The bulk megastore now carries the Case Full of Seoul, an eight-product kit that serves as a gateway to the K-Beauty world, across Canada.
I visited Seoul for the first time last year and, after only four days, had amassed enough brightening creams, Himalayan-salt-infused serums and hydrating sheet masks to last me through a zombie apocalypse and then some. Luckily, I had anticipated this and packed light, though my haul had nothing on those of my two travel companions, who acquired so many new beauty and skincare products during our short trip that they ended up purchasing carry-ons at a local department store so they could lug these, erm, souvenirs home. (Gotta take advantage of that international baggage allowance, folks.)
Really, can you blame us, though? Koreans, after all, are known for their youthful, glowing complexions—those that come care of a multi-step skin regimen made up of all sorts of relatively affordable, innovative products, many of which aren’t readily available outside of Korea. And though I’ve hopped on the K-Beauty bandwagon in recent years—slathering my face in everything from snail mucin-infused essences to face masks loaded with tomato extract—I’ve yet to embrace the 10-step (or more!!) skin routine that many Koreans abide by. Mostly because I’m 1) lazy and usually short on time in the morning, and 2) a little intimidated and overwhelmed by the myriad of Korean-made oils, serums, ampoules and god knows what else on the market.
Global beauty distributor Umma Beauty seemed to have sensed my and others’ hesitation, however, and, last year, launched the Case Full of Seoul at Costco stores across the U.S. It’s essentially a multi-product starter kit, filled with hero products from cult Korean beauty labels, that serves as a gateway to the K-Beauty world for casual and hardcore skincare junkies alike. And it’s done so well in the States that Umma is bringing it to Canadian Costco stores—and online, where you can buy it without a Costco membership—starting tomorrow (August 1).
Costco may seem like an unlikely place to find K-Beauty, but the retailer kind of makes sense for a product like the Case Full of Seoul if you think about it: the box is meant to appeal to a wide demographic—i.e., people of all ages and skin types—while giving shoppers the best bang for their buck. The Canadian version of the case comes with eight products (a cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, moisturizer, sheet mask, face oil and primer) from six different Korean beauty brands (9 Wishes, May Coop, Urang, Tov, I Woke Up Like This and Touch In Sol), each of which have apparently been selected to address a variety of skin concerns, from redness and dehydration to dullness and fine lines.
Among the goods are a rice-foaming cleanser that uses micro-ground rice powder to gently slough away dead skin; a shea butter- and macadamia nut-infused “eye solution” that promises to fill in wrinkles; and a vitamin oil serum that combines jojoba and rose-hip oils for glow-y skin. All the products, save for the trial-sized 40-millimetre toner, come in their full size; you pay $150 for the case, as opposed to $345, which is the estimated total of the products purchased individually. (If you're able to track them down, anyway—some of the brands, like 9 Wishes and Urang, are relatively new to Canada.) Many of the items use predominantly naturally derived ingredients or are paraben-free, too, and the case includes illustrated beauty plans, which map out which product to use and when.
I recently received a sample of the case and, in my opinion, it’s steal of a price for those looking to get acquainted with K-Beauty. However, it’s worth noting that the Canadian version of this box comes without any SPF components, so you’ll have to supplement with your own. (A skincare routine sans something that protects you from harmful UV rays is pretty much useless, no?) And the case itself, which is modeled after a suitcase and packed with plastic, could use some work in the sustainability department. Though I do appreciate the reality check that Umma has written in the box: “The first secret to beautiful skin is knowing it does not happen overnight—it is a commitment. Being healthy takes time and requires change in your daily habits.” In other words, for 150 bucks, you’re getting hero products, not miracle workers.