Beginner's Guide to K-Beauty
Creating this blog has been a huge creative endeavor for us, and it’s been incredibly rewarding. We have had a blast getting to know other people from the AB community and of course, we love having an excuse to buy more products to try out. Although it’s been a ton of work in addition to regular our professional and school loads, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The best part of this project by far, has been being able to teach others about our K-Beauty routines and encouraging others to try one as well. Elizabeth has had people she hasn’t spoken to since high school reach out to her and ask her about products or the double cleanse method (shoutout to Krystle and Mariana!). Jane has had work colleagues come to her office to chat about products and routines (yay to Leena, Jair, Jessenia, and Aimee!). We’re proud to have brought some poor souls to the dark (fabulous) K-Beauty side.
However, we remember how overwhelming it can be when you’re getting started. You can read about our experiences on how we got started in our Intro post. There’s so many cool products to choose from, what do you choose? What the hell is double cleansing? What in the world is an essence? We remember, it’s a lot- but don’t worry, we got you boo.
In a nutshell, the K-Beauty routine helps you obtain that famous ~glow~ by cleansing, treating, and hydrating your skin. It’s all about using products that work and layering them in a way that makes them most effective to achieve the end goal of chok chok - healthy, bouncy looking skin.
We put this piece together to help you get started on a K-Beauty routine. We’re covering the stuff you absolutely need to know. We’re also going to suggest some popular products that may interest you, as well as our favorite places to purchase products. We hope that this helps you navigate the wonderful K-Beauty blackhole.
Before we get to the fun stuff, first thing’s first, you have to know your skin. Are you prone to dry skin? Is your skin sensitive? Is it oily? Your skin could be normal, oily, dry, combination, or sensitive. You have to know about your skin type before you start buying products. It will save you time, money and possible skin irritation if you buy the right products. Here’s a really helpful article by The Klog to help you determine your skin type. Remember, your skin is constantly changing so you have to be aware of it's needs and be flexible with the products you use. Don't develop an absurd amount of product loyalty, it may not always be right for you.
Now, to the cool stuff. We'll be going over the 5-steps we believe are essential, sunscreen, toning, targeted treatments, exfoliation and where to buy K-Beauty products.
Let’s just put it out there, the thought of a 10 Step K-Beauty routine seems time consuming and just LONG. You’re probably inclined to think who the hell has time to do 10 steps every day, multiple times a day? We hear it all the time, “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy”. To that we say, you do have time, you just need to want to do it. That being said, we understand that thinking of doing a 10 step routine seems overwhelming. When we switched to K-Beauty routines, we were definitely thinking “what the hell did we get into?”. There’s a ton of products and information to choose from, it can be hard to decide what you’re going to do or know what your skin needs. So, here’s our advice: 1) Ease into it and 2) start with these 5 steps.
What do we mean by easing into it? Don’t feel like you need to start with all 10 steps. There’s no rule that says you need to do all 10 steps and there’s no 10-Step-Police that’s going to be keeping tabs on you - you may not even need all 10 steps.
Keep in mind that introducing too many new products may not agree with your skin. If you start to have a reaction, you won’t know who the culprit is if you’re using 10 new products at the same time. Some products are pretty strong, and you don’t want to jump right into slathering on 3 different serums because you’ll only have an adverse reaction. We recommend that you start off with the 5 most essential steps, and add in additional treatments one at a time by spacing them out. This will help you get used to a multi-step routine and it won’t overwhelm your skin.
We’ve had many long discussions about which steps are absolutely essential. We strongly believe that the best way to get into a K-Beauty routine is starting with these steps:
- Oil Cleanser
- Foam Cleanser
We recommend starting out with these 5 steps for a few reasons. First, it’s easier to get used to a multi-step routine if you’re not doing too much all at once. You can add extra steps once you get used to it, and it won’t seem as overwhelming. Second, we think it’s crucial to learn how to properly clean and prep your face adding additional treatments. Once you get the hang of properly cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, your face will be a lot more receptive to targeted treatments. Lastly, as we’ve said before, you won’t overwhelm your skin with a ton of new products and risk an adverse reaction.
It’s also important that you get used to the order of using and applying these products. A couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth overheard someone at Sephora say that Korean routines don’t work because you’re just layering products and your skin can’t absorb them all (rude, but can we congratulate Elizabeth for not smacking the person across the face?). This is a pretty common misconception, if you do the correct order of products your skin will absorb the products effectively and you will see the most results. The general order is: oil cleanser, foam cleanser, exfoliant, toner, essence, treatments (such as serums and ampoules), sheet masks, eye cream, moisturizer and sunscreen. It seems like a lot, but if you start with the 5 and then work your way up, you’ll be doing all 10 in no time.
