There are dozens (probably hundreds) of sellers of Korean skincare and cosmetics products, with more popping up every day! Most of my experiences (although not all) have been positive. Here are the sellers I have dealt with and recommend. This list will be maintained and edited as my experiences change.
Koreadepart is the first place I usually turn to when I am putting together an order. They have one of the widest selections, that is constantly growing, and some of the best pricing. You do have to be careful with shipping costs, but unlike some other sellers (ahem RoseRoseShop) they are sufficiently transparent with how they are calculated. I’ve never dealt with their customer service, so I unfortunately cannot provide any insight on how helpful they are, but I’ve also never had problems with any of the orders I’ve placed.
Pro-tip: You can find some great deals on products from Chosungah 22, Park & Son, Secret Key, and some others.
TesterKorea’s selection isn’t the largest, but it’s one of the widest. They also have the biggest selection of samples! They have sporadic issues with shipping speed but other than having to wait a week once for my goodies to ship, I’ve had no issues with them. I usually use this site to compare prices with items on Koreadepart, because every once in awhile TesterKorea will have something for cheaper.
Protip: They have a forum where you can request items for them to stock. It looks like they listen too!
After Memebox US moved its operations to the US, I just have not been as interested in their selection. However, that seems to be changing and I’ve actually placed a few orders from them in the past couple of months. Their selection is limited and frequently under-stocked, so it’s tricky getting everything I want in one order. However, their $30 minimum shipping threshold is one of the lowest amongst US-based sellers, their 101 day return policy is awesome, and their prices are actually really good. I even like some of their in-house makeup products and love the fact they are collaborating with some of my favorite bloggers to improve their selection.
Protip: They’ve got their own line of cosmetics and tools. I’ve heard good things about them overall, and personally have bought a set of brushes and one of the Pony palettes, both of which I quite like! Also, they have the ever-so-popular SU:M37 miracle rose cleansing stick for a reasonable price ($24 right now).
Selection is still limited, but it is quickly growing! Currently, the brands they feature are AmorePacific, Dr. Jart+, Belif, Chosungah22, Too Cool for School, TonyMoly, Caolion, May Coop, Touch in Sol, and Erborian. There is a pretty large markup on some items (usually the cheaper brands like TonyMoly and Too Cool for School) but is more reasonably priced for the higher-end brands, such as Dr. Jart+ and Belif. Also, if you’re not familiar with Sephora, their customer service is awesome! You can return anything, no questions asked, and of course there is the rewards point system.
Jolse is one of the best Korea-based stores to buy from if you are just starting to explore Korean beauty because they are ridiculously generous with samples. They also have free shipping, which really just means shipping costs are built into item prices, making their individual items frequently (but not always) cost slightly more than what they would cost on Koreadepart, Testerkorea, or RoseRoseShop, but this is not necessarily a bad thing because it makes it more cost-effective to make smaller hauls from Jolse than those other sites.
Peach and Lily has one of the best looking curated collections out there, although, with the very notable exception of Aromatica, some of their more eye-porn-y items have been met with mixed enthusiasm from various sources I trust. The one time I ordered from them was during a free 2-day-shipping sale. They made a mistake, shipped out my order using regular shipping, but remedied the situation by refunding 20% of my order and providing a 15% off discount code for future orders (which I let expire, out of negligence). At the very least, their customer service seems to be in the right place!
Get $10 off your first order of $50 or more with this link.
Of the American based curated Korean sites out there, I tend to trust Charlotte the most. I think it’s because she tends to actually recommend things that are popular in Korea and although her prices are higher than buying from Korea-based sites, they’re reasonable. She also gets the obsession with pH and is a licensed esthetician.
Get $10 off your first order of $25 or more by registering here.
There is a lot RoseRoseShop can do better. Although their shipping costs don’t seem any less reasonable than other sellers (i.e. Koreadepart), RRS is not as transparent about them, which is understandably upsetting. Their search function is also basically useless (protip: if you’re looking for something specific from RRS, do a google search for [the product] and “roseroseshop”) and their customer service very spotty. They didn’t include 3 sheet masks I bought in an order once, an issue that never got addressed or resolved (to be fair, I didn’t push the issue because the cost of the three sheet masks was <$2 and I honestly forgot about it after awhile). However, there are a few reasons to still order from RoseRoseShop. Mainly, their pricing on some items is very appealing, especially for Mizon items and Banila & Co items, many / most of which come with free shipping, and they also send me coupons pretty frequently. Also, RRS also has an ebay store, which I have not ordered from, but seems to offer free shipping sometimes. You also get paypal protection with ebay, so this may be a good option for those less than trusting of RRS.
Wishtrend has a limited but well curated selection. All product information is in English, and they have an active youtube channel, blog, and are very responsive to email inquiries. I’ve emailed them half a dozen times asking for pH levels of various products and they’re usually happy to provide. Also, they’re the official distributer of the cult-favorite C20 Vitamin C Serum to the US and the only seller that lists the production date. They seem to be the only retailer that ships to the US to carry Chica y Chico items (I’m a fan of Beta Salic 2.0). Lastly, they conveniently provide pH levels for some Cosrx and Papa Recipe products.
Register using code 263646011 to get $5 off your first order.
CL has a website, an eBay store, and a now defunct Amazon store. I’ve only dealt with them through their amazon store. Back when Benton was having their oops-we-forgot-to-use-preservatives issue with the steam cream, I was terrified of receiving product from the contaminated batch. Cosmetic Love was very attentive, patient, and understanding when I frantically emailed them asking to cancel my order, changed my mind, had them double check the batch code, then change my mind like five more times and for that reason I’ve been of fan of theirs. They do run some wacky sales but I imagine its due to some coding issues.
BNK has both an online store presence and an eBay shop. I have only ordered from their ebay store and have not had any issues. Like Testerkorea and RoseRoseShop, they are another good source to find samples of things if you are not yet ready to commit to full size products.
W2Beauty has also got a huge selection. The biggest selling point for me though, is how active Alice, the founder, stays on both social media and in interacting with customers. I tend to be really annoying and ask a million questions about products when preparing hauls and from what I can tell, she handles all email traffic herself, which I fine awesome.
To be totally transparent, probably 55% of the hauls I do these days go through Avecko, which is a service that allows you to order from sellers that do not ship to the US. This opens up a whole world of product discovery and allows me to participate in any promotional events or deals available in Korea but not to the US. Both Hena and Ray at Avecko have been very couteous in their interactions with me, and I continue to be impressed with how carefully they package everything. However, as they are growing in popularity their response time has definitely taken a hit. The first time I created an order inquiry to Avecko, it took them less than 24 hours to create my order page. The last two times I placed inquiries, they’ve taken about two days to get back to me.
For more on how to use Avecko, check out Fanserviced’s guide on how to use Avecko, Cat Cactus’s guide on shopping on Korean sites when you don’t know Korean, and Holy Snails’ tips and tricks on how and how not to use Avecko.
last edited 10/24/15