2010 Top Selling Cosmetics in Korea + 5 Step Skincare Process

12.07.2010

Sulwhasoo in all it's glory.

I didn't plan on posting today but when I stumbled across Buhay sa Korea's post ranking the "best"/top selling cosmetics in Korea (Part 1, Part 2), I had to post this.  The ranking was published in February 2010 so it's quite recent too!  I couldn't access the actual study but I believe this list ranks top sellers.  As we all know "top-selling" doesn't always mean "top-quality" but if these cosmetics can survive and thrive in skincare/makeup obsessed Korea, it's gotta mean something right ;)? Anyway, I know a lot of people are interested in Asian skincare/makeup so I thought this would be usefulHUGE thank you to Buhay sa Korea for posting these!  My personal comments are in blue.

For those unfamiliar with Korean skincare, it's a 4-6 step process (depending on who you ask).  I prefer to refer to it as a 5 step process (summarized from K-popped).

1. Double cleansing —> 2. Massage & mask —> 3. Tone —> 4. Essence/Serum —> 5. Moisturize

1. Double Cleansing
Cleanse #1: Cleansing Oil, a washable oil that is emulsified with water to quickly remove all makeup, grease and dirt.  Oil usually contains many beneficial ingredients as well.

I have not "bought into" this step yet but my mother does this and I'm going to admit she has better skin than I do at 50+.  The reason I don't do this is because (for my mom at least), she spends a good 20 minutes massaging/emulsifying the oil into her skin.  Then she tissues it off (oil is hard to remove with water, duh).  For now I'm just too impatient to do this.

Cleanse #2: Water + face cleanser to remove the last traces of oil.

2. Massage & Mask  
Facial massage is the secret to glowing skin. Apply a massage pack or cream and massage your face. You could even use a gentle scrub. It is exercise for your skin.  A facial massage improves blood circulation and is a great stress reliever! Facial massages also stimulates the flow of oxygen and nutrients to improve the elasticity of your skin. The skin temperature rises, opening pores and pushes out the dirt embedded deep within the skin. Your skin will look visibly fresher, younger and glows after a massage.  Incorporate a facial massage into your beauty regime at least 2 – 3 times a week for visible results.  A word of caution for those with acne or oily skin, massaging will agitate the oil glands and increase oil secretion. So refrain from massaging.  On the days you do not indulge in a facial massage, apply a mask on your face. There are many types of masks out there in stores, but the two that are most important are clarifying mask (deep cleanses the skin) and moisture mask.  Facial masks should be applied 1 – 2 times a week, after cleansing and preferably at night.

I am a huge believer of this step!  I don't do the massaging part so much but I am a 100% believer in sheet masks/packs.  I usually fall asleep with these on, so they suit my lazy personality too ahah but they have made a huge difference for my skin.   I prefer sheet masks to packs because I don't have to wash anything off (more laziness). I was (and still am for the most part) a very oily person but every since I started giving my skin that extra boost of hydration with masks, my oiliness has gone way, way down.  Which brings me to remind all my fellow oily chicas out there that oiliness is usually caused by dehydration - you skin overcompensates/produces more oil - when it's too dry.  Ironic, huh ;)? So, invest in some moisturizing sheet masks, it's certainly not going to hurt (unless you pick something you're allergic to ehehe) ;)

3. Tone  
Some might think that toners are useless. But toners actually remove dead skin cells and residue from cleansers. Choose a toner that is suitable for your skin type.

Have yet to buy into this trend because all the toners I've tried have been fairly ineffectual imho.  But this is one thing I keep buying :\  In the past I've tried witchhazel (hated the smell), Skinfood Peach Sake Toner (just wanted to drink it, didn't see any huge improvements), and I just ordered the Skinfood Red Ginseng Toner.  We'll see....  They never seem to hurt but I dunno, maybe I'm expecting miracles.  The reason I can't stop trying toners though is because they feel good on my face ^_^

4. Essence and/or serum 
Essence or serums are very light, liquid concentrated treatments to correct skin problems. Essence is easier absorbed and penetrates deep into your skin, better than regular moisturizers. For best results, wait 5 minutes after applying serums before applying your moisturizer to allow maximum absorption. Because of their concentrated affects, serums are generally more expensive.

This is, I think, a unique step in the "Asian" skincare routine (though I'm sure other non-Asians brands will quickly buy into this since it means more $$$).   Some skin care sets sell essence (usually lotion-y) and serums (usually liquid) as two separate steps.  The point to both is essentially the same though - deliver high concentrations of something to correct specific skin problems.   Though I have dabbled with this step (free samples ^_~) for a few years I've never purchased anything till now. I just purchased a small bottle of the uber-famous SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, which is reputably a "miracle water" (it's ranked #2 under Best Essence). We'll see about that and better damn well be - this SK-II essence is one of the most expensive on the market.  Sulwhasoo places first, also a very expensive, luxury brand - truly the most reputable in Korea.

