Over the past few years, many K-beauty brands have made their way to our shores, including big players such as Hera and Mamonde, as well as more niche brands like COSRX and Aprilskin.
If you love Korean beauty but want to shake things up a little on you vanity table, you’ll be happy to know that there are many other indie brands in the Korean beauty scene for you to try out. Many of these brands retail in the local drugstores (such as Olive Young), and have been so highly raved about by Korean beauty influencers since their launch that their products are often out of stock!
We’ve gathered some of the best and most popular indie Korean beauty brands that you should try – their products are usually available on sites such as Shopee and Lazada, so you don’t have to fly all the way to Korea to get your hands on them.
The co-founder of Pureforet grew up in a forest outside of the city and faced no skin troubles until he arrived in Seoul, and found his skin suffering from the stress and pollution in the city. Inspired to find a skin solution for himself, he and another friend came together to seek the perfect blend of skincare ingredients. After 10,980 recipe trials for research, they finally succeeded and founded skincare brand Pureforet.
With a focus on sensitive and troubled skin issues, Pureforet offers skincare that is hypoallergenic, soothing, and healing. The current product range is kept small with three main collections (Centella Multi, Thermus All Day Revitalising, and Skin Balancing), and one premium line.
DV Tip: Their cult range of products is definitely the Centella Multi, which is formulated with four essential ingredients like Jojoba Centella Infused Oil, madecassic acid powder, willow extract and tea tree oil. These work together to suppress bacteria that cause skin problems, remove unnecessary dead skin cells, and intensively heal the skin. If you had to pick one product to try, we highly recommend the popular Pureforet Centella Multi Toner.
Pureforet products are available on Qoo10.
Korean beauty products are famous for their cute and elaborate packaging, so SIORIS’ clean and minimalistic packaging is a refreshing and welcome change.
Just like its packaging, SIORIS is a natural and cruelty-free brand that advocates for clean beauty. By “clean beauty”, they mean that they create environmentally responsible, safe and high-quality skin care. All of their products are made with the cleanest and freshest ingredients so that they are safe for the whole (yes, whole!) family to use.
DV Tip: With multiple 4- and 5-star ratings online, the Time is Running Out Mist is a long-time favourite among its loyal fans. It contains Macadamia Seed Oil and Jojoba Seed Oil to maintain hydration levels, as well as Citrus Junos Fruit Water to heal irritated skin. You can use this as a two-in-one (toner and serum) product, so you can save time and money – score!
The brand name “Benton” was derived from “Benjamin Button”, the movie protagonist who keeps growing younger with each passing day. In the same vein, Benton wants to help customers restore their skin to its healthy, original state using premium natural ingredients.
Rather than mass produce items to earn more sales, the brand stands by its principle to limit production quality in order to supply their customers with freshly made products. They only use natural preservatives that are certified to be safe for skin and aid in the efficacy of the products. Animal lovers would also be happy to know that Benton has been certified as cruelty-free with PETA’s “Beauty without Bunnies” mark – which means all products have not been tested on animals!
DV Tip: The product that propelled Benton to international fame is the the Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence. Formulated with bee venom and snail secretion extracts, the essence whitens, calms redness, prevents wrinkles and moisturizes the skin. It can also reduce acne scars in the long run! The essence is suitable for all skin types, but it works especially well for those with dry and sensitive skin.
Isntree was founded by a team who wrote the FIRST skincare blog in Korea – the website’s reputation as a skincare expert kept growing, and they were flooded with many requests from readers to create their own line of skincare products. Eventually, Isntree was born in 2012 to satisfy consumers’ need for reliable skincare products.
The brand’s focus is on preserving natural beauty through the use of natural, safe, and healthy ingredients. They use plant-based materials as much as possible, but only choosing to use the EWG green grade ingredients which are certified as safe to use for those with sensitive skin.
DV Tip: You may be feeling overwhelmed by all the wonderful products they carry, but if we had to pick just one, it is none other than the Hyaluronic Acid Toner. This toner from Isntree was crowned the #1 Toner by Koreans in 2016: the product contains a whooping 50% of hyaluronic acid to replenish rough and dehydrated skin, making this a must-have for those who suffer from dry skin.
5. I’m Sorry For My Skin
We often mistreat our skin, thanks to our daily consumption of caffeine, alcohol and sugar, as well as external aggressors. Thankfully, you can still undo the damage and treat your skin better with I’m Sorry For My Skin.
The quirky brand developed specific skincare formulas in a variety of products that target irritated and tired skin. Some examples include a Moisturising Wrapping System that provides moisture for up to 120 hours, a Skin Stress Care System to identify and treat the source of skin issues, as well as a Desert Blend System with its powerful moisture-retention ability.
DV Tip: The most iconic brand products you can get from this Korean beauty brand are the Jelly Masks, which come in a hydrating and luxurious texture. Be sure to try the Brightening variation – this is formulated with botanical ingredients that brighten your skin in a matter of minutes, and is perfect for the late nights you spend watching Netflix.
While most K-beauty skincare brands usually offer a variety of products for the face such as masks and moisturisers, KOELF chooses to focus instead on the parts that people usually forget to care about. They are well-known for their hydrogel eye patches, which have been given multiple 5-star ratings online by satisfied customers.
DV Tip: Your feet needs TLC as well! Try the brand’s Melting Essence Foot Pack – all you have to do is slip on the plastic socks and wait for the dead skin cells to dissolve for silky smooth feet.
