Seattle Asian Beauty Shopping (Locations & More!)

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.

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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.

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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.

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I didn’t get any photos of it.. but they have a nice selection of Korean household products too.

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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!

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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.

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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)

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bc buns

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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.

Overall: No

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.

Sephora

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!

[Review] Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Brightening Fluid: Emulsion Elegance

As spring arrives and I’m daydreaming about summer, we often look to switch up parts of our routine needing less moisture, and/or more hydration. Emulsions have to face the tightrope of consistency. If they’re too thick, what’s the point of another moisturizer? If they’re too thin, what’s the point of your essence? Emulsions provide us a silky smooth transition from your treatment or hydration steps (I dunno your routine or how you want to categorize, boss.) into your moisturizing step(s). Necessary? No. Beneficial? Ya. How? Let’s find out!

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Sulwhasoo is like a 3 Michelin Star restaurant, a complete sensorial experience. Maybe in different ways, you’re not rubbing foie gras on your face. (I think foie gras would be too blasè for a 3 star restaurant tbh) But there’s a lot more to a product than good ingredients. First is the scent, with a sultry pine/ginseng hanbang-y smell it’s true Sulwhasoo. Second is texture. Sulwhasoo hits it on the head as far as consistency goes. Third is how they process their naturals using the Poje Method. There are 5 different treatments that can be done to the ingredients. Honey treatment (I am so excited to write more about this in another Sulwhasoo post 😉 ) Alcohol Treatment, Germinating Treatment, Steam Treatment, and Salt Treatment. Some of these treatments (like the Honey Treatment) are specific to certain key ingredients in other lines. In this emulsion we see the Salt Treatment used.

“The Salt Treatment involves baking ingredients in salt. Sulwhasoo Snowise line uses Salt Treatment. First, salt is dissolved in water. Then, logs of mulberry tree which is known as a strong whitening agent, is completely soaked in that water and baked. Salt not only clarifies the body and purifies the blood, but it also fortifies the Yin energy and detoxifies inflammation to clarify and brighten skin.

The Salt Treatment enhanced the skin detoxification efficacy of the mulberry tree and improved the power of the active ingredients.“

-eng.amorepacific.co.kr 

Snowise utilizes White Ginseng instead of Red Ginseng. Which isn’t a different root, it refers to the untreated ginseng root which is pale in color compared to the vibrant red steamed ginseng roots. Because of this Sulwhasoo saves time and money on NOT using their precious red ginseng extract that undergoes the Poje style Steam Treatment. But have no fear, you’re still getting the same top notch ginseng. It just may not have gone through the michelin star experience yet. It needs about another $100 tacked onto the price (see: Sulwhasoo Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum) if we were looking for that type of concentration in a product.

Wandering the ingredient list, I was stoked to see it wasn’t based with any silicones or cleansing agents. Even more stoked to see Squalane as the third ingredient. Squalane is a lovely skin replenishing ingredient that mimics our own lipid content. It sounds dramatic, but the proof in how much I love this brand is in the holes Sulwhasoo has made in my wallet. I purchase Sulwhasoo products over other maybe potentially more ‘active’ for the whole experience. The way this emulsion absorbs is like no other, but also when I put it on in, take a deep breath in and get a whiff.. It’s like a shot of relaxation. That to me is worth every cent of the price difference.

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Under the hood the Snowise Fluid has a killer brightening complex. I can’t describe it better than the people who made it:  “Snowise Tri-White Complex includes White Ginseng Saponin, which prevents melanin generation; White Cloud Grass™, a potent defense against light and heat; and White Ginseng Polysaccharides, which minimize sallowness in the skin—all of which help strengthen and protect the skin.”

Okay maybe I can describe it better in some ways than they did.. Starting with the White Ginseng Saponin, this is a component of ginseng. L O A D E D with antioxidants and provide soothing and protecting effects. White Cloud Grass unfortunately, I could not find what this name might relate to…. So that they can describe better than me I guess. Then White Ginseng Polysaccharides, another component of ginseng that is. Polysaccharides, being a NMF (natural moisturizing factor) and antioxidant carrier, and making up 10-20% of the root, makes it a no brainer for the formula.

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Some ingredients Sulwhasoo was too modest to brag about are: Two types of Licorice Root Extract, powerful soothing agents I love to see anywhere and everywhere. Ginkgo Biloba, an anti inflammatory ingredient that helps increase circulation.

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Is she brighter than me? Well she’s covered in silver highlighter head-to-toe…

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Does it brighten? Well.. if you’re speaking about dark spot suppression, not as much. There are specialized dark spot correcting products within the Snowise line. However, the fluid I believe is designed to be more of a multifunctional emulsion / soothing, tone restoring, antioxidant hug.

Why didn’t I go with the popular Essential Balancing Emulsion, when I said I loved it in an IG post? After a short conversation with my Sulwhasoo savvy Ajumma in the Amore boutique, she mentioned the Snowise fluid is more moisturizing. But when I applied them both on the back of my hand I felt like the Snowise absorbed much quicker. I also liked the products high Squalane content, something the Balancing Emulsion lacked.

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One perk of emulsions are finely tuning the amount of lipids, or moisture your skin gets. I would never be able to wear just a gel moisturizer, unless I was in the TROPICS. Unfortunately, Seattle is not the tropics last time I checked. My skin wants at least a little bit of lipids. With it being spring time, my skins doing great with emulsion and gel moisturizer in the morning, and sticking to emulsion, cream, and sleeping pack at night. No face oils have been necessary, luckily.

Overall, Sulwhasoo did it again. I feel like I could pick anything up from them and probably find something to love about it. But this emulsion made me fall in love with it inside and out.