I’ve been getting some great feedback on my Korean skincare posts — thank you! But one thing that keeps coming up in my discussions with friends and readers is: where can I get this stuff?!? Admittedly, any idiot knows to Google a particular product, but aside from eBay and third-party Amazon sellers, which are the best online stores to procure these items?
Before I start, I should mention that while eBay and Amazon (via third-party sellers) certainly carry the widest selections (at great prices, to boot), you need to be careful when placing your order. Aside from checking the sellers’ ratings, you should check to see where they will be shipping the items from — more often than not, they will be shipping from Asia, and sometimes it can take up to 6 weeks for on order to arrive!
Fortunately, the popularity of Korean skincare products has brought us consumers some wonderful online retailers, both here in the U.S. and Asia. 🙂
My two favorite U.S.-based stores are Soko Glam and Peach and Lily. They were both founded by, and run by women who are passionate about Korean skincare and beauty, and travel to Korea often to learn about the latest trends and innovations.
These two retailers carefully curate their offerings — meaning that they do not just sell anything and everything Korean beauty on their sites. Rather, they only feature products that have been researched and tested by the owners and staff members, so it’s safe to bet that you will be receiving some quality products! And although their prices are a bit higher than other retailers, the fact that they ship from the U.S. (i.e., much faster shipping times) and the assurance that their products are genuine and trustworthy more than makes up for it.
Another U.S.-based shop I recently discovered is Glow Recipe. They differ from other K-beauty retailers in that they offer only “natural, harsh-free Korean beauty products” by ensuring that the brands/companies use environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices, the ingredients are safe and free of potentially harmful chemicals, and every item is thoroughly tested by their staff and an outside panel. I have not had a chance to order from them yet, but I do love the idea of their store and have heard great things about them!
Momomango is another North American-based retailer, but unlike the others listed above, it is based out of Toronto. As such, it has a fairly large Canadian and American customer base. It is probably the largest North American online store I’ve found in terms of product selection. In fact, its website is set up very much like Korean online beauty outlets!
Now, onto the Korean stores! Here is a (relatively) short list of my favorite ones:
The biggest advantage that Korean retailers have over the ones mentioned above is the price. They do not have to deal with international tariffs, and they can often obtain their products directly from manufacturers at discount prices. (In fact, many of them offer wholesale options themselves!) Which means that their prices will be some of the lowest you can find — sometimes they’re even cheaper than in the physical stores in Korea!
Many of the stores on this list also sell samples (usually in packs of 10) of popular products. Samples are a great way to try out new products before committing to them. What’s more, you usually pay a lot less for the same amount of samples than the actual item itself, because you won’t be paying for the pretty packaging. And when I recently took my trip to LA, I ordered a bunch of samples of my favorite items to save room…and IIRC, I just stuck the sample packets into my makeup bag, not my 3-1-1 liquids bag, and TSA didn’t even bat an eye!
Additionally, Korean stores tend to be a lot more generous with FREE samples. The U.S.-based stores usually send me 2-3 samples per order, but the Korean ones include handfuls of samples. This past holiday season, I ordered just two items from HonestSkin and look how many samples I received!
That being said, shipping can be a killer. Regular shipping usually take 2-3 weeks, but it is not uncommon for a shipment to arrive 5-6 weeks after placing the order.
(Luckily, the longest I’ve had to wait was 2.5 weeks. One time, it only took a week for an order to arrive from Korea…via regular shipping!)
Many stores offer expedited shipping — usually via EMS — but even that can take up to a week. Additionally, some of these stores can take a while to collect, pack, and ship your items…I have heard too many stories where an order doesn’t ship out until a week or two after it’s been placed. (This is especially prevalent during large sale events and holidays.)
So in the end, it comes down to your own personal preferences. Do you prefer to receive your orders quickly, with the peace of mind of knowing that each item you receive has been carefully vetted…albeit at a slightly higher price? Or do you not mind waiting longer for your shipment to arrive (or pay a lot more for shipping), because you will be paying less for each product, and you will most likely receive a lot of samples?
The choice is yours. 🙂 None of the above are affiliate links; I honestly want to help you in procuring the best products for your skin and beauty needs!
Lastly, I came across a thread on /r/AsianBeauty yesterday titled “How do you save on AB?” There are so many great tips and suggestions on there that I had to share it with you guys. (And yes, /r/AsianBeauty is a great resource for all things Asian beauty-related! Be sure to check out its giant list of Asian Beauty sellers for more retailers, and its “Resources” section on the right sidebar for much, much more useful information!)
Questions? Comments? Please let me know in below!