Well, I’m back in Seoul! I’ve only been here for a few days and already spent a lot of time in various beauty stores to check out what’s new in Boons, LOHBS, Olive Young et. al. (you can see some of my finds on Instagram: @annika.trendtraveller – or scroll down the page to the Instagram widget on the left sidebar).
I’ve also been stocking up on some of my favorite Korean and international beauty brands, including the famous Starting Treatment Essence from Korean brand Secret Key, the Skin Soothing Gel from organic US brand A24 which I discovered during my last trip to Seoul; and the Deep Rich Toner from my favorite organic Korean beauty brand, Whamisa!
However, one of the reasons why I came to Seoul was to visit Cosmobeauty 2016 trade show which took place as part of Health & Beauty Week from 28th April to 30th April 2016 in COEX exhibition centre. There were three trade shows actually: Cosmobeauty (retail and salon cosmetics), Organic Industry Expo (organic food) and Health Industry Expo (supplements and lifestyle products).
First of all, this is not a product review or comparison. It is more of a presentation – three interesting products from different brands, taken from the same product category. In this case: face cleansing. All three brands are from Korea.
So, let’s dive right in! What we have here is a solid cleanser based on coconut oil and glycerin (Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick), a creamy white foam based on sea water and sea salt granules (Sea Salt Perfect Cleanser 40%) and a cleansing oil whose key ingredient, besides deep sea water, is Epidermal Growth Factor cell activator (Pure Propolis Washable Cleansing Oil).
The three brands are equally different: Su:m37 is from the luxury sector, Innisfree is a mass market brand with a very wide distribution and LaCell is firmly rooted in the niche/online retail channel.
[EDIT: 6/5/2017 – the Belport chain is now called A.G.B. (Art Goût Beauté). The flagship on Garosu-gil has also changed its name to A.G.B. The ground floor of the store still has a Jo Malone shop-in-shop but makeup brands have gone, instead there is what appears to be a MAC shop-in-shop. The spa in the basement is still there; the first floor was unfortunately closed for renovation. I think the brand portfolio might have been adjusted too, so the information in this store profile is probably no longer correct. I’m not sure why Belport reinvented itself; if anyone can shed any light on this I’d be grateful!]
[EDIT: 7/5/2019 – A.G.B. has now also gone from its location on Garosu-gil – the store name has disappeared and although there is still a shop in Belport/A.G.B.’s former retail space it’s not a perfumery any more. Which means that this store profile is now completely obsolete! Or an interesting historical document, take your pick : )]
A few days ago I visited Korean perfumery chain Belport’s flagship store in Seoul’s trendy Garosu-gil street. Garosu-gil in Sinsa neighbourhood is known for its designer boutiques, uber-stylish cafés and concept stores.
It is also one of the latest hotspots for beauty in Seoul: over the last five years or so a number of Asian and Western beauty brands have opened stores there, including Melvita from France, Kiehl’s from the US, Lush and Neil’s Yard Remedies from the UK and premium Korean brands Su:m37 and The History of Whoo.
Domestic beauty chains The Face Shop, Banila, VDL, Clio and Skin Food have also opened outlets along Garosu-gil, and there are several drugstore retailers including Olive Young, Watson and LOHBS. And exactly one year ago, Belport opened its very first store on this street.
I arrived in Seoul, the first stop on my Asian tour, a few days ago and my goodness, it’s wonderful to be back! Luckily I don’t get troubled by jetlag when I am flying from Europe to Asia (on the way back it’s a different matter unfortunately) because I arrived on a Wednesday evening and at 10am the very next morning, the 13th International Beauty Expo Korea trade show opened its doors in COEX Convention Center.
It was an interesting show: as far as I could tell, the exhibitors were primarily salon brands and smaller Korean cosmetics labels looking for distributors. There were only a few brand names that I recognized – like Elishacoy and Incoco – but since I like discovering new beauty labels, I found plenty to occupy my attention.
One of my favourite things about trade shows is the chance to discover new beauty labels. I first came across Whamisa at CosmeTokyo 2014 trade show and was immediately struck by the brand: Beautiful packaging, high-quality ingredients, great organic certification (BDIH and Ecocert) and a very attractive 38-sku product range.