Beauty shopping in Seoul - the 101 on K-Beauty shopping - twindly beauty blog
The ultimate Seoul K-beauty shopping for beginners post, including where and what to shop when you're a beauty enthusiast visiting Seoul.
Seoul K-beauty shopping for beginners, where to shop for cosmetics in Seoul, what cosmetics to buy in Seoul, where to shop for skincare in Seoul, best beauty shops in Seoul, where to shop for makeup in Seoul, Myeongdong beauty shopping guide
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Seoul K-beauty shopping for beginners

Beauty shopping in Seoul – the 101 on K-Beauty shopping

Seoul has to be the most exciting city for beauty junkies to visit. There’s no city (that I know of) that’s as permeated with all things beauty like Seoul. I mean, there’s a whole neighbourhood dedicated to beauty shops! You’re also getting a hint about the general beauty-crazedness when you arrive at the airport – virtually every billboard was adverting cosmetics. Every. One. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed, so here’s my Seoul K-beauty shopping for beginners!

South Korea is also the place where beauty trends and innovations are coming from. While Western beauty companies come out with one highlighter after the next and call it innovative, K-Beauty companies are the vanguard of real innovation: Who came out with BB-creams and cushions and sheet masks that are now firmly in place on every Beauty lovers’ shelves in both the West and the East?

So, when I knew I was going to Seoul, I started to research the shit out of it. And you’re going to reap the benefits of this, because I’m going to tell you where and what to shop right here.

I went totally overboard with my research. I had a plan. I had a map. I had a list. And then I realized, as soon as I stepped out of my hotel in Myeongdong that I had overplanned. Because sticking to plans, routes and maps will seriously take the fun out of the experience that’s Seoul beauty shopping. Honestly.

Korean beauty haul

The haul in all its glory… aka what I’m able to buy in six hours in Myeongdong!


For research purposes, I mainly reverted to the bloggers and vloggers below who went all out and were a big help with their meticulous posts and fun vids. I learned about the city itself, the experience of beauty shopping and also a bit about different brands and stores. If you want to have a peek, here’re the best (read: most helpful) ones:

Shopping for beauty in Seoul

Alllllllll the beauty brands! Holika Holika, Etude House, It’s Skin and Missha next to each other.

Where to shop

But depending on the time you want to spend shopping (if you’ve only got a few hours, it totally makes sense to research first and stick to your list), for me to truly experience the Seoul shopping thing was to get totally lost in the little streets of Myeongdong and pop into every store that appealed to me. It’s a sensory onslaught anyway, so I just went with the flow – crowds of people, music blasting from every store, employees standing outside the stores handing out samples to lure you into the store…

You also don’t have to be afraid to miss something – there won’t be one Missha store, there’ll be five just in the radius of 500m. And if you want to check out the upscale brands and Western cosmetics counters? Just pop into Lotte Department Store (Nam Dai Moon Ro), and wham, everything you’d wish for, there!

Myeongdong shopping tips

Myeongdong at night – street food vendors and shoppers

I had about six hours to spend on shopping (or as I called it, research purposes!) and didn’t even bother to go to upscale shopping district Garugo-Sil or Gangnam. Honestly, I found everything I wanted. Also, I didn’t bother with the Lotte Duty Free.

I browsed the streets between metro stations Myeongdong (in the South) and Euljiro 1ga (in the North) and Myeongdong Cathedral in the East and Nam Dai Moon Ro to the West. That square is interspersed by little streets lined with beauty shops and very easy to walk – it’s not a huge area.

A word of advice

First, remember to carry your passport with you and most stores will deduct taxes right there (no need to bother with tax returns at the airport).
Second, Incheon airport shops – cosmetics aren’t cheaper there than in the city itself. I was a bit disappointed about the duty-free options.

where to shop for beauty in Seoul

My trusty map that actually has all the beauty stores added (ask for it at your hotel front desk!).


What to shop

If you’re a newbie (if you’re a pro at shopping K-Beauty, you’re obviously not reading this), you can’t go wrong with the following items. (Being the geek I am, I naturally read a lot of blogs and made lists beforehand.)


Base products

Be it the good ol’ BB Cream, a cushion foundation, a CC Cream, or one of the new tension pacts – the Korean base products are both innovative and famous (rightly so). If you’ve a deeper skintone, try both Missha and Laneige products.

Lip products

Tints, oils, glosses, liquid lipsticks, two-toned lipsticks, matte lipsticks, lipsticks in the shape of a wine bottle… Nearly every lip product I’ve seen was cool and I wanted to buy every one. No matter what lip you’ll prefer, you’ll find something you fancy. And why not go all out and try something you’ve never tried before?

Sheet masks

The ONE product besides base products that made K-Beauty famous all over the world. Every brand has them, they’re mostly cheap as chips and a must-have for dry, aggravated skin in need of soothing. Look out for those with a low alcohol and fragrance content! (Additionally, have a look at lip masks, hand masks, foot masks, neck masks and boob masks as well!)


A bit tricky if you’re just starting out, but Koreans take their skincare seriously and their skin shows it. After all, the seven or ten step regimes have to do something, right? If you’re just dipping your toes into the water of skincare, why not go for a simple hydrating essence? Nearly all brands carry them. Also, while sunscreen mists are still novel in the West, here you can find a lot of them.

What to skip

I found powder eyeshadows rather on the weaker side (not pigmented, rather more neutral), and both the contouring and highlighting products negligible (highlighting and contouring are Western makeup trends and haven’t truly taken root in K-Beauty routines afaik).

So here’s my beauty shopping tips! Have you been to Seoul? Do you plan to go some day? Also, stay tuned for my Korean beauty haul I’ll be sharing with you really soon!


Beauty junkie with about 20 years of beauty experience under her belt. Editor, writer and twindly’s PR heroine. Has an unbelievably large nail polish stash and a passion for skincare. Gets a kick out of pretty powders.

  • Fiona Ngo

    April 28, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Awww thanks for the mention guys!! I am so glad you found my post helpful. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂
    Fiona (@orchidsandpeonies)

  • dorit

    April 28, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Thank you, Fiona, I really did and I think everybody who clicks on the link will think so too! Thanks for stopping by!

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