You’ve been to Super H Mart a million times, right? The allure of a well-stocked Asian market with hard-to-find produce and a variety of fishy delicacies is impossible for the foodie to pass up. Maybe you’ve also been to the Korean spa, which inevitably leads one to the wonderful, amazing world of Korean skincare. If you don’t know, consider yourself on the cusp of your biggest beauty breakthrough ever.
Korean beauty is already trending in the skincare world. The intensive, more-than-10-step beauty routines center around purifying the skin and preserving youth, and everyone from dermatologists to celebrities have been touting the approach. In Dallas, we’re lucky to have a few really great Korean skincare shops offering up the finest products at incredibly reasonable prices. If you’ve never heard of Tony Moly and TheFaceShop, it’s time to get acquainted.
Both are tucked into a huge shopping center at George Bush Turnpike and Old Denton Road, just a few steps away from Super H Mart. Tony Moly is rapidly becoming one of the skincare world’s hottest new brands. It's now sold in Urban Outfitters and Sephora stores. But Dallas has a standalone Tony Moly shop just like Seoul, and it’s perhaps the best place to splurge on skincare in the entire city.
Fortunately for your budget, the Tony Moly shop is relatively small, and the shelves aren’t overly packed with product. You'll find staples of Korean skincare like sheet masks, essences and collagen sleeping packs, each with their own purported benefits, and there’s plenty to choose from. If you’re looking for more youthful skin, you can spring for a mask that contains 24-karat gold. If blackheads are your issue, you can buy a pack of what looks like Biore pore strips on steroids — three steps, each of which get you closer to that goal of flawless skin.
Perhaps most enticing, everything here comes in amazing packaging. You can pick up a rich, soothing hand cream that smells just like banana pudding and is sold in a banana-shaped container. A collagen mask “made with real pig skin” sounds kind of gross, but once you see that adorable little pink piggy container, you won’t be able to resist. If you’re really into cuteness, you can pick up a sheet mask that will make you look like a kitten or panda while the brightening, youth-preserving essences soak into your skin.
Around the corner, you’ll find TheFaceShop, another popular Korean skincare chain. This shop is also pretty small, and is mostly stocked with the company’s own brand of products. Even though the inventory isn’t huge, TheFaceShop still has damn near every skincare product imaginable — essences, toners, cleansers, moisturizers, exfoliants, masks. If you’re smart, you’ll do a little research before you head into the shop to figure out which ingredients and products suit your skin best.
The price points at Tony Moly and TheFaceShop are incredibly reasonable. Sheet masks are around $1-2, and you’ll get a discount or a free mask if you buy in bulk. At Sephora, a two-pack of the Tony Moly masks that we saw for $2 each sells for about $7.50, so it’s definitely worth the drive to stock up. Other products, like the “Changing Magic Foot Peeling Shoes,” which promise to peel all the dead skin off your gnarly heels, were even cheaper in the Tony Moly store than on Amazon. No one is ever cheaper than Amazon!
It is also worth noting that Super H Mart has small skincare boutiques within its doors, including Shiseido and Sulwhasoo shops, high-end brands that have always been available at places like Neiman Marcus. The products here are top-notch, and you’ll pay top-dollar. It’s not uncommon to see skincare sets priced at upwards of $300, but there are plenty of bargains to be found. The personal care aisles of the actual supermarket are also packed with Korean cult favorites, like Shiseido’s lower-end offerings and a staggering variety of sheet masks.
You can’t just go into these skincare stores all willy-nilly like you do Sephora, though. Skincare is an important part of well-being, so you shouldn’t just go to squeal over the adorable packaging. Before you shop, you’ll need to familiarize yourself a little with the terminology. Do you know what an ampoule is for? Have you ever used an essence before? If the answer to those questions is a no, you’d better do some research or you’ll end up coming home with a bunch of crap that you either don’t need or won’t work for you. You won’t be able to look on the back of the bottle for instructions, either — most of these products are only described in Korean, but information can easily be found online.
But you shouldn’t be intimidated. If you know the basics, the employees at Tony Moly are incredibly helpful and can direct you to the right products. They also have a habit of loading shoppers up with free samples, which is really the best way to figure out what works for you. If you’re a total newbie, start with a few moisturizing sheet masks — it’s about to be winter, and we’re already feeling a little parched.
Then, you can move on to the snail essences and Korean herbs and other things that will keep you looking like a fetus until you’re 50. They may look intimidating at first, but it’s likely you’ll find the best skin of your life in one of these twee packages. Dallas is pretty fortunate to have hidden gems like these, considering the only other location of Tony Moly in the United States is in New York City. Korean skincare is already taking over Sephora, Target and other major retailers, and it’s about damn time that Dallas actually had something before it became trendy. These stores have been around for a while, so we're definitely late to the trend locally, and man are we sad that we waited so damn long.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.