The list of things I think about a lot includes dogs in sweaters, the next tattoo I want to get, and Korean pop star Minhyuk delicately sprinkled with glitter for Monsta X’s "Beautiful" music video. Until recently, I wasn't sure why this specific scene fascinated me. Sure, men covered in glitter is one of my favorite visuals, but why do I always go back to Minhyuk's metallic look?
A couple days ago, Minhyuk, as well as his fellow members of K-pop group Monsta X, sat in front of me with eye makeup so stunning it twinkled even in harsh lighting. I couldn't stop staring at the champagne shadow that lined Jooheon’s lower lids, the shimmery cocoa shade swept on the outer corners of Hyungwon's eyes, or the glimmering peach hue all over Wonho's lids. After Monsta X's show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, I repeatedly heard people saying that the K-pop group's performances were filled with masculine energy. That's when everything started making sense.
Maybe I've been fixated on Minhyuk's glittery moment because it epitomizes Monsta X's ability to balance the stereotypical femininity of makeup and the masculinity of being a member of a boy group clad in harnesses and military-inspired suits.
Alternately, that look helps prove a point that another man in glitter, Quil Lemons, once told me: "Makeup doesn't necessarily have any energy," he said. "It's just products, and society gives it that gendering. It's weird. Nothing says it's for boys or for girls. We just put those labels on it." Instead, the people who wear makeup — in this case, glitter and eye shadow — give it energy, and damn do the men of Monsta X sparkle.
Sparkle aside, one single aspect of Monsta X doesn't make the members shine. Their glow, which keeps growing brighter since the group first debuted in 2015, is due to a seamless combination of camaraderie, passion, and, for all intents and purposes, amazing skin.
Before interviewing the boys while they were in New York City for a stop on their world tour, I called upon Monsta X fans, or Monbebes as they are so lovingly referred to as, to share beauty-related questions they'd want to ask the group. Almost everyone who responded wanted to know about their skin-care routines. Admittedly, a form of this was already the first question on my list, and luckily, Monbebes, every single member gave Allure a peek into their beauty regimes.
Keep scrolling to find out what exactly makes every single member of Monsta X, "Shine Forever" in a beauty sense, of course.
Sitting two rows in front of me, Monsta X's eldest member is tucked behind the youngest, I.M, during the interview. He quietly observes my interactions with the members — only interjecting one or two words of affirmation for the other members' answers — until Hyungwon puts him on blast.
"He only uses three fingers," Hyungwon announces, pointing to Shownu before holding up his hands in the tri-finger sign best known by the Girl Scouts. Kihyun and Minhyun begin to mime how Shownu rubs skin-care products around his face. My mind immediately tries to come up with an explanation. Is it gentler on skin than using all five fingers? Does it help with lymphatic drainage? Is he on that face yoga wave? Shownu has a much simpler reason, though. "I don't like getting the product all over my hands," he says. Fair enough.
In case you were wondering where he learned this unexpected trick, Shownu didn't pick it up from his mom or while on Lipstick Prince, a South Korean reality TV show that features male pop stars learning how to apply makeup. He taught himself, he tells me with a bashful smile. It's the same expression that comes across his face when he describes Minhyuk in one word as attractive, before tacking on a quick "sorry." I think we can all agree that neither is anything to apologize for. In fact, I need to try out his three-finger application trick because rubbing product between your palms can be wasteful. You might be onto something, Shownu.
Wonho, the member known for his defined abs and sculpted arms, takes a much more lax approach to his beauty routine compared to the time in the gym and the energy he puts into his protein-filled diet. After witnessing the performer take his shirt off during the show and hearing about his favorite beauty product, I'm confident in sharing this.
After asking which member has the least extensive skin-care regimen, Kihyun and I.M look to Shownu. Reason being? He loves all-in-one products. Minhyuk corrects them. "These days, it’s not like that," he says. Shownu defends himself and says it's Wonho lately. He didn't deny it, though. "Just mist, and I’m finished," Wonho explains.
And the boy fucking loves his face mist. As you can imagine, it’s the one beauty product he can’t live without. Unfortunately, Wonho couldn’t share the exact mist he reaches for on a daily basis, but he hints that it’s hydrating. In my head, it’s the Whamisa Organic Flowers Olive Leaf Mist. I might be projecting, though, because it's one of my favorites. Although I can't confirm if he agrees with my mist pick, we do have the same go-to beauty advice: "You have to learn to love yourself."
Minhyuk's skin doesn't need to be flecked with glitter to make it glisten. It's radiant thanks to researching and investing in products like a member of the SkincareAddiction subreddit community. Because of this, he's become the group's go-to person for beauty advice.
His most important piece of advice? "Find out which ingredients work for you and which ones don't work — and don't use those ingredients," Minhyuk says. With this in mind, he seeks out hyaluronic acid. Its Korean pronunciation is vaguely similar to English, so the members have a hard time translating the ingredient. I.M eventually describes hyaluronic acid as something "involved with water." He's not wrong. Every molecule of hyaluronic acid can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, making moisturizers and serums spiked with it incredibly plumping and hydrating when smoothed onto skin.