5. Moisturize  
Choose a moisturizer suitable for your skin and use it diligently.

A lot of people neglect this step, especially oily folks like me but it's important.  Thank heavens it's a fairly "cheap" step too.  I just use Aveeno :) Though personally, I wouldn't mind finding something more moisturizing for winter but since my Philosophy Hope In A Jar was a hopeless fiasco, my search still continues. I do use Dress Green's essential oil serum for a kick of moisture 3-4x a week but I would rather be able to moisturize in one step.  Plus I have to wipe off oil residue in the morning, which is a hassle for a anti-morning person like me.

Now onto the rankings!

Basic Care Total
1. Sulwhasoo
2. Hera
3. IOPE
4. SK II (Japanese brand)
5. Ohui

Color total <-- I'm not really sure what this means....whitening perhaps? But Natalie says it may mean Best Makeup/Cosmetics (not Skincare) overall. 
1. Hera
2. Christian Dior
3. Missha
4. The Face Shop
5. MAC

Skin and Lotion total
1. Sulwhasoo
2. Hera
3. IOPE
4. Clinique
5. Isa Knox

Best Face Cream
1. Sulwhasoo
2. Hera
3. History of Hu
3. Kiehl’s (American brand) <-- really?! I'm going to go looking for this.... I need a better moisturizer anyways
4. IOPE
- History of Hu and Kiehl’s tied

Best Essence
1. Sulwhasoo
2. SK II <-- that "miracle water" better be good!
3. Estee Lauder
4. Hera
5. IOPE

Cleansing
1. The Face Shop <-- what a surprise.... I know what's going to be in my next sasa haul.
2. Hera
3. DHC
4. Neutrogena
5. Missha

Mask Pack
1. Sulwhasoo
2. The Face Shop <-- what?!  Clearly, I've underrated TFS.
3. SK II
4. Missha
5. Ohui

Make-up Base
1. Sulwhasoo
2. Hera
3. Chanel
3. Christian Dior
4. History of Hu

Eyeshadow
1. MAC
2. Bobby Brown
3. Hera
4. Bourgeois
5. Chanel

Lipgloss
1. Lancome
2. Hera
3. Christian Dior
4. Missha
5. Chanel

Lipstick
1. Hera
2. MAC
3. Laneige
4. Christian Dior
5. Missha

Powder Pact
1. Christian Dior
2. Mamonde
3. Hera
4. Ohui
5. MAC

Twincake <-- twincakes are apparently a foundation/pressed powder in one, thanks sherri!
1. Sulwhasoo
2. Hera
3. IOPE
4. Missha
4. The Face Shop

Foundation
1. Sulwhasoo
2. Hera
3. Bobby Brown
4. Estee Lauder
5. SK II

Mascara
1. Lancome
2. Hera
3. Missha
4. Laneige
5. The Face Shop

Eyeliner
1. Bobby Brown
2. Clio
3. Hera
4. MAC
5. The Face Shop

Nail
1. The Face Shop
2. Skin Food
3. Missha
4. Etude
5. VOV

Suncream
1. Hera
2. Ohui
3. Lancome
4. IOPE
5. Anessa

Body Care <-- aahah no Asian brands here xD
1. Neutrogena
2. Johnson’s Baby
3. Green Finger
4. Doctor AtoMild
5. Aveeno

Overall
I don't have experience with any of the luxury brands listed here - Sulwhasoo, SK II, Ohui, Hera, Lancome etc.  I will say the first four I mentioned are by far the most popular brands in Korea (among those who can afford it) from what I've seen.  Most older women exclusively use those brands if they can manage it cuz you know in Korea - flawless skin reigns supreme and most are willing to dish out for it.  The brands you see dominating the Internet like Skinfood, Missha, Etude House, The Face Shop, VOV are really on the lower end since they target teens and women in their 20's (aka poorer, can be bought with pretty packaging, and already have good skin most of the time ^^).  Ahhh, one day I wouldn't mind making the leap and trying some Sulwhasoo - the premiere brand that many k-celebrities swear by ^_^

Here's a little trivia about Sulwhasoo though: Sulwhasoo is owned by Amore Pacific, a company that also owns Laneige, IOPE, Innisfree, Hera, Etude, and needless to say, the Amore Pacific cosmetics line as well.  Puts an interesting spin on the rankings above eh ;)?  In Suncreams alone, Amore Pacific occupies spots #1-4 out of 5.

