6 Places Every Beauty Lover Should Go in Seoul

Faith Xue

It’s hard to imagine a time when Korean beauty inventions like essences, sheet masks, and cushion compacts weren’t a standard part of our beauty vocabulary. Those were dark times (literally—as in our faces weren’t nearly as bright and glass-like as they are now). The American beauty industry got the shock of its life when innovative and technologically advanced products like BB creams and snail serums from Korea swept through like a revolution and made us realize just how far ahead of us our poreless sisters across Korea are when it comes to skincare—and frankly, we all have better complexions now because of it.

As a beauty editor who is never not testing products, I’m fascinated by Korean beauty products and rituals in a way that’s probably borderline unhealthy. No other products I try consistently surprise and delight me with their formulation, ingredients, price point, and packaging. (Why have a lip balm in a tube when you can have a lip balm shaped like a bunny?) Korean women know their beauty stuff, and are discerning when it comes to quality and ingredients. Thus, brands in Korea are forced to do better—and they do. An oil-in-serum? Yes. A fizzing powder you mix with water and dunk your head into? Gimme. A rubber mask that you literally spread on your face like cake batter then peel off in one big chunk? Yes, yes, YES. I want it all.

So when Charlotte Cho, co-founder of one of my favorite online K-beauty e-tailers, Soko Glam, invited me to go to Seoul with her on a trip organized by the Korea Tourism Organization, I screamed loudly and ran home to pack my bags (sparingly—I left plenty of room for the K-beauty loot I planned on bringing back). To put it shortly: Seoul did not disappoint. The vibrant, Technicolor city is a treasure trove of secret beauty gems, ancient history, and, of course, really good Korean barbecue. Ahead, you’ll find some of the favorite beauty destinations I discovered during my trip. Be warned: This will cause a strong urge to book the next flight to Seoul.

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