There are some things in Korean culture that are so overwhelmingly prevalent that I am surprised I never knew of them before. I suppose I was just lost in my American bubble, because how else could I have overlooked the booming Korean beauty market?

This country loves pretty. This culture is more attuned to looks and beauty than I expected. Even if you set aside the plastic surgery issue (which is huge and not something I am going to get into with this post), most Koreans are very aware of their appearance. The culture has an obsession with beauty and obtaining the perfect look, and you can see that on almost every street you walk down.

SamplesSkin Food. Tony Moly. Nature Republic. Etude House. The Face Shop. Innisfree. Missha. The chain beauty stores go on and on. And those are just a few of the ones that I see regularly; I’m sure there are dozens of stores and brands that I haven’t even stumbled upon. These beauty stores are everywhere. In the subways, on the streets, three in a row. They all have posters of high cheekboned, big eyed, flawless skinned models (or K-pop stars, I really don’t know).

Korea is the mecca of BB creams, face masks, and every beauty product you never knew existed. I like to go into these stores and try to find new favorite products. I don’t necessarily need any of these products, but I buy them anyway. Consumerism at its best. My favorite part about the stores is that they all give away free samples when you buy something, which is my favorite thing about Sephora too. Samples make me ridiculously happy. I usually don’t even use them, but hoard them for “one day.”

The favorite products that I have found are:
Skin Food: Egg White Pore Mask. It’s thick and creamy, which means it’s easy to apply, but it dries within 15 minutes. Afterwards, my skin manages to feel both tight and soft.
Skin Food: Argan Oil Hair Mask. A friend told me about this one. You use it as a deep conditioner. The smell is amazing and my hair feels so soft after a treatment.
Nature Republic: Dry Shampoo. I have really fine, oily hair. Dry shampoo is a necessity if I try to skip a day of washing, but a lot of brands make my hair feel ratty and sticky. Not this kind. My hair stays soft and full.
Missha: Moist24 Hand Cream. I keep this next to the couch and use it multiple times a day. I like that it is very light and doesn’t leave a residue behind.

MasksI’ve also used the mask sheets from multiple stores. I can’t say that I really have a favorite, because they all seem similar to me. The mask sheets are soaked in various treatments (olive oil, kelp, ginseng, green tea, collagen, snail slime, and every fruit you can think of). You place the sheet on your face for however long you feel it is needed, usually at least 20 minutes. There are holes for the mouth, nose, and eyes. That’s my only complaint about the mask sheets. I always have to tuck and fold them certain ways for them to fit my face. I preferred using them in the summer more because they were cool and refreshing; they make my face too cold in the winter!

While I have found a few favorites at the Korean beauty stores, I’m not a complete convert. I find the products more as a fun novelty than a daily necessity. Although, I believe that’s more just a reflection of my style and personality than anything against the brands. I’ll keep going back to the stores, even if it is just for free samples!


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