Budget Tips Korea

10 of the Best Value Korean Beauty Products

Being an English teacher in Korea, a question that I often get asked is, “What’s your favourite thing about living in Korea.” I usually mumble something about spicy food, mountains and 4 seasons. But actually, the things I love most about Korea is something that I never really admit out loud, in fear of looking vein. Yes, I do love my kimchi and the mountains, of course, are lovely. But what I really love is all the innovative Korean beauty products that help me look like the best version of myself, without draining my bank account.

I’ve talked a bit before about how I used to be a bit of a shopaholic before I started really trying to save money for travel. In Scotland, you would find me at the Clinique or Mac counter every month without fail. I loved testing out all the latest skincare and make-up, trying to find products that would agree with my oily, acne prone skin. Needless to say, my bank balance was not so thrilled by this passion of mine.

When I first arrived in Korea, one of the first things I did was ask my Korean co-worker to take me out for a Korean beauty haul! I piled my basket high with a whole variety of sheet masks, primers, toners, BB Creams and candy coloured nail polishes. This was a habit in my first year- rather than spending a lot of money on one or two high end products each month, I would buy a million and one cheap face masks and miracle potions. Most of these got slowly demoted from the top shelf of my bathroom cabinet to a pile of outcasts under my bed.

I feel as though I’ve found the perfect balance now. I recently went a lot more minimal with my skincare and make up routine and, honestly, my skin has thanked me. I stick to only buying products that I need and that fill a purpose. Is it just me, or does anyone else hate it when a new beauty product comes out that solves a problem they didn’t even know was there?! There are a lot of things like that in Korea so these days I just stick to the essential Korean beauty products that I actually need.

Choosing 10 products that I would recommend to my friends and readers was actually surprisingly easy! I rave about a lot of these products to my friends at home and use them all myself on a regular basis. My readers living outside of Korea will be glad to hear that a lot of these products are available on amazon, so there is no need to jump on a plane to Seoul for your beauty fix…

(Although I would totally take you for a Korean beauty haul if you did!)

Disclaimer: This post contains some links to products that I love. If you do make a purchase, I will get a small amount of commission that will help me continue to run this website. As always, all opinions are my own!

Innisfree No Sebum Mineral Pact

10 of the best value korean beauty products

This is an absolute godsend for me through the humid Korean summers! I’m always on the market for a product that will make my face a little bit less reflective, and this does exactly that. I often wear this alone or over concealer during the day. It’s great at night for setting a heavier make up look too. Wherever I go, it’s always in my bag to help me cover up unwanted shine.

10,000 KRW

The Face Shop Natural Sun Eco Sebum Control Moisture Sun SPF 40 PA+++

10 of the best value korean beauty products

When I was younger, I used to roll my eyes when magazines blabbed on about the importance of wearing an SPF. I lived in one of the least sunny places on the planet- there was no chance I was going to worry about sun cream! Since then, I’ve learned that wearing an SPF has a lot more benefits than just sun protection. I wear this one from The Face Shop everyday (even in winter!) to help protect my skin against the harsh pollution in Korea. My favourite thing about it is that it doesn’t clog my pores or make my skin even more oily, yayy!

15,000 KRW for 50ml.

Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask

10 of the best value korean beauty products

The Korean beauty routine is all about face masks, and I love them! My friends and family who receive them for every birthday and Christmas can definitely attest to that! This one is my absolute favourite though. I use it once a week to tighten up my pores and control excess oil in my skin. This is probably the most famous of all the products on this list. It’s won a lot of awards for it’s wizardly work of making pores disappear, and it gets my vote too!

13,000 KRW for 100ml.

Missha Real Lasting Pen Eyeliner

10 of the best value korean beauty productsYou know how everyone has one essential make up item? This is mine. I recently stopped wearing base make up on weekdays to let my skin breathe. To avoid scaring my students too much, a bit of eyeliner is essential. I’ve tried a lot of pen eyeliners over the years- both cheap ones and not so cheap ones. This is one of the best. It’s highly pigmented, stays on all day and is easy to apply, too.  A good eyeliner isn’t easy to find, so it’s great to find such a cheap one!

8,800 KRW

Innisfree Green Tea Sleeping Pack

10 of the best value korean beauty products

You might be noticing a bit of a trend here. Almost all of the skincare that I use is Innisfree because they use really nice natural ingredients without charging a fortune. It’s my favourite Korean beauty brand. I use this sleeping pack as a night cream every night. It’s really moisturising without being too heavy on my skin and smells amazing. I used to steer clear of scented skincare products, but I started making an exception for this one!

13,000 KRW for 80ml

Missha Procure Damage Clinic Hair Essence

10 of the best value korean beauty products

This product is a bit of a dark horse- don’t let the basic packaging and low price tag fool you though. I had been splashing out on Moroccan oil every few months before I came to Korea but as soon as I discovered this product I switched. I used it daily after getting magic straight and it pretty much eliminated my damaged ends. If you bleach or chemically treat your hair, this is a must buy product. They also have a great intensive conditioner in the same range which i would also recommend.

9,800 KRW for 70ml.

 Missha Speedy Solution Anti Trouble Care Patch

10 of the best value korean beauty products

As soon as I heard about these patches, the first thing I said was, “Where the hell were these when I was a spotty hormonal teenager?!” Basically, if you get a spot you just pop one of these clear patches over it. At the end of the day, you take it off and your spot has been healed and is usually gone! They protect your spot from any make up or dirt which can make it even worse. Most cosmetic stores carry their own versions of these but I’ve found that Missha’s are the strongest and most effective.

