These Korean Makeup Brands Are Changing the Beauty Game

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Confession: I'm obsessed with Korean skincare. Call it a bold statement, but I find it to be more innovative and effective than most American brands, especially considering that so many stateside companies look to Korea for inspiration (though it's rarely matched, IMHO). And since many Korean skincare brands employ natural, innovative ingredients like yuzu, cucumber, and lotus extract with few filler ingredients, I'm often sparing my skin. And K-makeup is no different—because many Korean women and men favor dewy complexions, the makeup is often fortified with good-for-you ingredients and light formulas to show off your natural beauty. So when Byrdie's editorial director, Faith Xue, went to Seoul and discovered a ton of makeup gems through her journeys, I had her spill all the beauty dirt.

From recognized brands to smaller indie companies, we rounded up some of the best Korean makeup brands to put on your radar now.

Chosungah 22

Chosungah 22 lives by the philosophy that "makeup should be simple and fun," a sentiment made clear in its easy-to-use products with bright, graphic packaging. Its original hero product is the Gong Dong Minn Brow Maker, an angled spoolie brush with a sponge tip to ensure every little crevice of your brows is covered. Though this item appears to be discontinued, the brand has a host of other incredible makeup items to stock up on, like the C&T Blend Easy Firming Foundation (shown here) or the Milky Wet Powder Peach Moolboon Cream.


AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact

Courtesy of Nordstrom

AmorePacific is a luxe skincare brand that utilizes Korean botanicals to soothe the skin while providing the luminescence and enhancement of makeup. It's best known for its Color Control Cushion Compact (shown here), a buildable, lightweight foundation that hydrates, brightens, and protects the skin. The brand's Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Serum is also a winner in our eyes.

Cle Cosmetics

Cle Cosmetics CCC Cream Foundation

Courtesy of Revolve

Yet another brand that utilizes skincare in its makeup (are you noticing a trend here?), Cle Cosmetics is best at highlighting natural beauty without compromising your skin's integrity. It's a small line, but it's beloved especially for its CCC Cream Foundation (shown here), Essence Moonlighter Cushion, and Melting Lip Powder.

Clio Cosmetics

Founded by professional makeup artists, Clio Cosmetics boasts a huge collection of makeup, body products, skincare, tools, and nailcare from its own professional line, Peripera, Goodal, and Soo Ae (only sold in the U.S.). Not going to Korea anytime soon? There's a brick and mortar Club Clio store in Union Square, NYC. We especially love the brand's Kill Brow eyebrow pencil (shown here).


VDL Lumilayer Primer

 Courtesy of Ulta

For luxury makeup at not-totally-luxury prices, check out celebrity makeup artist Wendy Rowe-approved line VDL. The brand is best known for its radiant Lumilayer Primer (shown here) that gives you an instant 10-step skincare routine glow with just one product. It's no surprise that we love the brand's Expert Color Primer for Eyes, too.

Etude House

Etude House is like the Korean version of Benefit: It's big on brows, has colorful packaging, and performs strongly. You may have seen the brand sweeping the Internet for its Tint My Brows Gel, the viral peel-off tint that leaves behind a dark wash of color, but we're also fans of the Big Cover Concealer (shown here) and the Dear Darling Water Lip Tint.


If Etude House is Korea's Benefit, then Moonshot is Glossier. From lip color called Cream Paint (shown here) to Brow Shaper Mascara (Boy Brow vibes), we can see why Glossier founder Emily Weiss is a big fan of the brand.


Peripera is a colorful, vibrant brand best known for its innovative lip products. Faith loves the hugely popular Ink Velvet lip color (shown here), saying, "It feels like a light mousse and doesn't leave your lips feeling dry. Plus, it lasts forever."

Son & Park

Son & Park Lip Crayons

 Courtesy of YesStyle

Created by Celebrity Makeup Artists Park Tae Yun and Son Dae Sik, Son & Park specializes in dewy, no-makeup makeup and skincare. Think your own skin, lashes, and brows, but better. We're especially big fans of the brand's lip crayons and Beauty Filter Cream Glow.


IOPE Golden Glow Lip Oil

 Courtesy of Amazon

IOPE is a popular K-beauty brand that offers relatively affordable products, especially compared to the likes of AmorePacific. The brand's skincare and makeup offerings are formulated with highly effective, mainly plant-derived ingredients that focus on results. Our current go-to's are the Golden Glow Lip Oil (shown here), Air Cushion Cover, and Eyebrow Auto Pencil.

Too Cool for School

Too Cool for School Art Class by Rodin Shading

 Courtesy of Walmart

This hip brand is probably best known for its deliciously-scented egg cream skincare, but don't sleep on the makeup offerings, like this Art Class By Rodin Shading contouring palette.


BB cream is the foundation (get it?) of the signature beauty look, and the cult-favorite brand Missha makes some of the best formulas on the market, like the Cover BB Cream SPF 42 (shown here). Whether you prefer a cushion application (like the Magic Cushion SPF 50+) or cream, there's an option for you.

Holika Holika

Holika Holika Jelly Dough Blusher

Courtesy of Ulta

Color cosmetics are not always the focus of K-beauty brands, which tend to be all about the skin, whether it's creating a beautiful base or a healthy complexion. Holika Holika has a bit of both but specializes in fun makeup, including the Jelly Dough Blusher (shown here) and the Water Drop Tint Bomb.

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