Most Popular Beauty Products to Stock Up On While in Seoul

Traveling to Korea and need to stock up on the best Korean beauty products? Besides coming back with a bajillion Korean face masks — my favorite Korean mask brand being Mediheal — I’ve read countless Korean beauty blogs, stores, and magazines (with Korean and non-Korean suggestions via Allure Magazine Korea’s Best of Beauty 2019 and Consumer’s Pick 2019) to increase your K-Beauty cred’ by a hundredfold.

Don’t know which Korean beauty stores to start at?

Olive Young, Chicor, and Aritaum are the most popular beauty megastores, carrying a wide range of Korean and international brands. And bonus! Olive Young is practically on every corner albeit the selection varies per store. My favorite Olive Young happens to be in my neighborhood on Gangnam-Daero — between Sinnonhyeon Station and Gangnam Station — by the Kakao Friends Store. You’ll also find beauty brands on the same street like an Aritaum, Chicor, Innisfree, Etude House, and Nature Collection.

What are the best souvenirs from Korea?

Face masks and cosmetics! They’re often very inexpensive as face masks are usually around $1 to $2 apiece. You can also buy face masks in bulk packs from Etude House, Innisfree, or Nature Collection.

Looking for K-Beauty products in the US?

Check out Sokoglam.com (stocks Missha, Klairs, CosRX, and Neogen among others), Sephora.com (stocks Laneige and Dr. Jart), or even Amazon.com via third-party sellers. Innisfree, Clio, Etude House, Too Cool for School, and Banila Co also ship within the US. If you happen to live near a Korean-American grocery store like H-Mart, you might even get lucky as they often import popular, hard-to-find Korean beauty products.

How do Korean girls look so good all the time?

The beauty standards are insane in Korea and competition is fierce. Like hello? Did we really need a seven-step skincare system? Going make-up free is considered rude by some, and even men throw on a little BB cream from time to time. Fat-shaming is common and fast-fashion is made in one-size-fits-all. Plastic surgery clinics are also everywhere and cheap! All the girls use beauty filters for their selfies which whitens, slims, and enlarges eyes. After all the pressure, they are so easy on the eyes, and I’ve really upped my game as a result. They are truly some of the most beautiful women in the world, but it’s not without effort (though for some lucky few with amazing genes, maybe so!)

What are the most popular beauty filter apps in Korea?

Fake it ’til you make it! Facetune, move over! The most popular beauty apps in Korea are probably Beauty Plus, SODA, Ulike, LOOKS, Snow, and Meitu. Be careful with the settings! Overuse may result in looking like an alien with a big head, small body, and huge eyes!

Best of Beauty: Base Makeup

Tone-Up Cream

Laneige White Dew Tone-Up Fluid

Korean Makeup

Laneige White Dew Tone Up Fluid

Moisture and radiant tone-up fluid protects skin from fine dust and UV rays while brightening the skin tone. Contains three hundred vine extracts from natural ingredients to give your skin a smooth and radiant finish. It also has skin care and sun protection. 50ml for 40,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

Laneige has always been a staple in my mother’s skincare line, having been around since 1994. Its name comes from the French “la neige”, which translates to “the snow”.

As yellow dust season is approaching in the coming months, this extra layer of protection under my makeup may prove vital! Although, the whitening effect — so very typical of Asian cosmetics — may not be necessary for those that lean towards alabaster-colored skin … Unless you’re looking for that Edward Cullen snow-glow!

This particular product seems to be tricky to find in the United States, but you may get lucky importing from overseas via third-party sellers on Amazon.com. Just make sure you’re getting the real thing! And not paying an exorbitant price for the fluid. It sells for 40,000 KRW here in Korea which is equivalent to $33.79 (as of 17 February 2020).

Definitely check out the Laneige Water Bank skincare line like the Water Sleeping Mask, too! Sephora in the United States carries a good variety of Laneige products.

Concealer

Inga’s Cover Fitting Tattoo Concealer

Korean Makeup

Inga Cover Fitting Tattoo Concealer

Applying a creamy texture that gently touches and taps, the blemish disappears. It can be used as the first skin without darkening. SPF 30++ 6.5g for 13,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

Like most Korean cosmetics, the color range is severely lacking. The only two colors that seem to be available are Light Beige and Neutral Beige. My experience with Korean foundations and concealers is that they have a tendency to run very, very light — even for me! — and warmer. Keep in mind that it’s a homogenous country, so most people tend to be the same-ish shade of beige and prefer looking fair-skinned.

You can find more Inga Cosmetics at Aritaum.

