[Updated 23 August 2015.]
If you follow my Instagram, you know that I shop…a lot. But I also shop selectively and with sellers that can deliver the best of kbeauty to me at good prices and without causing me a lot of stress in terms of the handling time, product quality/authenticity, and customer service help in case of an issue. Here’s a list of my favorite online Korean beauty shops (based in Korea) with which I actually shop and can recommend. The list isn’t comprehensive, but rather a curated (LOL) collection of sellers I feel comfortable recommending to international kbeauty customers in desperate need of some kbeauty fanservice. The sellers are arranged in the order I’d recommend them right now (likely this list will shake up over time as issues with some are resolved and new issues appear).
If a seller isn’t on the list it’s because 1) I haven’t tried them, 2) I can’t recommend them, or 3) they’re based in the U.S. (I’ll publish a U.S. list when I have more experience with shops based here.). I’m a slutty shopper (as in, I shop around A LOT), so if I haven’t tried a seller there may even be a reason behind that. I want to keep the focus on the shops I do love, since that’s what you need right now.
International Korean Beauty Shops
Pros: insanely enormous selection of brands and products, potentially astounding[ly good] prices on certain brands and products, fair shipping prices when using registered mail, interesting and unique samples are included even for modest hauls
Cons: sometimes items are sold out and they only inform you after shipping the package and issuing a refund, the shipping prices and policies are strange to navigate at first: shipping is based on actual weight with registered mail being charged in giant weight chunks and huge EMS shipping deposits being required before the difference between the deposit and actual weight of the package is determined, prices for some brands can be strangely higher than in other shops
Best for: crazily enormous selection, sale prices
Disclosure: I am not affiliated with or sponsored by KoreaDepart in any way.
Pros: shipping costs are included in the prices, purchases include a generous number of samples even for modest orders (maybe 2ish for one item and 4+ for a few things), super fast shipping and handling times (it usually takes about 2-2.5 weeks total for my packages to reach me in NYC), they sell samples, newly released products tend to be added quickly
Cons: prices don’t include a tracking number (pay an additional $2.50 per order to upgrade to registered mail shipping, which includes a tracking number), their selection is smaller than the bigger online shops.
Best for: small hauls
Disclosure: I am not affiliated with or sponsored by Beautynetkorea in any way. Fan-b does earn a small commission on any eBay purchases if you use the eBay shop link(s) in my posts before shopping.
eBay seller iamlove-shop. Also a standalone store at Jolse.com (but I’ve never shopped at Jolse).
Pros: many prices include registered mail shipping (with a tracking number), great selection of lots of brands, periodic sales, super consistent handling and shipping, fast CS resolution when there’s an issue (very soon after ordering an item it was discovered to be sold out and I instantly received a refund and explanation)
Cons: prices can be somewhat higher than those of other eBayers (likely on account of the tracking number)
Best for: small hauls
Disclosure: I am not sponsored by iamlove-shop in any way. Fan-b does earn a small commission on any eBay purchases if you use the eBay shop link(s) in my posts before shopping.
Pros: huge selection of brands, good prices
Cons: the eBay store prices can be higher than those for the same items in the standalone shop
Best for: small hauls of one or two items
Disclosure: I am not sponsored by RoseRoseShop or their associated eBay shops in any way. Fan-b does earn a small commission on any eBay purchases if you use the eBay shop link(s) in my posts before shopping.
Avecko‘s buying service (to assist with shopping on Korea-only sites)
Pros: they can get you literally anything from a Korean online shop for a 10% handling fee (minimum fee: 5,000 won), for more information see my how to Avecko post
Cons: you should have a good sense of what Korean online (as in, sites that are all in Korean and only sell within Korea) shops are offering–it’s more work than filling a cart and pressing order
Best for: all of kbeauty at Korean sale or retail prices
Disclosure: I am not affiliated with or sponsored by Avecko in any way.
eBay seller KevinCosmetic
Pros: amazing selection of brands, free shipping, very good handling/shipping speed, if you catch the right auction you can score crazy deals, cool samples, Kevin is really nice (he actually translated an ingredient list for me before my first purchase–I only asked for the Korean!)
Cons: free shipping doesn’t include a tracking number, prices for some items are higher than other sellers
Best for: trendy items and brands
Disclosure: I am not sponsored by KevinCosmetic in any way. Fan-b does earn a small commission on any eBay purchases if you use the eBay shop link(s) in my posts before shopping.
Pros: selection of special and sometimes highly sought brands carried by few shops, they do sell Wish boxes of products, there’s a free shipping zone, the samples provide an introduction to the products carried by the shop, free shipping for orders over $70–and shipping/handling is speedy for regular-ish mail, there’s a friend referral program (speaking of which, you can receive a $5-off voucher as a new customer by using my referral link or code, 013009409, when you create your account woo)
Cons: if you need to pay shipping it can be a bit pricey, some of the brands are virtually unavailable outside of Wishtrend (I’m always a bit leery of exclusive distribution contracts)
Best for: unique brands
Disclosure: I am affiliated with Wishtrend. Fan-b does earn a small commission on any purchases if you use the Wishtrend shop link(s) in my posts before shopping.
eBay seller blueprint21. Also a standalone store at Unique4u.net (but I’ve never shopped at Unique4u).
Pros: cool brands, great prices, reasonable shipping times
Cons: no tracking number for shipments, sometimes their stock does match what’s listed for sale (meaning that an item in your order will end up cancelled), I’ve had a popular item marked as shipped but it never arrived–at the same time that a reader had the same thing happen with the same item
Best for: unique items
Disclosure: I am not sponsored by blueprint21 in any way. Fan-b does earn a small commission on any eBay purchases if you use the eBay shop link(s) in my posts before shopping.
[I’m seeing a lot of reports regarding delayed orders and poor customer service from TesterKorea again, so I’m not able to recommend it until they turn things around. Again. Sigh.]
Pros: massive selection, they sometimes send samples with orders (although they’re not necessarily the most exciting and during busy periods they’re sometimes forgotten or truly bizarre), they sell tons of samples Cons: this shop, once among the best in kbeauty, seems to be experiencing some handling delays; my own orders have been delayed something like three weeks before they even hit the mail–and with no communication about the delay until I emailed to inquire about it. Shop with caution. Note: the Want section (which includes any item that’s name starts with [W]) is a shopping service, not a normal feature of the store. !!This is very important!!! Customers request items in the TesterKorea forum that aren’t already for sale and TK adds a listing. If customers buy the item, they will purchase it on your behalf and include it in your regular TK order box. They don’t charge a handling fee for this, but they do charge retail prices for the items (even if you find a cheaper listing or sale). This is an amazing service, but as you can imagine, TK having to manage all of this, place the orders, and manage the bijillion small packages coming in from around Korea has clearly created a handling time disaster. Be aware that buying from the Want section, especially when TK is already experiencing handling time delays, places your order at risk for a delay. Best for: sample hauls, small hauls, big hauls–once their handling time issues are sorted out, this is the SPOT to shop Disclosure: I am not affiliated with or sponsored by TesterKorea in any way.