Today, we’re talking Korea’s biggest beauty stores.
In a country with an estimated 13,000 skincare companies, shopping K-Beauty in Korea is like being in wonderland.
To maximise your shopping time, our Seoul Team is introducing us to Korea’s biggest beauty stores. These are the best K-Beauty stores to hit up if you’re shopping in Seoul!
Like Sephora, Priceline and Mecca in Australia, Korea has a range of popular chain stores. They stock everything from cheap drug store brands to indie, hard-to-find and new releases.
The big names to keep an eye-out for are Olive Young, Watsons, LOHBs, Aland and Chicor.
If you’re wondering where to find these in Seoul, get our comprehensive Guide here.
Olivе Young (올리브영) is Korea’s version of Priceline (Ulta in the US).
It stocks everything frоm ѕupрlеmеntѕ and skincare, tо соѕmеtiсѕ аnd accessories. Olive Young is also a known incubator for new brands, featuring the hottest K-Beauty products before they get famous!
The selection of brands and products varies from store to store, but you’ll usually find popular Korean labels like Leaders, Son & Park, Neogen, Dr Jart, Clio, Papa Recipe and CNP.
Olive Young also stocks a range of other Asian brands, including Japanese labels like Kate, Majolica Majorca, K-Palette and Meg Rhythm.
You’ll find the big western drugstore brands there too, including Avene, Cetaphil, La Roche Posay, Physiogel, Eucerin, Nivea, Neutrogena etc.
Look out for big Olive Young stores at Ewha Women’s University, Myeong-dong and Garosugil.
Wastons is a large beauty chain found across Asia, which began in Hong Kong. Watsons stocks a wide range of beauty, makeup, hair and body products as well as snacks. It is particularly known for its 50% off sales, where you can grab bargains on some of Korea’s most popular labels. Try Scinic, Clio, Luna, Pony Effect, Peripera, Mamonde, I’m Meme, Caolion, illi, Acwell, Mediheal and Dr Ceuracle.
You’ll also find popular Japanese labels Kiss Me, Canmake, Shiseido, Heroine Make and Hada Labo, Taiwanese labels like My Beauty Diary and Western brands like Vaseline, Burts Bees, Maybelline, Nivea, Neutrogena and L’Oreal. They have a different selection compared to the products you’ll find in Western countries. In Asia, the top Western brands make versions of their products that are specifically tailored for the Asian market, so you’ll likely see a whole heap of Maybelline and L’Oreal products you’ve never seen before.
Watsons is on par with Priceline in Australia for makeup (think CVC in the States), but with a range of skincare products closer in price point and quality to Sephora.
You’ll find Watsons all over the country in any of the commercial zones, but there are big stores in Myeongdong, Garosugil, Hongdae, Hyewha and Ewha Women’s University in Seoul.
A relatively new entrant on the K-Beauty scene, LOve Health and Beauty (“LOHBs”) (롭스) was founded by the Lotte Group, one of Korea’s largest conglomerates, in 2013.
Similar in price and feel to Priceline in Australia (or Ulta in the US), LOHBs stocks a wide variety of domestic and international brands, as well as vitamins, supplements, snacks and more.
LOHBs is the perfect place to pick up masks, find basic skincare and try out a wide range of Korean, Japanese and other popular makeup brands. The brands differ from store-to-store but you will often be able to find Polatam, Clio, Peripera, Huxley, Aromatica, Cremorlab, Leaders and more.
Although not strictly a cosmetics store (as it stocks a wide range of clothes, shoes and accessories), Aland (에이랜드) has become a must-visit beauty destination for lovers of indie brands, particularly K-Beauty brands that are big overseas, like COSRX, Klairs, Benton, PACKage, Heimish, Land Museum, Thank You Farmer, Time to Blossom and more.
Not all the stores stock cosmetics, so if you’re only interested in those head to the big stores in Myeong-dong and Garosu-gil They offer K-Beauty indie wonderlands, with plenty of testers to boot.
The latest beauty playground to hit Korea is it’s version of Mecca, Chicor. Run by the Shinsegae conglomerate, the Chicor chain is what beauty-holic dreams are made of, combining an eye-watering range of the most popular Western and Asian cosmetics.
The multi-level stores are perfect for playing, with shop assistants largely staying out of your way while you try on the products to your heart’s content. Chicor also runs demonstrations and beauty classes and you can even book in to to have your makeup done – K-style! – while you’re there.
At Chicor, you’ll find all the hottest Western labels (think Benefit, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Nars, Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Dermalogica) Japanese brands (Kose, Kiss Me, Kenzo), Japanese labels like Dejavu and Shu Uemura, plus an impressive variety of K-Beauty favourites and emerging brands, like Klairs, Huxley, 3CE, Hera, Berrisom, Lagom, April Skin, Lindsay, Espoir, Dr Jart, Peripera, Labiotte, Neogen, Pony Effect, I’m Meme and Erborian.
You’ll find Chicor stores throughout Seoul but the 3 level one in Gangnam Square is not to be missed! Get our Chicor store tour vlog here.
Korea charges sale tax (10%) on all products, but as tourists we are exempt from paying it!
There are two ways to claim your tax refund – in person at the store in bigger tourist areas like Myeongdong and Ewha Women’s University (don’t forget to bring your Passport), or at the airport on your way out. Just let the checkout staff at the counter know that you’re a tourist (if it isn’t already obvious!) and they’ll give you a special receipt to show at the airport so you can claim your refund – woohoo!
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