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How to Score Korean Beauty in Duty Free

How to Score Korean Beauty in Duty Free


You may have noticed that the latest and greatest beauty trend isn’t as simple as a peeling face mask, or a lip plumping gloss, it’s an entire cultural movement. That’s right, we may be the last ones to do it, but we’re finally talking about Korean Beauty and where to find it for a great price.

Ever been in the international terminal of an airport and noticed the excessive amounts of duty free stores? You know, the ones that have insanely large bottles of liquor on display and someone dressed in all black to sell you cologne? Well, none are better than those in the Seoul Incheon airport. Every where you look there’s some kind of cosmetic shop that offers incredible, TAX FREE, Korean beauty products. Is it skin care and cosmetic heaven?


Let’s be real, you probably don’t know the next time you’ll be in the Seoul airport looking for Korean goodies. Neither do we. BUT WE’RE GOING TO PREP YOU FOR IT ANYWAYS. Here are some of the best tips and tricks for navigating duty free perks, purchasing, and pricing!


For those who don’t know, Duty Free is a type of shop exempt from payment of duty (the tax required for bringing an item across international borders). Of course, you’ll want to get authentic and special souvenirs for friends and family outside of the airport. But if you’re trying to treat yourself before your final journey home, just remember: NO TAXES.

Important to note: Almost 95% of all Korean goods come into the United States without any import tax. So unfortunately, you’re not going to save hundreds of dollars (unless you’re buying a crazy amount of product). You’re saving money on the sales tax that you would’ve paid in Korea or the United States, which is roughly 5 to 10%. For example, the Laneige sleep mask would be $27.55 total when purchased in Los Angeles, CA, and $25.00 when purchased in Duty Free.


Duty Free can be a little daunting. Each brand “section” has a designated sales person, or at least several sales people roaming the store ready to help, so shopping can look a little bit like this. Everyone’s so eager to either help you or make a commission that it’s easy to feel pressured into buying something you don’t want or need.

Have a goal before you go! Do some research (or head to the bottom of this post for our recommendations) and figure out what you’re looking for before you go into the shop. It’ll save you a lot of time to know exactly what you’re looking for and exactly what you’re willing to pay. You may even find some brands you’ve never heard of, so it’s good to spend your time discovering instead of debating.


Some things are going to be the exact same price as they are back home, so again, the savings really come from being tax free. We suggest buying the “sets” and “gifts,” or items that come as a package deal. For example, they didn’t have the Laneige Lip Sleep Mask by itself at the counter, but they did have a gift-set which consisted of 4 different masks in 4 different flavors. The 4 baby-versions equated to one full size, but was $4 cheaper.

Buying the sample sizes, the gift sets, and the packaged deals are a great way to find something for a friend, try new products, and buy your essentials in bulk. You could be saving so much more than the average sales tax.

Here are some of our favorite Korean beauty buys in Duty Free right now!

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