We’re going out of order here, and that’s because the last step in your daily skincare routine is easily the most important - sun protection. We love discussing sunscreen and advocating for its use because we were once that girl - the girl who didn’t wear SPF.
It's important to realize that sunscreen is the #1 product that protects your skin from aging, as 90% of aging skin is caused by the sun. This is something completely in your control to prevent! No other cream, serum, or essence is going to do for you what sunscreen does. It protects you from the sun’s harmful UV rays which helps prevent wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, dehydration, sagging, and of course - skin cancer. Everything else in your routine is going to combat what sunscreen tries to prevent in the first place. It's a no-brainer that sun protection should be added to your current routine if it isn't already.
There are two reasons we recommend Asian sunscreens over Western types:
We love Asian sunscreens because they're a complete 180 from the thick, greasy, smelly, comedogenic Western sunscreens. The different restrictions in Asian countries allows for better and more innovative formulations that aren't available on U.S. shelves. They’re lightweight, fluid, and absorb easily into your skin with a pleasant fragrance. They can even be mattifying. Truly, Asian sunscreens have got it going on. Their formulation and texture will change your mind about how you think of sunscreen.
As for sun protection, Asian sunscreens measure both UVA (aging) and UVB (burn) rays. UVA is measured in PA+, and UVB in SPF. (Note that U.S. standards only account for UVB rays or otherwise provide “broad” protection).
The PA system was established by Japan and measures the strength of protection against UVA rays. The PA is followed with a (+) that indicates strength, so the more (+), the better. The highest protection against UVA is currently PA++++.
SPF (sun protection factor) measures how effective the sunscreen is at protecting you against UVB rays. SPF factors in how quickly your skin burns. For example: If it takes Jane 30 minutes of sun exposure for her skin to start burning, SPF 15 protects her 15x longer than that, which is equivalent to 7.5 hours. In this scenario Jane would look for a sunscreen that has at least SPF 50 which would protect her for 24 hours (but she should still reapply throughout the day).
There's also the debate between physical vs chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens contain ingredients such as zinc oxide which sit on top of your skin and physically “deflect” the UV rays. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like oxybenzone which transform the UV rays into heat that gets released. It's a matter of preference, those with sensitive skin may not want to put extra chemicals on and stick with physical sunscreen.
When & How:
Apply sunscreen as the very last step in your morning routine. Wait 15-20 minutes before applying makeup on top of your sunscreen.
What to Look For:
Sunscreens should always provide “broad” protection - namely protection against both UVA and UVB rays. When choosing a sunscreen go with one that has PA++++ / SPF 50+. (Korean sunscreens typically only measure to PA+++, Japanese to PA++++). Asian sunscreens often contain alcohol but it isn't necessarily a bad thing in this case.
For an index on Japanese products, RatzillaCosme has an amazing reference site.
- Biore UV Perfect Milk SPF 50+/PA++++ (blue bottle)
- Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50+/PA+++
- The Face Shop Natural Sun Eco Power Long Lasting Sunblock SPF 50+/PA+++
- MISSHA All Around Safe Block Sebum Zero Sun SPF 50+/PA+++
Importance of Double Cleansing
If you’re looking to switch over to a Korean beauty routine, the double cleanse method is the first change we recommend that you implement in addition to sunscreen. We believe you’ll see a difference after incorporating the double cleanse in your routine, and before you know it you'll be doing all 10 steps!
The double cleanse method is the foundation of the Korean skincare routine. As we mentioned earlier, your skin must be completely cleansed if the rest of your routine is going to work effectively. Double cleansing involves cleansing twice:
- first, with an oil-based cleanser (balm or oil)
- second, with a water-based cleanser (foam, gel, powder)
The reason why this method is so effective is this: if you consider the state of your face at any given moment, there is dirt, oil, and sebum layered on the surface. Your skin naturally produces oil and sebum due to hormones, and unless you’re living in a hermetically sealed bubble, there’s dirt and pollution sitting on the surface of your skin too. (That’s without adding makeup or sunscreen into the equation.) To combat both the dirt AND oil, you need two separate cleansers to work on each of these types of impurities. A water-based cleanser won’t remove oil and sebum because - just like in your vinaigrette salad dressing - water and oil don’t mix! Oil-based cleansers break down other oils much more effectively than a foam-based cleanser. The foam cleanser will then work to remove any excess dirt and trace impurities left after the oil cleanse.