Moisturizing Liquid Foundation

Korean Makeup

Espoir Pro Tailor Foundation Be Glow SPF25 PA++

Experience healthy, glowing skin. The thin texture provides natural cover for blemishes and long-lasting beautiful radiance that makes skin look good. Pro Tailor Be Glow fades beautifully and consists of 10 colors that brighten skin tone. 30ml for 38,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Editor’s Pick 2018, Singles Cosmetics Awards 2019, Powder Room Beauty Award

Moisturizing foundation for that glass skin effect, but also slid off my face … So, there’s that.

French Makeup

Dior Forever Skin Glow 24H Wear Skin-Care Foundation Foundation

Glow Finish Lasts 24 hours. Rich moisture gives radiant healthy skin. SPF35 / PA ++ 30ml for 77,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

I’ve heard mixed reviews on this product regarding its staying power. As it’s not a Korean brand — bonjour, Dior! — you’re better off buying it back in the States for less money.

Matte Liquid Foundation

Korean Makeup

Banila Co Covericious Power Fit Foundation

Light and thin, no worry of bunching up or pinching. Fine coverage particles closely adhere to your skin to catch blemishes and redness. 30ml for 32,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019, Self Beauty Editor’s Pick Oct 2019, Hwahae Beauty Awards 2019, Korea Satisfaction Consumer Index 2019

Banila Co has been around since 2005 and have been killin’ it in the cosmetics and skincare department ever since. You can purchase their products stateside at BanilaUSA.com. Their Clean It Zero products have reached cult status, and I’m also a big fan of the Banila Co Prime Primer Powder.

Long-Lasting Liquid Foundation

American Makeup

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup SPF10

It boasts comfort and high coverage, and it has been loved by consumers for its strength to produce flawless skin even at close range. 30ml for 69,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Consumer Picks 2019, Allure (US) Best of Beauty 2018

I love, love, love the Estee Lauder Double Wear liquid foundation and the Estee Lauder Double Wear Cushion BB All Day Wear Liquid Compact. My only gripe is that the liquid foundation can oxidize a bit in the summer, turning me ever-so-slightly orange. It lasts extremely well from morning to night or night to morning — depending on circumstances — without looking crusty or settling into fine lines.

This is widely available in the United States and cheaper, too. If you’re in Korea, the shade range is limited, but you can find better options at SSG.com. You can also find Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation and the compact version at Olive Young. A popular, cheaper dupe for the Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation in Korea is the Etude House Double Lasting Foundation, but it still doesn’t have the same longevity and lovely finish.

Matte Cushion Compact

French Makeup

Nars Natural Radiant Long Wear Soft Foundation

Lightweight, longwearing formula that helps protect skin from sun and pollution, plus White Water Lily Extracts to brighten skin dulled by environmental stress. Full coverage for up to 16 hours. 12g for 69,000 won.


Cushion compacts have been all the rage these days in Korea and understandably so! They’re ultra-portable, making it super easy to touch up throughout the day. This Nars Compact is from French brand, Nars, but tricky to find in the US. Limited shade range in Korea as usual.

Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

Korean Makeup

HERA Black Cushion

A makeup cushion foundation with a lightweight texture for comfortable yet beautiful skin all day long. 15g × 2 pieces for 55,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Consumer’s Pick 2019

HERA’s Black Liquid Foundation also made it into Allure Korea’s Editor Picks 2019! What was said about HERA Black Liquid Foundation: “adheres tightly to the skin and does not collapse for 24 hours. Soft matte powder gives a smooth finish and a moisturizing ingredient delivers a quick-drying hydration. 35ml 60,000 won.”

Moisturizing Cushion Compact

Korean Makeup

Jung Saem Mool Essential Skin Nuder Cushion Compact

Korea’s most renowned makeup artist Jung Saem Mool created the winner of the Moisturizing Cushion Pact category. The Jung Saem Mool Essential Skin Nuder Cushion contains a special hue-balancing powder that keeps skin luminous no matter what’s on your agenda for the day. It will also protect your skin from UV rays and other environmental aggressors with SPF 50. 14g x 2 pieces (product + refill) for 42,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2018

Famous Makeup Artist turned Beauty Mogul, Jung Saem Mool has an ultra-cool flagship store on Garosu-gil near Sinsa Station in Gangnam. You can also purchase the Jung Saem Mool Skin Nuder Compact at Chicor or Jsmbeauty.com.

