Those who sell beauty and cosmetic products need to be knowledgeable. Usually, K-Beauty fans have a good sense of what’s in and what’s not, and are willing to ask questions and follow recommendations. Consequently, you need to prove your expertise by demonstrating a deep understanding of popular Korean cosmetic brands.
With this in mind, we thought we would guide you through some of the leading K-Beauty brands and explain why they are loved and what they specialize in.
The most important K-Beauty brands of the last years
If you are searching for the top K-Beauty brands that have defined the industry in recent years, there are more than a few to mention. Although the brands listed below each have unique qualities that have helped them stand out, they share several common characteristics that have guaranteed their success. For example, all the brands listed below are known for their ability to produce high-quality products at an affordable price. Similarly, they have all focused on natural ingredients in an attempt to improve the quality of skincare.
Even if you’re not that interested in K-Beauty, you’ll probably have heard of Innisfree. Founded in 2000, the brand is one of the most famous Korean skincare brands in the world and made a name for itself as the country’s first natural skincare company. Its products are made with at least 70% natural ingredients sourced from the volcanic island of Jeju.
The brand has also won the minds and hearts of many K-Beauty fans with its attempt to tackle as wide a range of skin conditions as possible. Currently, they offer products that address eight different concerns, from pore cleansing to the anti-aging mask of Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask and the serum Green Tea Seed Serum are two of the company’s top sellers and have become cult favorites among K-Beauty devotees.
While K-Beauty lovers appreciate a bargain, they usually have little time for products that do not meet expectations or achieve results. Missha has managed to strike the ideal balance between quality and cost and has gained a reputation for making reasonable, every day make-up and skin care products that really work.
Established in 2000, the famous Korean cosmetics brand became a cult experience with the release of its Time Revolution First Treatment Essence. Designed to hydrate, brighten and tone the skin, the fermented yeast solution is popular for its ability to absorb moisture without making the face oily.
Among Missha’s make-up collection, the M Magic Cushion is particularly popular. Consumers love this cushion foundation because it allows them to replenish their make-up on the go, with a lightweight, buildable cover that protects and moisturizes the skin. There are also two options: “Moist Up” and “Cover Lasting.” Both are popular, but each offers a slightly different finish; the former provides a dewy look, while the latter is more matte.
THE FACE SHOP
When THE FACE SHOP launched in 2003, with its pioneering slogan “Natural Story” and marketing campaign, many K-Beauty fans raised eyebrows. Today, the brand has more than 3,000 stores in 35 nations, making it one of the most commercially successful K-Beauty brands in history.
As a natural cosmetics brand, THE FACE SHOP makes its products from a selection of around 600 natural ingredients, including flowers, grains, plants, fruits, and mineral water. Modern science is combined with traditional medical techniques, resulting in products that bring the past and present together to nourish and soothe the skin.
COSRX is known for its no-frills packaging and affordable, high-quality products. In a market where consumers have a good understanding of what to expect at certain prices, COSRX is consistently praised for offering high-quality skincare at an easily accessible cost.
The brand is perhaps best known for its range of products aimed at oily and acne-prone skin, including its Acne Pimple Master Patch and Two in One Poreless Power Liquid, which sold out within hours of its launch in the Philippines.
If you’re looking for a popular Korean cosmetics brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, visit Etude. Known for its playful packaging and diverse and extensive range, both Etude’s skincare and make-up collections are highly appreciated by K-Beauty customers.
Previously, Etude has also attracted recognition for its high-profile collaborations with major brands operating in different industries. Both Disney’s and Hershey’s chocolate collaborations have proven to be extraordinarily successful and are highly sought after by customers who value both the brand aesthetic and the quality of these products.
Playful, colorful, and highly regarded in the K-Beauty community, Dr. Jart+ markets itself as ” Powered by science [and] inspired by art.” Founded in 2004 by dermatologist Dr. Sung Jae Jung, Dr. Jart+ uses cutting-edge science to develop products that solve almost every conceivable skin care problem and bundle their innovative products in some of the coolest packagings on the market.
Dr. Jart+ was the first company to bring this now a ubiquitous product to the US market. More recently, the brand has gained recognition for its Cicapair line. Its Cicapair or Tiger Grass Cream, as it is also known, is preferred for its ability to soothe and repair dry facial features while strengthening the skin barrier.
Which Korean beauty brands pick up on current trends?
While all K-Beauty skincare brands need to move with the times, and most are able to recognize and benefit from the latest consumer trends, some brands are considered true trendsetters. Below, we take a look at some of the companies that are driving the industry and capturing the imagination of well-known K-Beauty customers.
Named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a story about a man aging in reverse, Benton focuses on safe, skin-friendly beauty products. As you can likely guess from the reference to Benjamin Button, Benton also works in anti-aging products that moisturize, soothe and smooth the skin.
The clean beauty of the brand is based on the use of ECOCERT approved ingredients. Its cruel ethos also fits well with Benton’s image as a company that understands what is ethically right.
Clean Beauty: Benton, Purito, Pyunkang Yul
One of the biggest consumer-driven beauty trends in recent years has been an increasing focus on understanding what ingredients are in your cosmetics, reflected in the rise of “clean beauty.”
Clean beauty is best described as an attempt to promote skin care and make-up products that do not contain harmful, or potentially harmful ingredients. In reality, this often means avoiding products that contain artificial fragrances, mineral oils, parabens, sulphates, and artificial colouring.
The issue of microdust has also given a boost to the clean beauty movement. Air pollution is considered a serious problem in South Korea. A specific type of pollution, micro dust, is blamed for an increase in common health problems and is a major culprit when it comes to skin problems. As a result, many South Korean customers are looking for “clean” products that do not contain ingredients that could further irritate their skin.
