The Best K-Beauty Products to Buy From Seoul in 2020

by Kayce Teo, Lydia Teo and Letty Seah
LIFESTYLE  |  February 19, 2020
  • Travelling to the land of the morning calm? Bag these from your trip
    1 / 22 Travelling to the land of the morning calm? Bag these from your trip

    South Korea is famous for many things: delicious hot and spicy food, tear-jerking romantic dramas and, not to forget, a plethora of beauty goodies that might just overwhelm you. Don’t know what exactly you should be popping into your basket? We’re here to help – by introducing some of the most highly raved products from the country.

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  • Ground Plan
    2 / 22 Ground Plan

    Inspired by The idea for this skincare range began when founder Kim Yoon-Kyung was searching for safe products that she could use whilst pregnant and after the birth of her baby. The result is a line of products that uses natural ingredients that are not only suitable for even the most sensitive of skins but also efficient in delivering results.

    Must-try 24 Hour Secret Mist. The brand’s most iconic product with over a million bottles been sold in just 24 months. This lightweight mist contains Witch Hazel and Anise Fruit extracts, and Glycerin to hydrate and soothe irritated and sensitive skins, and even control excess sebum production too.

    Where 535-4 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Opening hours: 9am-10pm)

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  • Eath Library
    3 / 22 Eath Library

    Inspired by A hanbang line that marries traditional Korean medicine with modern day aesthetics, this less than a year-old brand is just what the doctor ordered. The secret lies in its unique AYM ingredient that promises to stave off the signs of ageing while keeping your complexion luminous and even-toned.

    Must-try The Pure Wonder. Enriched with 55 per cent of the brand’s unique bio-ingredient, AYM, this watery serum delivers all-round anti-ageing benefits, helping you to achieve a healthy, youthful and radiant complexion.

    Where 31, Road 2, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Opening hours: 10:30am-8pm; Closed on Mondays)

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  • Lagom
    4 / 22 Lagom

    Inspired by A collaboration between well-known Korean makeup artist, Ko Won Hye, and a team of 12 scientists and doctors. Their research led them to the use of DermaFlux. This hero ingredient is based on a Nobel Prize science, which has been clinically proven to bring moisture to the cells, plumping the skin from within and keeping it healthy, supple and youthfully radiant.

    Must-try Cellus Sun Gel SPF50+/PA+++. A lightweight sunscreen that protects the skin against harmful UV rays and environmental damages. It absorbs easily and leaves a soft matte finish yet keeps skin hydrated and healthy at the same time.

    Where Chicor Shinsegae, 441 Gangnam-daero, Seocho 4(sa)-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul (Opening hours: 10am-11pm)

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  • FFlow
    5 / 22 FFlow

    Inspired by The combination of clean water and natural botanical essential oils to maximise the effects for healthy skin. To achieve this, the brand uses its patented ingredient, “oilsoo”, to restore skin’s natural moisture and oil levels, bringing balance back to the skin. Each product’s hypoallergenic formula is also free of nasties like paraben, benzyl alcohol, triethanolamine and butylated hydroxyl toluene (BHT), making it ideal for even sensitive skins.

    Must-try Pick Oil Essence. Infused with Sunflower oil, it nourishes parched and rough skin, leaving it soft and well-hydrated instantly.


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  • Tamburins
    6 / 22 Tamburins

    Inspired by The beauty arm of cult eyewear brand, Gentle Monster, the Tamburins flagship store at Garosu-gil is a must-visit for any beauty junkie — a two-storey building looks more like an art gallery with its ever-changing art installations. The brand began in 2017 with a singular product, the Nude H. And Cream. Today, it has a line of solid perfumes, an essence, a soothing and hydrating facial serum, and a new hand cream.

    Must-try Nude H. And Cream is the first product the brand introduced, and there is a reason why it was an instant hit. Its velvety texture is enriched with Macadamia Oil instantly nourishing dry hands. Plus, its soft green-woody scent makes it a pleasure to use at the same time.

