HOWTO: Makeup shopping in Korea!

If you guys have read my blog posts before, you might have the idea that I do like Korean Products. In fact for me, korean make ups are easier to get in hand since I did live in Korean for average 9~10 months in a year. In my opinion, Korean Makeup do have a lot of variation, plus if you search throughly a lot of them are dupe for high end products and really economic!

But I do know a lot of you might not as easy as me getting your hand on Korean makeup brands. If someday in the future you get to go to Korea, and you really want to shops some makeups, here I am going to list you some tips and hoping these posts helps you in every kind of way.

First, I'm going to categorize the brands depend on the way you could get them, while you in Korea!

1. Individual Stores Brand

These brands might be the easiest one you could spot on, and they are almost EVERYWHERE in Korea. Individual stores means the brand had their on shop, whether it's a block in mall, street shops, or a huge-ass building as their store. And most of brands you knew or I bought the most is actually from these shops.

Reasons are: they're the cheapest, most known, had the biggest variety of products. Brand categorized here are : Etude House, The Faceshop, Skinfood, Nature Republic, Missha, Tony Moly, Innisfree, VDL, Lioele, It's Skin, Aritaum, Banila Co., Holika Holika, Baviphat, Apieu, Too Cool for School etc

Usually, weird enough, they're built next to each other. Which for me means : tiring and had to deal with staffs each time I went in to another shop, again and again. But actually every Korean product have their own stores, like somewhere across the country. Might not in the crowder places, but they existed. The brands I mentioned before are stores that mostly everywhere and easier to spot on, If you're in Seoul. Some brands like Banila Co. etc still not everywhere in Busan. (If you're in Busan, check out Seomyon Lotte Mall and Nampodong Lotte Mall for Banila Co. Store!)

Of course, stores like this if built to each other gives you more variety and ability to look at everything at once. Also, even though the price were affordable, it gives off fancier feeling for having an Individual stores. PLUS the way the attract Hallyu Wave customer.... they usually put on a famous idol to endorse their product and even for their souvenir and services.

Tips on buying in these stores :
  • Go to big streets like Myeong Dong, because almost every brands have their shops there. I know Myeong Dong is very crowded and blah and big and blah but I still like shopping in Myeong Dong because you could finish everything you need in one day! Then in the other, you don't need to worry about your make up shopping because you could done it once and for all! 
  • Again, big streets shops staffs are used to receive foreign costumer. So usually they have at least a staff that speaks English/Chinese/Japanese. If you're looking for a specific products or want to learn more informations but you can't speak Korean these staffs would totally helps you. But sometimes they're really aggressive so if you're weak hearted like me you could end up buying TONS of products lol.
  • Prepare your feet! Going from stores to stores means you need more strength to go store to store and if you are buying a lot, your shopping experience could go over to your sport and diet experience. If your hotel is nearby and you're going to buy a whole bunch, I recommend to take 2 trips back and forth to Myeong Dong because you wouldn't want to overtire yourself during your trip. 

2. Drugstore Brand

Meanwhile in Korea, where 'drugstore brand' does not means 'drugstore brand'. A lot of people in the internet usually called cheaper kind of brand with 'drugstore brand', even though you could buy them anywhere outside of drug stores. Brands like NYX, Maybelline, Revlon, L'oreal, Rimmel, NYC, ELF, etc which are ridiculously cheap in USA are the brands usually called by 'drugstore products' 

Now different with the actual definition of 'Drugstore brand', brands you could get in hand in Korea's drugstore might be much less in variation and higher in price. They do have brands like Maybelline, L'oreal, NYX, etc but the one that stands out is, Japanese Brands. Yes, Japanese brands are almost everywhere next to western and some Korean products. Not high end Japanese stuff like Shu Uemura, SK II, or stuff like that. The more price-friendly stuff I talk here.

Brand that I recognized in these Drugstores are Maybelline, L'oreal, NYX, Elle Girl, Art Deco, Dr. Jart +, Bed Head, Burts Bee, Kiss Me, Canmake, IPKN NY, DHC, Neutrogena, Majollica Majorca, and much more skin / hair care line such as syoss and hadalabo (which both are whooping expensive!), Korea products such as Skin 79, Clio, VOV, Peripera, Cathy Cat etc. Of course the imported brands doesn't have product as much, for example Maybelline, it took them months until they actually released their new mascara. And compare to Indonesia, have a whooping super expensive prices + less products. 

Japanese brands are also expensive. I was super super shocked to found that Hadalabo foam cleanser that I really liked cost like 10 times more expensive than in Indonesian!!! :o shocked!!!! Syoss products too!

Watch out rugstores in Korea such as Olive Young or Watsons sells more cosmetics, perfumes (& snacks) and toiletries than medicines. Go to 약국 (Yag gug) for more medicine variations! Don't be fooled!

3. High End Brand

taken from visitkorea website

I don't have to talk long about these because it's pratically similar la in any country. You might think Korean wouldn't consider foreign brand because the huge variation of brands on their own, but nope you are wrong. If we have to think like the locals, those 'individual stores brands' are equivalent to drugstores products. High end is still considered the upper quality products.