Technique-wise, Minhyuk repeatedly informs me that he's into the 3 Skin Method, a less-intense version of the popular 7 Skin Method. He's surprised to know I'm fully aware of what he's talking about. A hint of relief flashes on his face seconds later, as if he's glad I don't think it's weird to apply toner to your face three times in a row. He later adds that he rubs it onto his face with cotton pads, as opposed to patting it onto his skin directly with his hands. Minhyuk, unsurprisingly, picks toner if he could only use one beauty product for a week. He'd probably go through a whole bottle by the end of it, though.
Quickly removing his makeup with a face wipe before bed isn't Kihyun's ideal skin-care routine. The singer values his multi-step regime. He says the most important part of his skin-care routine is "having enough time." The members pointed to him as having one of the most extensive routines, so taking that time out of his busy day is a commitment.
Part of his process is patting on his products, as opposed to rubbing them on, to help increase their absorption and stimulate blood flow. However, I.M would like to clarify that patting is too delicate of a term. "When I see him, he's not patting his face," I.M says. "He's slapping his face, and it makes a huge sound." Minhyuk even starts hitting his neck to mimic the noise Kihyun makes, making their point incredibly clear.
Although he's aggressive with his skin, Wonho describes Kihyun as sensitive, which was evident in the way he helped I.M translate throughout the interview and elaborate on others' answers. He even calls I.M perfect, and I have to hold myself from audibly saying, "Awww."
Hyungwon's iconic sipping tea meme wasn't just a fleeting moment of his humor. Honestly, he's hilarious. When asked if any of the members use skin-care tech, he replies, "Just my hands." I can't be bothered to charge any more devices than I already have, so I don't blame him for that answer.
Even though he's the first to call out Shownu's unique way of applying his skin-care products, Hyungwon is incredibly supportive of his teammates throughout the interview, giving them reassuring smiles and high-fiving Jooheon when he calls him attractive.
I lost count of the number of Monbebes on Twitter who asked about Hyungwon's trademark plump lips. Surprisingly, he makes no mention of lip balm. Lotion is actually his go-to skin-care product. I guess he likes to keep his skin as smooth and hydrated to complement his lips.
I almost thought Jooheon pulled drink-water-for-perfect-skin tip on me. The rapper calls out "water" as the most important part of his skin-care routine. Just to make sure we're on the same page, I ask Jooheon if he means drinking it. (Beauty editors hear this way too many times from people with crystal-clear complexions, and we have top stop ourselves from groaning every time.)
"Drink a lot of water, too," he explains, "but wash your face." Phew. Cleansing is the base of any good regime, if you ask me.
Although good old H2O does amazing things for your body, it doesn't exactly keep your skin hydrated and help it glow like a moisturizer does — no matter how much you gulp down. With that in mind, Jooheon swears by moisturizer, too. So not only is he Monsta X's king of beatboxing, he's got hydration on lock, too. This probably isn't the reason why I.M described Jooheon as "D.O.P.E. Dope," but I would like to think so.
OK, now for the moment you've all been waiting for. I got I.M to drop his skin-care routine. (Imagine me somewhere in Brooklyn curtseying right now.) After some debate over which member has the most extensive routine, Jooheon made the executive decision that it's I.M — not Minhyuk or Kihyun. I.M tries to count every single step in his head before deciding to list them off. He starts off by washing his face with an electronic cleansing brush. (Allure editors love the Foreo Luna.) After that comes toner, essence, serum, lotion, and then an oil-free moisturizer or night cream. (I.M has oily skin, in case you were wondering.) That adds up to six. However, he forgot one. "And eye cream," Wonho adds.
With that for you to study, I'll move on to a theory I have. I'm convinced I.M was a philosopher in a past life or will be a motivational speaker in the future. (Mark my words.) His little nuggets of skin-care wisdom made me forget he's just 22 years old. Having a positive state of mind is crucial to I.M when it comes to skin.
The group is often photographed with and without makeup on, whether it's on stage or at the airport, and fans often praise the members' bare skin. (Yes, male K-pop stars often experience the annoying "you should wear less makeup" request as many women do.) I.M admits having his skin under such a public microscope places pressure on him. "We are celebrities, and we care about our skin so much," he explains. "But 24/7, [our skin] can't always be fine and always be clear, so I think a positive mind is part of getting better skin. Even if our skin is bad, we don't really care."
If you were to combine all seven members' skin-routines into one Frankenstein regime, it'd come down to this: If you have the time, start by washing your face with a cleansing brush. Then, apply some toner — three times to be exact. Next, rub on moisturizer with three fingers. Don't be afraid to slap it on, though. If you're in a rush, spritz on a hydrating mist after washing your face, and you'll be set. I can't guarantee this routine will turn you into a human version of Fenty Beauty's Killawatt Highlighter (let's be real, that's what the members of Monsta X are), but it's worth a try.
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