Korean Beauty 101: Best-Selling Brands

By Monica Park

Korean makeup drugstore brands, also known as “road shops,” tend to focus on younger audiences and in turn are more affordable than department makeup brands. Brands tend to have many collaborations and “faces” representing the brand ranging from K-pop idols such as Red Velvet, Krystal, MONSTA X, and Hallyu actors. Lately, Korean makeup brands have started selling their products more globally. In this guide, you'll be introduced to popular Korean beauty brands and their best-selling products!

  • Etude House 

Hailing the trademark “Life is Sweet,” Etude House can be described as having a cute and bubbly theme. The name “etude” is derived from France based on Études by Frédéric Chopin. Etude House hopes to inspire new trends and bring playful colors out. Many of their makeup products are popular hits from bases to lipsticks and eye shadows. This brand is also loved by many K-pop idols, including Red Velvet. 

The Play Color Eyes collection offers a selection of eye shadow palettes with ten colors, following themes ranging from fruity to floral in a light and easy to travel with packaging. 

  • The Face Shop

Health and beauty for The Face Shop are all about naturalism and having a variety of different products that are affordable. Ever since 2003, the company has created over 1,000 products and has at least 2,100 independent stores. The Face Shop carries a broad amount of skincare items and treatments aside from their makeup products as well. Recently, GOT7 has promoted products with The Face Shop. 

The Lovely Meex blush powder comes in six different shades of pinks to peaches, and has a cute doll-themed applicator that's meant to provide coloring and prevent sweat or sebum. 

  • Innisfree 

Innisfree brings natural ingredients from Jeju Island, which is surrounded by volcanoes used for healthy skin. The company offers different formulas for all skin types with fewer chemicals and preservatives in their products. Innisfree's name originates from William Yeats' "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," and is an eco-conscious brand. While Innisfree does sell makeup, they are known for their skincare products such as the popular green tea line, which is sold in sets as well. Innisfree has collaborated with groups such as
LOONA and Wanna One. 

One of the highest-selling products of the brand is the No Sebum Mineral Powder. This powder is for those with extra sebum or oil, and makes smooth radiant skin. It can be used on other parts of the body, such as eyelashes or hair where excess sebum exists. 

  • Labiotte 

Labiotte is one of the more newer brands on this list, and its name suggests that its products are natural and made for enhancing beauty. The brand promotes fewer chemicals, recycling containers, as well as being careful of skin sensitivity. Labiotte has had partnerships with many  actresses, such as Kim Go Eun. 

Originally, the brand started off with their wine lip-based products and have now expanded their collection. The packaging of the Wine Lip Tint is in the shape of a wine bottle with French wine extract, and is a non-sticky based product. 

  • Missha 

Missha is known for affordable and high-quality products focusing on glowing skin. They also have products meant to improve skin quality with continuous usage. The brand's main target is for healthy and flawless skin. Missha is known for having strong base products as well as good performing point makeup, but also has a range of skincare products sold. Missha has been represented by celebrities such as NaNa. 

Their best-selling Perfect Cover BB Cream comes in seven different shades, which is more than the typical Korean makeup brand, and are promoted for having SPF 42 for sun protection. This product is good for dark circles or blemishes and leaves a dewy finish. 

  • Nature Republic

The company’s central point is good communication with nature and its customers. Nature Republic has collections with surprising ingredients such as bee venom, snail, or aloe. Even though Nature Republic is heavily-focused on skincare, they do sell makeup that's typically good for everyday wear. From face mists to moisturizers and spot treatments, there is a lot to offer from the brand. EXO has had a contract with the company since 2013 and exclusive items which will soon end this year. 

Nature Republic's classic single By Flower Eye Shadow is different from others with a whopping 18g amount of product. Their shadows are good to have to make a natural look, offering various colors and finishing types. 

  • Skin Food 

One of the oldest brands on this list and still a hot spot for younger generations, Skin Food is known for centering its brand on food. Their belief is that nutritious food can lead to nutritive beauty and healthy skin. The ingredients used by the company have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants with foods such as black sugar, peach sake, gold caviar, and yuja being used for extraction. Though there are makeup products sold by this brand, Skin Food tends to have more skincare items for their buyers. Skin Food has been represented by actors, such as Lee Jong Suk and Kim Yoo Jung. 

Their Salmon Dark Circle Concealer Cream contains salmon roe extract, and is supposed to be full-coverage with brightening effects. The product comes in shade #1 for fair-to-light or #2 for light-to-medium tones. 

  • The Saem 

The Saem looks at elements of the world such as sky, soil, winds, and sunlight. It is inspired by nature and ingredients rooted from Korean ginseng, Iceland ice caps, or Morocco argan trees. This brand is eco-friendly and observes different cultures around the globe. By using these special ingredients, this company focuses more on producing effective skincare and makes sure their items are safe for the skin. Currently, SEVENTEEN is an ambassador for the brand. 

The Mousse Candy Tint is one of their best-selling makeup products. It has fruity scents and a mousse-based lip tint product with at least five different vivid color options. 

  • TONYMOLY

Based in Seoul, TONYMOLY originated in 2006 and has over 952 brand shops. It is known for its unique packaging. They focus on perfect skincare and healthy products for consumers to use. TONYMOLY has a big collection of face masks and body products as well. MONSTA X has partnered with this brand, and had an exclusive lip tint dedicated to the group. 

Their Back Gel Eyeliner has a gel formula and comes with an eyeliner brush attached to the product. It dries to a long-wear waterproof finish. 

  • Too Cool For School 

Unlike other brands, Too Cool For School was originally made in New York City and is the most artistic as it goes towards creative experiments and contemporary designs. One of its first products was a collaborative project with a London-based artist and was influenced by designers, artists, and dancers. While Too Cool For School makes special skincare items, their focus on makeup and intricate packaging is a trademark of the brand. 

Artclass By Rodin Shading is one of the most popular Korean contour palettes, and comes with three neutral shades in a round shape with a mirror. The Artclass product expanded to highlighters and blushes as well, but first gained popularity with the contouring palette. 

Though there are tons more Korean makeup brands out there, these are some of the most budget-friendly and loved by many. All these companies make sure their beauty and skincare products have good makeup as well as being pigmented.

Did any of these makeup brands catch your eye? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Monica Park

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