When I moved here from the Bay Area, I had no expectations for any asian beauty market. Once I got my feet in the water, I realized there wasn’t really much in the realm of AB. Because of this it’s a dream of mine to open a skincare store here in Seattle, that focuses on bringing curated japanese, korean, and indie/innovative brands. There are officially (as of me writing this, June 2017) ZERO standalone Asian Beauty stores in Seattle and the surrounding area. Like seriously, if you know of an investor in the area ~~hit cha boy up~~. (Probably not the most effective phrase to hook an investor)
Luckily, there are a few places that carry Korean and Japanese cosmetics! But what you’ll find here is extremely limited to the assortment you can find south of Washington. Portland to San Diego is what I like to consider the “American Asian Beauty Belt” At least over here on the West Coast. I can’t really speak much to the east coast selection. Especially in Southern California, AB shopping can literally be easier and more convenient than going to a big cosmetics store. (& you can walk out with a bag of products rather than one mediocre overpriced moisturizer from Sephora)
Here in the Seattle area, since nothing is standalone (or not just a cosmetic store) you see a lot of the same products. Not to say this doesn’t happen else where with AB (because it happens everywhere!) But if you’re near one, you probably won’t need to go to TOO many more to feel all your options out. Also, you won’t see as big of a gap in price ranges too, which I actually appreciate.
Uwajimaya (International District, Seattle, WA)
This is definitely the most well known place to get your Asian Beauty fix. I live walking distance from here too and do most of my grocery shopping here, so… Yeah I literally can’t grocery shop without being EXTREMELY TEMPTED.
Here you’ll find debatably the largest selection of stuff. Doesn’t mean it’s the best price, doesn’t mean they have a good selection, it’s just a lot of stuff with not a ton of shelf organization in most places. They do have a larger hair and body product selection however, compared to some!
Brands worth mentioning: PureSmile(JP), LuLuLun(JP), My Beauty Diary(TW), Kikumasamune(JP), Loshi(JP), Naive(JP), Hada Labo(JP), Sana(JP) Kosé(JP), Bioré(JP), Shiseido(JP) [drug store & a counter w/ Cle De Peau]
‘Exclusives’: Well, I was able to find a LuLuLun gift set here that wasn’t available at any other store.
Overall: Not my favorite store to shop in, but their prices are spot on. They make a great place to start though, they have all the well known brands.
HMart (University District, Seattle, WA) NEW!
HOLY SH*T THIS PLACE IS INCREDIBLE!?
I took a trip here today actually to check it out. It’s been only open for a couple of weeks. When I walked up to the glistening white building on the Ave, I was shocked to see how tiny it was! But for the area, I’d say it’s probably the biggest it could be. BUT. They. Have. A. ROOM. of. SKINCARE. Not an Isle. Not a section. Like 25% of the store is dedicated to skincare. Also, there are a lot of featured brands unique to this location like Dr. Jart+, IPKN, and others. But I can definitely see why. This place is in University District. Where you have people my age (not at my skin education level, of course) coming in for a bottle of Soju, korean snacks, and some sheet masks for a kick ass friday night. At least that’s what I HOPE people are going for. (I mean the entire upstairs section is snacks/alcohol/skincare/household items…) Because if I actually had friends, you know that’d be my go-to night.
With an entire section of Elizavecca! All at retail prices, note. Boxes (and boxes) of Jayjun, Oozoo, PapaRecipe, and MediHeal. Not your regular HMart selection, but a very wise selection. I couldn’t actually find the regular hoard of Biore, Hada, and Kose products most of the stores all carry.
I didn’t get any photos of it.. but they have a nice selection of Korean household products too.
Brands worth mentioning: Jayjun(KR), Oozoo(KR), PapaRecipe(KR), MediHeal(KR), IPKN(KR), Dr. Jart+(KR), Dewpiel(KR), Saturday Skin(KR) Dong Sung Pharm.(KR) (most well known products are their a.c.care line with snail and bee venom), Charmzone(KR)
‘Exclusives’: Most of these brands are going to only be found here in the state (probably).
Overall: Well, let’s just say this section is under construction until I finish digging. My one trip, was a no-buy even though I wanted it to be a haul. There’s a great selection of masks, and a unique selection of other products. I do wish there were more Japanese sheet masks, and more products than mainly sheet masks.
HMart (Lynnwood, WA)
MY BABY, MY LOVE, GETS SECTIONS
Out in Lynnwood there’s a huge HMart! Get your big bags of rice, wholesale pickled daikon, and really high quality, affordable produce. But as far as cosmetics goes, it can get complicated. Inside of HMart itself, you can find a slim selection of products. Like one Elizavecca product, there was Happy Bath(KR) for a minute, Nightingale(JP), Scinic(KR), and Mediental(KR). A few other things not really worth mentioning. But! Fear not. If you’re looking to do some serious Korean skincare shopping you have the two big dogs here AMORE & LG Care, and nowhere else as standalones. They sit on the outside mini ‘strip mall’ like C around the inside of HMart itself. If you wanted your regular Asian Market Japanese products, they do have a separate section kinda in the middle of everything?
