"I had sort of a turning point in my career when I changed my hair color. I was feeling really inspired one day and was just like, ‘I’m gonna dye it blue!’ It was a few years ago. At the time I had moved back to Korea to start modeling. I’d gone to high school in Seoul so I was already familiar with the culture there even though I grew up in the States too, but they said I was too old! [Laughs] It’s okay, I got to go to school at FIT, and live my life. Then I ended up TV presenting. And I’ve always loved fashion and beauty. Now it’s basically what I do for a living!
"My hair is naturally dark, so before going blue, I bleached it. I just bought bleach at the store, did it myself. I didn’t get anyone’s permission–I didn’t tell my agency, and when I walked in with blue hair they looked at me like an alien. [Laughs] Now, my hairstylist and best friend Sunwoo Kim does it, usually about once every two weeks. It’s really easy though because I keep my roots really long and it’s usually just retouching. Right now my hair is kind of a pink-y, purple-y tone because I like to do pinks in the summer and blues in the winter–it’s my mood hair! And I’ve been really into slicked back ponytails since my hair just grew out. When it was short I would put some waves in it and do the Bumble and bumble Surf Spray. I don’t like a lot of product in my hair.
After moving to Korea, my beauty routine changed a lot. People there are obsessed with beauty and looking younger, and there are so many amazing skincare products. I learned so much about how to take care of your skin, how important it is to maintain it. It’s not just what you put on your face, either. It’s eating right and exercising, it’s a full body thing. The roadshops–that’s what we call them–in Korea carry a lot of really great, really affordable products. Sheet masks are a dollar–the Innisfree ones are good. I’ll do lip pads sometimes, which are fun. In the summer and spring in Korea it gets very dusty and smoggy, so I always make sure I’m fully moisturized and wearing SPF–my favorite is Estée Lauder Crescent White SPF 50.
I did something fun with my makeup today because I’m in New York, so we put the stars on my eyes. We just attached them with eyelash glue. It’s really easy. I wanted to look kind of dewy and glowy, so I have the Estée Edit Flash Illuminator in Morning Light on, and then the Beam Team Hydrate and Glow in Bronze. On my lips I’ve got on the new Estée Edit Cocobalm in Cocoblush. They’re really nice and they smell good!"
—as told to ITG
Watch Irene's dewy blush trick below:
Irene Kim photographed by Tom Newton in New York on June 24, 2016. Video edited by Carrie Barber.