clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How to Shop Innisfree, Korea’s Biggest Beauty Brand

The beloved brand just opened its first US store and website.

Racked has affiliate partnerships, which do not influence editorial content, though we may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. We also occasionally accept products for research and reviewing purposes. See our ethics policy here.

An Innisfree store
Innisfree’s New York City store.

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

There’s a lot of K-beauty in the US now, including at mainstream retailers, but no one brand has really broken free and made a name for itself outside of the pack. Innisfree could be the brand that finally does it.

Innisfree’s first US store just opened today in the Union Square neighborhood of NYC; its first US website is also now live. The brand is part of Amore Pacific, a multibrand conglomerate that is sort of like the Estée Lauder of Korea. (It sells both its eponymous skincare line and a younger skewing-skincare line called Laneige at Sephora.) Prior to this official launch, you could only buy the brand’s products via Korean beauty retailers and from sellers on Amazon and eBay.

Innisfree launched in 2000, and in 2015 it became the best-selling beauty brand across all categories in Korea in terms of volume sold. Innisfree has a green vibe, hyping its connection to Jeju Island (where Amore Pacific owns green tea farms) and its use of natural ingredients, though it is by no means a so-called “natural brand.” The vague green messaging makes for beautiful stores, but the brand’s strengths lie in its formulations, the sheer breadth of its offerings, and its accessible price point.

The custom compact wall.
Photo: Cheryl Wischhover/Racked

You can buy 900 different items at Innisfree, from skincare to makeup to home scents. Prices range from less than $2 for a sheet mask to just under $100 for its hardcore anti-aging serum. Most items are much less than that, though.

The New York City store is likely the first of many. “Innisfree considers itself as much a retailer as a product manufacturer,” says Julien Bouzitat, vice president and general manager of Innisfree USA. With that in mind, the brand will open five to eight stores over the next year in the New York, Long Island, and New Jersey area, then expand to Los Angeles and San Francisco after that.

The store in New York City is stunning, with high ceilings and a full living wall on one side. There is one section of sheet masks and one of deluxe sample pouches that you get to choose from, depending how much you spend. There’s also a very fun “make your own cushion compact” wall, where you choose the compact design ($10) and the puff style and then add the cushion foundation ($12) in either a traditional dewy finish or a matte finish that was specially formulated for American customers.

There are also some store-only offerings, like a mix-a-mask station where you choose a clay or hydrating mask base and add various pouches of mix-ins depending on what your skin’s needs are. A few of the anti-aging skincare lines are only available in-store, as are the home scents.

There is a skincare range for whatever ails you, whether you are just starting to dabble in it or you have a specific concern like sensitivity, acne, or dullness. If you can’t find a potion for it, you’ll definitely find a sheet mask: They range from the simple cotton ones ($1.80) to bio-cellulose styles ($6) soaked with essences that go from watery to creamy. Collections are also arranged by ingredient — green tea, orchid, lava seawater, canola honey, green barley, and more.

There is also a huge makeup selection, which is available in the store now and will be rolling out online from now until October 15th, so check back for a full selection. It includes all the usual suspects: mascaras, lipstick, gloss, brow products, liners, and eyeshadows in stick and powder form. There’s also a magnetized palette that you can customize with individual eye and cheek products.

Korean brands usually only offer face makeup in extremely limited shades since the Asian market is relatively homogenous, but there are 14 cushion foundation colors available in the custom cushion bar — not Fenty Beauty by any stretch, but better than the usual three or four Korean brands normally offer. Cushions offer more sheer coverage than traditional foundations and thus are a tiny bit more forgiving, but ideally the shade range would double in size at some point.

In case you’re feeling overwhelmed by the 900+ items available, here are some that are already brand best-sellers and some that Bouzitat predicts will resonate with American customers:

Racked occasionally accepts products for research and reviewing purposes. For more information, see our ethics policy here.