While a handful of said products from big name Korean brands such as Glow Recipe and J.One are available to buy from places like Boots and Cult Beauty, many of us look to other, lesser known sites to get a slice of luxury brands such as Huxley (which you've no doubt seen all over Instagram thanks to its picture-perfect packaging) and MAKE P:REM – a brilliant choice for those with skin issues like acne, rosacea or eczema.
The only problem? Shopping K-Beauty online can often mean paying over the odds. We're talking extortionate shipping costs, custom charges and other tax (if you've been stung once before, you aren't alone), not to mention an extremely long wait. But there's a new K-Beauty hub on our radar, and it bypasses all of that because it operates right here in the UK. Enter: Kōsame Beauty.
Founded by Mélusine Tran in 2018, Kōsame stands as one of the few Korean beauty websites bringing smaller brands to the UK market. Based in London, the company stocks lesser-known k-beauty brands such as Hanyul, Sulwhasoo and Hera as well as skincare superpowers like Dr.Jart + and Innisfree. Some of the site’s biggest sellers include Laneige's Cica Sleeping Mask and Primera's Miracle Seed Essence, but if those products don't quench your k-beauty thirst, the company is also set to introduce low pH skincare brand CosRX in 2020 (a cult favourite for those with sensitive skin).
Another company bringing Korean beauty to the forefront in the UK is Tonic15. Home to hero brands like Aromatica, The Lotus and Klairs the site served up everything from essences to sheet masks, moisturisers and exfoliators. The website sources each skincare product directly from Korea and imports it to their London warehouse, so when you make a purchase, you get to avoid all the fluff. In fact, delivery is free on orders over £15. Our products took the usual five days to arrive (not five weeks) but there's also an express delivery option if you're running low on skincare staples.
And because getting your head around Korean skincare can be a bit of a minefield, Tonic15 allows you to filter products depending on your skin type, whether it's dry, oily, sensitive, blemish-prone, or you're battling more specific concerns like pigmentation and fine lines.
For easily aggravated skin, R29 recommends MAKE P:REM's Safe-Me Relief Moisture Cleansing Foam, £15. It's formulated at a respectful pH of 5.5 so won't strip the good stuff. For acne-prone skin, Aromatica's Tea Tree Green Oil, £27, is potent on spots without being irritating or contributing to flare-ups (you can read more about the wonders of tea tree oil for acne here), while Huxley's Oil & Extract sheet masks, £20 x 3, are probably the most luxe buys we tried. The prickly pear seed oil is housed in a separate, ingredient-preserving pouch, which you need to fold and pop to saturate the mask.