Courtesy of Yuehua Entertainment
The year is 2020. Specifically, March 13, 2020. EVERGLOW just wrapped up the penultimate stop of their Everlasting Tour in Newark, New Jersey. The day before, they announced that the final show in Los Angeles was to be canceled in light of…. well, you know. Fast forward to now. As our interview begins and I'm sitting in front of the six-member girl group, I'm taken back to four years prior and the regret I felt about not being able to attend their Newark concert (which I tell them as an icebreaker of sorts).
When EVERGLOW debuted in March 2019, they took the K-pop world by storm. The teaser for "Bon Bon Chocolat," their debut single, racked up five million views in just two days and the official music video surpassed three million views in just one day. Their sophomore single "Adios" reached over seven-and-a-half million in the same period and "Dun Dun," which was released just before the tour, skyrocketed to over 16 million views at the end of day one. For context, when you're not signed to a "big four" agency, those numbers (and trajectory) are especially impressive.
Knowing that, and taking into account that they were in the midst of their first-ever international tour, makes the fact that EVERGLOW's pandemic-free career has been shorter than the time spent, well, living through a pandemic, rather poignant. (Both the US and South Korea marked the end of COVID-19 categorized as a public health emergency on May 11, 2023, following the World Health Organization's announcement).
"The pandemic was a sad and depressing time for everyone but I think it was a good opportunity to look back on your loved ones and spend more time with your family, friends, and pets," Sihyeon, the leader of the group, reflects. K-pop idols ("아이돌" or "aidol" in Korean, a term largely referring to someone who has debuted in the Korean pop industry) spend a great deal of time training before their debut; coupled with their normally demanding schedules, the pandemic gave the EVERGLOW members some much-needed restorative time away from the limelight.
Despite the pandemic and its bizarre circumstances (Does anyone miss virtual concerts? Because I sure don't!), EVERGLOW ended up taking an abnormally long hiatus for a K-pop group. "We kept ourselves a little bit more up and mentally stable through conversations with each other," says Sihyeon of their break. "If we had anything on our minds, we'd openly discuss it among the members." That, surely, strengthened their bond even more and got them through until August 2023, when the ladies finally returned to the K-pop scene and their fans breathed a collective sigh of relief (and bursting-at-the-seams excitement).
With their latest hit "Slay," EVERGLOW continues and further cements their reputation as a powerful, girl crush-worthy act. The electropop song is infused with lyrics like "You know that I'm the crown / So don't you waste my time" and "We shining like diamonds and pearls." That begs the question: What does slay mean to the artists singing about it? "I think each of us carries a different spectrum of how we can represent how we slay, but if you encapsulate it, I would say it means you're killing it and you're cool," says E:U. "Onstage we usually represent that girl crush with very charismatic charms, but after we get off the stage, some people find us slaying in being more cutesy or witty." The duality of K-pop idols, ladies and gentlemen. Even the most introverted or playful idol, who's just casually jamming to different songs on a live broadcast and cracking jokes with fans like they're your best friend, transforms into whatever the song or performance demands — that's why EVERGLOW's discography is best seen in person.
As an Allure editor, beauty is my version of slaying — whether it's glowing skin, an eye-catching makeup look, or sleek, blown-out hair. Without a doubt, one of the most slay-worthy looks of this EVERGLOW era was Mia's short chop. "I had long hair or a bob at most but it was my first time cutting my hair this short — to represent a kind of a boyish and charismatic aspect of this concept," Mia reflects. "At first I kind of felt a little awkward and it was a little shocking to see myself with short hair but soon after, everyone was complimenting how good it looked on me, and it was very encouraging to hear."
I can't help but think that the pixie is the perfect way to usher in EVERGLOW'S revival. And that cotton candy blue she rocked in the music video? Oof, yes please. "Anyone with the right confidence can wear [a pixie]," New Jersey-based hairstylist Gerard Caruso previously told Allure, and if you've ever seen Mia perform, she's oozing with poise and spunk. Plus, Mia is clearly having fun experimenting with extensions (and new hues!) during the European leg of their All My Girls tour.
Mia is far from the only group member with envious hair. At the time of our interview, Onda's hair was half blonde, half black — in a way I can only describe as carefree cool. "I have my personal preferences but I'm more open to more challenges and adventurous looks whenever our [makeup and hair] styling teams have recommendations based on our comeback concepts," Onda says. "I'm one of the members who is always trying drastic [hairstyle] changes — it's always fun to explore the different options and I also discover new preferences with each challenge."
Obviously, I had to ask what hair color she'd choose for the rest of her life, emphasizing that her hair would (magically) always be healthy and not, you know, perpetually damaged by bleach. "Under the condition that my hair is always healthy, I would like to stay a very bright blonde," Onda reveals. This checks out. Onda rocked platinum blonde for "Slay" and has since dyed the black parts into an all-over pale blonde with hints of yellow.
This might not be surprising, but every time I see a K-pop idol in person, I'm in awe of their glowing skin. OK, yes, I know it's part of their job to look this good and that they have makeup teams to make sure of that — but if I was in the middle of a tour and traveling every day, there's no way my skin would look so fresh.
Well, there's more to it than impeccable makeup. "Skin care is the foundation of everything," Aisha says when I ask the ladies about the beauty tips they've learned. "It's really important to put a lot of effort into taking care of your skin because we are artists who are always performing and wearing makeup for very long periods," she says. "Good skin is just glowing in itself." A touch of soft pink blush and rosy-tinted lips add a nice touch, too.
As for 2024 beauty resolutions, Yiren hopes she and the members "can have a more mature mindset but younger-looking faces." Judging by their commitment to skin care, they're on the right track. "I want to be my own beauty icon," she confidently states. (A few beats later, Yiren shouts out singer-actress Nana of Orange Caramel fame and actress Han So-Hee as her beauty icons, but we all know which is the more important answer.)
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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Originally Appeared on Allure