals. But a certain Korean dark comedy thriller that’s swept the nation may seem to be (finally) challenging the dialogue.

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SEE ALSO: Parasite’s Oscar win is validation for Asian immigrants everywhere

ICYMI: Parasite was the film on everyone’s lips during the 2020 Academy Awards. Not only did the Korean film deservedly win a grand total of four awards during the night, but Bong Joon Ho’s epic film made cinematic history by being the first non-English film ever to win Best Picture.

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“Writing a script is always such a lonely process; we never write to represent our countries,” said Bong via his translator Sharon Choi. “But this is [the] very first Oscar to South Korea,” adding a plea to moviegoers to overcome stigmas that come from reading subtitles.

So, how do multiple Oscar wins relate to beauty in any way? Well, it doesn’t, but the gleam on their eyes and their skin hints to something much bigger. What it really relates to is the bigger picture that shows minority cultures should be treated as more than just a “trend.” Parasite‘s recognition and popularity was a huge win not just for Ho, or just South Korea: it proved that minorities as a whole, regardless if we’re talking skincare or cinematography, can permanently resonate within Western culture for the better.

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Standing alongside him for the award was actress Cho Yeo-Jeong, Park So-dam, Lee Sun Gyun, Choi Woo-Shik, and Song Kang-ho, who all glowed onstage. While the cast descended to the stage to give the final moving speech of the night, their faces literally lit up the room. Full of bouncy, dewy, beautiful skin, they proved the power of a 10-step Korean beauty regimen. So, what was the secret beauty product the Parasite cast used to have that prominent radiance that only grew stronger with each win? While most of the cast’s glam team has stayed mum on their beauty secrets (if only someone would spill on Bong’s skincare routine), we can only assume their beauty routine pays homage to their native country with Korean classics:

Hydrating toner:

Yes, double cleansing is important, but toners are the final cleansing defense in K-Beauty skincare routines. But, not all toners are created equal: it’s important to go for one that detoxifies and hydrates that the same time, like the Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner, a fan-favorite.

Dew-enhancing essence:

Essence not only gives pores a soothing, hydrated “ahh” feeling, but they also add an extra boost of hydrating that your just-cleansed skin is begging for. Due to the dewiness of their skin, we’re guessing the Parasite team used the moisturizing power of the Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.

Light, gel-like moisturizer:

But seriously, how did the whole cast get the same luminous glow without looking greasy on stage — especially when accepting the biggest award in film while making history? The answer: (probably) a water-based gel moisturizer. Tony Moly Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Cream was definitely (maybe) on their faces for a oump glow without the greasy residue.

TLC for the under eyes:

No matter how many sleepless nights the cast must have had while filming one of the world’s most jarring movies, they looked pretty rested and ready to take on the night. So, even if Bong celebrated by rightfully partying all night, his under eyes were most likely prepped and ready with a K-Beauty staple: the Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Intensive Eye Cream, a top-rated eye product that can easily tackle dark circles and hyperpigmentation via the powers of licorice water and licorice extract.

Pore-perfecting BB cream:

There are two major anchors to K-Beauty: sun protection, and flawless complexions. So, why not fuse the two together? We can only believe that the Parasite cast reached for the ever-popular Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42 PA+++ to give their faces the perfect glow they had all night while protecting their pores from the harsh LA sun.

‘Harriet’ actor Mitchell Hoog is the opposite of what people think of Gen Z

Mitchell hong

(Photo by Brandon Jameson)

There’s Generation Z – then there’s Generation Zen.

Mitchell Hoog seems to be the latter. One of Hollywood’s newest “It Boys,” with a new movie out today called “Harriet,” alongside Janelle Monae and Cynthia Erivo, busy wrapping up three other films and a television show, the 20-year old is being mindful of how technology can disrupt life.

SEE ALSO: Kpop star Henry Lau on wants to represent Asian American men everywhere

While most others in his generation are obsessively posting on the ‘gram, producing TikTok videos, or thirsting for attention, Mitchell’s mostly off of his phone.

“I have a cap on Instagram – it’s 20-minutes a day,” he tells Very Good Light over the phone. “I’m human yes, and sometimes I’m on there more, but I’m very conscious not to go straight to social media.”

Which seems very abnormal for any person under 25. After all, there are countless studies on iPhone addictions, with an average American on their phone for over four hours a day. Though there aren’t any studies about the repercussions, there’s already an influx of anxiety and depression that is said to be stemmed from social media.

But Mitchell refuses to allow technology to dictate his life. Though he has an Instagram and is on social media, he’s mindful of how it shouldn’t play a majority of his daily life. And it’s this self-awareness that he says has allowed him to find success in Hollywood and navigate his career without compromising who he is – someone who’s sensitive and thoughtful.

A competitive snowboarder from Fort Collins, CO, he was thrust at the mercy of the mountains as a child, where he’d practice on an around-the-clock schedule. At 13-years old, Mitchell was already gaining sponsorships and contracts, something that he says made him “mature really fast.” Through the chaos of competitive sports was his ability to quiet his mind, something he’d practiced since he was a child. His dad was a motivational speaker and his mother was spiritual, which allowed him to take part in their lessons. “I read a lot about Buddhism, Taoism from my mom and business books from my dad,” he says. “I was never into video games.”

As the youngest child, he recalls being imaginative and creating his own worlds, expressing himself through acting. His old brother and sister were both in theatre, and when he decided to take a stab at acting, he realized he had an innate ability to emote. It led him to Los Angeles where he was signed and began his Hollywood career. His first big role was as JC Snyder in Netflix’s “Walk. Ride. Rodeo,” a story about a teen who’s determined to get back into competitive rodeo after a spinal cord injury. Next was a Lifetime movie called “The Wrong Stepmother,” where he played a character named Patrick.

