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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
In case you didn’t already know, VT Cosmetics, a K-Beauty brand fronted by popular boy group BTS, is now in Singapore. If you’re an ARMY, you’d want to get your hands on the VTXBTS THE SWEET EDITION SET. Fans of BT21 would also be happy to know that there are multiple collections that feature the brand’s collab with the LINE characters.
Have sensitive and dry skin? Try the VT Cica Redness Moisture Cover Cushion, which reduces redness while keeping skin moisturised. You can purchase their products online or head to their stores at Plaza Singapura and Jurong Point.
Love K-Beauty but never seem to be able to find the time to do the daunting 10-step Korean beauty routines? VENN might be the answer for you. Backed by 20 years of skincare research and innovation, VENN is focused on streamlining traditional skincare routines by removing unnecessary steps with effective products that have high-performance ingredients.
Check out their Moisture-Balance All-In-One Face Cleanser that cleanses, removes make-up and mildly exfoliates the skin all in just one step, leaving your skin feeling soft and hydrated. Check out NET-A-PORTER for their products.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Need more convincing? This product has even been endorsed by Vogue.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Those of you who are looking to try out a silicone face cleanser will be able to find an alternative in Wiggle Wiggle’s Sonic Silicon Face Cleanser. Vibrating at 6000-9000 rpm, the device deep cleanses your skin and removes up to 99.5% of impurities.
Depending on your skin type and condition, you can choose from 15 levels of vibration intensity and find one that suits you the best. The back of the device can also be used to give your skin a lifting massage. Available at Guardian.
Popular Korean drugstore brand Eglips offers fun and trendy make-up for women of all ages at affordable prices. Their star product is the Blur Powder Pact, which gives you a bright and radiant flawless complexion while sitting comfortably on the skin. Look out for other products like their Saranghae-Zoo Cotton Candy Tint for the lips with its super adorable packaging. Available at Guardian.
The Oozoo is known for their masks that come in eye-catching and interesting designs but beneath the playful packaging, these highly effective masks pack a punch and truly deliver results. Their ‘In-Shot’ sheet masks come individually packaged with ampoule-loaded syringes that keep the key skin-enhancing ingredients fresh and potent.
Mix them into the sheet mask only when you are ready to use it and get optimum results. The Face Energy Shot Mask grabbed our attention with its usage of seven premium ingredients like Black Ginseng and Black Pearl to instantly rejuvenate skin and give it back its youthful glow. Check out NET-A-PORTER for their products.
Protecting your skin from the sun is the most essential step in any skincare routine but let’s be honest, a good sunscreen can be quite pricey. Luckily for us, Suntique has arrived in Singapore. It’s a professional sun care brand that offers reasonably priced products which give us strong protection from harmful UV rays, but are still mild and light on the skin, leaving it feeling moisturised and refreshed.
I’m Pure Cica Suncream is formulated for sensitive and delicate skin and its non-chemical UV filters provide strong UV protection of SPF 50+. It also has a natural skin tone-correcting effect. Available at Guardian.
Yungo means “Nourishing Cream” in Korean, which is a perfectly apt name for a brand that wants to pamper and care for your hair. Made with natural ingredients that include traditional Korean herbs, bird’s nest and ginseng, their products are beautifully packaged and have plenty of nutrients to give your hair the hydration and nourishment it needs to stay healthy and shiny.
Look out for The First Total Care that works as a shampoo, conditioner and hair treatment. It tames unmanageable hair by cleansing the scalp, moisturizing and improving shine all while strengthening hair follicles. Available at Guardian.
Give your skin the spa experience at home by incorporating these konjac sponges into your everyday skincare routine. Hand-crafted with love using 100% pure konjac vegetables that grow on Jeju island, these sponges gently cleanse, moisturise and exfoliate your skin.
Infused with different ingredients to address different skin concerns, try out the Konjac Face Sponge—Volcanic Clay if you want to soothe sensitive complexions and reduce redness. Check out NET-A-PORTER for their products.