Don’t skip your oil cleanse in fear of a slick face. To our oily-skinned readers, it may sound counter-intuitive but we promise that once you add an oil cleanse to your routine your skin will love it. Your skin benefits from this because it's the first step in balancing your skin’s oil production, providing it with the oils it is longing for so it doesn't overcompensate and produce more oil on its own. Jane was the poster child of being oil averse, but look at her now - she's hooked and fully embracing the entire K-Beauty routine.
When to Do it:
Double cleanse both morning and night. We know, it’s weird to think about cleansing in the morning when all you’ve done is sleep, but keep in mind that your skin is producing oils at anytime of day. You also produce sweat or sebum while you sleep, especially during hotter months. Wake up, seize the day, and do your double cleanse.
How to Do It:
To apply, put your oil cleanser directly onto your skin - don't wet your face first. Give yourself a little face massage as you work it into your skin - trust us it's very therapeutic. Wash it off with warm water. Apply your water-based cleanser in the typical way you would. Lather it up, then wash it away. Splash cold water over your face when finished to close up your pores.
What to Look For:
Try an oil-based cleanser that comes in a solid cleansing balm if you’re oily prone. This will help you ease into the world of oils since it comes in the form of a sorbet that melts gently into oil when in contact with your skin. Cleansing oils are also a great option and it's just a matter of preference.
For your water-based cleanser, it's important to choose one that has a low pH. As we’ve mentioned before, low pH cleanser is a must so that you don't strip your skin of its natural oils. Since the skin on our face is made up of an acid mantle, it operates organically at a pH of around 4.2-5.6. You want to choose a cleanser as close to this range as possible so as to not disturb the natural acidic balance of your skin, otherwise you throw your skin out of whack and potentially allow acne-causing bacteria to thrive.
Our recommendations for oil-based cleansers:
- Heimish All-Clean Balm (look for new packaging with the flip-top)
- The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil
- Banila Co Clean It Zero Classic
Our recommendations for water-based cleansers:
- COSRX Good Morning low pH Gel
- Whamisa Glow Recipe Green Tea Foaming Cleansing Gel
- Hada Labo Goku-jyun Super Hyaluronic Face Wash
- Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam
- The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam
Importance of Toning
Toning is the next step we recommend K-beauty newbies incorporate into their routine. In our experience, we’ve noticed that toner is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood products in both Western and Korean skincare routines. On the contrary, it’s an essential step that must not be skipped.We get asked pretty often what a toner is, why it’s needed, and how it’s different from essences and serums. Let’s break all 3 questions down below.
What is a toner?
Toner is a product that resets and replenishes your skin after you’ve cleansed it of impurities. It balances pH, hydrates, and preps your skin for the next step in your routine. Depending on the type of toner it can exfoliate and shrink pores, too! Think of toner as the primer of your skincare routine. You wouldn’t skip primer, would you?
Why do I need a toner?
Toning is an essential step because you need to properly prep your skin for the rest of your routine. Even if you use a low pH cleanser as is, if you skip toning, the steps to follow still won’t be as effective. Toner also acts as an additional cleansing step. You need to give your skin a clean slate moving forward in order for the rest of the products to work optimally.
How is a toner different from an essence or a serum?
A proper toner should contain beneficial ingredients, similar to an essence or serum. Generally, the lightweight, almost water-like consistency of toners is what separates it from an essence or serum, but that line has blurred over time. Toners are typically found in larger bottles over 150ml, and are specifically intended to be the first hydration step in your skincare routine whereas essence and serums are typically treatment steps.
When & How:
Use toner either after your double cleanse, or after exfoliation if that’s the 2nd step in your routine. Pat toner onto face directly or apply with a cotton round using gentle, upward swipes.
What to Look For:
Don’t use just any toner. Make sure your toner is formulated with beneficial, hydrating ingredients such as aloe leaf extract, licorice root, collagen, and antioxidants but does not contain anything harmful such as alcohol or fragrance. Korean toners are amazing at providing a first hydration step by using gentle and natural ingredients. With the abundance of skincare products available in Korea, the last thing companies want is to cause skin irritation for their customers so you can guarantee their products are formulated with gentle but powerful ingredients.
