The 14 Best Korean Makeup Brands to Shop for Next-Level Glow
If you’ve ever stepped into a Sephora, an Ulta or even your local CVS, you have likely come across K-Beauty products. Known for their sensorial textures and advanced ingredients, K-beauty has gone from a buzzy new phenomenon to a regular part of our routines in the last several years.
And when you’re ready to venture beyond the essences and sheet masks, it’s time to give Korean makeup a try. Spiked with skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid, everyday products like foundation and lipstick deliver natural-looking coverage and color that looks as good as it feels on your skin.
From a glow-inducing blush to a creamy lip tint that doesn’t dry out your pout, here are 14 of our favorite Korean makeup brands (and a hero product from each line) to get you started on your shopping journey.
You can think of AmorePacific as the L’Oréal of Korea; it’s a storied beauty conglomerate with a ton of brands that sit under it (some of which are also on this list). AmorePacific also has a line of premium products that are primarily skincare focused, but the one exception is their cushion compact, which is beloved for its lightweight, yet surprisingly buildable coverage and SPF 50.
Innisfree is one of the aforementioned brands that sit under AmorePacific’s umbrella. The budget-friendly line is known for featuring local ingredients like green tea that’s sourced from their own fields on Jeju Island. Though there are tons of products to choose from, a longstanding favorite for many is this pore-blurring powder that soaks up excess shine and leaves your skin with a smooth, velvety finish that lasts for hours.
Fun fact: Missha was one of the first brands to bring BB cream to the masses. Its M Perfect Cover BB Cream is still one of our favorites (as is its essence), but currently we’re loving the Dare Tint Matte Tattoo. The rich color goes on super-smooth for a natural-looking matte finish that will last the whole day.
4. Joah Beauty
Joah, pronounced “Jo-Ah” means “I like it” in Korean: a cheeky but accurate name for a brand that aims to infuse a bit of fun into your beauty routine. If you happen to spot Joah in your local CVS, make sure to pick up its Crystal Glow Tinted Luminizer Stick, which gives your skin a healthy, non-sparkly glimmer.
Here’s a little beauty trivia for you: Kaja, which translates to “let’s go” in Korean is the first Korean makeup brand that was co-founded with Sephora. As such, the colorful line is packed with portable products that fit easily into the palm of your hand and seriously deliver on color. If we had to choose just one MVP from the stacked lineup, we’d go with the eyeliner stamp (which we’ve written about before) because it makes nailing the perfect flick infinitely easier.
Try: Lumilayer Primer
By now you may have heard of something called “glass skin.” (ICYMI: It’s a K-beauty trend that refers to when your skin is so smooth and glowing that it looks like a piece of glass.) This luminescent primer by VDL gives you just that. Packed with prismatic pearls, it softens any fine lines and brightens sallow skin as soon as you put it on. We like to layer it under our foundation and pat a little extra on top as a highlighter.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Tonymoly is one of the brands that helped K-beauty gain mainstream recognition when it first started trickling into our collective psyche. With its banana-shaped hand creams and this bunny capped lip balm, who could resist? We’ve been through countless tubes of the balm because of the way it lightly tints our lips with a wash of color and leaves them coated with ample shine. Plus, the slim bullet is easy to maneuver so you can apply it on the go without having to worry about it getting everywhere.
8. Banila Co.
Try: Mung-Moong Paw Brush
Skincare fanatics may already know Banila Co. for its cleansing balm (it’s seriously the bomb), but the brand also has a selection of makeup products—from a lip tint to an eyebrow pencil. Our top pick, however, is this paw-shaped brush that you can use to apply your foundation, blush or bronzer. The bristles feel super soft against your face and blend in makeup like a dream.
9. Etude House
Try: Tint My Brows Gel
Etude House is a classic in Korea; since its launch in 1985, it’s become one of the most recognized beauty brands in the country—and beyond. (If you’re ever in Seoul, we highly recommend checking out one of the brick-and-mortar stores, which look like a giant doll houses and are packed with beautiful products at accessible price points.) Our top pick is the Tint My Brows Gel, which garnered a lot of buzz for its long wear time (up to three days for some).
10. Cle Cosmetics
Try: CCC Cream
Created with the modern (read: multi-tasking) woman in mind, Cle Cosmetics offers a tightly curated collection of makeup and skincare products that streamline your routine. One to add to your cart immediately: The CCC Cream, which is a primer, foundation and sunscreen in one that wears like a second skin. This can be attributed to the micro capsule technology that basically separates the skincare ingredients from the foundation pigments until you rub it onto your skin, so you get optimal coverage and hydration with every application. The results are satiny and smooth, and not in the least bit cakey.
11. Touch in Sol
Touch in Sol operates under the ethos that “makeup should be a joyful and exciting moment” and “should never be a tiring or stressful experience.” To which we say: Here, here! Start with the #Glowdient Palette, which features five shimmery shades that can be used as eye shadow, highlighter or blush and that can be layered on top of one another to create even richer, deeper hues.
For on-trend colors, we always look to 3CE. Whether it’s the brand’s acclaimed velvet lipstick or the eye shadow palettes, you can count on the brand to deliver fresh hues and satisfying pigment. Add the Take a Layer Multi Pot to your carts for a creamy tint that can be used on your cheeks, lips and lids. The buttery texture melts into skin with a few light taps of your fingertips.
No one does lip products quite like Peripera. The whimsical brand is known for its array of colorful shades and fun textures, which is on full display with their Velvet Lip Tint. With a light, mousse-like formula that glides on seamlessly and dries to a velvety finish, it delivers an impressive punch of color without desiccating your lips despite extended wear.
The brainchild of professional makeup artists, Clio is a true O.G. in the K-beauty space. Given the brand’s vast offerings, we’ll start you off with a fan favorite: the waterproof pen liner. The fine-tipped applicator creates the finest of lines and sharpest of flicks. Best of all, the inky formula actually holds up against sweat and oily lids.
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