It's looking more and more like Korean beauty products are not just a passing fad, but possibly the standard and future of skin care and beauty. You may have found yourself wanting to jump onto the train, but utterly lost at how to get on board. But I have some simple steps to get you there.
First, you may wonder what a typical Korean skin-care routine consists of. I've written about it before, but just a quick recap: It consists of a multistep process, usually with variations on what you use during the day and night. An average daytime routine will have anywhere from five to ten products in it, and it's up to you to find your perfect cocktail — that part can be overwhelming.
There are some really good English-language Korean beauty blogs written by people with an array of skin types, ages, and ethnicities to help give you some ideas about what products may work for you. Finding someone with similar skin problems, type, and even color (if we're talking about shade recommendations) really helps when it comes to choosing cosmetics and skin care you may not have immediate access to in stores.
Some of my favorite bloggers are:
And you can also find me sharing my own favorite K-beauty products over at my own blog, The Beauty Wolf.
Once you've found what you think may be the perfect product, you may have no access to it since it's not carried anywhere near you. What do you do?
When you don't have access to something to swatch personally, Google is your best friend. Plug in some of the product names plus the word swatch or review into Google, and usually, several reviews, swatches, and even YouTube videos will pop up.
That may be a no-brainer "duh" thing to suggest, but to kick it to the next level, try searching on a Korean search engine, such as Naver. You can copy the Korean name for a product from one of the many Korean online stores and paste it into Naver for even more search results that wouldn't normally pop up on Google. This has been my secret weapon for when I desperately needed to see several swatches of a product that was just too new or hard to find in North America.
When it comes to online stores, there are several great ones I have been using over the years. A lot are based in Korea and can be somewhat difficult to navigate despite being English-language sites. Some are easier than others. Sites such as Rose Rose Shop and Tester Korea can be tricky to use unless you know exactly what you're looking for and are somewhat familiar with overseas online shopping. The prices, however, are usually the absolute cheapest around, the only caveat being you must pay for shipping and wait anywhere from three to four weeks for your package to arrive from Korea.
There are other sites, such as W2Beauty, that offer free shipping and are slightly easier to browse. Wishtrend is a great store to discover holy grail products that even seasoned Korean beauty fans might not have heard of, and they also have a YouTube channel with great reviews. Another site I'm a big fan of takes the guesswork out of things: Soko Glam is a U.S.-based site carefully curated by owner Charlotte Cho. She stocks only her favorite products.
Lastly, give it time. This guide may soon be obsolete; more and more stores in North America are carrying Korean beauty products. They've been spotted in big-chain retailers like Target, Urban Outfitters, and even Walmart, so finding your new favorite skin-care items may be as easy as popping over into the beauty aisle when you're out buying household staples.