Finally came his biggest role yet in Harriet, a biographical film about slave-turned-freedom fighter Harriet Tubman. In it, he plays Vince Brodess, the son of a plantation owner who decides to sell Araminta Ross (Harriet’s given name at birth). It’s this that becomes the catalyst of Harriet’s decision to flee and run for her life.

The movie, Mitchell says, was transformative. “Working with Cynthia (Harriet) was so inspiring,” he says. “Being around people who are consumed by art or an idea and talking to them made me work two times harder. Cynthia is so accomplished at such a young age and I was eager to learn about her work ethic.”

Funny coming from Mitchell, who himself, isn’t even 21. Though not even legal to drink, Mitchell seems wiser than his mere two decades of life. For one, he’s very aware of his own power and encourages others to also discover theirs. “I think we’ve forgotten how to be bored,” he says. “We need to give time to sit down and let your mind explore and go to different places. To question things. That’s how we find empowerment.”

Mitchell Hoog

(Photo by Brandon Jameson)

He also mediates – a lot. “Meditation is a constant, almost a job, and you have to work on it,” he says. “Sig down, have your legs crossed and close your eyes. It doesn’t have to be at home, either. You can practice active meditation through security in an airport to anywhere you’re at. Just concentrate.” Social media, he says, has “interrupted the thought process and focus.” He says he wants to simplify his life and his day. And so he’ll paint or read. He’ll text to friend to have face time – real face time, not on your iPhone – and invite them over. He’ll deconstruct the day and dissect how it went.

“Life for me is about being present, practicing vulnerability and empathy,” he goes on to say. “It’s very hard to be vulnerable and I’m trying my best myself, but I hope I can continue being present.”

Watch Harriet, which premieres today, in U.S. theaters.

Ritesh Rajan’s Asian Americans in Hollywood 2019 cover story: ‘Seeing yourself means something so powerful.’

(Photo by Jessica Chou/ Very Good Light. Ritesh is wearing: HUF; Shoes by Vans; Socks, Stylist Own)

When Ritesh Rajan landed the role of Farran on Netflix’s “Russian Doll,” he didn’t know just how big it’d become.

That is, until he started getting texts from his friends at all times on one morning. “Oh shit, did someone die?” Ritesh recalls. It was an article from Buzzfeed with the headline: “Farran From ‘Russian Doll’ Is So Hot It Threw Me For A Loop.” The article essentially explains how Ritesh is a walking “thirst trap,” one whose aesthetics are so, well, handsome, it’s pleasantly distracting.

SEE ALSO: These leading Hollywood stars are redefining Asian America

While the article does state the obvious – Ritesh is unquestionably attractive – it was important because it gave a glimpse into our shifting Western gaze. It’s one that’s painted our collective lens into perhaps viewing America as a country whose people were white-only, reflected by the television shows and movies made. For every Kit Harrington and Zac Efron, are Asian men who’ve long become the butt of the joke. But whether he knows it or not, Ritesh is changing all of that. He’s redefining what a leading man can – and should – look like.

“I feel we’re finally starting to leave that mentality that if you find an Asian man attractive you might have a ‘thing’ for Asian men,” Ritesh says to Very Good Light. “It’s not about that any more. We have the ability to play characters across the board that’s not defined by stereotypes. We’re not ashamed to show where we come from.”

A child of Indian immigrant parents who are both doctors, Ritesh grew up in upstate New York, about an hour away from the city, and always knew he wanted to act. It was in middle school that he began booking roles onstage and landing lead roles. “I was like, I guess i’m good at this!” he recalls.

It was after eventually going to NYU for acting that his parents knew he was serious. “They were really nervous at first because they want what’s best for their kids,” he says. “But they were fully supportive from the beginning.” What’s best about his parents, he says, is their radical candor. “They’ll tell me if I suck if I really do,” Ritesh says with a laugh. “It’s very Asian of them. But if I’m going to go for something, they expect 200%.”

Eventually, Ritesh moved to Los Angeles where he immediately booked an ad for Pepsi India. From there, it was the last season of “Law and Order,” which led him to star in “All My Children.” At the time, he recalls being one of a handful of working Indian actors. Though stark, it was much more progressive than his childhood where the only brown faces he saw onscreen was Kal Penn or Aladdin. But he didn’t know what was possibly until HBO’s “The Night Of” premiered. The show centers around South Asian American character who’s accused of murder. It’s a thrilling “whodunnit” type of show, but what truly makes it vibrant is the complexities of the main character’s Asian American dual identities. “I was like, whoa, this is what it means to seen and feel something,” he says. “To see an experience of a brown kid in a post-9/11 word who’s racially misunderstood was new to me. It was so empowering. It was this visceral reaction.”

(Photo by Jessica Chou/ Very Good Light. Ritesh is wearing: Jacket by Levi’s; Shirt by H&M; Pants by H&M; Shoes by Converse courtesy of Urban Outfitters.)

It allowed Ritesh to realize how powerful he was as a vessel for change. “For so long we’ve been watching white stories,” he says. “It’s time for them to see ours. Ours is beautiful as it’s rooted in American culture but also another culture as well. There’s so much depth.”

It’s what makes him feel unabashedly Asian. “No matter how hard you try to run from the old, your parent’s country or their culture, you’ll never get any from that,” he says. “To be able to merge two worlds? That’s powerful.”

Photographer: Jess Chou Assisted by: Se Collier Editor: David Yi Stylist: Christopher Kim Producer: Akemi Look Assistant Director: Tara Aquino Makeup artist: Christina Roberson Hairstylist: Joelis Vallejo