AMOREPACIFIC | ARITAUM Store
I come here to get all the Amore products I possibly can. Ironically, you can’t buy actual AMOREPACIFIC products. Just their brands: Sulwhasoo, Aritaum, Ryo(Hair), Mamonde, Laneige, Hera, and IOPE. I always get great recommendations when I go in, it’s how I found my favorite emulsion! Don’t expect any higher or lower prices. Everything is spot on to resale price.
Note* There is another Aritaum location at Pal-Do World Market in Lakewood, WA.
O HUI | The Who
Can’t lie, I’ve never been in here. It’s incredibly cramped and there’s always customers inside. Not their fault, I’ve also really had no overwhelming desire to go through their products quite yet. But I can speak some to their selection since you can see most of it from outside the store! From the outside I’ve spotted The History of Whoo(KR), O Hui(KR), Missha(KR), Tony Moly(KR), Oozoo(KR), and a couple indiscernible hangbangy lookin brands I’ve never heard/seen of before.
Overall: This is my personal go-to! It’s stock may not be what everyone is looking for. But I love supporting local businesses whenever I can, I have a soft spot for AMORE, and who doesn’t love getting all the free samples you could dream of when you spend a little bit of money? Last time I got an incredible 6pc Sulwhasoo deluxe travel kit! (each time before that I got a 3pc!). I also like the LG Care store carries more than just LG, unlike AMORE staying exclusive.
Asian Food Center (Seattle, WA)
Oh you. You bother me so much. But also appreciate you a lot too. The cosmetics are just a section in the front of the store towards the checkout. But what you will find is all the Japanese skincare (and MBD masks) you can dream of. Not as much makeup as Uwajimaya, but they definitely make up for it in how extensive the body and haircare is!
Why does it bother me though? Well, if they have someone actually at customer service (the only place to checkout with cosmetics) they’re watching you like a hawk (happens in some places, not nearly as frequently or bad). To the point where I felt uncomfortable the first time I went in to get a feel for what they had. Also their stock doesn’t refresh really ever. They’ve been out of stock of Daisan CottonLabo CS Being cotton pads since March (it’s June), and they’re my favorite below the Shiseido pads 🙁 I’ve seen a ton of holes too, I don’t think they’ve been getting stock or SOMETHING. This may change, but for now they haven’t been worth the trip. However if you’re nearby or in the market for just Japanese products, here is a great place to go.
They also have sales on masks box sets it seems like at random, but appreciated nonetheless!
While you’re here, you should stop at the Kiki Bakery (yup, named after the animated cat)
post buns selfie
Overall: Eh, check it out if you can.
**My NOT Recommended**
These are places I wouldn’t really bother with unless there’s something specific at one of these places you want to see. Also big note. I LOVE supporting mom and pop skincare shops. I go to them whenever I possibly can and it sucks there aren’t many here. But places like the shops in the Lynnwood HMart are still privately owned with amazing people inside that work hard and deserve your $$ more than Sephora does.
Daiso (Seattle, WA)
Most are familiar with Daiso, the well known “Japanese $1.50 store” as my family refers to it . This is the worst Daiso ever honestly. It’s very small, there’s no parking put reserved parking spots smack in front of the store, with very little. I only come here if I KNOW they’ll have it and I don’t want to drive to the the one North. I don’t think I’ve wanted to get anything here skincare related though except a horse fat hand cream.
Daiso (Roosevelt District,Seattle, WA)
Now this is a Daiso! Reminds me a lot of the ones I have back in the Bay Area. Spacious, empty travel bottles and cotton rounds galore! You can also find their infamous peel off mask here too. They have their own selection of cosmetics however fair warning, it’s all $1.50 for a reason. Check the cancer labels floating around the stores.. Yikes! However, I really enjoy their sheet mask packs and they don’t have anything in them I haven’t seen before, especially the CoQ10 ones!
Overall: If $1.50 is your thing! But i’d be wary and very selective.
I recommend you DON’T do any KBeauty shopping here except squeeze them dry for samples if you need to. Dr. Jart+ is much cheaper at the new HMart, with a bigger selection! J.One products are $45-$50 instead of <$30 online. Beauty Water is $30 instead of $22. Belif is more LG Care, but IMO not worth the it’s US prices. If you need to, Bellevue will have the best selection, don’t bother in Seattle. Why spend more for no reason other than lining their pockets?
Urban Outfitters (Westlake , Seattle, WA)
Yeah they have overpriced Tony Moly and possibly some more overpriced Mizon or CosRx that’s been sitting for a year. Please don’t buy here like ever.
Ulta (Northgate Mall, Seattle, WA)
Well Ulta, I do have to say stepped their skincare game up with the leverage of affordable, effective KBeauty. Sort of. You can find brands like Goodall or Dr. G! If you’re in a KBeauty drought area, you may find something to quench your thirst here.
I hope this guide helps you navigate what Seattle has to offer for Asian Beauty. If I’m missing anything feel free to put it in the comments so I can add it! I hope one day I can bring a real Asian Beauty store to Seattle. But until then we can live with what’s around, right?
This is a post in progress for awhile! But I wanted to share the first version early! More pictures will hopefully come!