Foreigners are increasingly being exposed to Korean TV dramas and K-pop -- and local celebrities with virtually
flawless complexions have ignited a desire for Korean-made cosmetics.
The domestic cosmetics market is expected to grow seven percent to about eleven billion U.S. dollars this year, driven mostly by the boom in Chinese tourists snapping up the latest products.
So are Korean cosmetics really that good?
In a survey of over 800 foreigners, the majority cited the wide variety of products as the reason for making a purchase, while others cited the effectiveness of Korean brands.
"The quality of Korean cosmetics is great compared to the relatively low prices. There's also a wide variety of makeup available. I especially like lipsticks and primer products."
Exports are also on the surge, reaching nearly 2-billion dollars in 2014, up more than 50-percent from a year ago.
The boom is bringing good times to Korea's cosmetics companies.
AmorePacific, a local cosmetics giant, has seen its share price more than double from a year ago. while LG Household and Healthcare has also seen significant growth -- giving them more reason to expand their stores.
"Practically ever other store on this street in Seoul's popular Myeongdong shopping district is a cosmetics brand. However, even with all the competition, each of these stores do a roaring trade."
"About one-thousand tourists visit our store each day. Chinese tourists are our biggest customers, accounting for more than 75 percent of our sales."
Seoul's Samcheong-dong and Garosugil have also become hot spots for cosmetics shoppers.
These areas had previously been famous for their fancy cafes and fashion boutiques, but many are being pushed out by cosmetics chains.
Experts believe the upward trend will continue for sometime but say local companies need new strategies in the long-run.
"Korean cosmetics are limited to the Asian market as the products are developed for Asian skin. They need to be able to expand their customer base by taking advantage of the Hallyu boom, such as in the Middle East, and work to establish their own unique position."
The professor added that Korean-made comestics also need to gain international recognition as a global country of origin, like France and Italy.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.