3,500 KRW for 80 patches. 

Skinfood Food Therapy Stick Perfume in Happy Vanilla

10 of the best value korean beauty products

Now that I’m trying to save money for travel, there’s absolutely no way that I can justify spending 60 quid on a bottle of Chanel… That’s 6 days in India- no way! Since I ran out of my last perfume, I’ve been testing these little “handbag perfumes” that are all over Korea. I’ve tried quite a few now but this one has the nicest scent and the longest staying power. While it’s not really heavy enough for the evening, it’s perfect for during the day. It’s great for taking on your holidays too since you don’t need to worry about putting it in a liquid’s bag!

9,000 KRW

Banila Co Prime Primer in Classic Matte

10 of the best value korean beauty products

Ever since I started cutting down on the amount of make up that I wear, this product has been getting used less and less. However, I’m going to include it anyway because I think that it’s a really great primer! I absolutely LOVE Benefit’s Porefessionaland I think that this is a fantastic budget alternative. Banila Co is a little bit more expensive than other Korean make up brands, but I don’t mind paying the extra from time to time since the quality is so good. Banila Co is also my go-to shop for make up brushes!

22,000 KRW for 30ml

Ryoe Herbal Shampoo and Conditioner for Damaged Hair

10 of the best value korean beauty products

I probably sound a bit square saying this, as this is considered a bit of an ajjuma (older Korean lady) product by most younger Koreans. But do I care?? Not at all! Those ajjumas know their shit- this is the best shampoo that I have ever used! When I accidentally dyed my hair jet black (lest we forget..) this stuff stopped my hair falling out in clumps. It makes my hair so soft and shiny without weighing it down. It has quite a strong ginseng smell but don’t let that put you off- release your inner ajjuma, girls!

15,000 KRW each. (Since this product is so popular, it’s usually on 1+1 or half price somewhere- keep your eyes peeled!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and will love these products as much as I do! I will honestly never go back to frittering money away on department store make-up and skincare. Girls, there’s no need- try out a few Korean beauty products and see what you think! Trust me, your purse will thank you 🙂

Let me know, are you a K-Beauty convert?

10 of the best value korean beauty products

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The beautiful graphic above was courtesy of Roxy Hutton from City Girl SearchingIf you’re looking for the prettiest stock photos and graphics then definitely check out her FREE resource library!



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  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    3rd August 2016 at 3:54 pm

    I am a HUGE fan of Korean beauty products too! I just stocked up for the year and it was really hard to not just buy EVERYTHING! Lately I have been a huge fan of Innisfree and buying everything and anything from there! I was looking for a good shampoo & conditioner here, wish I would have seen this post sooner! I don’t know if I would like the smell, but my hair always is dry and brittle in Korea…I don’t know why. Thanks for sharing! I always love seeing what other people like to use and usually try them all if I hadn’t already!
    Megan Indoe recently posted…What’s Up Next for Bobo and Chichi? 2016 EditionMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      4th August 2016 at 4:18 pm

      Innisfree is great- I like sticking to one store so I can get loads of freebies haha… I went to the one by my old apartment all the time and they would give me so much stuff and knew not to give me whitening cream lol. The Ryoe Shampoo is great, maybe a bit heavy to take away with you though lol. 🙂

  • Reply
    3rd August 2016 at 6:41 pm

    I really enjoyed reading about your ten best value Korean beauty products. I really love Korean beauty products too, but have not tried any of the products you listed. However, I am now really interested in checking out the Ryoe Herbal Shampoo and Conditioner and the Missha Real Lasting Pen Eyeliner. Thanks for this post. Happy beautifying! (:

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      4th August 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Hey Nita, thanks I’m glad that you enjoyed it! Hope you love those products as much as I do if you try them 🙂

  • Reply
    Natasha Bánky
    3rd August 2016 at 9:38 pm

    My two fav products are C21 serum, which does a great job of removing blackheads, making your skin even, reducing acnes and removing sun spots (hyperpigmentation).
    I also love Missha’s Time Revolution First Treatment Essence. It is very hydrating and helps to maintain your skin’s water content.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      4th August 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Ohhhh I should try the C21 Serum! That sounds like it would heal all of my skin’s problems. Missha’s Time Revolution is such a popular line but I’ve never tried it since my skin is so oily. I think that Missha is definitely an underrated skincare brand 🙂

  • Reply
    11th August 2016 at 1:47 am

    Thanks for your post!
    I’m heading to Seoul in a couple weeks – do you know where I can buy them?
    Also – since I am heading over there, I’ve been reading almost all of your blogs posts about South Korea. Thank you for how much, and how in-depth, you’ve written about life there!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      12th August 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Awww thank you so much Alison, you have no idea how much I appreciate your comment and how happy I am that you have enjoyed my blog! You have actually made my day lol. There are cosmetic stores all over Korea! Most of the brands here have their own shops and you’ll find them in shopping areas and underground malls. If you’re in Seoul Myeongdong is the main shopping area- you’ll find plenty of beauty shops there. Have a great time in Seoul and get in touch if you are looking for any more tips!! 🙂

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    Jenny @ Support Your Beauty
    27th April 2017 at 10:57 pm

    I love K-brands! My personal favorite is the Tony Moly I’m Real masks. It’s fantastic and affordable. I think I’m going to try the Innisfree, been reading great reviews about it. Thanks!

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  • Reply
    Wendy C.
    7th September 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    I also use Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask, and just after the first application, you can tell the difference. It always provides smooth skin unnoticeable pores. I also use Tony Moly Lemon Brightening Mask Sheet (not in your list), it pampers my face so well. Thanks.

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