In any case, I'm so startled how much The Face Shop is on here - color total, cleansing, mask pack, twin cake, mascara, eyeliner, nail!  I bought almost nothing in Korea from TFS cuz I was so swept away by Skinfood (which is only on here for Nails of all things).  Now I'm dying of regret! If I may say, TFS has the least exciting packaging :\ maybe that's why.... Anyway, this is good for US-residents because TFS is one of the few Korean brands that have shops right here in America (not around me though :P).  You can also get a few The Face Shop items on Sasa for people (like me) without a store near them.  Missha made a good showing too - color total, cleansing, mask pack, lip gloss, lipstick, twin cake, mascara, nail.

So yep - I hope some of you guys found this helpful :)!

17 comments :

  1. Thanks for the post! ^_^ I will try these. :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wah what a comprehensive and helpful post Elle, thanks for sharing. I only do double cleansing when I have waterproof sunscreen on haha, lazy. haha I can't fall asleep with sheet masks. XD I need to massage my face, should hit up some youtube videos after this.

    I didn't see any improvement after Skin Food Peach Sake Toner either but it smelled divine. I used Vitamin C serum when I clear skin and it was really nice.

    Thanks for sharing the brand rankings.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing this! This is a really surprising list. Some brand of the products I've never imagine it to top the charts...

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is such a great post, some of these brands I've never heard of but it goes to show that there is a whole world of great beauty products beyond the US. I'm going to try some asian brands and thanks to your pretty&cute post I got some masks. I'm still on the hunt for good products for my oily skin esp in winter

    I've only seen twincakes from NYX, it's like a foundation/pressed powder in one.

    Great post :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your posts are always so informative and helpful Elle, million thanks to you =D

    ReplyDelete
  6. interesting post! am surprised to see that Laneige isn't anywhere close to the top 5 LOL!
    I"ve underrated TFS too...but the local Sasa doens't have it (TFS pulled out from HK)...lol

    love toners <3 and sheet masks!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Elle, I love your post about asian skincare. I love love love TFS. Not so much their makeup but the skincare is pretty darn good and I always always stock up when I go down to Chicago which is like 3.5 hrs away. :(

    How in the heck do you get a chatterbox? What is it? Sorry, I'm such an idiot. :/

    ReplyDelete
  8. This Sulwhasoo brand sounds interesting. I mean, I definitely like the packaging hahahaa. I think I saw a shop in Macau. It looked high class and I knew I wasn't going to buy anything so I didn't go in =)

    As for the Freshel sunscreen I posted about... I think I felt it was powdery cos it had a rather matte finish after application =)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow!
    Thanks so so much for this post! I was curious and I wanted to read about that double cleansing system!
    Your post has been really useful, dear.
    I am now a new follower,
    XOXO
    Catanya

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've heard Sulwhasoo brand but didn't know it's so popular in Korea! Might have to check it out one day :).
    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Waoh, Sulwhasoo looks great, never heard about this brand. It's very surprising that Neutrogena is first for the body ranking! I heard that their products aren't so good to be in the first rank! o.O

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks so much for the post, this is very informative! It's no wonder Korean women all seem to have such amazing skin, they do so much to keep it healthy. I don't think I could ever stick to a skincare regimen with this many steps; plus I'm not really liking the idea of piling so many chemicals onto my face >.<

    ReplyDelete
  13. I often skip the essence >.< huhuhu...but toner and moisturizer is a must~
    I've been thinking about getting IOPE essence but never found a review for it. have u tried it?

    ReplyDelete
  14. the skincare process was extremely informative
    now i have to look in to a cleansing oil and some sort of serum~ granted w/ the cleansing oil it's probably not going to be an everyday thing lol i'm like you too lazy~ and the serums need heavy research for reviews and stuff because like you said quite pricey~

    it's interesting to see the ranking but more or less completely useless to me because i can't get my hands on them unless i travel to asia anytime soon =p
    even w/ the "american" brands they have a different line in asia *sniffles* thank god for sasa!!! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ooh thanks for this informative post!
    As for the 'Color Total' I think it means best cosmetics overall =)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I often skip the essence >.< huhuhu...but toner and moisturizer is a must~
    I've been thinking about getting IOPE essence but never found a review for it. have u tried it?

    ReplyDelete
  17. interesting post! am surprised to see that Laneige isn't anywhere close to the top 5 LOL!
    I"ve underrated TFS too...but the local Sasa doens't have it (TFS pulled out from HK)...lol

    love toners <3 and sheet masks!

    ReplyDelete

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