Got a crush on K-beauty? Every year, hundreds of tourists head to Korea to stock up on cheap BB creams, face masks and serums. There’s plenty of places to shop around Busan but if it’s all a bit bewildering, fear not — here’s our quick cheat sheet to the city’s beauty-buying hotspots. Happy shopping!
Shinsegae currently holds a Guinness World Record for being the largest department store in the world. Although it’s tilted more towards high-end shopping, it’s safe to say that you’ll find plenty of beauty products here, including luxury brands such as Sulwhasoo. Cosmetics are located on the first floor. You can pay a visit to Spaland (also located in Centum City) for some post-shopping relaxation, or even play a round of golf on the shopping centre’s top floors.
Korea’s first seaside department store, this is a branch of the enormous Korean mall chain Lotte (they also have a department store in Seomyeon). Cosmetics are on the first floor, and brands range from luxury to high street. It’s easy to find what you’re looking for, and there are lots of helpful staff if you get stuck. Don’t forget to head up to the rooftop park on the 11th floor – it’s currently the largest roof park in Korea and gives a sweeping view over the city.
Nampo-dong is a popular shopping area, as well as a popular downtown hangout. Here, you’ll find most Korean beauty brands, crowded together on Nampo Street (take exit 3 from Nampo subway station and follow the crowds). There are a number of famous tourist attractions around here, so combine your shopping trip with a jaunt up Busan Tower, a visit to Jagalchi Market, or street food at BIFF Square.
Seomyeon is Busan’s hippest hangout, so it’s no wonder that its streets are packed with beauty stores and cosmetics. You might well be able to find all you need without leaving the subway station itself – the station is large and contains numerous shops selling clothes, accessories and beauty products. You can stay underground and head to Seomyeon Underground Mall (which is also good for piercings and body jewellery), or venture above ground to explore some of the city’s largest cosmetic and beauty stores. Although there are stores throughout this area, you’re best heading out of exit 4 or 6 and heading in a south-easterly direction.
Olive Young sells cosmetics and beauty products as well as health supplements, over-the-counter medicine, cosmetic accessories and snacks. It’s one of the more ubiquitous stores, with a branch in most neighbourhoods.
Innisfree specialises in natural beauty, using ingredients from Jeju Island. Jeju’s volcanic rock is credited with multiple beauty benefits, and all Innisfree’s products are eco-friendly, gentle and natural. Its stores sell products ranging from skincare (for both men and women) to makeup, and its most popular line is its clay masks.
Etude House stores are easy to spot – just look for the pink and white dollhouse-style exterior. Its outside is cute, and so is its inside – the brand specialises in skincare and cosmetics targeted to the young and trendy. Very K-pop, it’s a good place to get lip tints and eyeshadow in all shades of peach and blush.
Club Clio sell high-quality cosmetics at an affordable level. Apparently, they’re named after one of the nine Greek Muses, and their namesake was the muse representing ‘honour’ and ‘history’. This may explain why their branding is a little less girly-girl and a little more girl power. It’s good for punchy colours and eyeliner.
Too Cool For School
One of the more elusive cosmetic shops, Too Cool For School stores aren’t as numerous as other brands but well worth looking out for. They target a more arty crowd, have great packaging, and a wider range of colours. Their makeup is good quality but still affordable.
Tony Moly specialises in fun, affordable skincare and cosmetics for men and women, based on natural ingredients. They can be quite quirky: look out for the broccoli, cactus and red wine sheet masks. They’re good for skincare, including lip masks.
LOHBs (the acronym stands for ‘Love, Health and Beauty’) stock a diverse range of goods, including cosmetics, healthcare, vitamins and supplements, skincare and snacks. They tend to be a little larger than other stores, with more of an upmarket drugstore vibe.
The Face Shop
The Face Shop sells…things for your face. Although the name sounds a little blunt to native speakers, it actually specialises in gentle, natural skincare, bath products and cosmetics aimed at both men and women.
Aritaum stock a diverse range of cosmetics, at varying price points. It’s a good one-stop shop if you’re looking to browse what’s on offer. It stocks men’s cosmetics (as well as women’s) and has a great range of nail products.
Like Innisfree and The Face Shop, Skinfood focuses on ‘natural’ makeup. Unlike the other two, however, it does this by focusing on the nutritional content of its products. The idea is to nourish your face in the same way food nourishes your body. It’s a good place to buy face masks – the packaging tells you what nutrients are in each mask and what its effects are, so you can target your skincare routine to your specific needs.