Korean Cosmetics For Newbies




I’ve been flooded with emails about Korean brand recommendations… so I've decided to write this post to introduce the different Korean brands and the typical Korean mass brands, high-end brands – basically the more well known ones.


Of course when we talk about Korean Cosmetics – two big names will come up first : Amore Pacific and LG. Amore Pacific is the biggest Cosmetic in Korea, and then comes LG. Read my article on the comparison of this two brands : here. Those of you who have been following by blog religiously would probably be able to differentiate the brands under both companies – but this is for the newbies so bare with me!


Amore Pacific produces many brands in which many of you will not know that they’re under Amore Pacific : this includes




Amore is the leading company and it probably deserves so – their pages in English especially the Laneige, Sulwhasoo, Amore Pacific, and the Amore Pacific Corporation websites are very complete and put competitor LG to shame when it comes to the international market.


The most high-profile brand in Amore will probably be Sulwhasoo. a brand that gave Amore the revenue to produce their other brands though it went through many rebranding throughout the decades. So i will be classifying this brands according to their status ( high, mid, low end ). You can find the mid-range Amore brands sold in South Korea under one roof. The shop’s name is called ‘ARITAUM’.



Amore Pacific – the brand. This is a west-meets-east brand that incorporates both western and eastern philosophy.



Sulwhasoo – this is their premium oriental medicine skincare line that is the best selling korean brand in history.

HERA – this is their premium brand which is western styled.

Lirikos – this is their premium marine skincare brand like LaMer

VB Program – Amore’s dietary supplements brand



IOPE – this is their plant stem cells and botanical extract brands which is also rather western styled ( retinols, etc.. )

Hannule – this is their mid-high end range of oriental herbal skincare which is less expensive than Sulwhasoo but still some items on their brand are over $100USD

HYOSIAH – their new beans fermentation brand that was introduced last year

MIREPA & ODYSSEY – Men’s skincare brand

LANEIGE – the most famous Amore brand in South East Asia.

Annick Goutal & Lolita Lempika & eSpoir – Western perfume brands that was bought over by Amore.

Verite & Primera – Amore’s naturalism brand ( don’t know what is the difference and why they need two )

Mise En Scene – Amore’s western style shampoo brand

Ryeol – Amore’s oriental shampoo brand



Innisfree – Amore’s low end naturalism brand using extracts from Jeju Island

Etude House – Amore’s low end kawaii pretty skincare + makeup brand for teenagers

Happy Bath – Amore’s body care brand

Mamonde – Amore’s skincare brand for the younger generation

Aritaum – Amore’s drugstore type brand.




LG ( yes the same one that does the machines and handphones ) is Amore’s biggest competitor in Korea and they have brands to compete head on with each other. Unlike Amore, LG’s website in English is very run-down and out of date. They show almost no interest in the international market!



The History Of Whoo – oriental medicine brand to compete with Amore’s Sulwhasoo

Su:m37 – fermentation brand that was a huge success for LG

OHUI – western style skincare brand that focuses on high tech ingredients such as stem cells, etc.



Belif – based on UK Herbalist Duncan Napiers. Natural skincare at affordable price.

Beyond – LG’s naturalism line

MULE – LG’s collaboration with korean makeup artist – Jung Saem Mool

Isa Knox – the cheaper OHUI

Sooryehan – the cheaper History Of Whoo to go head on with Amore’s Haneul

Mirepa & Vonin – LG’s men skincare brand



The Face Shop – acquired few years back. All over Asia

Lacvert – brand for younger skin like Etude House / Innisfree

Carezone – brand for younger skin with problems.

Cathycat – LG’s makeup brand

VoV – acquired last year in 2011. Makeup company.

Re-en : LG’s answer to Amore’s Ryeol. Oriental medicine based hair care.




Coreana is also a one of the very prestigious Korean cosmetics company. They have many different brands for different needs. Their stuff are usually sold mostly online, or door to door.



Zain Premium – Oriental medicine premium brand.

Zain – the normal version.

Ovl’eau – black cosmetics

Lavida – new fermentation brand



Coreana – many lines

Biodefense – western style skincare

Bi Hui Ga In – another oriental medicine brand



Ten Seconds – new makeup brand for younger crowd

Senite – skincare brand for younger crowd




If someone asks me what should i try in South Korea? My answer would be any of these brands above. This is what makes Korean skincare unique and what you can’t get elsewhere. South Korea’s most popular brand is Amorepacific’s Sulhwasoo. Launched in 1997, it is a premium oriental medicine skin care brand whose ingredients include ginseng, a herb that Amorepacific pioneered as a cosmetics ingredient 35 years ago. Sulhwasoo includes skin care foundation but no other make-up.