French Makeup

Clé de Peau Beauté Radiant Cushion Foundation

Lightweight, hydrating foundation makeup with sheer to medium coverage and a natural dewy finish. Ideal for hydrating and perfecting on the go. Contains skincare ingredients to provide moist, radiant skin. Soft refocusing powder helps to create a thin and transparent skin. 12g for 110,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

Clé de Peau can be found all over the world and is also known for its holy grail concealer which I’ve bought twice. Not the most budget-friendly pick, but worth the financial sacrifice.

American Makeup

Mac Studio Perfect Hydrating Cushion Compact

Studio Perfect SPF50 / PA ++ Hydrating Cushion Compact with Moisture-Fusion Complex for radiant glow and a light fit to your skin. Product with one additional refill. 12g × 2 pieces for 60,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

Another Asia-exclusive product from North American company, MAC. Shade range is limited.

Pearl Base

Korean Makeup

Chicor Holographic and Dewy Cream

Gold Beige with Golden Beige Pearl. Spread all over your face to create a natural radiant skin, or use it as a substitute for Liquid Highlighter. 30ml for 17,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

Color Correcting Base

Korean Makeup

Code Glökolor N. Peach Blanc Primer

Colors the skin with a lovely peach color. Rose extract and pearl powder make the skin bright and smooth, enhancing makeup adhesion and durability. 27ml for 20,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

The peachy tone really helps brighten drab skin and helps foundation glide on effortlessly. Since most of the foundations I’ve tried in Korea skew warmer, I’ve used this peachy-pink primer to help balance tones in my face. Unfortunately, Code Glökolor hasn’t crossed overseas yet and can only be found in Korea.

Cream Blush

Korean Makeup

Amuse Soft Cream Cheek #60 Marmalade

Star-shaped applicator pats on the desired area for a smooth finish. Both cheeks are colored apricot to create a lively mood. 3g for 17,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

Unfortunately, unavailable in the United States, but while you’re in Seoul, maybe make some friends so you can try to coerce them into shipping you these in-demand goodies!

Powder Blush

French Makeup

MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Face Color #302

Ultra-fine powder particles adhere to the skin for brighter skin. Three different makeup palettes can be combined with different colors. 5g for 38,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

You won’t need to come to Korea to stock up on this French cosmetics brand! You can easily find it for much cheaper outside of Korea. But if you must, you can find Make Up Forever products at Shinsegae.

French Makeup

Nars Blush in Sex Appeal

Subtle apricot color is applied to the cheeks, giving a natural and healthy color to any skin tone. Regarded as a favorite of many, regardless of age and taste. 4.8g for 40,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Consumer’s Pick 2019 (Color: Sex Appeal); Allure (US) Best of Beauty (Color: Orgasm) in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011; Allure (US) Consumer’s Pick in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.

You’ll find a better deal on Nars products outside of Korea. If you must, you can find Nars beauty products at Chicor or Shinsegae — owned by the same conglomerate. Just don’t expect the same shade range in-store.

Pressed Powder

French Makeup

Makeup Forever Ultra HD Pressed Powder

This invisible veil of finishing powder instantly blurs fine lines, pores and imperfections for a beautifully smooth complexion. 6.2g for 54,000 won.


You can easily find Makeup Forever’s Pressed Powder in the States. Having tried this, I actually prefer Too Cool for School’s Artclass by Rodin Finish Setting Pact at a lower price point and Banila Co Prime Primer Finish Powder especially since I tend to go through setting powder in Korea’s humid summers like no other. Both Too Cool for School and Banila Co are Korean brands, but they’re also available in the US.

Bronzer

Korean Makeup

Too Cool for School Artclass By Rodin Shading

Artclass By Rodin Shading is Too Cool For School’s best-selling contouring palette for naturally contoured look with three skin-blending shade blocks in a handy compact with a mirror.


Featured in: 2019 Olive Young Awards, Beauty Review Winner 2019, Hwahae Beauty Awards 2019

You can find the Too Cool for School by Rodin Shading at Olive Young. Too Cool for School shop locations are basically everywhere. You can shop on their Korean website, Toocoolforschool.com, or US website, Toocoolforschool.us.

Best of Beauty: Makeup

Mascara

Korean Makeup

Clio Kill Lash Superproof Mascara

Slim curve brush that resembles an eye curve raises the eyelashes to create a defined look. Resistant to water, sweat, and oil, it stays in place for the first time without bleeding or smudging. 7g for 18,000 won.


