In recent beauty news, we learned that the South Korean beauty industry is seriously booming over here in the USA. In fact, according to the Korean Herald, South Korea’s beauty exports have tripled in the last five years, which is pretty impressive.
Part of that success is due to retailers – based in the United States – selling South Korean makeup, skin care, and hair care products to those of us who can’t make it over to the #skincareblessed peninsula. For example, there's Soko Glam, run by Charlotte Cho, and Glow Recipe, run by Christine Chang and Sarah Lee.
Each website has their own way of curating products. For Soko Glam, it’s all about bringing Korea’s favorites across the world.
“Our curation philosophy,” says Cho, “is to provide products that are actually bestsellers in Korea and loved by Korean women. We have relationships with many of the mainstream brands, so that people that shop at Soko Glam have the authentic experience and access to brands as if they're actually shopping in the streets of Seoul.”
Glow Recipe takes a slightly different approach. Their goal is to deliver natural products that provide “skintertainment,” AKA products that boast sensorial textures, unique technologies — such as bursting or bubbling — and unusual ingredients.
“All these contribute to a fun, pampering skin care experience,” Glow Recipe tells MIMI. “Skin care is elevated to a moment of self-care versus a chore.”
MIMI spoke to all three of the above industry veterans to determine what their best-selling Korean beauty products are — here's what we found out.
This is a gentle, exfoliating wash-off mask that makes your skin super soft. Fun fact: The first time I tried this product was back in 2009, when I lived in South Korea, and I was instantly hooked. The fact that it’s still being sold today, and at such staggering numbers, is a testament to the product and the brand.
This “next generation” mask, sold at Glow Recipe, may make you look like Wicked’s Elphaba, but it takes sheet masks — and your skin — to the next level. It’s composed of 100 percent real sea kelp, an ingredient that brightens, purifies, and moisturizes.
Award winning? Check. Cult favorite? Check. Multi-tasker? Check. This “beauty water” not only cleanses your skin, but mildly exfoliates and brightens your complexion as well. Consider it the perfect precursor for your skin care and/or makeup routine.
Chaga is a type of mushroom that has heaps of positive effects on your skin, and this product contains 60 percent of the namesake ingredient. It’s a pressed serum, which is essentially a serum and a moisturizer combined. I own this and am a huge fan. It has a very bizarre texture, like jello-meets-sponge, and my skin soaks it up in minutes.
This is an interestingly packaged product that serves as both a chemical and physical exfoliator. It contains 30 single-use exfoliating pads that are soaked in a liquid containing resveratrol (found in red wine and naturally fermented), as well as lactic acid. Take one pad out at a time and rub it on your face to give dead skin cells the boot.
This “splash mask” takes the 20-minute mask ritual and turns it into a 15-second experience. It contains a super concentrated “blend of lactic acid and botanical extracts” that you dilute in water and then splash onto your face before patting into your skin. I’ve used this product myself and recommend it for those who want to shorten their skin care routine without sacrificing anything.