Jessica Jung Shares How Her Approach to Beauty Has Changed Since Her Idol Days

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Jessica Jung is finally a butterfly.

These are the words on the phone, not mine. It's 9 a.m. for me in New York City, 10 p.m. for Jung in Seoul, South Korea — not that time matters these days as we're both navigating a COVID-19 world from our respective countries (more on that later).

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"I was like a little caterpillar back then," Jung shares. "Now, I know who I am. I found my comfort zone, so I'm like a butterfly." Her reference to "back then" started around 2007, when she was known simply as Jessica. The California native debuted at 18 with the beloved Korean group Girls' Generation. Her presence in the K-pop world for the next seven years was so major that a character in the Oscar-winning movie Parasite was named after her. In 2014, Jung left the group to focus on solo ventures, namely her fashion and skin-care brand Blanc & Eclare.

Over the past 13 years, Jung has been the face of many beauty brands, but she says she's more than just the face of this one. During our interview, she let it slip that she's developing a line with Revlon, so the brand has been open to her feedback and vision.

"Working with Revlon has been amazing," Jung says. "They really accepted me as who I am and what kind of person I am now. I can express myself, and I can be myself and be comfortable... They ask for my opinion, which never really happened in the past."

During her "caterpillar" days as an idol, Jung says beauty was all about trial and error. She constantly tried new hair colors (at one point, she was blonde with blunt bangs) and makeup styles with each Girls' Generation era. Around 19, Jung recalls relying on makeup to help her look older. "I wanted to look sexier and try to become an adult," she says. "I wanted to seem like a working woman, but that's not what people wanted. At that time, people wanted something fresh and [youthful]. But I did a lot of cat eyes and smoky eyes. I felt like doing a no-makeup makeup was not pretty. I thought to put on a lot of makeup was pretty."

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Now, at 31, Jung says her approach to makeup is the complete opposite. She's mastered a luminous, low-key look that's so effortless her friends often think she isn't wearing any makeup at all. I ask her to break down the basics, and she starts off with foundation (or lack of it.) A custom mixture of moisturizer and Revlon Color Stay Concealer is preferred. Because it has a "really natural glow to it," she says she can skip highlighter.

Lip oil is another essential. "I like the glossy look on my lips," Jung says. "So even if I have a matte lipstick on, I [dab] a little bit of the lip oil in the middle just to make it a little bit more glamorous."

For her brows, Jung is loving a full, bushy look lately. To achieve it, she goes through four steps: powder, two shades of pencil, and brown mascara. (You can see the process in action on her YouTube channel.) The latter is the most unexpected as she prefers to sweep a mascara for lashes onto her arches rather than a brow mascara.

"It just holds better and elongates your brows," Jung explains of the tip, which she discovered after noticing other brow-volumizing hacks, like soap and hair gel, didn't work for her. She figured if mascara could thicken her lashes, it would have the same effect on her brows.

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The eye shadow shade she reaches for depends on the season. During springtime, she's into peaches and corals, while fall and winter call for deep, rosy hues. And for lashes, things get heated. To help her naturally straight lashes hold a curl, Jung warms up her lash curler with a blow dryer. If she's wearing false lashes, she lights a wooden stick on fire, blows it out, and presses it onto her lashes to help them stay curled longer.

Jung famously has a 16-step morning routine, which she detailed in a Vogue video in 2016. Creating a quick sheet mask out of toner and cotton pads, as well as gently pressing essence and moisturizer onto her skin with the warmth of both hands are some highlights.

Customization is currently the key to Jung's regimen. She simplifies it or adds certain products based on the condition of her skin or where she is. Because she wears so many hats, Jung was constantly traveling and adapting her skin- care routine to the weather of the city she was in. At the moment, she's stuck in Korea. "I have more time for self-care," she adds. "I can really work on home care."

Slapping on one sheet mask every day has become a ritual for Jung during this time at home. What about skin-care devices to replace professional services, I inquire. "I'm not into devices, actually," she answers. "I'm kind of old school in that way. I do have a face roller. It was a gift. But I don't roll it on my face. I roll it on my [hairline]." Jung goes on to tell me her masseuse said this is the best place to massage to lessen puffiness and increase circulation for the whole face.

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