You will find many articles on oriental medicine skincare articles on my site but here are to name a few. Most of them are mid-range to high end… but do know that all the mass brands like Missha, Tonymoly, Enprani, It’s Skin have their own oriental medicine line. This is how popular oriental medicine skincare is in Korea, and it is the biggest selling skincare sector every year!




These are the examples of luxury brands in Korea. The other luxury brands are all in the ‘Oriental Medicine Skincare’ above. The luxury Korean brands are excellent and truly top-notch. It can rival any top western skincare brand in terms of efficiency or packaging. If you have the budget, i would highly recommend these brands above.

For more details, contact me personally.




And those above are the lower to mid range brands that are widely available in Korea and around the world as well. These brands are priced very reasonably and has really beautiful packaging. Their products are also hit and miss – depends on which line and which product! I’m not going to go in details so if you have any questions about the brands – just go to the contact me page ! Winking smile



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  • Kevin J

    I think that Llang is a new brand which is going to be quite good. It is produced by Hanguk Insam Gong-sa (KTG) which also produces Donginbi, but with Llang being the cheaper–slightly cheaper–version compared to Donginbi. By the way, Coreana is Korea’s 3rd largest cosmetics company even despite its company profile being online mainly, and as far as I recall, they are the other company next to Amorepacific to have a cosmetics museum in Korea. (By the way, minus the occasional spelling mistakes such as “hanyul” instead of “haneul”, or ‘bi chui ga in” instead of “bi hui ga in”, you listed quite an extensive list of Oriental cosmetics in Korea, minus some of the lesser known ones such as happybran’s Geumseol, Hanbul’s Seol Ryeo, and Nok Ship Cho, as well as Aekyung, which manufactures KeraSys, a highly common shampoo and conditioner brand in Korea and even Southeast Asia, and other skincare brands.)

    • hopeinablog

      amore has changed hannule names a few times. the first time i saw it, they named it hannule. then on their website , it was named Hanyul. and i went back to check while doing this article, they renamed it to hanneul. lol.

      • Kevin J

        The romanized form of the Korean characters read as ‘hanyul’ officially from a linguistic point of view.

  • Kevin J

    Good summary.

  • Lee Anh Kim

    Great review!
    Now I wanna try so much others brands T__T

    • hopeinablog

      haha if you’re in korea you can try allll of them!

      • Kevin J

        The Koreans are undoubtedly very good at marketing their own products, whether to an international or domestic market, when it comes to cosmetics and skincare. As someone who has been exposed to such stuff (I lived very near to Koreatown when in Toronto, and even now in Japan, I visit Korea very often because my good friends are there, and will be moving there myself a few years from now), I think though as someone who speaks Korean and have enough of exposure to Korean culture, that not all of these products are necessarily as good as they seem in terms of their purported effects. I mean the mass market brands mainly, and think that from what I know amongst Koreans, that a lot do not technically tend to use stuff like The Face Shop, or Nature Republic etc. Koreans in fact tell me that they love to use foreign brands such as Lancome, SK-II, Clinique and so on, maybe due to the prestige associated with foreign brands.

        • hopeinablog

          this is the type of asian mentality that i reallly hate. it’s bad enough that most westerners think that made in asia are shitty stuff, but asians thinking the same way ! which is also one of the reasons i started this blog so i can hopefully change that mentality.

          • Quan

            I used to have the same mentality until I tried Amore Pacific, Sulwhasoo and I never wanted to go back to Western brands anymore after seeing results I never achieved with Western brands. Thank you oh so much for this post and your blog!

          • Ahyela

            I am Asian and I have nothing against western products. It is just that, none of their products (cheap or expensive) ever suit my needs or improve my skin condition. (Oily, acne-prone, large pores) Seeing Koreans around, I develop an admiration to their skin texture. I know they are wearing make-up and that makes them look flawless but even then, anyone would know if they are covering zits. With that admiration, I made a research about the best korean skin care products. I came across your blog and with your good analysis, comparison, and reviews I was convinced to try korean skin care products. I’m glad I did! I purchased Sulwahsoo products online and I am very satisfied with the result. My skin is now healthy and glowing! It just make sense, I am Asian and asian product (korean, in particular) is my thing! Thank you hope in a blog!

