Korean skincare and cosmetics are some of the most famous in the world. Not only are they renowned for taking care of your skin better than anything else, but Korean cosmetics are also usually very affordable.
With these traits, along with the innovation going on in the Korean cosmetic industry, it’s easy to see why Korean cosmetics have rapidly risen in popularity. Along with Korean fashion, it’s quite common to see looks inspired by the country all over the world today.
I recently wrote a post covering the best websites to purchase Korean cosmetics and skincare products on. All of the sites offer international shipping and are available in English. However, while writing the article I realised that I have yet to write about what kinds of cosmetics are actually popular in Korea! Specifically, which brands are popular.
As a country with a booming industry in this field, there are a LOT of different brands to look through. If you visit a Korean beauty website it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the incredible selection of brands, products, and uses.
It is with this in mind that I decided to put together this article today. If you’re looking for authentic Korean skincare or cosmetic brands that are actually well-known and popular in Korea look no further! I did a lot of research on Naver and Daum to put together this list and these are the most popular brands as of the time of writing.
As someone not particularly versed in the field of cosmetics, I once again asked my girlfriend to help me with this article. She’s far more knowledgeable in the field than me and I consulted with her many times before putting this together.
Finally, it is worth noting that this list does not contain all brands by any means. There are a lot of Korean cosmetic brands and I’ve included the majority of the very famous brands here. However, there are always new brands being released and there are also brands that I may have forgotten to add. If you think anything is missing, please let me know in the comments! I will be updating this article in the future to include new brands.
This article contains affiliate links. Affiliate links provide me with a percentage of purchases made from links on this page. This comes at no extra cost to you – for more information, please refer to my affiliate disclaimer.
Most Popular Korean Beauty & Skincare Brands
Before going into full details on every brand I have divided them into price ranges. Korean beauty covers all price ranges and it’s easy to find quality products in all price categories. Please note that many of these brands have both affordable and more premium products. Therefore, I have catagorised them by where the majority of their products fit.
Budget-friendly Korean Beauty Brands
- Etude House
- Nature Republic
- Tony Moly
- Skin Food
- Some By Mi
Mid-range Korean Beauty Brands
- Dr. Jart+
- I’m From
Premium Korean Beauty Brands
- The History of Whoo
- Peach and Lily
- Amore Pacific
- Su:m 37
1. Etude House
Etude House is a brand that focuses mainly on makeup products. While they do offer a range of skincare products, the selection is more limited compared to other brands. Etude’s aim is to provide a wide range of beauty products in a range of different colours and tones in order to suit a wide variety of people – all at an affordable price.
If you are looking for a wide range of skincare products, then Etude may not be the right place to look. However, if you are looking for anything from highlighter to primer then Etude will have you covered. Etude House is also a very popular brand in Korea, and you will see their stores regularly while exploring Seoul.
Innisfree is a brand owned by Amore Pacific (the same company that owns Sulwhasoo and Etude House). Innisfree is one of Amore Pacific’s budget-orientated brands, however, that does not mean that the products are low quality. This is another brand that you will see very often if you visit Korea!
Innisfree focuses on skincare and they offer many different moisturizers, creams, and serums. It’s a great one-stop shop for anyone that is looking to have healthy skin. While they do also offer some make-up products, their selection is more limited than other brands as they focus more on skin health than make-up.
Etude House and Innisfree are sister companies in many ways as they are both owned by Amore Pacific. While Etude focuses on makeup, Innisfree focuses more on skincare. If you are looking for an affordable but good quality routine make sure to check out both of these brands.
3. Banila Co
Banila Co is a Korean cosmetic company that has been around since 2006. They have recently become very popular due to their Clean It Zero skincare line that is known for providing clear-skin that glows. This line includes a variety of different products for all skincare needs.
While Banila Co does also feature some makeup products, their focus is definitely on skincare. As such, you will notice that their skincare selection is far larger. However, this skincare selection targets nearly every skin condition that there is and everyone is bound to find a product that works for them.
When browsing the website you can sort products by skin condition or need. Whether you need revitalising, purifying, or nourishing skincare products you can find them here. This makes it very easy to navigate and find the right products regardless of experience.
4. Nature Republic
Nature Republic is one of the most affordable yet quality brands that you will find in Korea. Recently they have been expanding into the U.S and depending on where you live you may be able to find a Nature Republic store close by! Similar to Innisfree, Nature Republic primarily focuses on Skincare products as opposed to makeup.
However, they do have a selection of makeup products that is surprisingly large. While their roots are in natural skincare products, you may find some useful makeup products at Nature Republic also. Nature Republic is a very well-known brand in Korea and you will regularly see their stores across Seoul – especially in subway stations!
