Applying make-up is an art; one that the Korean cosmetic industry has been steadily refining and innovating by working with new ingredients and adhering to higher expectations. The industry is embracing a new wave of standards wherein consumers are now demanding more natural ingredients and chemical-free alternatives; among these are extracts sourced from Jeju island which have become the new hot trend. And yet, with hundreds of brands available in-store and online, it can be difficult to establish which brands are worth picking up and who among them can be relied upon for quality and consistent results.
In order to help you, we’ve composed a list of some of the best K-beauty brands out there. All of the brands listed below have something different to offer, designed with new science and technology and artistry at mind.
Spend any amount of time in Seoul and you’ll see this iconic brand nestled throughout the dreamy urban valleys of Seoul and beyond. Inspired by the poem of the same name by Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, Innisfree is a brand that has fully embraced nature as is fitting for such a name, now priding itself on cutting out parabens, synthetic fragrances, colorants, mineral oils, and various harmful chemicals in exchange for natural extras from Jeju. Their volcanic pore toner notably utilizes volcanic clay which, they say, is made from ”minerals released by volcanic explosions in Jeju.”
Described as the new wave of beauty — Banila Co. is one of the most popular brands among the beauty community and South Korean celebrities with Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon known to be a particular fan of this trendy and reliable brand. Banila Co. does not follow the Western look and feel, choosing instead to use the Korean aesthetic as the centerpiece to showcase their wares.
Clean It Zero is a cleansing balm like no other in Banila Co.’s skincare line. The award-winning cleanser has a soft sherbet-like texture to remove stubborn makeup and cleanse and exfoliate the skin of its impurities.
3 Concept Eyes
3 Concept Eyes is one of the youngest and most modern brands in the beauty industry. Launched in early 2009, it is the sister brand to Kim So Hee’s clothing label StyleNanda whose demographic is predominantly made up of young fashionable women between the ages of 18 and 35. Consequently, you should expect nothing less than confident, cutting-edge innovation and reliable results from this fashionable staple.
The brand is irresistibly charming with its bright and attractive packaging. The Tattoo Lip Tint and Back to Baby Glow Beam shine amongst their competitors with both designed to make you stand out with that perfect pout and with illuminating skin. The lip tint comes in five vivid shades and leaves a long-lasting and pigmented stain.
Chin Look Lee and Dr. Jung launched their first brand Dermaster exclusively at dermatological clinics in 2004, and as a result, formed the foundations for the first Dr.Jart skincare line. A year later, Dr.Jart expanded into the market after their first BB cream was a success.
Dr.Jart+ is now a widely popular brand available in 15 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America. The brand combines leading scientific research with innovation, teaming up with not only dermatologists but also with artists and designers. They are known for their face masks such as the Dermask Water Jet Vital Hydra Solution and Clear Skin Lover Rubber Mask. The Vital Hydra Solution sheet mask in particular is made from cellulose fiber to allow the pores to absorb essential nutrients whilst strengthening the skin’s barrier function.
DUFT & DOFT is something of a newcomer to the market, having been founded in Seoul in 2013. Nonetheless, their devotion to natural ingredients, their cruelty free policy, and the consistent quality of their fragrant hand creams and natural extract sheet masks have pushed them far out of obscurity and into overwhelming commercial success.
We’re particularly a fan of their silky rose-scented Stolkholm Rose mini hand cream which comes enriched with Vitamin E and Shea Butter. Other notable fans of the brand include Hyerim from Wonder Girls, Kim Doyeon
from IOI, and Kim Taehee.
We here at Inspire Me Korea are huge fans of Sesamis and their brand ethos. The Sesamis brand extends from Huway Inc. origin, which was established in January 2014. They are standard bearers of the natural ingredient wave, sourcing their naturally-occurring materials directly from Jeju island, including herbs and fragrances which they believe to be superior to their Mediterranean counterparts. They reject Parabens, Synthetic dyes, Ethanol, Propylene glycol, and Mineral oil in all their products
They also notably apply EGFs, or Epidermal growth factors, to their products which promote resistance to skin aging by promoting skin growth. EGFs. Their natural pure cleansing foam not only provides incredible results, providing a really fresh-feeling cleanse with an all-natural approach, but their bottle seems to last forever. We were thoroughly impressed.