Best K-Beauty boutiques and concept stores to visit in Seoul 2019: Dr. Jart, Village 11, Espoir, etc
Heart and Seoul
Predictable is about the last word we'd use to describe the K-Beauty industry. Still, if there is anything consistent about most Hallyu labels, it is their dogged determination to go the extra mile. Hand creams are packaged as luxury handbags at Tamburins; unusual ingredients the likes of snail mucin and donkey milk are found in formulations aplenty (see CosRx and Seantree); and ingenious textures in BB cushions are cropping up by the minute. This mindset extends beyond products, too, as evidenced by their retail spaces.
In fact, to call them stores would be a gross understatement. Shopping is hardly the sole takeaway from a visit to these immersive shops. Expect splendiferous amenities such as custom foundation bars, themed cafés, and even karaoke lounges. We take a trip down to the Land of the Morning Calm to scout out the best of the lot.
Dr. Jart Filter Space
Museum meets beauty destination with Dr. Jart's flagship outlet. Think ever-changing interiors, high ceilings, and soft, diffused lighting reminiscent of art exhibits. Aligning with the launch of their Repair Project with a spotlight on their Cicapair range, the store features plush pink walls, seating areas that double as architectural marvels, as well as karaoke booths decked out in velvet. The use of baby-soft, rich fabrics is a subtle nod to calmed, smoothed, and well-hydrated skin after use of this Dr. Jart range.
First-time Dr. Jart users overwhelmed by the extensive selection can opt to get a 'prescription' filled out on the iPad stands provided on the first floor. Translation: take a quiz to get recommendations based on your skin concerns. Head to the second floor to purchase or sample your recommended line-up.
Jung Saem Mool Plops
The famed Korean makeup artist has a space as varied as her extensive makeup range. Its walkway, peppered with gorgeous foliage and benches, is a scene straight out of the next hit K-Drama. Its ground floor is a veritable playground of Jung Saem Mool makeup and skincare, while the top floor is a gallery space harbouring JSM sketches and a sitting area. Not forgetting its basement, which is dominated by a life-size sculpture of her hand, aka "the magic touch." It is also where you'll be able to scoop up a complimentary cup of coffee from its mini-café. Sip, play with makeup, repeat.
Village 11 Factory
We recommend that you carve out a good chunk of time when visiting this beauty emporium. The two floors and café space out back is visual feast that is sure to inspire double-takes. The first floor features hot-pink conveyor belts, chemist coats, and stainless steel shelves, in-line with their laboratory theme. The second floor features a foot spa (note: a non-operational one), a vintage barbershop, and pink-themed dining room — all of which display cult offerings from indie labels such as Village 11 Factory, Agatha, and Mizon.
Espoir Hongdae Makeup Pub
While you can't pull yourself an actual pint at this pub, you can get a makeup technician to brew you a foundation tailowed for your skin tone. Every hue is available on tap (literally), alongside a colour 'play' zone where you'll be able to craft a custom-made lipstick hue. Espoir Pub coasters, draft beer bottles, and tinsel-covered walls make the perfect setting.
The beauty arm of renowned fashion label Gentle Monsters, Tamburins certainly does not stray far from the company's extravagant aesthetic. Imagine a treasure trove of quirky art pieces, posters, and pottery everywhere you turn, all interspersed with a selection of their fan-favourite hand creams and serums.
All similarities to supermarkets end at the checkerboard floors and wall of freezers. The shelves hold your favourite BB cushions, glosses, and the like; plastic sheet panels showcase — not frozen goods — but, rather, jeans; while the electronic ticker board displays the day's best beauty and fashion deals.
Sulwhasoo Flagship Store
This six-storey building is home to Seoul's largest spa complex. Picture a towering structure enclosed entirely in a lattice of gilded brass rods which spreads throughout the store, with a series of endless voids and openings that make for a stunning visual. Be sure to head to the rooftop post-shopping or -treatment to enjoy the view from top.