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Is Korean Skincare Cheaper in Korea?

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Published on:

Are you looking to buy Korean skincare and are traveling to South Korea soon? If that’s the case, then you should probably wait.

I bought Korean skincare in Seoul, Myeong-dong, and New York. The price differences for 3 products from COSRX were about $15.45.

So, if you have the time and can wait a bit longer, it’ll be better to buy your skincare in Korea.

Quick Summary

Korean is cheaper in Korea because it doesn’t require import tax and duties.

Comparing the products, it’s probably about $1 to $25 cheaper to buy in South Korea than overseas.

Buying Korean skincare in duty-free stores is even cheaper than buying it from a store in Seoul, for example.

Affordable Korean Skincare in Seoul

Buying Korean skincare in Seoul can take some work. There are lots of different stores where you can buy, and most of them are pricier in Seoul than outside of Seoul.

Try to find some “older” stores that sell skincare. They have a lot of hidden gems that you’ll find; most of these very shiny skincare stores aren’t very affordable.

These stores try to lure you in with lots of bright lights. But when you actually go look for Korean skincare on the market, for example. You’ll find a lot of cheap and affordable skincare that directly come from the factories.

Here are some skincare brands that are affordable:

  • Beauty of Joseon
  • I’m from
  • Innisfree

What’s great about buying skincare in Seoul is that you don’t have to worry about buying fakes.

There have been many times when people bought fake Korean skincare with ingredients that weren’t actually inside… 

Luckily, that doesn’t happen in Seoul, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Regular Brands

There are regular brands that you can buy on these markets, but luxury brands will be hard to find.

Most of the higher-end brands can only be bought from official resellers, which can’t be found on the street markets. This makes it very hard to buy luxury brands from there.

However, it’s still cheaper than buying Korean skincare from the US or Europe. 

That’s why buying your regular skincare routine from these markets is still way less expensive than buying it from an online shop in your own country.

Luxury Brands

Luxury brands, on the other hand, are only sold by official resellers. As for the price difference, it’s not really big. 

The luxury Korean skincare brands are about the same price as they are overseas. And that’s because they don’t ever discount their prices. There’s one thing that you can do, which is buy them from duty and tax-free shops.

If you buy from those stores, then it’ll be cheaper to buy luxury skincare in Korea.

Buying Korean Skincare Online

If you don’t like going out, then buying Korean skincare online in South Korea is also great. It’s still cheaper than buying it from any Western country.

This is because skincare products are actually produced in Korea. They don’t have to import them to the US and pay import taxes, which can be a hefty amount.

So, if you want to save yourself some time, it’s great to order Korean skincare online.

However, there’s one downside to buying online in Korea. You must have a Korean ID before you can order anything. There are a few stores that don’t require this, but most do.

Or you need a Korean phone number.

It’s mostly one of these two things that are required before you can buy Korean skincare online in Korea. 

There’s one online store that works without, which is

Final Thoughts

After all, it’s better to buy Korean skincare in Korea. However, not everyone has the option to travel to Korea to buy their skincare.

As for buying online and shipping it internationally, it’s probably better to buy it from your own country. The sellers in your own country have already paid the import taxes and also have free shipping and a faster delivery time.

Buying Korean skincare in Korea and shipping internationally will only save you about $10 to $15, but you have to wait at least 2 to 4 weeks before your package arrives.


Is Buying Korean Skincare in Korea Worth It?

If you live in the United States, Canada, or Europe, it’s not worth buying your skincare in Korea, also including the shipping fees. It’ll take way longer to arrive, and at most; you’ll save $10 to $15.

Plus, your package can also get lost because most stores don’t send a track & trace with the order. So, it’s better to buy Korean skincare in your own country.

How Much Will You Save When Buying Korean Skincare in Korea?

As I said before, at most, you’ll save $10 to $15. However, this also depends on your order amount and which products you plan on buying.

For the majority of people, it’s not worth buying skincare in Korea. It’s only worth it if you’re traveling to Korea and buying it in a physical store.

Are Things Cheap in Korea?

Most things are cheaper in Korea compared to the United States. A sheet mask in Korea costs about $1 to $2, and in other countries, it often costs $2 to $4 per sheet mask.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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