Missha is a brand that, while Korean, may be more well-known in Japan. As of 2020, they have over 30,000 global stores – with 23,000 in Japan! This brand definitely has a very strong physical presence in Korea and Japan. While they aren’t as popular as they were a few years ago, Missha is still a very big brand in Korea.
This brand has an equally large selection of skincare and makeup products. Although they are older than many of the brands on this list, their products have remained relevant and popular for many years. They have one of the biggest selections of skincare and makeup products and, while they may be slightly more expensive, they are very popular.
6. Tony Moly
Tony Moly is a Korean cosmetic brand that is perhaps most famous for its sheet masks. However, they also carry all of your needs from moisturisers to tints. You will quickly find that Tony Moly’s main focus is on skincare with makeup products being quite limited.
Tony Moly is still an affordable brand but it does have higher prices than some of the other brands mentioned on this list. If you are looking for a great balance between price and quality then this is a brand worth checking out!
If you are specifically searching for sheet masks then Tony Moly is one of the most trusted brands in Korea. They have specialised in them for many years and their selection of face masks is unrivalled.
7. Holika Holika
Holika Holika is a budget-friendly brand under the premium Korean cosmetic brand Enprani. Holika Holika tries to provide a similar range of high quality products while keeping the prices more affordable. They also have a massive range of products that most other brands on this list don’t sell – such as body care and hair care items.
Holika Holika also provides many products using natural ingredients such as aloe vera and honey. Their moisturisers (often based on these natural ingredients) are very popular and you will find them in the collections of many Koreans!
Cosrx is one of the most recent newcomers in the Korean beauty industry. However, despite being relatively new it’s grown a large following and its products can now be found all over the world – in fact, it’s one of the most popular Korean skincare brands outside of Korea. Cosrx’s focus is to provide affordable skincare that works for even the most sensitive skin.
Corsx is also known for its transparency when it comes to what is in its products. This combined with the fact that many of their products aim to help those with very sensitive skin has made them a great choice. If you are still looking for the perfect skincare products then Cosrx is worth looking into!
9. The Face Shop
The Face Shop is one of the oldest cosmetic brands in Korea that is still popular today. Founded in 1947, The Face Shop makes a range of products for men and women alike and it places a strong emphasis on natural products.
The Face Shop is known for being a company that is against animal testing and they also aim to use only natural ingredients where possible. While this means that their products are often a little bit more pricey, it means that can expect a high quality and (relatively) environmentally-friendly product.
Skinfood is another cosmetic brand with a strong history in Korea. Since 1957 Skinfood has been creating naturally-focused beauty goods that are designed to enrich your skin – hence the name Skinfood! Skinfood offers mostly skincare products but they do have a small selection of other cosmetic goods such as makeup.
What’s most interesting is that on the Skinfood website you can actually search by ‘food’ type. That is to say, you can search for honey, avocado, black sugar, peach, egg whites and more! This way you can filter the primary ingredient of each item.
Mediheal is a mid-range brand that offers only skincare products. Mediheal is best known for its range of green tea products that have become very popular and well-known. They also have a large sheet-mask range that is, from my experience, the most effective sheet-mask range in Korea.
Their sheet-mask range has a variety of different purposes. From hydrating masks to calming masks, and from vitalizing masks to nutritional masks, Mediheal has a mask for every purpose. While each person has different preferences and skin conditions, I’ve found Mediheal to be very effective.
Sulwhasoo is a luxury cosmetic brand from South Korea that made waves for combining holistic skincare techniques and ingredients with new science. Many of Sulwhasoo’s products are based on ingredients such as ginseng, or red pine. Something very cool that Sulwhasoo offers is a free 15-minute consultation for U.S based customers (via phone call).
Sulwhasoo is owned by Amore Pacific, the same company that owns Innisfree, Etude House, and more. All of their brands are very well-known in Korea and Amore is a brand that many trust for all of their skincare and cosmetic needs. Sulwhasoo is in many ways their flagship brand, and it has the quality to match.
Hera is a sister brand to both Sulwhasoo and IOPE as they are all under the Amore Pacific umbrella. However, where Sulwhasoo has a strong focus on skincare (although they do offer some makeup products), Hera has a large focus on makeup. If you are looking for luxury makeup from Seoul, then Hera may be for you.
Hera is one of the most trusted cosmetic brands in Korea, and perhaps the most trusted luxury brand. They have ranked first in my surveys since their inception, including the Korea Brand Power Index, Brand Equity Index and more. They are a very trusted brand for high-end products.
IOPE is another luxury Korean cosmetic brand. However, IOPE takes a very different approach to cosmetics. Where most of the brands on this list aim to provide natural and long-standing ingredients, IOPE focuses on modern science and new breakthroughs to provide cutting-edge skincare.
