Unwrapped: For The Korean Beauty Lover

Gifts that go beyond sheet masks

A piece came out in The New York Times recently that, more or less, claims that Americans have been had by K-beauty. The author, who is Korean herself, claims that the key to Korean women's flawless skin isn't "ginseng" and "Jeju volcano water," but rather, cosmetic surgery and Botox. This might be true, meaning all those Korean beauty obsessives out there may just have been fooled into thinking the fountain of youth can be packaged into a jar. And yet, I'd also make the case that most fans don't gravitate toward the skin-care obsessed country for its promise of ageless-looking skin, but rather are interested in its innovation, nice packaging, gentle ingredients, and affordable prices. Those are the factors that have made K-beauty the leading category in skin care.

With that said, we're sure you have a K-beauty fanatic in your life—we'd guess every friend group has at least one. And so, you probably already know that you can't just throw any snail slime-touting product at them; your gifts have to be a bit more calculated if you're going to impress this bunch. To help, we've gathered some of the best sets and products to give your Seoul-loving girl or guy this holiday. And, don't worry, there's no Tony Moly in sight.

The hardest part about being a fan of K-beauty is keeping up with all the new products. A subscription box will help ease the anxiety, by providing products based on skin type, skin color, and main skin concern.

PinkSeoul Box, $39.95 every two months, available at PinkSeoul Box.

This silver face mask went semi-viral this summer and chances are your friend either already owns it or secretly wants to own it (but won’t admit that because of all the hype). Anyway, it’s pretty great and would make any K-beauty fan excited.

I Dew Care, Disco Kitten Illuminating Diamond Peel-Off Mask, $23, available at Urban Outfitters.

Huxley is another one of those brands your friend has probably heard of but hasn’t had the chance to check out yet. Allow them to do so with this antioxidant package that includes a toner, essence, and cream.

Huxley, Antioxidant Trio, $125, available at Nordstrom.

If there’s a K-beauty makeup brand to know, it’s Too Cool for School. They make some of the most exciting and innovative products on the market.

Too Cool For School, Dinoplatz Makeup Essential Eye Shadow, Mascara & Lip Balm Set, $35, available at Nordstrom.

Innisfree, which just touched down Stateside recently, also has standout makeup products, including this shiny holiday-themed eyeshadow palette.

Innisfree, Holiday My Palette, $27, available at Innisfree.

K-beauty gets most everything right, so even their basic hand creams are just as good as their essences.

Nature Republic, Hand & Nature Hand Cream Gift Set, $36, available at Nature Republic.

A serum! In spray form! Unless your friend frequently visits Seoul, they likely haven’t heard (or seen) a product like this before and will be surprised you even know about it.

Neogen, H2 Dermadeca Serum Spray, $19, available at Soko Glam.

Missha’s essence is the cheaper version of SK II’s revered product. This package will provide your friend with a bottle of that along with the brand's popular night repair ampoule. Then, because one can never have enough travel-sized beauty products, they get mini versions of them, too, so they’ll never be without either.

Missha, Time Revolution Best Seller Special Set, $68.60, available at Missha.

We lied, there is one sheet mask, but K-beauty fanatic or passive admirer, one can never have enough of this one from Peach & Lily, especially in the winter.

Peach & Lily, Sheet Mask Bundle: Hydration, $24, available at Peach & Lily.

Korean skin care has definitively hit the mainstream market, but K-beauty haircare products are still very under-explored. The approach is often as detailed and thorough as other skin-care products, and, as it turns out, one thing that Korean women prioritize is scalp health. Vitabrid C12 is formulated with vitamin C (and you know how we feel about vitamin C!!!!) which helps to alleviate itchiness and, also, give you a thicker head of hair.

Vitabrid C12, Hair Tonic Professional Set, $80, available at Barneys New York.

Instead of products, give your friend the gift of beauty knowledge this holiday. Written by knower-of-all-things-K-beauty Charlotte Cho (also the founder of SokoGlam), this book provides helpful tips and spills her skin-care secrets.

The Little Book Of Skin Care by Charlotte Cho, $13.79, available at Target.