Be careful what you wish for. Because when we wished for K-beauty brands like Hera, Mamonde, Pony Effect and Huxley to come to Singapore – they did, as recent as in the past two years. But this wishlist doesn’t have to stop because somehow, the Koreans are always ahead of the curve when it comes to beauty innovations, coming up with new products even before we can complete our 10-step skin routine.
In Korea itself, shopping for beauty goodies is always exciting (and here’s how to shop smarter for beauty products when in Korea). Do we want Singapore to be like that? Hell, yeah. More choices are always good for consumers. However, what we really want are not just any brands, but rather the quality products that go the extra mile – either in terms of the product efficacy itself (so that we don’t have to use so many products to achieve our #beautygoals) or brands that actually endeavour to do more for the environment. When we went to Seoul for a recent press trip, we discovered some exciting brands that do just that.
While these brands are only available in Korea right now, we feel they have the potential to expand to Singapore, and when and if they do come here, we will welcome them with open arms.
Nature and beauty matter – that’s the brand ethos of Primera. And perhaps, it’s not difficult to guess that it is an eco-friendly brand that hopes to promote a greener lifestyle among its consumers – and we are all for it.
Packaging is eco-friendly in that the paper it uses ethically sourced. Well, that seems pretty normal for any brand that claims to be eco-conscious, but this brand is so serious about their mission that even the ink that it uses on its print packaging is natural soy ink.
In terms of ingredients, it manufactures products that do not include paraben, synthetic pigments, artificial fragrances; but the brand does caveat that it uses a “minimal amount of artificial chemical ingredients” on its website.
The USP of this brand is in its “sprouting technology”, which was developed by parent company AmorePacific, to harness the best benefits of a bean at germination stage. At this sprouting stage, they found that a seed contains a vital amount of energy that’s supposedly great for new cell growth and has anti-ageing properties.
Primera has a full suite of products from skincare to hair care and body care, include a men’s range, children’s range and home fragrance.
Here are some favourites:
The brand, pronounced as “I-oh-pei”, prides itself as a ‘lab-based functional skincare brand”. It believes that skin solutions should be individualised based on each person’s skin characteristics and precise skin analysis.
Launched in 1996, the brand launches new products almost every year.
Here are the notable ones:
Espoir is a professional makeup brand that believes in the power of transformation – that women can we whatever they want to be. What we like about it is that while it is considered a professional line, prices remain affordable. For example, liquid foundations cost around 35,000 won ($42) and the most expensive lipstick costs around 23,000 won.
Free of textural enhancers and fragrances, Pyunkang Yul is a skincare minimalist’s dream. Created by a Korean clinic specialising in oriental medicine, all of their gentle and mild traditional Korean ingredients are carefully chosen so your skin is safe and pampered at the same time.
Life in the city means dealing with pollutants, skin irritants and allergens every day. As an indie brand inspired by the lush and natural environment of the forests, Pureforet’s products help to corn tar these effects by focusing on smoothing and purifying the skin. Those who find themselves suffering from irritated and sensitised skin will find the Pureforet Centella series particularly useful, thanks to the calming and antibacterial benefits of ingredients like centella asiatica, tea tree oil, shea butter and willow extract.
Colorgram:TOK is still rather new on the Korean beauty scene, but fans of makeup inspired by K-pop idols will be sure to enjoy the shimmery, pastel shades offered by the brand. The Milk Bling Shadows, which are smooth and long-lasting liquid eyeshadows, are particularly great for getting your shine on when you’re on the move!
This high-end brand, which uses ginseng in all of its formulas, specialises in anti-ageing skincare products. The brand prides itself on incorporating traditional Korean herbs into skincare so the products can help rejuvenate and improve the complexion, as well as firm and lift the skin.
Cruelty-free and full of natural ingredients, Benton is most popular for their Snail Bee High Content Essence, which is widely praised by beauty gurus and K-celebs alike for its moisturising and calming effects. If you have dry and irritated skin, we’d also recommend giving the Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack a try, as it promises to nourish and hydrate skin, while improving skin tone and texture.
I’m Sorry For My Skin
Whether you’ve just pulled an all-nighter, stayed out in the blazing sun for too long or indulged in one too many unhealthy treats, this aptly named brand really summarises the aftermath of subjecting our skin to all of the above. It specialises in skincare that treats your tired and irritated skin, offering everything from ampoules to creams and their popular Jelly Masks, which promote soothed, bouncy and radiant skin.
If beautiful packaging is a must for you when it comes to beauty products, Coringco is the way to go. With their pink-themed makeup and nourishing skincare products, Coringco stands out from the crowd by also offering a wide range of adorable makeup applicators and tools.
Son & Park
You might know their founders Son Daesik and Park Taeyoon as the celebrity makeup artists that appear on Korean TV shows, but did you know that they also have their own brands? One such brand is Son & Park. They offer a range of makeup and skincare, but we swear by their Beauty Water, which contains willow bark and papaya extract to gently exfoliate your skin and preps it for the rest of your beauty regime.
If you’re looking for affordable makeup in Seoul, head to one of the A’PIEU stores. Sure, there are a lot of cheap beauty products in Seoul but this brand offers products that cost from $5.50. Plus, the payoff for the colours are good, so definitely worth the buy!
TPSY is perfect for all lazy girls everywhere, with products designed to be minimum effort, maximum creativity. A great example is their Two Drink Minimum Eye Shadow Pencil, which is highly-pigmented, smudge-proof and long-wearing.
Atoclassic was developed by the Wooboo Health and Skin Research Centre which has over 100 years of experience in herbal skincare. Their Real Tonic Soothing Origin Essence has a gel-like texture and is packed with herbal goodness to soothe any skin woe.
Too Cool For School
Korean but created in New York, Too Cool For School is all about creativity and experimentation. Their makeup is fun and flamboyant but they’re best known for their Egg Mousse skincare packs that minimise pores while hydrating the skin. The packaging is super cute too.
Available at all Olive & Young stores in Korea, Neogen products are designed to be powerfully effective with lots of science behind their design. One product to look out for is the Bio-Peeol Gauze Peeling Wine which uses alphy hydroxy acid and resveratrol in 30 exfoliating pads, which feature one rough side for the manual “scrub” and a smoother side to soften the skin.
Another traditional Korean brand that’s become popular today, Shangpree has over 25 years of experience and is best known as a spa brand. Their Marine Energy Eye Masks are extremely popular thanks to their calming algae that depuff tired eyes and hyaluronic acid that moisturise. The texture also ensures they stick to your contours without slipping.
Eco Your Skin
Innovative and exciting, Eco Your Skin offers a lot of new ways to nourish your skin with textures and formulas quite unlike any other. Try their Lavender Bedside Mask that helps to both soothe you to sleep as well as exfoliate your skin.
A version of this article was originally published on Cleo.