- Klairs Supple Preparation Toner
- MISSHA Near Skin Toner
- MISSHA Super Aqua Pore-Kling Toner
- Belif Bergamot Herbal Extract Toner
Serums, essences, ampoules
We love targeted treatments. A lot. Serums, essences, ampoules, we can’t get enough of them. Targeted treatments are formulated to address specific issues your skin may have. While these treatments are super nice, they are optional. You don’t necessarily need to do these, but if you do want to do these you don’t have to do them every day. We like to think of treatments as a good way to prevent potential issues.
Essences aren’t common in Western beauty regimens; when we first started our routines we weren’t exactly sure what an essence was but we did know that they are the cornerstone of Korean skincare routines. Elizabeth likes to describe essences as a toner and a serum’s love child. They’re generally lighter than a serum, but thicker than a toner. Essences hydrate and brighten skin, and fight wrinkles. Essences are treatments that do the most in one product.
Serum and ampoules are higher concentrated products and are generally used as spot treatments. They can fight spots or fine lines on your skin; a lot of them are used to brighten skin. Keep in mind that these treatments are pretty strong, so you want to be careful when you introduce them to your regimen. Don't add 3 different treatments at the same time, you'll just risk skin irritation and then be turned off from treatments. Trust us, they're amazing but don't get too crazy.
When and How:
If you decide to use these treatments, these go after you apply toner. Generally speaking, essences come before serums and ampoules (so it goes toner -> essence -> serums/ampoules). However, these products should be applied from thinnest to thickest consistency. It seems counterintuitive, but if you have a first treatment essence, this should be applied before your toner because it's thinner than a toner. Apply essence about 10 minutes after toning, and then wait another 10 min before applying serums or ampoules. Note that treatments make you more susceptible to UV rays, so make sure to always put on sunscreen if you’re using treatments during the day.
What to look for:
Think about what you want to achieve and play around with different products. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment, so you want to look into the purpose of each treatment and see if it matches what you’re trying to achieve.
- COSRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence
- COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
- Nature Republic Bee Venom Mist Essence
Exfoliation is removing the top layer of dead skin cells to avoid clogged pores and blemishes. It’s really important because it helps cell regeneration and makes your skin brighter and smoother; it will also help your skin absorb products more effectively. There are two types of exfoliants: manual and chemical. Exfoliation can be a little tricky so here are a few common questions:
What is the difference between a manual and chemical exfoliant?
Manual exfoliants are products made out of ingredients like sugar and oatmeal that you use to physically scrub dead skin cells off. Manual exfoliants should not be used if you’re having active breakouts or if you have dry/sensitive skin.
Chemical exfoliants basically use low grade chemicals to remove dead skin cells and other gunk in order to make way for cleaner, brighter skin. The active ingredients in chemical exfoliants are AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids).
What are AHA and BHA chemical exfoliants?
BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) work better for large pores and blackheads while AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) work best for sun damage repair and pigmentation. BHAs penetrate a lot deeper than AHAs which is why they’re better for blackheads, AHAs work on the surface of your skin.
Which should I choose?
You don’t have to exfoliate, but you may see better results if you do it periodically. This doesn’t have to be done everyday, it can be done once or twice a week. It depends on your skin -if you have sensitive skin or active acne, manual exfoliants may not work well because they could irritate your skin. Stay away from apricot scrubs because the uneven granuales can irritate your skin. Stick to scrubs made of sugar, oatmeal or chia seeds- these are a lot gentler. Chemical exfoliants are not as scary as they sound, so if you want a more concentrated treatment, go the chemical route. If you have more serious skin issues like clogged pores or skin damage, try using a chemical exfoliant.
How to use them:
If you’re using a manual exfoliant, manual exfoliants come after your foam cleanser and before your toner. Scrub your face gently in circles, don’t scrub too hard or you might give yourself microtears.
If you decide to use a chemical one, you should use it after your toner and before your essence. Exfoliants will increase UV sensitivity so always make sure that you’re using sunscreen!
- Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Green Tea
- The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%
- COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid (read Elizabeth's review here)
- Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash Off
The Fun Stuff (aka face masks)
We think that the most fun part of a Korean routine are face masks. Sheet masks, gel masks, wash-off masks, rubber masks, sleeping masks - we will literally try anything at least once. You can try regular cotton sheet masks or masks that make you look like a panda, you can try masks with gold in them if you're feeling really fancy.