IOPE also has one very unique feature – the IOPE Lab. If you visit Korea or live here, you can visit the lab in Myeongdong. Not only does the lab have all of their products, but you can have a consultation to figure out which products are uniquely tailored for your skin condition.
15. Some By Mi
Some By Mi (Mi means ‘beauty’ in Korean) is an affordable cosmetic brand that takes pride in the fact that all of its products are locally produced in South Korea. Recently Some By Mi has become very well-known for their AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner which was advertised and reviewed a lot.
Some By Mi has a strong focus on acne-fighting products, and they are most famous for the results that their acne-fighting creams can bring. However, they do also have a range of other skincare products such as spot cream, face masks, and toners.
Sidmool is a brand that generally isn’t known by people outside of Korea. Even within Korea, it’s quite niche. However, it deserves a place on this list because it’s a brand that focuses solely on making high-quality, natural, facial care products.
All of their products are made in Korea and to a high standard. While the prices are a bit higher than some of the cheaper brands on this list, the quality tends to be higher too. Sidmool is a brand that I use regularly and I keep coming back to them as their skincare collection is great for acne-prone skin.
It is worth noting that currently Sidmool only has a Korean website. If you want to purchase any of their products you can do so at English websites such as Stylevana or Jolse.
17. Peach and Lily
Peach and Lily is a mid-high end cosmetic brand that focuses on giving customers the skin that they desire. No matter what issues you are facing, whether it be acne, dry skin, aging skin, or anything else, Peach and Lily have designed skincare products to help. Peach and Lily also offers a lot of targeted spot skincare for isolated issues.
Peach and Lily offers complete routines for almost any skin condition. On top of this, the products are cruelty free and spa-grade. If you’re looking for a complete routine, then Peach and Lily offers complete packs including every step that you need.
Best Natural Korean Skincare Brands
Many Korean skincare brands already have a large range of products that are either based on or largely using natural ingredients. In fact, nearly every brand on this list has natural skincare products. However, there are some brands that place more of an emphasis on natural ingredients than others.
Sulwhasoo is a luxury brand that places a strong emphasis on ingredients such as ginseng. Skinfood even allows you to sort their website by primary ingredients (with choices such as avocado, black sugar, honey, and more). Nature Republic is a good choice for natural-based skincare products at an affordable price.
- Holika Holika
- Nature Replubic
Best Korean Skincare Brands for Sensitive Skin
If you are someone that has sensitive skin, or if you’re looking to purchase for someone with sensitive skin, then there are a few Korean brands that have you covered. It is worth noting that most brands will have products designed specifically for sensitive skin.
You will be able to find products designed specifically for sensitive skin from brands like Klairs (which has recently become very popular for their unscented products), The Saem, COSRX, Osum, and more. However, the below brands are those that are known specifically for their sensitive skin products.
- Dr. Jarts+
Best Affordable Korean Cosmetic Brands
One of the aspects that has made Korean makeup and skincare so popular is that it’s often also very affordable. While there are luxury brands out there, there are far more mid-range and affordable brands. Regardless of how much you are willing to spend, Korea has cosmetic products avaliable. The brands best kown for affordable products are:
- Nature Republic
- Etude House
Best Luxury Korean Cosmetic Brands
If, on the other hand, you are after luxury Korean cosmetics then look no further. While Korea is famous for its affordable skincare and makeup, it also has some very famous high-end brands that produce high-quality products. Generally, Sulwhasoo and IOPE are famous high-end brands. However, there are a range of other brands with great products too!
- The History of Whoo
- Peach and Lily
- Amore Pacific
- Su:m 37
Korean Cosmetic Brands FAQ
What Are the Best Affordable Korean Cosmetic Brands?
If you are looking for affordable Korean cosmetics then check out brands like Nature Republic, Etude House, Innisfree, and Arituam.
What Are the Best Luxury Korean Cosmetic Brands?
The most popular luxury Korean cosmetic brands are Sulwhasoo, IOPE, The History of Whoo, HERA, and Amore Pacific.
Where Can I Buy Korean Cosmetics?
This post covers everything that you need to know about Korean cosmetic websites!
Are Korean Cosmetics and Skincare Good?
Yes! Korean cosmetics and skincare are famous for being both affordable and high-quality.
What Are the Most Famous Korean Cosmetic Brands?
A few very famous Korean cosmetic brands are Etude House, Innisfree, Tony Moly, Nature Republic, Sulwhasoo, Skinfood, The Face Shop, and IOPE.
What Are the Most Famous Korean Skincare Brands?
For skincare the most famous Korean brands are Skinfood, The Face Shop, Innisfree, Holika Holika, IOPE, and Enprani.