When my friends express interest in Asian beauty they usually don’t know where to start. Asian beauty products used to be difficult to find, typically involving the use of Google translate and dealing with the dreaded wait time of international shipping. Not anymore! Asian beauty products are way more accessible, thanks to being carried in more physical shops and the availability of online retailers marketing towards western markets.
Keep in mind I am writing this mostly for people in the United States, as I’m assuming the buying potential is pretty uniform across the country. I live in a major city, so sometimes it’s easier for me to come across physical retailers that might hold Asian beauty products.
The one downside to online retailers is the wait time for your products to ship, which can be a while since some of these retailers will be shipping international. While online stores usually have a large variety to pick from, it can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you want. Here are some of the online sources I use to by my Korean beauty products
Jolse.com: Jolse has a HUGE selection of products to pick from ranging from low to high end. It can be overwhelming and might be best for Kbeauty veterans who know what they’re looking for. The prices are pretty decent, usually some of the lowest you can find, and the shipping is typical free. The downside is that international shipping can be unpredictable and there usually isn’t a tracking code. There is also the slightest chance that your package could get lost on its journey. Jolse has a great customer service team that will either send you a replacement or issue you a refund in the case of an unfortunate loss.
Memebox: Memebox has gone through many changes since it’s conception. It was originally a box based retailer that would release a stream of curated boxes of full size products at a discounted price. Memebox later shifted its focus to be an online retailer, moving away from boxes and focusing on individual product sales. Memebox has changed onced again and it now acts as a portal to buy and research skin care. This change is an effort to provide consumers with education on the products they are buying through tutorials, reviews, and social media coverage. It’s a fun concept for people who are new to Asian beauty.
Amazon: Amazon has stepped up it’s game in the Asian beauty category lately by offering a variety of products on Prime. Innisfree, Missha, Mizon, Etude House, Laneige, Skinfood, Tony Moly, and CosRX are among the brands that are available on Amazon with prime shipping. The pricing is fair and Amazon prime is a reliable mark towards a product’s authenticity. If you have trust issues, use your common sense and read seller reviews to determine if they’re shady or not. If a retailer has a rating under 90% or 85%, you should probably stay away.
Honorable mentions for American based Asian beauty retailers go to Glow Recipe and SoKo Glam. These companies seek to curate Korean skin care for an American market by hand picking high quality products. Both companies are also very active on Youtube and their blogs to help guide people towards picking the right product for individual concerns.
Physical store locations.
I have mixed feelings about Asian beauty being sold at physical stores in the States. While it is great that you can just go to your local beauty store and pick up a few sheet masks, a lot of times the prices are ridiculously marked up. I suppose you can say you’re paying for the convenience, but sometimes the convenience alone doesnt justify the price hike.
Sephora: Sephora has a range of mid and high end Korean skin care to pick from, both online and in store. Brand I’ve noticed at Sephora include Dr. Jart, Eborian, Neogen, J One, Park and Son, Too Cool For School, and Belif. On the negative side, a lot of their Asian beauty is overpriced. Neogen products, which are also available on Amazon prime, are marked up an extra $10. A handful of their products are online only, however, as supplies in store may be limited since Korean skincare is still a “niche” market.
Ulta: Another beauty retailer that has recently started picking up Korean skin care, you can find Ulta exclusive Leaders sheet masks, along with products from Tony Moly, CosRX, Skinfood, Goodall, and Whamisa(online only.) Like sephora, the online collection does not accurately reflect what each store may carry. Some Ulta’s I’ve walked into had a wide selection of Kbeauty, while others only featured five sheet mask jammed into a random shelf.
Urban Outfitters: Urban Outfitters has always had a variety of fun knick-knacks, now they have started carrying skincare. You can find Mario Badescu and Herbivore, alongside sheet masks from Tony Moly, Klairs, Blossom Jeju, Skin Food, and Its Skin. I was actually surprised to find that the Blossom Jeju masks were at a decent price, because those are face crack for dry skin. Their online store also features CosRX, Benton, and Blithe.
Forever21: Kind of an oddball to be included on this list, but Forever21 is Korean owned and they recently started carrying sheet masks. The huge Forever21 in the mall near me has a table FULL of sheet masks, so I did some digging and grabbed a bundle. Most of them are super cheap, no-name masks that might not be the “best” choices but it’s nice to have a quick fix available. There are a few that I’m excited to try out, like the Berrisom soda bubble mask and a hydrogel mask, so it’s not a complete wash!
Hmart: Hmart is a Korean grocery chain that have sprung up around the United States, Canada, and recently in the UK. There are two near Atlanta and each market houses an Aritaum. It’s a great place to stock up and if you’re an Aritaum fan, you’ll find the brands under the Aritaum family: Sulwhasoo, Iope, Mamonde, and Laneige . There are typically one or two smaller shops attached or around Hmart that sell other brands. I’ve seen The FaceShop and Missha, along with other high end brands that I’m not familiar with.
Now go out there, do some shopping around, and find some deals!