    Where 520-9 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Opening hours: 12-9pm)

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  • Fresh Pop Green Herb Recipe Shampoo
    7 / 22 Fresh Pop Green Herb Recipe Shampoo

    Fresh Pop is a natural haircare brand with products designed to revitalise stressed hair and scalp. The Green Herb Recipe Shampoo is formulated with lime, carbonated water and green tea to remove impurities and deeply cleanse your scalp.

    (Also read: 5 Cool Hair Salons to Pamper Yourself at)

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  • Amorepacific Botanical Radiance Oil
    8 / 22 Amorepacific Botanical Radiance Oil

    This anti-ageing facial oil strengthens skin barrier functions. Rapeseed oil keeps skin moisturised by maintaining an optimum oil-water ratio while green tea water calms and soothes any irritation. You can blend it with other facial oils, your moisturiser or even use it on your dry hair ends and nail cuticles.

    (Also read: 6 Botanical Oils Acne-Prone Skin Will Love)

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  • Primera Serum Super Sprout
    9 / 22 Primera Serum Super Sprout

    One of the best-sellers from this Korean eco-friendly, natural skincare brand, the Serum Super Sprout helps firm up skin and improve its radiance. The serum is also free of artificial fragrance, synthetic colorants, animal ingredients, and mineral oil.

    (Also read: The Best New Vitamin C Serums to Brighten Your Skin)

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  • Makeon Makeup Enhancer
    10 / 22 Makeon Makeup Enhancer

    This vibrating device works both as a face massager and foundation or BB cream applicator. It has three applicator heads — Aircell puff to help makeup go on smoothly, Skincell puff to improve skin radiance, and Ceramic Messager to increase the penetration of your skincare products.

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  • Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner
    11 / 22 Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner

    Klairs is an environmentally-conscious beauty brand that prides itself on creating effective, yet gentle products that are free from nasties like artificial colouring, alcohol and fragrances. The plant-based Supple Preparation Facial Toner is a fantastic starting point if you want to give Klairs a go. The highly raved toner is said to balance the skin’s pH level to improve and boost the absorption of skincare products that follow.

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  • Make P:rem Uv Defense Me Capsule Sun Gel
    12 / 22 Make P:rem Uv Defense Me Capsule Sun Gel

    Pronounced as “make prehm”, this Korean skincare brand understands the importance of hydrating the skin, evinced by that distinct slant on each one of its products, from the popular double sheet masks, to its UV Defense Me Capsule Sun Gel. The latter is a SPF 50 sunblock that is formulated with moisturising plant-based ingredients like birch sap, sea buckthorn, ivy leaf and sunflower seed extract. It doesn’t leave a white cast and has a smooth velvety finish so it’s perfect for those looking for an alternative to claggy, thick and cloying sunscreens.

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  • Son & Park Beauty Water
    13 / 22 Son & Park Beauty Water

    Son & Park is an eponymous skincare and makeup brand established by two of South Korea’s hottest celebrity makeup artists Son Dae Sik and Park Tae Yoon. The duo have dedicated their entire lives to the beauty industry and they boast an impressive clientele to prove it, serving as the exclusive makeup artist of leading Korean stars like Jung Ji Hyun. The Son & Park beauty line is an extension of the pair’s passion for makeup and skincare. One cult-favourite from the brand is the Son & Park Beauty Water. Unlike traditional alcohol-based astringent toners that can dry out the skin, the Beauty Water is carefully formulated with humectants and skin-loving ingredients like rosewater to protect the skin’s barrier and make sure it stays plump and dewy all day long. Besides hydrating the skin, it also contains willow bark and papaya extract that gently exfoliates and cleanses the skin.

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  • Troiareuke Ascen A+ Cushion
    14 / 22 Troiareuke Ascen A+ Cushion

    Troiareuke is an in-house skincare brand developed by a team of medical experts from the Troiareuke aesthetic clinic. This cushion is targeted at those with acne and sensitive skin. Like with all of the products from their H+ (healing) line, this cushion is also said to contain 99 per cent skincare and only 1 per cent makeup (pigment). This cushion has a lightweight texture and offers a medium to high coverage, along with UV protection, brightening and anti-ageing properties. It also contains ingredients prized for their soothing and healing properties like calendula water, tea tree leaf water and centalla asiatica extract.

