Stories From a Curator is a column by Charlotte Cho, the curator and cofounder of Soko Glam. As a licensed esthetician and the author of The Little Book of Skin Care, Cho gives a glimpse into her discovery process and what brands and products make the cut for the curated site.
Etude House is one of those iconic Korean beauty brands that I have been obsessed about ever since I set my eyes on their signature pink and white dollhouse storefront in the streets of Seoul back in 2009. It was one of those beauty shops that I could easily lose hours in, scouring their cutely packaged makeup, skincare and beauty tools. And no matter how frequently I would go, there always seemed to be something completely new and exciting to try.
Back in 2009, my Etude House purchases were mainly from their skincare section, after a Korean friend raved about their Moistfull Collagen Emulsion (and it’s still one of my favorite moisturizers today). So for the longest time, I always associated Etude House with their best-selling Moistfull Collagen skincare line. That all changed after a trip to Seoul last year.
After interviewing a Korean Airline stewardess about her favorite beauty brands for a Klog interview, she mentioned something that piqued my curiosity. She said that all her team members use Etude House makeup and many products went viral amongst the stewardesses at Korean Air.
So the next time I stepped into an Etude House, my eyes honed in on their makeup selection. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I brought home an entire suitcase full of their makeup from that trip.
It only took a few weeks for me to truly understand why Etude House had become such an iconic brand over the years, not only in Korea but globally too. Search the 3.2 million #etude and #etudehouse hashtags on Instagram just to see how viral they are. You can’t miss their irresistibly packaged beauty products—sometimes in the shape of adorable cat ears or strawberries. But the buck doesn’t stop at just “cute” with this brand.
Many of their most viral products have been about their makeup innovations and their ability to create new product categories out of thin air. Case-in-point: their best-selling Etude House Tint My Brows Gel, is a thick gel that is applied to the brows and skin for 1-2 hours, then peeled off to reveal a natural looking eyebrow tattoo—it mimics what you would achieve with microblading. Although you may look like the meanest character from Angry Birds during the hilarious tattooing process, the fact that your eyebrows will look naturally drawn in for up to 7 days, made it a viral sensation overnight.
Even better are their prices, which range from $3 to $15 for makeup, and under $20 for skincare products. These remind me of the price points of NYX and Elf, but with the innovations and packaging designed for a savvy trendsetter.
Personally, I believe many makeup brands stateside can be intimidating, but everything from Etude House is so playful and easy to use! The Play 101 Contour Duo makes it so easy to highlight and contour with a few swipes and your fingertips. Their Proof 10 Eye Primer and Drawing Eyebrow Pencil rivals products from prestige brand names, but are a fraction of the price.
When it comes to Korean beauty, the spotlight has forever been on Korean skincare products. Now you can expect more buzz around Korean makeup thanks to Etude House, and I can’t wait for you to explore. And for those of you who have been eagerly awaiting Etude House’s debut in the U.S, I want to know from you– what are your favorite Etude House products and what would you like me to curate from Etude House next?