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The Best of Korean Beauty in NYC

Picture of Esme Benjamin
Wellness Editor
Updated: 20 November 2017
New York is a city shaped by immigrants; each neighborhood distinct from the next. And because of these foreign pockets and enclaves, you can visit a multitude of countries in a single day, experiencing what makes each culture unique. Koreatown, on West 32nd Street between Fifth Avenue and the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Broadway, is the place to get your K-beauty fix—an exhaustive multi-step skincare regimen said to give you the clearest, dewiest complexion imaginable. If you thought a simple cleanse, tone, and moisturize was enough, think again.

Top stores for a K-beauty haul

Tonymoly is a beauty superstore that brings K-beauty’s biggest manufacturers under one roof. On its busy shelves you’ll find a buffet of niche products: oozing sheet masks, coconut water face mists and creams in little tubs decorated with cutesy panda faces. And the great news is, this is no Sephora—you can fill a basket to the brim and spend under $100.

35 West 32nd Street, New York, NY, USA, 10001 +1 (212) 564-4004

Innisfree—arguably South Korea’s most beloved beauty brand—is bright and cleanly laid out and with ivy adorned walls. The emphasis here is on natural and organic ingredients—think hydrogel masks with Manuka honey and serums that small like freshly cut grass. Don’t miss the face mask bar, which allows you to pick a base—clay or cream—and load it with a selection of “toppings” and ingredients.

862 Broadway, New York, NY, USA, 10003 +1 (646) 838-7781

Must-try products and ingredients

Once you get into sheet masks you’ll be reluctant to continue slathering on messy creams. These soft cotton cloths soaked in complexion-boosting ingredients feel cool and luxurious on your face. After 15 minutes you simply peel them off and discard them, massaging in the moisturizing residue for optimal absorption. From natural pink clay and green tea, to the more dermatological ingredients like hyaluronic acid and collagen, there’s a huge variety, and they start at the affordable price point of $1.50.

Gold sheet mask
Gold sheet mask | © Esme Benjamin / Culture Trip

K-beauty’s predilection for natural ingredients doesn’t stop at plants. Bee venom—a natural alternative to botox—starfish extract and even snail mucin are all popular Korean skincare additions. If you can get over the ick-factor, the latter—that silvery slime snails leave in their wake—is said to be effective at reducing acne scars and fine wrinkles.

The spa to know

If there’s one place that really needs a 24-hour spa, it’s the city that never sleeps. Juvenex is a haven among the BBQ restaurants and karaoke joints of the neighborhood—a serene space with a service menu that’s full of surprises, like the “breacial”, a firming facial for your breasts.

For a distinctly Korean experience try the Jade Journey—four phases designed to leave you relaxed and glowing. The first is a giant igloo—a sauna made from unpolished chunks of jade. The second, dubbed the Diamond Herbal Steam Sauna, is a fragrant steam room with an icy rainforest shower. This is followed by a dip in the Japanese-style soaking tubs, infused with sake, ginseng, seaweed, neem and tea tree. Finally, complete your spa experience in the baked clay, low temperature sauna, thought to be great for detoxification.

25 West 32nd Street, New York, NY, USA, 10001 +1 (646) 733-1330