          • new kcos convert

            Hey, great blog that I chance upon while researching on paraben free asian cosmetics.
            Thanks for spending the time in putting this together. Very informative for a newbie like me.
            Because of these great korean products, my acne is healed and makeup is such a great pleasure now with smoothen and dewy skin.
            My colleagues thought I underwent plastic surgery during the trip ^=^

  • http://twitter.com/AnaFlash Anaïs / Sasha

    Very interesting!!! Thank you for that! I’m always interested in these huge companies and it’s sometimes suprising (in a good way) to know that Etude House is in the same company that Lolita Lempika for exemplel^^

    About LG: “They show almost no interest in the international market!” This is SO true omg! XD

    You know Sidmool is part of LG, and I almost have to harass the guy to buy one of their product (the multi85 essence who was out of stock on Gmarket but available on their website). He didn’t get the fact that ME, a non-Korean, I NEEDED this product hehe!

  • Lisa

    Hi, I love your blog!!! I am a huge fan of korean cosmetics. I Want to know if you can help me with my beauty problem, i am in 30′s and my skin is acne prone but I am getting fine lines!!! Sulwhasso and Whoo makes me broke almost instantly. Can you give me any suggestion? Thank you!!!!

    • hopeinablog

      hi. makes you broke or makes you break out ? how did u like sulwhasoo or whoo?

    • hopeinablog

      hi. makes you broke or makes you break out ? how did u like sulwhasoo or whoo?

    • new kcos convert

      Not sure if you’ll see this reply since your post was a year ago.
      I suffered from serious acne and breakouts after using The Face Shop products mid 2012.
      My first Korean skincare & makeup experience – horrifying and traumatic “>_<"
      Never felt so depressing in my life, totally ruin my confidence and social life ='(
      However my trip to Seoul last Christmas changed my opinion and am now a total convert for Korean skin care and cosmetics. Nature Republic's Snail Therapy Ampoule is my saviour!
      I was scepticle but what could be worst so i took another daring try.
      The redness subside in just 1 week and no more new acne breakouts.
      After 1 month other than the old acne scar marksi wouls say am acne free ^_^ v

  • Jocelyn

    Hi, I am avid fan of your blog!! Every time I read your blog, it makes me want to buy and try out skincare products from Gmarket. I really appreciate your reviews and your insight in Korean cosmetics. Since there are so many products available and covering different ranges of quality, I was wondering if you can give your insight about skincare appropriate for specific age groups like 20s, 30s, and 40s and above.

    • hopeinablog

      im not someone who’s really into age groups, but more to needs!

    • hopeinablog

      im not someone who’s really into age groups, but more to needs!

  • S7korea

    hi there. if u have interested in korean brand .

    visit http://www.s7korea.com its good.

  • bibeautyful

    Another great post! I am definitely still a newbie when it comes to Korean products. I never knew Amore Pacific is one of the big names. In fact, I ordered my first Korean product Mamonde through their site on Ebay without knowing it’s under Amore Pacific! LOL. I am going to bookmark this post for future reference. I wish I could reblog this though but somehow not sure if I could. :-)

    • hopeinablog

      haha now you know ;) sure, you can share this!

  • http://frozenblossomsbysenzy.blogspot.com/ frozenblossomsbysenzy

    wowwww great post… i am a korean cosmetics fan and i love writing about it…

    • hopeinablog

      thank you ;)

  • http://frozenblossomsbysenzy.blogspot.com/ frozenblossomsbysenzy

    wowwww great post… i am a korean cosmetics fan and i love writing about it…

  • butterflybloom

    very helpful. thank you so much for your detailed analysis. <3

  • Jane Iredale

    Its really an time taking post by you with your research, hope this post will definitely help to identify the korean cosmetics according with their brand recognition.

  • Gale

    I hope you can do a post about cruelty-free Korean cosmetic brands for consumers like me who are against animal testing :)

  • avit

    How about Hwanghansoo? Is it good? Is the brand under Amore Pacific?

  • DeeH.

    How about Bergamo brand ?from LK cos company.
    Thank you!

  • kellyg

    Thank you !!! What a very informative article you wrote. As a person just discovering Asian skincare, all these korean skincare brand names were very confusing to me before discovering this blog and article. Thank you for straightening it out for me. It all makes sense now.