K-Beauty is usually associated with the latest and newest trends, but Whal Myung is a skincare brand that traces its roots back to the Korean royal court. Using a secret formula, traditional herbs were combined with Western medical technology to develop Whal Myung Su, translated as “life-saving water” and was initially used to treat digestive problems like indigestion.
Later on, it was discovered that five out of the 11 herb ingredients were also beneficial to the skin and they were incorporated into skincare products such as the Whal Myung Skin Elixir. Acting as a toner, serum and facial oil, it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits and keeps your skin deeply hydrated while maintaining a youthful glow. Available at Guardian.
If you have sensitive skin, this K-Beauty brand is for you. Intrinsic’s skincare range is free from synthetic chemicals and fragrances, making it gentle on the skin. So far, only the foam cleanser and sunscreen are available in Singapore.
The former is a gentle deep-cleanser that removes impurities and traces of pollution, while the latter contains Vitamin D-like Intrinsic Factor (VIF) to strengthen skin barrier while protecting against sun damage without compromising on vitamin D. Available at Guardian.
This cosmetics brand was created together with Korean celebrity make-up artist and popular beauty YouTuber Saerom Min. It quickly gained fans with its trendy colours and sleek packaging. Check out their Zero Matte Lips range of lipsticks which have a creamy texture and glides on easily. They come in a variety of highly pigmented delectable shades. Available at Guardian.
BBIA’s lip products are famous in the K-Beauty world and there are plenty of options in various gorgeous shades for you to choose from. Besides the bold and vivid colors, their products are also known for their long-wearing formula and light texture.
BBIA’s Last Velvet Lip Tint products are extremely popular but their lipsticks are also worth checking-out. Another product to take note of is their Last Auto Gel Eyeliner, which is highly pigmented and long-lasting. Available at Guardian.
Fans of floral products, take note of new luxury skincare brand FEMMUE. Drawing inspiration from the energy of flowers, they are focused on creating products with botanically inspired ingredients that not only harness the healing and antioxidant properties of flowers like camellia and roses, but also their colours, scent and texture too.
The Divine Camellia Face Oil nourishes and hydrates skin to give it a healthy-looking glow through its highly concentrated formula that includes 100% cold-compressed Camellia. Check out NET-A-PORTER for their products.
We like to think of this brand as the K-Beauty version of Glossier. Like the American brand, it started as a website (albeit an e-commerce site retailing a selection of curated K-Beauty products). Like Glossier’s Into the Gloss, they have an active social media presence and regularly dispenses skin care tips and advice to their huge following.
Now, they too have developed their own line of skincare products to directly address concerns and needs of their customers after listening to their feedback. Their Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water is a hydrating daily exfoliant that is gentle enough for sensitive skin. It not only improves the skin texture, but also brightens the skin tone and nourishes the complexion. It helps to prep skin so that it can better absorb other skin care products, improving the efficiency of any skincare routine. Available at Guardian.
We spend a lot of our time staying in air-conditioned spaces, so we need to protect the delicate skin on our hands from the dry environment. Check out Frudia’s series of deeply moisturising hand creams formulated with real fruit extracts that nourish the skin.
They come in super cute packaging and have pleasant fruity fragrances. If you are not a fan of fruits, the Shea Butter hand cream works just as well to give you soft and supple hands. Available at Guardian.
This no-frills skincare brand is focused on providing simple but quality skincare solutions that deliver results without all the bells and whistles. Ideal for consumers with sensitive skin, their products are void of harsh ingredients and work not only to soothe irritated skin, but also to make it strong and healthy.
The brand also believes in being respectful to the environment and is against animal testing. One of their well-known products is their Rich Moist Soothing Serum. It replenishes the skin’s moisture while soothing sensitive skin at the same time, giving you softer, smoother and more radiant skin. Available at Guardian.