Ulzzang and Circle Lenses
A reader of mine asked me to write an article on this subject. Please know though, that this is going to be from a male perspective.
A new word coming into the English language lexicon is “ulzzang”. This is based on the Korean slang word 얼짱, and online sources say it means “the best face” (얼굴 eolgul = face, 짱 jjang = best). I don’t think it’s really a good translation because it doesn’t convey nuance. If I were going to translate it I’d call it “Super Face.”
So, what is Ulzzang?
It is a series of makeup and lighting techniques designed to make the eyes appear larger, and the skin appear whiter. It basically gives people a plastic surgery look without plastic surgery. Now, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to spend hours and hours doing this kind of thing before going out each morning. Being a guy rocks!
Is it really popular in Korea?
Um.. I guess? It seems to be all over the internet, but all the tutorials of how to do it are done by either Asian-Americans or Asians in other countries outside of Korea. I can’t say with any authority (because I am a man), but I think it’s more of a subculture in Korea that other people in other countries assume is mainstream, kind of how anime nerds think all Japanese people like anime, only to be surprised to find out that the Japanese who like it are also anime nerds. That isn’t to say that the ulzzang girls are nerds, but looking at the women I see on the street, on the bus, or in my company, there are positively no ulzzangs in my line of sight.
The makeup techniques of ulzzangs are amazing. The photo below shows before makeup and after makeup of the same person!
WOW! How can I look like that?That’s a question I can’t answer. The pictures above come from a tutorial website about how to achieve the ulzzang look. It includes circle lenses, foundation, eyeliner, eyelid glue, lip gloss, and false eyelashes. I’m no makeup expert, but I would assume the look takes over an hour, not to mention her hair must also take a while to get perfectly.
Here’s a website where you can rate other people’s attempts at an ulzzang makeover.
How did your reader find out about ulzzang?
The look has been getting an amazing amount of press lately in the U.S. The reader who asked me to write about it forwarded me this article from the New York Times. The article is about American kids trying to copy a look that Lady Gaga, an American musician, used in a music video. I recall other media sources reporting on the same thing before seeing this print story. The story, as I understand it, is that youtube celebrity makeup artist Michelle Phan instructed people on how to achieve Lady Gaga’s look and reccomended that to achieve the look, people buy circle lenses, which are made in Korea. Circle lenses are basically color contact lenses that have a diameter larger than the pupil of the eye. The effect is that it makes your eyes appear larger. According to the American press, these circle lenses could cause blindness because they aren’t approved by the U.S. food and drug administration.
The instant I heard that, I didn’t believe that they would cause blindness. What I think is that American manufacturers can’t make them because a Korean company has patented them. I don’t know if there’s an American cosmetic contact lens manufacturing lobby, but if there was, they would probably not want these Korean made lenses to hit the U.S. market. People would definitely flock to the superior product and that would be the end of American cosmetic contact lens manufacturing. There’s probably nothing wrong with the lenses, as many Koreans are using them every day, but I think the corporations may have lobbied the FDA not to approve the circle lens to defend their products.
Below are two videos, one is a discussion of a news report about the circle lens. The second is a circle lens user’s rant about the news report and the FDA in general.