Over the past couple of years, Korean beauty products have reached international cult status. Whether it's innovative skincare (sheet masks, essences, mists, cleansers, sleep-packs... I could go on), makeup (the BB cream was born in Korea, FYI) or savvy tools we didn't realise we needed, thanks to technological advances far more developed than any other country, Korea is creating many of the best beauty products in the world. It's no wonder, then, that beauty is now one of Korea's largest industries, rivalling technology. Basically, whatever they're selling beauty-wise, we want, and by the truckload. However, despite popular demand, K-beauty has been pretty difficult to get our hands on here in the UK. Until now.
Introducing Ulzzang, your new ultimate beauty source. Conceived by Anna Wang and her business partner, Dookyo Chung, last year, the just-launched site curates the latest Korean beauty innovations with the aim to help us all achieve 'Ulzzang', i.e. perfect or superior skin. "I started rethinking my approach to skincare two years ago and became frustrated at how few quality products were available at affordable pricing," Anna Wang explains to Refinery29.
"Mainstream products are comprised primarily of distilled water, even though this dilutes active ingredients. I discovered that Korean skincare offered advanced alternatives, leading the industry with pioneer, concentrated formulas," Wang continues. "A big issue was supply – it was so difficult to find trustworthy sellers in Europe and so inconvenient to bring products back from abroad that my business partner and I decided to introduce consumers to the products we loved ourselves. We started working on this project eight months ago and the entire launch process has been one incredible learning experience spanning all aspects of the beauty industry, from product development to cosmetics regulation."
From exfoliators to SPF, Ulzzang offers an expert edit of skincare brands, both established and lesser-known, with products for every concern. Of course, we had to ask cofounder Anna which products she relies on most and has incorporated into her daily routine. "My personal favourites include Aromatica's Rose Absolute First Serum. It's a toner/serum that really helps brighten and nourish your skin, without leaving it sticky. Amazingly, it's made up of organic, vegan ingredients, including pure rose essential oil. For creams, I love Mizon's All-In-One Snail Repair Cream that I tend to use in evenings. It is rich, made up primarily of snail mucin, which acts to calm and heal stressed skin. I switch it up with Cremorlab Hydro Plus Snow Falls Cream when my skin is very dry."
So how do they ensure that they're only stocking the best products possible? "We employ such a strict vetting process that it sometimes means putting interesting but immature products and trends on hold," Wang explains. "Our philosophy is always to put our customers first, so we do not compromise on quality. Another challenge has been to get some smaller Korean brands interested in the European market – the barriers to entry are so high. We've discovered some truly exciting brands and actually being persistent with them has led us to form great partnerships. By directly identifying, helping set up and bringing the best products to our customers, we hope to grow into their most trusted source of niche east Asian skincare." We're sold.