God, I love this mascara. I’ve recently tried different Japanese waterproof mascaras like Kiss Me Heroine (smudged) and Deja Vu Fiberwig (only moderately smudged), but Clio Kill Lash really surprised me. It is really black. It actually stays put with no raccoon eyes even in the blistering, humid summers of Korea. AND my lashes look long and defined. Just make sure to double cleanse with an oil cleanser and/or buy a good makeup remover. You can find Clio Kill Lash Superproof Mascara at any Olive Young in Korea with frequent 1+1 sales (buy one, get one free).

Eyeliner

American Makeup

Benefit Roller Liner Liquid Eyeliner

Felt tip completes a sleek, delicate eye line. It’s a 24-hour longwear waterproof formula that dries quickly and stays crisp for a long time. 1ml for 31,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

I am not impressed by this recommendation by Allure Korea. I’ve had better luck with Clio Waterproof Pen Liner which actually stays put. You can also check out Clio Waterproof Pen Liner’s Influenster reviews. You can buy Clio or Benefit at Oliveyoung.co.kr.

American Makeup

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Waterproof Liner

An opaque, densely-pigmented liner with all-day wear that’s gentle enough for tight-lining but strong enough to withstand a tough workout or hot, humid weather. For best results, twist product up just enough to apply—the tube will support liner for the smoothest application. 0.12g for 42,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Best of Beauty 2017, Allure Korea Consumer’s Pick 2019

You can also purchase Bobbi Brown products at Chicor in Korea.

Eyebrow Pencil

American Makeup

Benefit Precisely My Brow Eyebrow Pencil

Thin, thin pencil that blends the eyebrows with a built-in brush for a clean, natural eyebrow. Auto pencil is easy to use. 0.08g for 36,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019, Glamour Beauty Award for Best Brow Product 2017, SELF.com SELF Approved Beauty Award for Best Brow Pencil 2017

I’ve never been a huge fan of Benefit products. For a cheaper gel eyebrow pencil that works wonders, I’ve been really enjoying the Isehan Kiss Me Heavy Rotation Gel Eyebrow Pencil (13,000 KRW) that can be found at Aritaum. You can buy Benefit products in Korea at Oliveyoung.co.kr.

Eyeshadow

Japanese Makeup

Shiseido Aura Dew #04 Aurora

Brilliant shadow that reminds you of the sun. The soft texture blends naturally into the natural skin color. It can be applied to face, lip, etc. in multi. 7g for 31,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

You can find Japanese Brand, Shiseido’s, Aura Dew highlighter/shadow at Sephora.com or Shiseido.com, but this particular color doesn’t seem to be available in the US.

French Makeup

Laura Mercier Matte Eye Color #Ginger

Laura Mercier’s ‘Ginger Shadow’ is synonymous with any skin tone. The matte texture of the pearl is applied smoothly to create a clear look. 2.6g for 35,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Consumer’s Pick 2019

You can also purchase Laura Mercier products at SSG.com.

Eyeshadow Palette

Korean Makeup

3CE Pro Multi Eye Color Palette #Museday

Shadow palette with 25 colors including Museday Matte, Shimmer and Glitter Textures. From shade makeup to bright glitter makeup, you can create a variety of colors. 25g for 99,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

This neutral eyeshadow palette might be worth making the trek over to their Myeongdong flagship store and to Stylenanda Pink Pool Cafe for their Instagrammable decor. You can also find 3CE products at any Olive Young.

Red Velvet Lipstick

Japanese Makeup

Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Lipstick #RD163

A matte finish with a soft, lightly applied red lipstick. High color considering Asian skin tone makes the skin bright like fluorescent lamp. 3g for 39,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

You can find the shiny version of color #RD163 at the Shu Uemura USA store online, but the matte version seems to be an Asia-exclusive. This lipstick is deemed the perfect red for all Asian skin tones. Since I’m constantly eating, drinking, then more eating, I prefer using a long-lasting and highly pigmented lip stain like the Innisfree Vivid Jelly Lip Tint (only available in two reds — cherry-red and orange-red). But to each their own!

Matte Red Lipstick

American Makeup

MAC Retro Matte Lipstick #Ruby Woo

A cult classic! Long-wearing lipstick formula with intense colour payoff and a completely matte finish. 3g for 31,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Consumer’s Pick 2019

I really wanted to love this product. The color is gorgeous! But it is way too dry for my lips and tends to migrate even with lip liner. You can find this product much cheaper in the States!

If you’re in Korea, you can also find MAC Lipstick at Olive Young. If you don’t see it in-store, head to the bigger branches!