Masks are an awesome way to get a ton of nutrients on your face for maximum results in the least amount of time. You can often see results as soon as you remove it. Masks have different purposes, they can hydrate, brighten, fight breakouts, soothe or shrink pores. It really depends on what you want to do and what your skin needs. There’s even masks for specific parts of your body like your feet or neck.
We say, try differents masks and knock yourself out. There’s so many to choose from out there, you’re bound to find something you’ll like.
How to use:
If you’re using a wash-off mask, use them after your cleanse and exfoliate, rinse them off and then do the rest of your routine. Sheet masks should be used after your toner or treatments (if you’re using them). Don’t wash off the serum! Let the remaining serum dry before you moisturize. For sleeping masks, replace your usual nighttime moisturizer with a sleeping mask. Wash it off with your morning routine.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Peach Slices Shrink Pores Mask (Sheet Mask)
- Peach Slices Hydrate Mask (Sheet Mask)
- Leaders AC Clear Mask (Sheet Mask)
- JJ Young Pore Steaming and Cooling Pack (Pore Clay Wash Off Mask)
- Skinfood Wash Off Rice Mask (Exfoliating Wash Off Mask)
- E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Sleeping Pack (Sleeping Mask)
- COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask (Sleeping Mask)
Where to Buy
Another question we get asked often is “where do you buy Korean beauty products?” This is one of the main factors people consider when switching to a K-Beauty routine. The price point of Korean products is an amazing value when considering their effectiveness and availability. There are so many skincare and cosmetic companies in Korea which means prices are competitive. This does benefit us K-Beauty enthusiasts in the U.S., but prices are often marked up to account for shipping and import fees. We think it's important to shop around to find the best deals and lowest shipping costs possible. This section will focus on buying Korean products while residing in the US.
How We Shop
We always look for the best deals and we never pay full price for shipping. Back when we worked together, we would find anything and everything to buy just so we could qualify for free shipping or at least split the cost of shipping (Colourpop, Kylie, Soko Glam, the list goes on…) It got to the point where it became an addiction and we enabled each other pretty badly, but it’s ultimately what led to us establish this blog.
Now that we live in separate cities we sadly can't combine orders, so we learned to look out for the best deals possible to take advantage of opportunity cost. Below are some of our favorite and popular destinations for K-Beauty. For the sake of brevity, we are only highlighting a couple of places to buy Korean and Asian beauty, but we’ll be doing a full blog post on the topic in the future. We’ve broken this down in the following categories:
- Online Retailers (domestic and international)
- Big Box Stores (in-store and online)
- Asian Supermarkets
There are quite a number of online retailers which sell K-Beauty. The first place we always check is Amazon since the products are typically cheaper and if you have prime they arrive within 2 days, sometimes 4-5. TBH, it’s not worth it to buy off Amazon without prime because it can still take months for the product to arrive. Now, Amazon does its best to protect against fake products, but the reality is there is always a risk and there’s no way for them to regulate every single product sold via the marketplace. Most of the time Asian beauty is sold by third-party sellers and fulfilled by Amazon. If you’re buying off Amazon, definitely make sure to read reviews on the product, the seller, and be cautious if the price point is significantly lower than the typical range you see the product selling for elsewhere. The product should always come in original packaging or be sealed when you receive it. I think at the very least it helps if the product if fulfilled by Amazon, but it doesn’t mean that Amazon verifies the legitimacy of the product. The same goes for eBay. There are a lot of third-party sellers on eBay so just exercise caution when purchasing from these sites.
Soko Glam, Peach & Lily, Glow Recipe
These stores really appeal to K-Beauty enthusiasts with curated products and brands. Their respective online stores are accompanied by a proprietary K-Beauty blog where you can read more about their products, routines, and tips. Each store has its own rewards program and offers free shipping with a minimum amount spent. Each site has different product lines and brands as well.
- Soko Glam, Co-Created by Charlotte Cho
- Peach & Lily, Created by Alicia Yoon
- Glow Recipe, Created by Sarah Lee and Christine Chang
International Online Retailers: YesStyle, Wishtrend, Jolse, Style Korean
There are a ton of online retailers which sell directly from Asia. These sites tend to also offer free standard shipping with a minimum purchase, but you’ll often need to pay extra if you want the shipment to include a tracking number. These shipping rates range from economy (no tracking, 1-2 months), standard (includes tracking, takes 2-3 weeks), to EMS (expedited, takes 3-5 days). Other sites may charge per weight of the package, too. The plus to these sites is you have access to more products that aren't readily available at domestically and you’ll get your hands on the next big thing. The estimates below represent shipping to the U.S.
