Korean Beauty- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I t’s no secret that Korea is known for their beauty products. And oh my lord did I get really excited when we decided to come back to Korea realizing I was going to have my hands on more of their beauty products. Not only do they have a beauty/cosmetic store on every street, but they have amazing deals on fabulous skincare products. But with all their fame and glory…

I present to you Korean Beauty, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

Never have I ever had such beautiful, glowing skin until I was living in Korea. After a few weeks of a regular beauty regimen my skin looked and felt healthier than it ever had before. At first I was skeptical to try Korea’s beauty products. I was one of those people who paid a premium for brands at Sephora back at home. Not only that, but some of the famous cosmetic stores here (Etude House) look like make up stores for little girls playing dress up.

Bunny Lipgloss

Bunny Lip Gloss Via Pretty and Cute

Later, I found out that not only is the store and all their packaging cutesy, but some of their products freaking rock. Because beauty products and skin care are ubiquitous here you can find great quality products for cheap! The cherry on top is that you get free samples everytime you make a purchase! The best is when stores have a 1+1 sale, which happens, oh every other day. Since the cosmetics are so affordable and there are always new samples to try, it’s easy to explore their products and find the best skincare for you!

I fell in love. A few of my current favorites are sheet masks you wear for 20 minutes that add a punch of moisture to your face, Skin Food’s black sugar scrub mask, and Innisfree’s green tea skincare line. (but really, this list could fill an entire page)

The Bad

Korea Beauty

Well maybe not ALL their products are so great. Some things scream out WTF. For instance, there’s this facial cleanser called “Bubble Donkey Milk,” available at Tony Moly. I’m pretty sure none of my friends back at home would go for a facial cleanser from some donkey milk, even if it has great skin benefits.

Korean Beauty SecretsThere are also sheet masks for your boobs to “enhance” them, I am not quite sure how they work unless they are putting snake venom in them to irritate and swell the skin. There are also these crazy face slimming masks that GRRRL Traveler got to try! Well you know what they say, they can’t all be winners!

The Ugly

Crying Effect

Crying Effect

So some of the Korean beauty trends really don’t do it for me.

I once went into a Nature Republic store to check out their latest products when a friendly sales boy came over and tried to share his opinion of what I had to buy. He was trying to sell me some eyeshadow glitter pencils. Ignoring my disinterest, he continued to show me a dark glitter pencil and said this will give me “sexy effect” around my eyes. Then he showed me a light pink glitter pencil and said this will give me “crying effect,” and that was very cute.

I chuckled a bit and he looked confused, he didn’t understand why I laughed. So I asked how crying looked cute. He continued to express that crying effect was cute and demonstrated that it meant a girl needed coddling and nurtured. I was perplexed by a product designed around looking like a woman crying for a man’s attention.

Another experience I had would be when I was looking for a great brow pencil to color in my barely existing eyebrows that I’m super self conscious about. For some reason I have thinning/ receding eyebrows that have not had a pluck in over a decade. Each hair I have is valuable and I add a touch of color over them to look like normal brows.

One day I took a gander at Etude House’s brow makeup. The friendly sales lady offered to demonstrate a pencil on me. I felt like it was harmless, so I let my guard down and let her color in my brows. Before I knew it I felt a scraping feeling, when I opened my eyes I realized she just shaved off half my left eyebrow! I started laughing at my left eyebrow because it was a black, thick, rectangular line that resembled an angry bird. Then it hit me that this could be irreversible damage and my eyebrow may never grow back. My emotions shifted quickly then I felt like I was going to cry. I ended up buying the pencil (I had to now draw on the rest of my missing eyebrow) and went home and stared at my angry bird for about 10 minutes.

Miraculously my eyebrow grew back to it’s thin, faint little self. But one lesson is to be learned, do not let anyone touch what’s left of my brows again.

The Truth


Korea Beauty

Even these fun masks are great for your skin!

All jokes and horror stories aside, Korea has some great products to try! You will be damned the rest of your life after trying the right Korean skincare. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Not only are their brands inexpensive, but they’re great quality! The only downside is outside Korea their products do become more expensive. Luckily for you I have found some places you can buy and try their great products outside of Korea!

LA’s Korea Town has some shops, this Refinery29 article will give you exact locations.

Style Caster also names locations within the US.

Skin Food is available in a few locations in California.

Target Stores now carry Laneige!

You can also shop online at Urban Outfitters, and Ebay.

Share your favorite Korean beauty products below! I love trying new things and getting recommendations.

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