Velvet Lipstick

Korean Makeup

Peripera Ink Airy Velvet Stick #6 Daily Rose

Enriched with marshmallow root extract, this creamy lipstick offers a weightless powdery matte finish free of clumps and fine lines. 3.6g for 11,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

I had already left for Korea when CVS in the US started selling Peripera at their stores. Since when did they have a K-beauty section? I’m not mad but surprised!

MLBB Lipstick

Korean Makeup

3CE Slim Velvet Lip Color #Rosebat

Lipstick with a moisturizing cream formulation that melts over your lips. The pink beige color completes the vivid lip as if it is not applied. 3.2g for 17,900 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

Can anyone tell me what a “rosebat” is? I would really like to know. This color is great for a barely-there look or my-lips-but-better (MLBB). And another reason to head over to the Stylenanda flagship store and Stylenanda Pink Pool Cafe! You can also find 3CE products at any Olive Young.

Red Satin Lipstick

American Makeup

Estee Lauder Pure Color Desire #304 Rouge Excess

Elegant red lipstick in a luxurious gold case that moisturizes your lips for gloss and volume. It smells like fruit. 3.1g for 45,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

There’s a reason why Estee Lauder has been around for so long! They make great cosmetic and skincare products. You can also purchase Estee Lauder products in Korea at Chicor or SSG.

MLBB Glossy Lipstick

French Makeup

Chantecaille Lip Veil #Baobab

A revolutionary light, gliding lipstick enriched with Baobab Oil, certified by FairWild, that leaves a luminous veil of pure, hydrating color on lips. Lip Veil supports Space for Giants and their work to preserve the migration path of elephants in Africa 2.5g for 69,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

This ultra-luxe French lipstick can also be purchased on the Korean Chantecaille website.

Coral Glossy Liquid Lipstick

Korean Makeup

Re:NK Cellcure Velvet Lip Tint #4 Maldives Coral

Cream-based lip tint with rosehip oil which contains vitamins and minerals and provides moisture and nourishment to the lips. 4.5ml for 35,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

There’s a brick & mortar location in Cheongdam-dong here (2nd Fl., Daechang Bldg., 29, 55-gil, Dosan-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul).

Pink Glossy Liquid Lipstick

Korean Makeup

Dear Dahlia Paradise Moisture Veil Lip Glaze #Twizzler

Coral Pink Lip Tint creates a moisture film as soon as you apply it to moisturize your lips. The oblique, built-in tip allows you to fill your lips with precision. 6.5ml for 26,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

You can also purchase the Dear Dahlia Lip Glaze at DearDahlia.com or any Aritaum.

Red Velvet Liquid Lipstick

Korean Makeup

Dear Dahlia Paradise Dream Lip Velvet Mousse #Seduction

Paradise Dream Velvet Lip Mousse with a unique whipped velvety texture effortlessly glides onto your lips offering a dreamy soft-focus powdery matte finish. The weightless, high-pigment formula continuously wraps your lips with intense color ensuring long-wear without the drying discomfort. 6.5ml for 26,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019, Cosmoprof Asia Awards 2019

You can also purchase the Dear Dahlia Lip Mousse at DearDahlia.com or any Aritaum.

Chili Velvet Liquid Lipstick

Korean Makeup

Too Cool for School Art Class Nuage Lip #4 Snug Red

Smooth texture fills the lip wrinkles without clumping for smooth and plump lips. 4.8g for 12,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019

Too Cool for School shop locations are basically everywhere. You can shop on their Korean website, Toocoolforschool.com, or US website, Toocoolforschool.us.

MLBB Velvet Liquid Lipstick

Korean Makeup

Rarekind Oversmudge Lip Tint #6 Coral Habit

Velvet textured tint with almond oil and argan oil fills the lips with a moist finish. 4g for 18,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019, Allure Editors Pick 2019, Single Social Editor’s Pick 2019

You can also find RAREKIND at Amore Pacific Mall.

Tinted Lip Balm

American Makeup

Bobbi Brown Extra Lip Tint #Bare Raspberry

Lightweight, sheer and ultra-moisturizing with a blend of Olive, Avocado and Jojoba Oils. 2.3g for 43,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Best of Beauty 2019, Instyle January 2019

You can also purchase Bobbi Brown products at Chicor or Olive Young in Korea.

Lip Tint

French Makeup

Yves Saint Laurent Beauty Vernis à Lèvres Water Stain #612 Rouge Deluge

A water-enriched, lightweight stain that comfortably drenches lips in brilliant, high-shine color that feels fresh and non-sticky. 5.9ml for 46,000 won.


Featured in: Allure Korea Consumer’s Pick 2019

You can also purchase Yves Saint Laurent Beauty products at Chicor in Korea.

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