Thanks to Fairfax County’s robust Korean-American community, Northern Virginians can enjoy one of the world’s hottest beauty trends without leaving their backyards. Korean beauty, or K-Beauty—a catch-all term for cosmetics, skincare products, bath essentials and other grooming products from Korea—raked in an estimated $13.1 billion in global sales in 2017, according to market intelligence agency Mintel. Fans can’t get enough of the products’ playful packaging; their exotic, high-quality ingredients (snail slime or red ginseng, anyone?); and their frequently affordable price points.
Tucked among NoVA’s suburban strip malls and shopping centers, locals can peruse a handful of authentic shops specializing in K-Beauty. Here are five worth checking out.
6795 Wilson Blvd. Suite 1B, Falls Church
Besfren Beauty is a low-cost, New York-based beauty chain that doesn’t skimp on variety. It carries both Japanese and Korean products, and stocks everything from cartoon-character toothbrushes to multi-step skincare lines. Customers looking to banish blemishes overnight need look no further than the outlet’s COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patches ($4 for a 24-package), which enjoy a cult following both in the U.S. and in Korea. Besfren also offers dozens of sheet mask varieties as inexpensive as $1; customers who purchase 10 receive an extra 10 gratis.
The Face Shop
7031 Little River Turnpike, Suite 19D, Annandale
The Face Shop brand’s organic and natural offerings cater to those seeking a natural beauty boost. K-Beauty is all about promoting an organic glow, not just covering up flaws with heavy foundation, explains store manager Sue Kim. Kim recommends the store’s mild Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam (5 fl. oz. for $14; 10.1 fl. oz. for $19); and their Miracle Finish CC Total Cover Cushion ($36), a compact foundation case with a pigment-soaked sponge for translucent coverage.
7328 Little River Turnpike, Suite C, Annandale
Cloth sheet masks are a K-Beauty staple, but some of international brand Aritaum’s best-selling masks come in liquid form. Laneige Water Sleeping Mask ($25) is an overnight gel that soothes dry skin, and the store pays lip service to parched puckers with its flavored, leave-on Lip Sleeping Mask ($20). Their most popular product, though, is luxury brand Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum ($115 for 60 mL).
4129 Hummer Road, Annandale
Tonymoly’s name translates into “putting style into packaging.” The colorful products live up to the chain’s moniker, with banana-scented hand creams sold in fruit-shaped containers (Magic Food Banana Hand Milk, $6.50) and cartoon animal cartons a’plenty. Beyond the box, popular products include the store’s healing Timeless Ferment Snail Toner and Ferment Snail Emulsion ($45 each; $88 combined) and Perfect Lips Shocking Lip ($19), an array of long-lasting lip stains.
Splurge: Beauty City Cosmetics
4115 John Marr Drive, Annandale
Beauty City Cosmetics manager Jeong Lee is 60, but easily looks 40. She chalks her line-free skin up to some of K-Beauty’s most luxurious (read: expensive) serums, toners and creams. Among Beauty City’s high-end offerings, Lee prefers the History of Whoo brand’s Hwan Yu line. It includes serum ($520), eye cream ($400) and face cream ($750) infused with ingredients like deer antler extract and wild ginseng. An even bigger splurge is the line’s ampoule, or heavy-duty serum: $1,100 per tube.
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