Amazingly you can get almost every high end brand in Korea, though I haven't see Urban Decay stands around. You can get these brands in department store such as Shinsegye or Lotte or Hyundai Dept store, Sephora is not yet established in Korea. I honestly think high end products priced more in Korea, but thinking about the shipping costs and stuff, still it seems to be a little more. It's debatable though because some of my friends did found high-end / branded stuffs, not only makeup, is cheaper in Korea comparing to other Asian country.

I assumed if you're going to Korea you'll not going to look for high-end makeup brands, unless you're already planned to buy some specific brands not yet available in your country / you want to buy in store, I say go on and look for the brands because high end products in Korea received so much love and attention they are always in update!

Korean brands on the high-end line : Hera, Sulhwasoo, The History of Whoo, and more and more other stuffs

4. Other brands (online brands)

The other brands suchs as Hanskin etc (I've discovered some other, but I'm not sure whether it's a Korean brand or not, so I just leave it only Hanskin as its the only brand I had experience before (note : I found in a Chinese blog that stated Olive Young did sell Hanskin, but I don't remember seeing those), basically other brands I don't mention up above, might be in this category. They may not as big and popular as the individual store brands, but definitely have their own fans.

Their price range might not as cheap as the individual store brands, it ranges from middle priced to high-end and even more. Then why others? Because I never found the brand's stores but I knew the brand is definitely exist. Either they were sold in dermatologists or on their own online store, or on other stores, just as a small display shop. Which in my case, I found Hanskin online and in a clothes shop in Hongdae. Not as a individual store, and even if they have one it's not as big and gaudy as brands I mentioned before.

You reached the end of this blog post! Even though I blogged about these, doesn't mean I'm pro or something in this field. It just based on my experience living in Korea for these past months. So! I hope you found this blog post useful, if you have any plans to Korea soon I hope you have a enjoyable trip and memorable travel experience!



  1. Thank you for this post! I'm an American living in Korea, and I've been looking for good Korean brands to try, especially nail/cuticle products. Sometimes it's hit or miss with the individual stores. This information helps!

    1. So glad my post could help you! Good luck for finding great nail products, I agree with you it's hit or miss :/

  2. I'll definitely go there someday!!!! hahahha

  3. wow just discover your blog *new follower here*.. very nice post! I'm planning to go to Korea *soon* and this post is really help :)
    Btw, are you lived in Busan?

    1. Yes! I'm currently residing in Busan :D You're welcome x have a fun trip to Korea :DD hihihi

  4. Thank you for this post! :)
    I'm a Japanese girl who studied in Korea for a little while and this post made me wanna go back to Seoul again... haha

  5. nice post! im currently living in korea as well, but in all my trips to seoul i have never seen a single lioele store o___o do you know where i could find one, by any chance...?

    1. thankyou dear! After reading your comment I did some research and I was shocked knowing that Lioele offline store is currently still not available in Seoul! I'm sure I've seen one in Busan (but it's recently closed too,,). Anyway, since you're lving in Korea, I recommend you check out Gmarket for lioele products! (some are free for domestic delivery, yey!)


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  18. I really want to try some of these products, because I know they start in Asia then slowly end up in the US. I can't find a good website that has all the products! Can anyone help please??/

  19. gmarket.com might be the answer for you! :)

  20. thnak you for that nice post!
    you made me feel less guilty about having spent an absurd amount of time in myeong dong, when i traveled to seoul.
    i love this area, despite the fact that it's so touristy, crowded.
    but who care! i come from paris, so anywhere there are tons of neon signs, loud music and crazy shopping is a typical asian cultural experience for me!
    that street has the best of everything and first time i went there it felt like it was heaven !!! now i am craving to go back to seoul ! keep up the good work.

  21. what a lovely picture. I never visited to Korea But I always listen from their that, that country is really superb. And What I liked most in their is the

    Korean Cosmetic Brands because as a woman I am also very attract towards the Cosmetic and I heard from my friends that Korean Cosmetic Brands are really very awesome. I Have seen an website named collection 1929 which provides a great variety of Koeran cosmetic Products in a very affordable prices.

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  23. Went to Korea last year and was welcomed aggressively in myeongdong :P ahahaha, I have a weak heart so I ended up buying SO MANY THINGS! It was pretty fun though, shopping in myeongdong is definitely a must if you're in seoul~


  24. Hello ;] I just discovered this post! Great insite! I'm gonna go crazy in Korea! lol

    I wanted to ask you [because you love makeup and you live in Korea most of the time] what would you give as a gift [makeup wise] to my friends girlfriend in Korea?

    Here's a bit more info. We never meet, she lived in korea all her life, never visit the United States, and is helping my friend show me around Korea. I just wanted to give her something for taking her time and showing me around.

    Sorry if what I wrote is really! confusing >.< Thank you for your help!

  25. Hey! So the point is you want to get something for this Korean girl a gift from US right? :D Makeup wise, I say a liptint (or any lip product) will be the best! I would be great if you could tell me your budget so that I can think of a brand you could check out :D

    Other than beauty stuff, small cute things like hand creams, or small perfume will definitely make her happy haha

  26. Hello, do u know where i can get lioele products in seoul?

  27. Awesome post! Very informative :D

    Just wondering, is it cheaper to buy the items online or in stores in Korea?

  28. Usually when the offline have sale or discount, the offline sites also will have the same sale too - if you count the shipping cost, online will be more pricey :p

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