Drawing on winged liner every day or having a standing appointment with your colorist to dye your hair the same shade of blonde every six weeks is incredibly normal, right? For K-pop stars, having a consistent, signature look is a rarity. They undergo beauty transformations every couple months. Take Sammy from The Rose, for example. Between May and August, the singer (who's also known as Woosung) morphed from the goth guy you’d meet at an Avenged Sevenfold cover band concert who invites you to a séance to the old-money heartthrob cut from a John Hughes movie because he was too nice — all thanks to changes in hair color, clothes, and makeup.
When his bandmate Dojoon (who also goes by Leo) notices I'm wearing yellow liner similar to the look I wore the last time I saw him, he's shocked by my consistency. I interviewed the band back in May during the New York City stop of their world tour. "It's been six months, and you still have it," he remarks. In that same amount of time, Leo's hair has gone from wavy auburn to straight raven black, and the depth of his smoky eye makeup varies on a daily basis.
Sammy's hair, on the other hand, went from "baby white" to an ashy brown, which he assures me was grayer at one point. "I need to get it re-done," he says. Bassist Jaehyeong dyed his black hair burgundy — or "mulled wine," if you will — while drummer Hajoon added some highlights to his chocolate-brown hair.
Hajoon, by the way, is The Rose's off-duty hairstylist. "Sometimes, he does our hair — not when we have an official schedule, but when we go out and have fun, he does our hair," Sammy informs me. "He's really good at it." Hajoon doesn't go heavy on the hair products, though. Instead, he tells me he prefers very simple, modern styles created with a blow-dryer or straightener.
Behind the Concept of Dawn
As a pleb, my hair and makeup choices are based purely on my mood and love of experimentation. For K-pop stars, their looks are beholden to whatever their latest album's concept is. Although The Rose doesn't perform choreography or sing along to electronic beats like most K-pop groups, its members are no exception to undergoing ever-changing looks.
The Rose just dropped their second mini album, Dawn, on Thursday, and a softer concept compared to their last mini-album, The Void, accompanies it. "This time around, we wanted to give that calm look," Sammy explains. In comparison to the grungy, dark concept of The Void, Sammy notes that the band's hair and makeup are "really, really toned down." For their outfits, head-to-toe black ensembles with hints of bold colors were replaced with sepia suits with muted hues.
Sammy also pointed out an aspect of his pastel look you might have missed. For the Dawn promo shots, he wore colored contacts for the first time. He describes them as a "gray blueish" shade, and they truly help pull everything together.
Beauty Revelations With The Rose
Not only did Sammy and Leo's hair change since May, but their approaches to beauty have also evolved. After interviewing The Rose for the first time in May, I joked that I wanted to start a column called Beauty Revelations With The Rose. While chatting with members Sammy and Leo about their favorite skin-care products and latest hairstyles, they realized something: Men, historically, don't openly talk about their skin-care and makeup routines. "I don't think there's anything odd about it these days," Sammy said. "I'm glad it's like that, and we could talk about our skin routines without being looked at weird. We should all take care of ourselves." After noting this was the first time they talked about beauty in an interview, Leo added that it was fun.
The universe seemingly brought me the second edition of the imaginary column when The Rose returned to New York to perform at the K-Expo, a New York City-based convention celebrating K-pop. Since our last conversation, Leo tells me backstage during the event that they pay more attention while getting their makeup done. "We are getting to know little by little how to get your eyes done with the colors, textures, and shapes," he explains. Sammy later notes that even though he doesn't like wearing makeup, it makes him "look nicer," which I assume means he can tell how it makes his complexion look brighter and more even.
Another unexpected development is the way The Rose buys beauty products. "We were really shy about buying products at the shop," Leo says, reenacting his previous bashfulness for me. "Now, we are really cool with it. We just go get what we want." And they know what to get, too, when they stop by their go-to store Olive Young, which is basically the South Korean version of Sephora and Ulta combined. They're not afraid to splurge there either, Sammy adds.
"Because we get our makeup done almost every day, we have to take care of our skin; otherwise, we break out and get pimples," he says. "We buy really expensive lotions." He goes on to list off what he's bought recently: a $50 toner, a $50 serum, a $30 lotion. Leo adds that the products are kind of expensive.
If I had bad skin, I would just naturally feel less confident — I
think it’s just a natural human thing.
For Sammy, it's all worth it because they have to spend that much money on skin-care products. He's fully aware that having clear skin is an unofficial part of his job description. "I definitely feel like not I'm spending on somewhere I don't need to spend because it is our job, to be honest," he explains. "It's nice that we can look nice. If we had pimples all over our faces, I wouldn't feel comfortable performing on stage." Let's be real, though, if any member of The Rose was experiencing a breakout, fans would still thoroughly enjoy their shows. (As someone who has seen them live twice, I feel confident in saying that.) Plus, acne happens to the best of us, and it's completely normal.
However, the pressure to have good skin has been a part of Sammy's life before he even moved to Korea from California to become a singer. "I remember in even my high school days, if I had bad skin, I would just naturally feel less confident," he recalls. "No one had to tell me anything, I would just feel less confident. I think it’s just a natural human thing."
Jaehyeong feels it, too. Sammy and Leo later point to Jaehyeong as the member who has the most extensive skin-care routine. He considers washing his face to be the most important part of it. "He cleanses three times," Leo explains. He starts off by removing his eye makeup with a micellar water. Then, he uses an oil cleanser with a cleaning brush. Finally, he uses a cleansing foam. Despite all this, Jaehyeong believes he has "bad" skin.
With just 10 minutes to interview The Rose for the second time while crammed into a dressing room about the size of the bathroom in my studio apartment, we couldn't exactly delve deeply into what is considered "good" and "bad" skin and the stigmas surrounding the latter. I guess we'll have to wait for the third edition of Beauty Revelations with The Rose to happen. In the meantime, you can check out the music video for "She's In The Rain," below.
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