The Hallyu wave is alive and well, and we don't just mean K-pop or K-dramas! Anyone who's into skin care has dreamt of copping Koreans' famously dewy and radiant complexion, and there's no better place to get started than in Seoul's ultimate shopping district: Myeong-dong. The bustling shopping paradise is home to literally dozens of stores that cater to all your K-beauty needs; we're not exaggerating either, because you can find one or two branches of the same brand in a single street!
You've already seen stores like The Face Shop, Banila Co., Holika Holika, Etude House, Tony Moly, and Skinfood all over Manila. This time, we show you where to go for skin care brands that aren't as readily available in the Philippines.
Tip: Most stores in Myeong-dong offer a tax refund at the counter, as long as you present your passport and you spend over a certain amount. Don't forget to ask for samples while you pay!
IMAGE Aimee Dacanay / Innisfree
One of Korea's most popular brands, Innisfree boasts an all-natural, eco-friendly beauty and skin care lineup with ingredients harvested from Jeju Island. They carry lines that cater to any skin type and problem imaginable! If you want to try their products without the major commitment, make a beeline for their budget-friendly capsule packs for the most bang for your buck.
Must-tries: It's Real Squeeze Sheet Masks; Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask; Jeju Pore Cleansing Foam; and The Green Tea Seed Serum
IMAGE Visit Korea / Dear Klairs
ALAND is a haven for unique and homegrown finds but only select branches carry must-try Korean skin care products. You'll need to keep an eye out for the somewhat hidden Myeong-dong branch (it's best to ask your hotel for directions), but this is the only place where you can shop hard-to-find skincare gems like COSRX, Dear Klairs, and Son & Park!
Must-tries: AHA/BHA Clarifying Toner and Acne Pimple Master Patch from COSRX; Supple Prep Facial Toner and Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum from Dear Klairs; and Beauty Water from Son & Park
IMAGE Aimee Dacanay / Nature Republic
There are several Nature Republic branches around the Metro, but it's hard to resist entering their main (and biggest) branch in Myeong-dong, especially when you see its famous outdoor display. Their bestseller is the aloe vera gel, which is so cheap and popular that they offer full-sized tubs in sets of six and 12!
Must-tries: Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel; Bamboo Charcoal T-Zone Kit; and Real Nature Mask Sheets
IMAGE Visit Korea / Laneige
Think of Aritaum as a Sephora of sorts. It's filled with cosmetic brands from the Korean company, Amore Pacific, which carries products for both male and female customers. You can shop popular brands like Laneige, IOPE, Mamonde, and Odyssey here. (For makeup lovers, don't forget to pick up IOPE's bestseller, the Air Cushion, on your way out!)
Must-tries: Rose Water Toner and Floral Hydro Cream from Mamonde; Lip Sleeping Mask and Water Sleeping Mask from Laneige; and Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning from IOPE
IMAGE Aimee Dacanay / belif
This herbal cosmetic brand combines traditional 19th Century techniques with modern-day Korean skin care science, promising super-soft and hydrated skin in a jar. If you suffer from oily or combination skin, they've got lightweight products for you, too!
Must-tries: The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb; Oil Control Moisturizer Fresh; and Moisturizing and Firming Eye Cream
IMAGE The SAEM
With decades of experience under its belt, The SAEM carries over a whopping 750 products and over 40 skin care lines. From troubled and irritated skin to enlarged pores, you'll find something here that caters to any skin issue you might have.
Must-tries: Healing Tea Garden Green Tea Cleansing Water; Sebum-Removing Cotton Swabs; and Urban Eco Harakeke Toner
IMAGE Visit Korea / Missha
This beauty and skin care brand has been a long-time crowd-favorite for a good reason. They don't just effectively address your skin's needs; they're easy on the wallet, too!
Must-tries: Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule; Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist; and Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream
IMAGE Visit Korea / Too Cool For School
Add some quirky fun to your nightly skincare routine with finds from Too Cool For School. Their three-storey branch in Myeong-dong is filled with innovative beauty products that come in the cutest and, well, coolest packaging.
Must-tries: Egg Cream Mask; Sitkoza Cleansing Gel; and Egg Mousse Pack
IMAGE Visit Korea / Mamonde
You can easily find a Watsons branch pretty much anywhere in Manila, but we still urge you to pay them a visit when you're in Korea. Here, you'll find skin care brands that fit all kinds of budgets and needs, like Leaders, Dr. Jart+, Mediheal, and Mamonde (which also has its own stores in Myeong-dong).
Must-tries: Aquapore Lentil Bean Seed Anti Sebum Mask and Whitening Cell Skin Seed Mask from Leaders; and NMF Aquaring Ampoule Mask and HDP Pore Stamping Mineral Mask from Mediheal
IMAGE Aimee Dacanay / April Skin
Like Watsons, you can find an Olive Young store at almost every street in Korea. Sheet masks fill an entire aisle, but be on the lookout for hard-to-find skin care brands like Neogen and April Skin. Their Myeong-dong branch is their main store, which houses a huge section where you can test their cosmetics and skin care products.
Must-tries: Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Exfoliating Pads and Real Fresh Green Tea Foam from Neogen; and Pinky Piggy Carbonated Pack and Pinky Clay Nose Pack from April Skin
*This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.