Korean beauty products were the breakout trend in beauty this year. Seemingly overnight, many K-beauty retailers and brands popped up on our fair shores, which is fantastic for those who want to try out the now-infamous multi-step skin care regimen. But it can also potentially be overwhelming, because there are so many different products and categories available here now.
I asked eight brands and retailers selling Korean beauty products in the U.S. for a list of their bestselling products to get an idea of what's resonating with American consumers. So whether you're looking for gifts to give that beauty freak on your shopping list or are just curious and want to dip your toe into the hyaluronic acid and snail slime-infused waters of the vast ocean of K-beauty products available now, here's where you should start:
Peach and Lily
Alicia Yoon, one of the co-founders of online Asian beauty retailer Peach and Lily, has been instrumental in educating me about all things Korean beauty. Her site's bestsellers include an oil-balm cleanser, a brightening serum and a pudding-like cream.
Charlotte Cho, the founder of K-beauty site Soko Glam, curates popular, accessible Korean products that make for great introductions to the category. She created some gift sets of her bestselling items, but if you really want to make someone's day, give them this pre-packaged set that has everything you need to embark on a typical Korean 10-step regimen.
Urban Outfitters, which added tons of Korean beauty options to its already pretty spectacular beauty department, really did a lot to bring K-beauty to the masses. Face masks in particular are flying off the shelves there.
AmorePacific is sort of the Estée Lauder of South Korea. The company has an eponymous line which has been in the U.S. for many years, and it also owns many other brands at varying price points. This is the brand that can be credited with introducing American consumers to the CC cushion compact.
Have sticker shock from those AmorePacific products? Have no fear. The company also owns the lower-priced, but no less fabulous brand Laneige, which launched in Target this year. Not surprisingly, cushion compacts are also popular with more budget-conscious shoppers.
The Dr. Jart brand has been in the U.S. for a few years now, and can be credited for introducing us to the now-ubiquitous BB cream. That history shines through, because it is still all about the BB for Dr. Jart (though I also highly recommend the brightening sheet masks, too).
Memebox, the beauty box service based in Korea which offers skincare and tons of wacky color cosmetics to American shoppers, has only been here for a few months but has a few bestselling items already. Lip balm shaped like a macaron? Oui, s'il vous plait.
This is another AmorePacific brand, and it can be considered a Korean pilgrim to our shores -- it's been available at high-end departments stores here for years. For this brand, everyone's clamoring for its renewal creams, but don't overlook the newly launched Essential Finisher, a category you may be seeing more of soon. It's like the daytime version of a sleeping mask.