Most people would agree with me that buying cosmetics and skincare products in Korea is a no-brainer; in fact, I had friends who bought their first beauty products from Seoul, and have stuck with Korean brands ever since.
Shopping for cosmetics in Korea has its perks: not only do you get the widest possible range of products in the home country, but also many discounts and freebies! What’s more, if you are a tourist, you can even get tax refunds on all those lipsticks you’ve bought – sweet!
First time heading to Korea, or unfamiliar with the K-beauty scene? Here are 5 brands that I strongly recommend you buy while you’re in Korea:
1 / Banila Co
I know this is a pretty old photo but you can tell that they haven’t changed their star products over the years. If you believe that skincare and base makeup is important, this brand is definitely for you.
One major reason I recommend buying this in Korea is because it’s not available in Singapore stores TT____TT. I know it’s sold in countries like Malaysia, but they do not sell the full range. I’ve tried quite a few of their products, including Clean It Zero, Primer, and BB Cream, and generally have positive reviews of most of Banila Co’s products.
Plus, Banila Co is one of the most generous brands when it comes to giving samples. I’ve gotten quite a few samples of their CC Cream, Clean It Zero, and their latest hydration range products. I really appreciate how generous they are because they DO give no matter how many you purchased, which you cannot expect from all K-beauty boutiques.
LANEIGE has so many star products (alongside its star ambassadors) that it’s too difficult to list them all out, but its main draw is the dewy and bright skin it promises. However, you might also associate the brand for its higher price point (as compared to sister brands Innisfree and Etude House) in countries such as Singapore.
Korea, however, is a different story. While you may not get many freebies here (I certainly did not), the prices are DEFINITELY cheaper. It also helps that you can get a tax rebate as long as you spend above 30,000 won. Be warned though – the LANEIGE stores are usually really crowded no matter what time of the day you go!
If you thought LANEIGE was the only brand to go to for compact cushions, you must try out IOPE in Korea. Also from the same parent company Amore Pacific, this brand is most famous for its Air Cushion. I first heard about this from online reviews, and I brought a certain amount of skepticism to the ARITAUM shop to test this out.
This brand’s cushion compact is definitely my favourite, hands-down. The formula is great, smell is great, packaging is great – faultless! Its only fault is that, again, it’s not sold in stores here in Singapore, and neither Malaysia. If you see this brand in ARITAUM stores, or in its own boutique: don’t hesitate, JUST BUY. You won’t regret buying, but you’ll definitely regret if you don’t.
My first MISSHA product (bought in Singapore) was the blush, and I ended up going to the stores in Korea to buy another shade of the same blush because it is so good. I’ve tried some of their masks and moisturizer, but still waiting for a good day to try out the snail cream 😂
MISSHA stores are definitely available in Singapore, but I find that they are kinda small and inconspicuous. I know there’s one in Bugis+, and another in Raffles City (I think? Not too sure). The stores in Korea are definitely bigger, and they carry more products as well. This brand is also very generous with skincare samples, even if you aren’t a big shopper, so you can definitely look forward to collecting some (really good) freebies with your purchase at MISSHA.
This Instagram-friendly brand is probably all over your feed by now, so I don’t have to introduce any further.
While Sephora does carry 3CE, the product range is really very limited. You could of course order straight from StyleNanda’s website and pay for international shipping, but if you’re in Korea, why not just buy and get a tax refund, am I right? Plusss, who wouldn’t want to visit their famed Pink Hotel in Myeongdong? 😛