As a K-Beauty retailer, it is important to understand that each customer has a different perception of what constitutes a “clean” product. It is your responsibility to know what is in each of your products and to be able to recommend suitable skincare solutions.
Purito produces skincare and make-up products that contain high-quality, natural ingredients that are EWG Green Level certified, but the brand’s focus on nature does not end there. Purito guarantees that all packaging is made from save materials, and the testing on animals is not part of its product development procedure. In addition, the company donates a portion of its profits to the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM).
The centerpiece of the Purito product range is the Centella collection. Popular with sensitive and sensitive skin, these products contain Centella Asiatica extract – a traditional herbal remedy against skin irritation.
Natural ingredients: Skin1004, Some By Mi
Products that contain natural ingredients play an important role in the increasingly influential movement for clean beauty. Several brands have capitalized on this, becoming pioneers in Korean skincare.
Founded by the Pyunkang Oriental Medicine Clinic, a centre specializing in the treatment of topical skin diseases, Pyunkang Yul takes a minimalist approach to skin care. Although their products are full of naturally nutritious ingredients, they try to eliminate unnecessary or unnatural substances.
As a result, the company has become a popular Korean cosmetics brand among those interested in clean beauty. Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner, in particular, is highly appreciated for its ability to moisturize, moisturize and leave soft, dewy skin.
Skin1004 is interested in identifying, sourcing, and harnessing the finest raw materials on the planet to create truly spectacular skin care products. SKIN1004 researchers have scoured deserts, oceans, and rainforests, bringing back substances they believe could revolutionise the K-Beauty industry.
Their formulas use high-percentage extracts of natural, active ingredients and focus on efficacy in treating and soothing irritated skin in a natural way. Skin1004’s commitment to gaining the best elements for a healthy coloring has made them a cult darling among K-Beauty fans. Among their most popular products are Madagascar Centella products, which contain soothing Centella Asiatica extract.
Minimalist skincare: Commonlabs, Celimax
Minimalist skin care is oriented towards the treatment of specific skin care issues through the use of products containing a high proportion of one or two key ingredients. The focus is on providing products that effectively soothe the skin without containing unnecessary additives.
Some By Mi
A shortening of “Something” and “By a Miracle,” SOME BY MI “mi” also means “beauty” in Korean and focuses primarily on natural care solutions. The company, well-known for its AHA-BHA-PHA 30 Days Miracle Serum, has got many awards over the years. All products use mild and skin-friendly ingredients and contain no hard or harmful substances.
Commonlabs believes that true beauty is linked to the broader idea of “well-being.” Stressing that a healthy body is the best way to achieve healthy-looking skin, this popular Korean skincare brand takes a minimalist approach to address specific skin problems.
By researching the causes of certain skin diseases and developing products that only contain ingredients to solve the problem, Commonlabs has created a famous brand whose vitamin-rich formulations are now a must in every K-Beauty collection.
Skin care with make-up in mind: Banila Co., Laneige
Many Korean skincare brands have developed products that enhance the appearance of the skin while helping to remove make-up. However, some K-Beauty brands understand the particular needs of make-up lovers and have developed products that not only nourish the skin but ultimately help to give it its best when applying make-up. By focusing on skincare solutions that enhance the appearance and condition of the skin, these brands produce products that improve the application and removal of make-up.
Celimax is respected for its ability to develop efficient skin care solutions that contain a high proportion of important ingredients and allow you to address each of several skin diseases. Under the motto “Cosmetics don’t work miracles, but we promise you honest improvement of the skin,” the brand is best known for its Real Noni Energy Ampoule, which has recently become something of a cult favorite.
Banila co. has established itself as a leading K-Beauty brand for those who want to simplify their skin care routine and use products that work together in total synergy. Banila co. was launched in 2006 and is best known for developing skin care products that remove make-up without fuss and revitalizes the skin at the same time.
It’s iconic Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm is very effective when it comes to removing waterproof or tinted make-up while cleansing, gently exfoliating, and moisturizing the skin – no wonder you buy a jar every 3.1 seconds!
Laneige markets itself as a hydration expert in skin care. Using its own trademarked Water Science techniques, the brand has developed and applied Advanced Water Complexes to a range of products that hydrate while supporting the gentle application of make-up. Thanks to its different water recipes, ranging from hydro-ionized mineral water to white tea water, they have become a cult worldwide and have now expanded to include a highly successful make-up collection.
Korean make-up brands make waves: Rom& Nd, Peripera
While much of this article focuses on skincare products, many of K-Beauty’s top brands are known for their make-up. Both of the brands listed below are at the forefront of the industry and continue to push bright and bold make-up products that are in line with some of the biggest cosmetics trends that exist today.
Founded by K-Beauty influencer Saerom Min, better known by her pseudonym Gaeko, Rom & nd, it is loved by K-Beauty fans for her bold color scheme.
If you want to take a look at some of Rom’s biggest names, we suggest looking at the Zero Gram Matte Lipstick, Zero Velvet Tint, Zero Cushion, and Better Than Cheek Blusher.
Peripera is a popular choice among K-Beauty followers because it focuses on making make-up using strong and bright color palettes. Both the brand’s lip and eye make-up products typically fly off the shelves, and Ink The Velvet Lip Tints are especially popular with those looking for a bold, colorful look that matches the latest K-Beauty trends.
As you can see, there are more than just a few top Korean skincare brands to keep an eye on. The industry is moving at such a pace and constantly reinventing and reinventing itself. Therefore, retailers need to keep up with the latest developments if they are to meet consumer demand. Fortunately, this ability to change and innovate makes the market so profitable as well. K-Beauty consumers are always searching for the next big trend, and there is always a new product, serum, or skincare treatment to try.