The web of Korean skincare brands can be overwhelming, and it is all too easy to get stuck. We’re all aboard the K-wagon when it comes to the country’s innovations in the beauty sphere, but a saturated market goes hand-in-hand with a ton of alluring clutter, which can be hard to sieve through. It is a challenge to resist hand cream in a blushing peach-shaped jar, or a box of face masks with your favourite Line characters, we know. It is, however, a necessary price to pay if you want to get to the real gamechangers in the K-skincare market, which we are going to explore in this list.

We’ve opted for cult labels with less of a presence outside their founding grounds, even in regional countries where K-beauty is practically mainstream.

This is not to say that popular giants like Innisfree, Skinfood, and Etude House, as well as top-tier titans such as Sulwhasoo, and History of Whoo are not as effective. These brands have phenomenal crowd-pleasers in their respective arsenals, and enough e-literature exists to tell you what is good from each of the aforementioned. The Korean skincare brands we will zone in on don’t get the same amount of international love, but they really should.

The labels mentioned here are easily found online, or better yet, in Seoul itself. If you’re planning a trip there, make sure to muscle your way through Lotte Department Store, Olive Young, Aritaum, and Aland, as well as the streets of Myeongdong and Garosu gil to scout them out.

For part one of our Korean beauty shopping guide, where we focused on makeup, click here.