Korean Beauty Products – Are They Worth the Hype?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or somewhere without cellphones, TVs, internet, … so basically in a cave), South Korea is taking the world by storm.  Whether it’s the cutting edge tech or catchy dance tunes, beauty products are equally as serious business as the sought after dewiness of glowing, healthy skin is prized above all else.

During my most recent trip to Taiwan, Korean beauty brands were like the new Starbucks; there seemed to be a Korean beauty store on every corner.  If you live on the coasts in a major city here in the US, chances are you’ve passed by one of their bright, beautifully airy, and freakishly clean boutiques, over spilling with delicious smelling products in adorable containers that are impossible to resist.  They target every single skin concern out there including ones you didn’t know existed; you’d be hard pressed to walk out without finding something to purchase.

Even Sephora is jumping on the wagon:

sephora korean trend

I wanted to share and review the products I got to try, most notably from Etude House and Innisfree.  Are they worth the hype?  Let’s see how they fared.


Innisfree focuses on their products being “natural”, mainly derived from nature’s ingredients and uniquely derived from a volcanic island off the sea of South Korea known as Jeju.  They boast a product line with concepts that encompass the island – clean, pure, and free from pollution.  They even let you recycle the bottles back to the stores after you’re done with them!

Out of the countless options, I decided to try products that were more for aging prevention and I was pointed to the Repair 9 wine themed collection.  I think I bought it more for the smell than anything else, actually.


Surprisingly, the toner is now one of my favorite skin care products of all time.  It reminds me of the Sephora brand softening toner, but instead of just sitting on your face, this actually gets absorbed quickly and makes my face feel supple, not sticky. It’s more like a light moisturizer instead of a toner.

The lotion I felt was more of a night time product; it was wonderfully moisturizing but felt sticky afterwards, it didn’t feel like I should be stacking make up on top.  The Peeling Jelly Softener was pleasant to use; it made my face feel smooth and soft after messaging the product in and rinsing it off.


I use the Green Tea Sleeping pack almost every night (or get it from Amazon here).  I’ll message it into my skin after the last step of my skin care and by the time my head actually hit the pillow it would have mostly absorbed.  I wash it off in the morning and my face always feels oh so soft and fresh.  Love this stuff!


Korean brands never disappoint with samples, and boy did I get a handful along with my purchase.  I probably have enough to keep me entertained for a year!

Etude House

Etude House has probably the most saturated presence in Korea and in Taiwan too.  Their stores are so princess themed and pink-explosion that my boyfriend would stubbornly stop outside the store and promptly take out his phone to conquer the internet every time I wanted to go in to one of them.  Also, their product packaging is dead on adorable.


I used the Moistfull Super Collagen cream for the better part of a year and repurchased, it’s a great night cream that keeps my skin moisturized through dry winters and didn’t make my face oily.  I didn’t really care too much for the Eye Cream in the same collection though, it was only meh.


The Moist Up Sleeping Pack is awesome.  I alternate between this one and the Innisfree one, and I think I might like this one more.  The Wonder Pore Toner is only okay.  I think we know by now there is no magic toner that will shrink your pores, but this does take care of any sebum and freshens my face.

Have I piqued your interest in Korean beauty yet?  Off to Sephora?  Let me know what products you’re using or planning on trying/acquiring!




20 thoughts on “Korean Beauty Products – Are They Worth the Hype?

  1. Style Tomes says:

    I’ve become obsessed with Asian-market finds! I used to go to the local Japanese store when I was in high school, and would get enamored by the rows of beauty elixirs! I had no idea what they were for, but I wanted them. LOL. My mom is on a kick with Korean and Japanese products, so I’m trying out a lot of new face masks and tools. Nothing is a miracle product, but it really is fun to try out new things!
    Style Tomes || Style Tomes on Instagram


    • Alice Shiya says:

      Haha yes I’ve totally purchased Japanese beauty products based on their cute packaging or smell and having no exact idea what it says. I do love the Shiseido shampoos, which was weird seeing them in Japanese grocery stores when their beauty products cost a pretty penny in department stores! ;D


  2. Sophie Lee says:

    I’m an Asian so Korean beauty products are familiar to me. I’ve been using Innisfree Green tea set and it turns out to be very good, it absorbs quickly and my skin looks fresher and less oily. You should try their different kinds of mask, especially clay mask from innis – one of the best items ❤

    Korean beauty products are just like the whole different world, try their cosmetics also, it worths (y)

    Love from http://lastestbag.com


    • Alice Shiya says:

      I love encountering a fellow Asian on fashion blogs! I would so love to try out that clay mask, but at that time I had already purchased too much…maybe next month I’ll pick it up from Amazon, for sure!


  3. Alexandra Newman says:

    I haven’t really tried some of the products you mentioned but I have tried an Asian brand called Belif. I mainly picked up the exfoliator, because like many others, they use natural resources to exfoliate your skin instead of microbeads. I love it to say the least!



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