- YesStyle: Free standard shipping over $35, free express shipping over $99
- Wishtrend*: Free standard shipping over $69, free EMS shipping over $159, certain items ship free
- Jolse: Free standard shipping over $40, free EMS shipping over $150
- Style Korean: Free standard shipping over $70 (free standard shipping over $50 promo thru 11/30)
Korean Brands - U.S. Based Websites
Korean beauty brands are starting to transition to full U.S. sites with exclusive product ranges. The shipping costs from these sites varies, but the products ordered will ship from the U.S. and be sent via standard ground mail rather than from Korea.
- Laneige: ground shipping by weight, free shipping over $25
- Innisfree: $5.95 ground shipping, free shipping over $50
- MISSHA: $5.99 ground shipping, free shipping over $40
- Nature Republic: $4.95 ground shipping, free shipping over $75
- TONYMOLY: $7.50 ground shipping, free shipping over $50
- Leaders Cosmetics: $5.95 ground shipping, free shipping over $50
- E Nature: 3-day shipping by weight, free shipping over $25
Other Notable Online Retailers:
- Althea US: Free shipping over $50
- W2Beauty: Free shipping over $60
- Aritaum: Free shipping over $60
- Masksheets: Free shipping over $40
Big Box Retail Stores
When we’re talking about big box stores, we mean the large retail stores with several thousand chains across the U.S. These stores have started to sell K-Beauty on their shelves, and we’re more than happy to be able to walk in and buy something with instant gratification, or purchase products online. This list is ever-growing, but here are our favs:
- Notable brands: Whamisa by Glow Recipe, MISSHA, Mizon, Make P:rem, Caolion, Goodal, Ariul, LJH, Soo Ae, Glow Studio
- Notable brands: Peach Slices, Holika Holika, The Saem, Ariul, ElishaCoy, Frudia, JJ Young, the Creme Shop
- Notable brands: Belif, Dr. Jart, Too Cool for School, Laneige, Erborian, AMOREPACIFIC, Saturday Skin, J.One, Glow Recipe, Blithe
- Notable brands: COSRX, Goodal, Memebox, Leaders, Skinfood, Biobelle, Botanic Farm, E Nature, Julep, SkinRx Lab, Soo Ae, Thank You Farmer, TONYMOLY
- Notable brands: 107 ONEOSEVEN, Huxley, Koh Gen Do, AMOREPACIFIC, Saturday Skin, Too Cool for School, Sulwhasoo, SEP, Whal Myung
- Forever 21
- Notable brands: Secret Key, Tosowoong, Scinic, Benton, Pony Effect, Let Me Skin, G9, Botanic Farm, Berrisom, Yadah
For this category, the selection really does vary by store. We recommend going in person to see what your local Asian supermarket has to offer. Korean markets such as H Mart and Zion Market may have a beauty aisle, and/or it may have small peripheral shops within the store which sell Korean beauty products.
In San Diego, our Zion market has a full Face Shop store inside of it, as well as a few other beauty shops. 99 Ranch is a Taiwanese supermarket which has Japanese products in its beauty aisle, as well as sheet masks from Taiwanese brands like My Beauty Diary. Mitsuwa Market sells Japanese beauty, but may also have smaller Asian beauty shops inside. In Seattle, where Elizabeth is currently living, most of the Asian markets don’t carry beauty items so it’s been a daunting task for Elizabeth to get her hands on products (she spent a whole day in Chinatown and could not find a single product).
The beauty aisles in these stores may not have translated labels or titles, so it helps if you are able to recognize some of the brands and products. It totally depends on where you live and what the store offers, there are total steals that you can find at these stores, so we’ll leave this one up to you to explore!
We apologize for the longer post, but when we get going it’s hard to stop us. We hope that this is a useful resource for you! If you want more thorough information, we highly recommend reading Charlotte Cho’s The Little Book of Skin Care. She does an amazing job going into detail about the Korean skincare routine and Korean culture. Also, here’s an awesome article by Fifty Shades of Snail about building your own routine.
Again, shoutout to all those beautiful people that have come to us asking for advice on how to get started. You make us so happy (seriously, we talk about you for days).
Let us know if you have any questions!
Jane & Elizabeth
*Disclaimer - We are affiliated with Wishtrend. We will receive a small commission for any purchases made through our affiliate link, however, all opinions are our own.