    If you don’t mind and if it’s not too much trouble. Could you make a similar article/blog about japanese skincare? “Japanese Cosmetics for Newbies”

    Thanks again !!!

  • ToniJay94

    I agree with the person below – cruelty free would be lovely! I am pleased to hear Amore Pacific are now cruelty free (recently discovered on the BUAV website), though I am not sure if that applies to all the brands within AP or just the “own brands”… or are all the products part of the AP brandname? Not sure if I’m making sense… so tired haha.

    • Mars007

      Amore Pacific are NOT cruelty free. They stopped testing in May 2013 but have not stopped selling in China. BUAV says the have made zero progress with them. testing applies to the brands under them, but those are sold in china as well…

  • Rachael Hipro

    Hi thanks for this! Just wondering what missha comes under? Thx!!

  • Charmaine Nuevo

    Hi what korean skin care and make up brand that do not use paraben and fragrance ? Thanks. :)

  • merica dell

    is it tested on animals?

  • SH

    Belif is luxury ?? man.. ive been using it for two years(they first opened in 2012 in singapore) and i’ve always thought that theyre just another mass-market brand like The Faceshop, given the amount of korean skincare shops we have all over Singapore…

    Its important to note though, low-end mass market korean brands like Missha, Innisfree and The Face Shop all have the same price range of 30SGD ~ 60SGD, which is around Belif’s price range(40SGD~ for most items), although Belif does go beyond 60SGD.

    I guess I can say I finally feel justified spending 148SGD everytime i buy the Manology 101 set…. Their stuff is amazing by the way, I highly recommend Belif.

  • Korean Cosmetics Online

    Awesome! I really love this one. Thank you so much for sharing a lot of benefits.

  • Dolly

    I’ve bookmarked this page, I wish you could “oriental medicines” logos by their english names so I know what to search for to read more about/shop on, would be helpful :P If you or your readers know what they are please list for me.

  • NG

    How about Skin Food? I see that is very popular as well (and becoming more so in the West, thanks to all the web shops..)
    By the way, surprised to see that Skin79 is just lower price range – their BB creams beat any Western make up product, and I mean any. At least for someone like me who likes full coverage and an impressive ingredients list :)

  • SoCalfemme

    I’m a Caucasian-American and for the past year refuse to use anything other than Korean skincare ( I’m a forever convert!). My mom owned a prestigious skincare line back in the 70′s and 80′s and so taking care of your skin was always a big deal in our home. Since I’ve switched over to Korean brands, I can honestly say that my skin has never looked better. I don’t really mind if the product is organic or natural, as long as it works! And man, this stuff does! I’m in my 30′s now and have been currently obsessed over the cell recovery line from OHUI. This stuff is a hidden treasure!! I love the Amore a Pacific Gold line and Sulwhasoo BB cushion also. The only line I’ve not been such a fan on was The History of Fu. I felt like I was just slathering on expensive scented water. But Anyhow, thanks for this blog article. It really helped to break down everything for me. Looking forward to trying Isa Knox and Su:m37 products! I’m always up for learning more and trying out new priducts! Oh and one more thing; I want to buy my younger sister a start up skincare set for Christmas but don’t want to spend too much on her; she has a tendency to try things for a week then toss it if she doesn’t think it works so I don’t want to waste money. She’s 30 now with occasional hormonal breakouts and very dry skin ( she isnt as regimented with her skincare as much as the rest of us are,) and her skin needs help! Any suggestions?? Thank you kindly!!

  • Мария

    Hello! Please help me. I want Sulwhasoo. I am 23 years. Forehead and nose greasy. The rest is dry. Can I use Sulwhasoo? What products do I need?

  • DianyMoony

    I noticed Lotree was not included within these brands. It has around the same prices at IOPE. Does it make it High-Mid end class?

  • agent007tomato

    This has been very informative, thank you! I’m curious how you would rate the brand GOODAL? Also, I hope you post a NON Animal Testing/ Cruelty-Free Guide as well :)

  • Septi Handayani

    Hi! Do you have any age range recommendation for each product? Like which one does best fit for age range 17-20, 21-25, 26-30 or 31-35, etc?

  • Eliza

    Hi, whag do you know about Rene Cell Science Korea? My doctor, who practices natural korean skin care (Lee Eun Young Nature Care Center) recommends using this product line. But I can’t find any reviews about it.

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