Created in collaboration with celebrity makeup artist and YouTube star Saerom Min, rom&nd has exploded onto the K-beauty scene with its beautifully curated makeup products, all of which come ini lust-worthy shades and irresistible packaging.
DV Tip: Although the brand became popular among Koreans for their matte lipsticks, Better Than Cheek has also been rising in popularity as one of the must-have blushes. These blushes feature colours inspired by dried fruits to create a “my cheeks but better” look with natural hues and silky finishes. Fans love that each blush is formulated with sweat-absorbing and sebum-absorbing powder for a long-lasting, refreshing finish – we are sure you will love it too!
lilybyred is a drugstore brand that has captured the hearts (and wallets!) of many Korean and international beauty junkies. The cosmetics brand is best known for its lip tints and eyeliner which stays smudge-proof and waterproof for up to 12 hours!
DV Tip: You can’t say that you have tried lilybyred’s products if you haven’t given their Bloody Liar Coating Tint a shot. Although it has not been long since this was released, this has become one of the top lip tints in the K-beauty industry. The long-staying tint is enriched with rich pigment to create juicy puckers that last all day, and comes in a range of gorgeous colours, including a bright peachy pink and a MLBB brick red shade.
CORINGCO touts itself as a beauty brand that will remind you of the moments you’ve tried makeup for the first time – that means its products so easy to use, even makeup beginners will no have problem mastering them for the perfect looks. They are also firmly against animal testing and advocating for the use of natural ingredients without hurting the environment – sweet!
DV Tip: CORINGCO’s makeup products are widely acknowledged to be dupes for more expensive brands such as Pony’s Effect, but if you want to try something unique to the brand, it will definitely be the Coc Peach Facial Pore Brush. Beauty junkies call this the BEST facial cleansing brush from South Korea – it has even earned itself a legion of fans in Europe!
10. Peach C
It is no secret that the Koreans love peaches, and they are famous for creating juicy, fruit looks that make their skin look healthy and lively. Peach C is trending locally for its makeup products that add a radiant glow to even the dullest of complexions.
DV Tip: There is no better way to create a fun and fruity look than with a blush! Peach C’s Cotton Blush is one of the brand’s best-sellers, and comes in a variety of universally-flattering shades for you to choose from.
CandyLab was founded to inspire beauty junkies to shake up their makeup routines and have fun while doing their makeup. All their products come in adorable packaging and are highly-pigmented in the prettiest shades you can dream of. Their cushion compact, in particular, has been flying off the shelves for its intensely hydrating formula and flawless coverage.
DV Tip: Creampop The Velvet Lip Colour leaves a highly-pigmented stain in a velvet matte texture on your lips without drying them out, so we are not surprised that many of their MLBB shades are actually out of stock. Be sure to get this in shade #01 Baby Talk, which is a nude pink that you can wear all day, everyday!
Hince believes that the best beauty is built upon your natural looks, so it allows you to layer on dense and rich colours on top of of your skin without taking away what is most unique to you. You will find that all the products come in universally-flattering shades that look great on all skin tones to create a flawless, barely-there look.
DV Tip: Highlight your favourite points and get a healthy flush with the True Dimension Glow Cheek. You just need to brush a little of this intensely-pigmented blusher-highlighter on the apples of your cheeks for a popping look – remember to blend if you prefer a more natural finish.
13. Black Rouge
Black Rouge produces only lip products – not a surprise, considering how fantastic their lippies are. They have liquid lipsticks and bullet lipsticks in so many textures and shades of red that you can think of, so you will definitely find one red lipstick that works for you.
DV Tip: Black Rouge’s Air Fit Velvet Tints are just as well-loved as their Peripera counterpart, but if you like creamier textures, we highly recommend that you try the Mousse Blending instead. A little goes a long way, so spread a small amount on your puckers, wait for 30 seconds to let it dry, and you’re good to go for the rest of the day!
Although K-beauty is sometimes criticised for its lack of diversity in terms of shade ranges, it is also a forerunner when it comes to makeup for men. LAKA has taken it one step further by branding itself as a ‘gender-neutral’ makeup brand, where both men and women are encouraged to use the SAME products to enhance their beauty, so you will find models from both genders promoting all their products together.
DV Tip: If you are looking to get something for both yourself and your other half, you won’t go wrong with the Smooth Matte Lipstick. It comes in 12 shades, ranging from the usual MLBB offerings to bold red colours that look great on everyone.
LAKA products are available on Shopee.
EGLIPS is a fun, exciting and affordable makeup brand often raved about by top beauty bloggers from around the world. The brand focuses more on foundations, pacts, and lip products that are suitable for women of all ages and occasions of all kinds.
DV Tip: Their Blur Powder Pact is a favourite of famous Korean beauty guru Pony, so you know that this definitely has to be amazing. The powder pact is formulated with amethyst and pearl powder that fills up enlarged pores and bumps so that you can get a smooth, radiant finish on skin.
colorgram:TOK may be a relatively new brand in Korean drugstores, but its affordable prices and clean packaging, together with the star power of girl group IZ*ONE, has quickly made it one of the most reputable makeup brands in Korea.
DV Tip: Add a pop of fresh and bright colour to your puckers with the Glow Pop Tint! The best-selling product from colorgram:TOK is a natural glossy lip tint with long-lasting, non-sticky shine – an essential in every girl’s makeup pouch.
colorgram:TOK products are available on Shopee.