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  • J.One Jelly Pack
    15 / 22 J.One Jelly Pack

    This popular creation by famous Korean actress Ha Jiwon is a multi-tasking treatment, mask and primer all rolled into one unassuming bottle. The star product of the actress’ beauty line, this hybrid product is meant to replace your entire morning beauty routine and helps to lift, prime and moisturise.

    (Also read: Why K-Beauty’s 10-Step Skincare Routine May Not Be Working For You)

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  • Mizon All In One Snail Repair Cream
    16 / 22 Mizon All In One Snail Repair Cream

    This best-selling cream has sold over millions of tubs and even appeared on Buzzfeed. The main attraction? Undoubtedly the 92 per cent snail extract. Don’t let the foreign ingredient deter you though, as this affordable moisturising cream reportedly helps to promote skin repair and fight problems such as wrinkles, blemishes and acne scars, while keeping your skin bouncy and bright.

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  • Iope Air Cushion
    17 / 22 Iope Air Cushion

    This is another K-beauty product that took the whole beauty world by storm when it was first released. This foundation/BB cream provides anti-ageing, moisturising, skin-evening coverage and SPF protection benefits, and can be reapplied throughout the day. Several beauty junkies, bloggers and vloggers swear by this product and its natural coverage and hydrating effects.

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  • Neogen Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick
    18 / 22 Neogen Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick

    This cleansing stick was born out of a collaboration between Neogen and Charlotte Cho, the founder of popular online K-beauty retailer Soko Glam. Due to her hectic travelling schedule, Cho wanted a travel-friendly cleanser that is easy and quick to use. Infused with 13 natural oils that help to break down makeup and exfoliate, this gentle cleansing stick (no liquids!) is ideal for travelling.

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  • Too Cool For School Egg Mellow Cream
    19 / 22 Too Cool For School Egg Mellow Cream

    Lazy (or busy) girls, rejoice – this is the ultimate product for you. This five-in-one hydrating and skin-firming moisturiser acts as a toner, serum, eye cream, neck cream and sleeping mask all in one (yes, you read that right). The collagen-enriched formula helps to restore elasticity to the skin, while the high concentration of egg yolk and egg white extracts helps to brighten and nourish.

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  • Holika Holika Pig-nose Clear Blackhead 3-step Kit
    20 / 22 Holika Holika Pig-nose Clear Blackhead 3-step Kit

    This set of three nose strips specifically target blackheads. The first step is to open up the pores, the second step is to remove the blackheads while the third step is to minimise the pores. Many online reviews have applauded the effectiveness of this product, even though the whole process might take up to 45 minutes. Bonus points for the incredibly cute packaging too.

    (Also read: 7 Best Wash-off Masks to Unclog and Minimise Pores)

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  • Nature Republic Soothing & Moisture 92% Aloe Vera Soothing Gel
    21 / 22 Nature Republic Soothing & Moisture 92% Aloe Vera Soothing Gel

    This soothing gel has 92 per cent aloe vera leaf extract which explains its ultra-refreshing and moisturising effects on skin. This multi-purpose skin-firming gel can be used to moisturise the face, arms, legs and hair, or you can even use it as a sleeping pack, hair serum, eye mask, lip moisturiser, soothing aftershave, hydrating nail essence and also a treatment for sunburn.

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  • Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch
    22 / 22 Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch

    This much-raved acne treatment is a pack of differently sized patches that helps to make whiteheads, blackheads and picked zits disappear. Similar to a ‘band-aid’ for pimples, the patches adhere strongly to your skin (even through showering and washing) and absorbs the gunk and pus out of your pimple – pop one on overnight and your pimple will be flattened by the next morning.

    (Also read: 10 Great Skincare Products For Acne and Ageing)

    A version of this article first appeared on

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