Part-time beauty blogger Chio first visited Seoul as a web editor. The exciting offerings there got her hooked, and she became one of the earliest in the local blogosphere to embrace K-beauty. She became such a fan that she even spent three years learning Korean just so she would know the deals from the duds. So, what can you learn from someone who has honed her craft shopping K-beauty for the last eight years? How about how to make it simpler, yet do it better? Here is Chio’s straight-up advice:
1. Do your research first
Have a hit list – comb the Internet for product reviews, descriptions and blog write-ups. If you don't know where to start, try the brand websites first, where they have all the product highlights and new arrivals.
2. Always start at the Myeong-dong shopping area
Nine out of 10 stores there are beauty-related, and multiple outlets of the same brands line the streets, sometimes just 30 to 50 steps apart. If one store runs out of stock for an item you’re after, just pop into the next one.
3. For premium brands like Sulwhasoo and Hera: Shop at the basement and level one of Lotte Department Store’s Main Branch
These two levels beat the duty-free-for-tourists floors from levels nine to 11. They are not congested, giving you a better shopping experience with no shoulder-to-shoulder crowds jostling with others for the staff’s attention. It being more pleasant outweighs having to queue for your tax refunds after.
4. Buy only brands from reputable cosmetics companies like Amorepacific and LG
5. Don’t buy into any hype. Test the stuff yourself.
What works in Korea may not necessary give the same results for us because of our different climate, skin type and preferences. “I’ve come across a few products that don’t live up to their claims or hype, because one of the three factors,” says Chio.
Here are Cheryl's top picks:
A version of this story was published in the March 2018 issue of Her World magazine.