You’ve likely seen an influx of Korean beauty (otherwise known as K-beauty) products popping up in your usual big box retailers like Target, Macy’s and more. But you might not have met one of the major faces behind the movement: Alicia Yoon, the founder and chief curator of Peach & Lily, a site devoted to bringing the coolest K-Beauty innovations to rabid fans in the U.S.
For Yoon, who grew up in Seoul, using a moisturizer and SPF was always an integral part of her self-care routine since she was a teen thanks to her mom (“She teaches me a lot!”). She went to aesthetician school after high school, but ended up moving to the U.S. to work in finance before a chance encounter sparked the idea for her company.
“I met a chemist who works at a global beauty brand, who told me scientifically, Korea makes the best skincare,” Yoon told PeopleStyle. “He said when he tests them, he saw that the formula is much more absorbable in the skin. Hearing it from a cosmetic chemist, I thought, ‘Wow, I should start a company that brings these products over.'”
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Now, on top of running Peach & Lily‘s two brick and mortar stores and its e-commerce site, Yoon has landed deals with Macy’s, Target, Barneys and most recently CVS to introduce and make K-beauty widely accessible to Americans. “We sell different K-beauty brands with each collaboration and always ask first, ‘Who is your customer?'” Yoon said. Then, she curates the products to be sold in each store herself. “For example, for Barneys, I think they stand for luxury and discovery. We curate a collection of products that brings that to life.”
For Yoon’s most recently collaboration with CVS, which becomes available online on April 1 and at over 2,100 retail stores by the end of the month, Yoon curated four K-beauty brands that will be sold exclusively at the retailer (including Peach Slices, a new line she developed herself!). Plus, she’s including three other bestselling brands in Korea in the lineup. The best part? Out of all of the over 100 innovative products they’re launching, most range at a price point from $4 to $16, with nothing costing more than $31!
There are over 9,000 K-beauty brands in Korea alone (and if you’re on Pinterest, it may feel like there are 9,000 more), so it’s understandable to feel a little overwhelmed by the selection at first. But once you get into it, you might find yourself obsessed. Yoon shares her own tips on how to get started – as well as how to determine if you’ve become an official K-beauty maniac (hey, she’s one herself!).
1. You’re super strict with your skincare routine.
“If I don’t take care of my skin for a day or two, you can really, really tell. I always try to encourage people that effort does pay off with skincare!”
2. You double cleanse like it’s your job.
“In the Korean beauty ritual, starting by double cleansing is key. You first use an oil-based cleanser (I use the Cremorlab Cleansing Gel Oil) to remove your SPF, makeup and oil because oil and oil mix together well. The second step is using a water-based cleanser to remove residual impurities. The two step process is important because you de-layer in a gentle way without stripping your skin dry. In fact, dermatologists in Korea even say as long as you cleanse properly, you can probably get rid of at least half of your skincare issues.”
3. You just get essences.
“I actually use two essences in my routine after my cleanser and toner! It’s such a staple in Korean beauty because it drenches your skin with hydration. They’re very watery so they prep your skin for treatments like serums and moisturizer that come after so they absorb better.”
4. Your regimen requires an instruction manual.
“I would definitely say on average, Korean women have more than five steps in their skincare routine. But I have seen women who have 20 – I do around 12 steps myself. Here, it’s all about layering things gently over the long term for healthy skin rather than just one step that is going to make you look different overnight.”
5. You stack your book shelf with sheet masks.
“We do all sorts of different masks! When I was formulating our own Peach & Lily-brand sheet masks, I would do it every day, but now I do it a few times a week. Even men do them – and not just with their girlfriends!”
6. You can give yourself a spa-like facial massage — with your eyes closed.
“One quintessential Korean beauty secret is giving yourself facial massages. You can slowly and lightly stroke the surface of your skin from the nose area outwards and down the side of your face for lymphatic drainage. Basically, it goes a long way to de-puff and keep your pipes unclogged.”
Have you tried any Korean beauty products? What’s your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!