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Beauty Bargains: The Best Korean Makeup for Your Buck

Top rated local beauty products to replace your favorite luxury brands, curated by Soko Glam.

If you’re living in Seoul, chances are you passed by a dozen or so Korean beauty shops during your morning commute. Quality formulas, innovative beauty solutions and adorably packaged products with unbeatable price points satisfy the pickiest of locals and are raising eyebrows outside of Korea. So take advantage of your location and take the plunge. Not sure what to pick up? Here are seven top rated Korean beauty products that may get you to ditch your overpriced luxury brand eyeliners and liptints—for good.


Photo by Yaeri Song for SeoulistInternational Luxury Brand
MAC PREP + PRIME BEAUTY BALM SPF 35/PA+++ (30ML /1.0 FL OZ)
RETAIL @ MAC $30

Korean Brand
MISSHA PERFECT COVER BB CREAM SPF 42 PA+++ (50ML)
RETAIL @ SOKOGLAM $18

The Showdown
MAC introduced the “Beauty Balm” in response to the wildly popular and Korean-concocted BB creams, or “Blemish Balm.”  Don’t be fooled, because the Beauty Balm is more like a tinted primer, as it lacks key BB cream ingredients such as anti-aging and whitening agents. It’s the reason why MISSHA’s Perfect Cover BB cream has a stronger following—also thanks to its super natural coverage, and higher SPF.


Photo by Yaeri Song for SeoulistInternational Luxury Brand
BOBBI BROWN LONG WEAR GEL EYELINER (3G/ 0.1 OZ.)
RETAIL @ BOBBI BROWN $23

Korean Brand
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL EYE DESIGN BOX (GEL EYELINER + EYEBROW SETTING POWDER + DUAL SIDED BRUSH) (3.7G)
RETAIL @ SOKOGLAM $18

The Showdown
While Bobbi Brown led the gel eyeliner pot trend, Too Cool for School proves to be a strong challenger by also offering quality long-lasting gel eyeliner that glides on smoothly (and they threw in a two-toned eyebrow setting powder and dual sided brush in a compact case- just because they could).


Photo by Yaeri Song for SeoulistInternational Luxury Brand
CLARINS EYEBROW PENCIL (1.3G)
RETAIL @ MACY’S $23

Korean Brand
THE FACESHOP DESIGN MY EYEBROW (0.25G)
RETAIL @ SOKOGLAM $6

The Showdown
Clarins’ eyebrow pencil has been a staple for many years, but is badly in need of a face lift. The Faceshop’s Design My Eyebrow offers a sturdier spooley brush (Clarins’ brushes tend to snap off or bristles fall out) and gorgeous brow tones with a price point that seems too good to be true.


Photo by Yaeri Song for SeoulistInternational Luxury Brand
BENEFIT BENETINT ROSE-TINTED LIP & CHEEK STAIN (12.5ML / 0.40 FL. OZ.)
RETAIL @ BENEFIT $29

Korean Brand
ETUDE HOUSE FRESH CHERRY TINT (9G)
RETAIL @ SOKOGLAM $7

The Showdown
Etude House’s Fresh Cherry Tint formula makes Benefit’s Benetint Lip and Cheek Stain look and feel like you’re putting on red food coloring. The Fresh Cherry Tint on the other hand, is incredibly long lasting, creamy in texture, and moisturizing. Plus, super cute packaging!


Photo by Yaeri Song for SeoulistInternational Luxury Brand
URBAN DECAY EYESHADOW PRIMER POTION (0.37 FL. OZ.)
RETAIL @ URBAN DECAY $20

Korean Brand
ETUDE HOUSE PROOF 10 EYE PRIMER (0.35 FL. OZ.)
RETAIL @ SOKOGLAM $7

The Showdown
Etude House’s Proof 10 Eye Primer has a no-nonsense formula that glides on smoothly, dries quickly and keeps eyeliner and eyeshadow looking vibrant 24/7. Similar to Urban Decay’s popular Primer Potion, but at less than half the price.


Photo by Yaeri Song for SeoulistInternational Luxury Brand
URBAN DECAY 24/7 GLIDE ON EYE PENCIL (WATERPROOF) (0.04 FL. OZ)
RETAIL @ URBAN DECAY $19

Korean Brand
THE FACESHOP MAKE ME STAR WATERPROOF GEL LINER (0.06 FL OZ.)
RETAIL @ SOKOGLAM $6

The Showdown
The Faceshop challenged Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide on Pencil with its Make Me Star Gel Liner. While both have gorgeous shimmery tones and are definitely long-lasting, Make Me Star got creative and included a rubber tip tool to help with smudging when needed.


Photo by Yaeri Song for SeoulistInternational Luxury Brand
LANCOME HYPNOSE STAR
RETAIL @LANCOME $28

Korean Brand
ETUDE HOUSE LASH PERM 3 STEP VOLUMECARA (9.5G)
RETAIL @ SOKOGLAM $15

The Showdown
Lancome is everybody’s favorite mascara brand, but probably because they haven’t heard of Etude House’s Lash Perm 3 Step Volumecara yet. Instead of offering a basic dual-sided brush, they took it a step further by giving you the ability to expand and shrink your wand in three clicks, to achieve three types of voluminous looks. Cool.

About the author

Charlotte Lee

Charlotte Lee recently left her glitzy corporate job to be an ambassador for Korean beauty products through her e-boutique sokoglam.com. When she's not testing the latest snail face cream, she can be best found dining at a local samgyeopsal hole-in-the-wall.

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