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Eastern Beauty in the West: How Practical are K-beauty and J-beauty in Ireland?

Following the rapid rise of K-pop since 2013, Korean and Japanese cosmetics have also become an international sensation due to the complex and extensive facial care routines, and the contrasting beauty trends to most of the western world.  

Korea and Japan are both countries that promote many of their products through celebrities and advertisement deals. The popularity of minimal makeup in these countries also drives the skincare market greatly. 

However, compared to the UK market for Eastern beauty products, Ireland is still quite limited. Apart from online stores like iglam, Kskin, and Damsel, the only physical store offering Korean beauty products is Brown Thomas.  

For Japanese cosmetics, the market is even more sparse. Other than online international retailers such as Amazon, there are little to no stores advertising Japanese brands or products. 

One reason for this may be the Korean and Japanese population in Ireland. Compared to the 45,295 South Korean citizens registered as living in the UK in 2011, the South Korean population in Ireland according to the CSO (2016) is between one to 10,000 residents. The Japanese population is even lower, at 201-1,000 residents. 

Surprisingly though, online retailers catering to Ireland offer a very similar price to that of the US and UK. Taking for example the Korean brand Missha’s Super Aqua Snail Cream, combined with the cost of shipping at three online stores: iglam (Ireland), Missha US (US) and Notino (UK). The prices on all three sites only had a difference of €15, the cheapest being Notino (UK) retailing at €33, and the most expensive being iglam (Ireland), at €48. 

A good start right? But before you decide to invest in the K and J-beauty trend, consider how many products you may end up buying. SoKo Glam, a popular online retailer and provider of Korean cosmetics in America, recommend a ten-step skincare routine:  


  1. Make-up remover and oil cleanser 

  1. Water-based cleanser 

  1. Exfoliator 

  1. Toner 

  1. Essence 

  1. Treatments 

  1. Sheet masks 

  1. Eye Cream 

  1. Moisturiser  

  1. Sun Protection 


Similarly, blogging site for skincare and makeup Kiseu talk about the six-step Japanese skincare routine: 


  1. The Double Cleanse (Oil-based cleanser followed by foam cleanser) 

  1. Lotion (toner) 

  1. Essences 

  1. Serums 

  1. Moisturize 

  1. Sunscreen 

  1. (Occasional additional steps include exfoliator and face masks) 


For both of these skincare routines, the minimum number of products used is seven, so the cost of all this would mount up pretty quickly. Some websites and bloggers also recommend using a slightly different routine for day and night, requiring other products. 

But, for a person passionate about skin care or someone who wanted to try something new (and had a bit of money to spare), why not try out K or J beauty? Perhaps the results will surprise you! 

Student at DCU with a passion for music and coffee
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