A staple of this blog has always been reviewing cosmetics, but I do not often mention the how or where I get my products. Neither do I mention the issues I have had with various sellers over the years because it is not pleasant conversation, I just quietly discontinue using them.
I had a fair share of bad luck with K-beauty cosmetic retailers over the last year so I have been searching for alternatives recently. I encountered issues with every single order I placed with RoseRoseShop so I stopped shopping with them years ago. TesterKorea has experienced a string of customer service & shipment missteps recently. BB Cosmetic has always been a great service, but lacks the product selection I seek. I got into a missing package dispute with Jolse that left a bitter taste as a loyal customer for years that never had a problem prior to this incident.
All this left me with where to take my wallet for my next K-beauty fix, which happened to be SweetCorea. I have not seen many reviews on this Korean cosmetic online retailer so I wanted to share my experience!
SweetCorea: The Shop
This company is an online cosmetic retailer located in Seoul, South Korea.
They sell Korean cosmetics at wholesale prices with shipping calculated by weight of the order, making this shop similar to RoseRoseShop & TesterKorea. Besides their array of skincare goodies, SweetCorea offers a wide range of deluxe samples & other fashion goods. I am not usually one cute knick knacks, but there was a cat eye mask that even I could not pass up!
I was initially impressed with the brand selection on SweetCorea, it is still the driving reason why I will be a return customer. They offer quite a few brands found in Olive Young & South Korean drugstores that are hard to come by in Western countries, I was so excited to finally see 2Sol!
One critique I have with SweetCorea’s website is they do not have a comprehensive list of every brand they offer in their “Shop by Brand” section. I was eager to buy based upon the 2Sol selection alone, but the brand is not listed on their website unless a user scrolls through hundreds of cosmetics or looks up the brand name in the search bar.
Otherwise there are no significant complaints about the website. There is no lag when loading product lists or pages. The search functions works well & loads quickly. The home page is sleek in appearance, but a nitpicky complaint is product lists & discount pages look clunky in comparison. There are large gaps between lines of texts & font choice is slightly juvenile, everything is clearly legible so it is purely aesthetic qualms.
SweetCorea is not known for promotions, they are most similar to the TesterKorea model where the consumer can take or leave their lowest wholesale price. SweetCorea has ongoing “sales” for all of their products similar to Zaful or Romwe, but it is a low-ball marketing model so the “sale prices” are just the wholesale prices.
There is no loyalty program either, in comparison to programs like Jolse, listing cosmetics as worth a certain number of points that will accrue to discounts for subsequent orders; or TesterKorea’s loyalty point system that allows customers to choose free deluxe samples.
However, SweetCorea does not have a history of paid or sponsored reviews for their service, which makes me inherently trust them more.
The only significant discount SweetCorea offers is their “Flea Market“.
This page is where customer can purchase expired cosmetics at a discounted price. SweetCorea is transparent about the expiration date for all products on this page so the buyers are aware.
Personally, I would never purchase from SweetCorea’s discount page. There are certain products I will use past the expiration date, but skincare is definitely not one of them & I am wary of buying an unused, full size product after it has already expired.
I placed my order on a Saturday, March 3rd. I received an email that Monday notifying me that my order was being processed & it was shipped on March 8th.
The cheapest shipping option for my area was DHL, which is always speedy service! The package arrived to my city on March 12th, but DHL does not have the best delivery record in my area so I did not actually get my package until March 16th.
Overall, it was fine. There were no major issues, but I only received the SweetCorea order a day or two quicker than Jolse’s free economy shipping.
I do not think I have ever had a shipment packaged with such care! Each product was tripled wrapped in bubble wrap. Anything product with pumps or narrow dispensers was additionally wrapped to secure it during shipment. I chuckled when I saw how perfectly the products were tetrised at the bottom of the cardboard box.
The bubble wrap was securely taped at all flaps so there was no way for the products to fall out, I was unable to salvage any of the bubble wrap because I had to cut it all open. A good problem to have though!
The extra care obviously worked because I had zero leakage during shipment.
Let’s be real, this part is mostly haul porn. We will get more into the cost breakdown & price comparison with other K-Beauty online retailers, but this will be going over more of SweetCorea’s brand selection & all the pretty things that caught my eye!
The aspect of SweetCorea that is most appealing to me is the wide selection of K-beauty brands! They have a variety of brands that are difficult to obtain outside of South Korea, like products for Olive Young & Korean drugstores. They have other brands that are popular in North America, but difficult to find in Europe.
SweetCorea had a wider selection of brands than other similar wholesalers, such as RoseRoseShop & TesterKorea. However, SweetCorea typically had fewer products per brand than the previously mentioned online shops so something to keep in mind.
Further below will be product price comparison with other South Korean online cosmetic retailers, but I noticed other pricing trends on SweetCorea. This wholesaler offers extremely competitive price tags for the more common drugstore type of brands, such as Aritaum or The Saem. However, the cost of less accessible brands are similar in price to North American retailers selling them. Specific examples of this are the Acwell cleanser or I’m From moisturizer as sold on Sokoglam or Peach & Lily.
Aritaum Aloe No Wash Cleansing Water $4.00 / 300ml
I have an affinity for micellar waters, it is my preferred cleansing option in the mornings. I have enjoyed many Aritaum products over the years & I was surprised I had never heard of this product before so I knew I had to give it a try!
The Saem Healing Tea Garden Green Tea Cleansing Water $3.13 / 300ml
I have been eyeing this cleansing water for some time, but it was listed for 1 / 4 of the price on SweetCorea as other wholesale retailers so I had no reservations about putting this cleanser immediately into my cart.
Banila Co Clean it Zero Special Kit $4.47 / 28ml
I have never tried the famous Banila Co cleansing balms, nor have I ever tried a cleansing balm that worked for me. I was excited to see this deluxe sample kit of all the cleansing balm versions from this brand so I cannot wait to compare them, plus perfect for travel!
CNKCOS Color Bean Multi Cleanser $11.67 / 80 Beans
This was a trendy item in the USA for a time & I had always wanted to try it in hopes it would be the perfect carry-on facial cleanser.
Han Skin Gold Essence Sheet Mask [Red Ginseng] $8.82 / 10 Masks
I needed sheet masks, I had never tried anything from this brand so ‘nuff said!
April Skin Sugar Coconut Cream $8.09 / 50ml
Honestly, I only knew this brand for their trendy cushion bb creams, but I was drawn to their skincare cosmetics as soon as I saw the selection on SweetCorea. I am probably most eager to try out this moisturizer!
Sidmool Royal Honey Peptide Deep Moisture Pack $9.61 / 40ml
I have been a fan of Sidmool for a long time, but the few online retailers that actually carry this brand often do not carry a large selection. I could not believe SweetCorea stocked this moisturizer I had set my sights on ages ago so it was nice I finally was able to try it!
2Sol Black Tea Treatment Essence $11.76 / 100ml
I have been wanting to try 2Sol cosmetics for ages as they have attractive ingredient lists, but it’s rare to find an online retailer that ships internationally that carries the brand! SweetCorea has an extensive selection of 2Sol products so definitely check out this retailer if you have been searching for 2sol!
I’m From Vitamin Tree Water Gel $19.22 / 75ml
This was a popular K-beauty brand when I still lived in the USA, but it has been difficult for me to find a wholesaler that ships to Europe. I am hopeful this moisturizer will be perfect for the mediterranean summer!
Acwell Bubble Free pH Balancing Cleanser $15.88 / 150ml
Acwell seemed to have a short-lived moment of popularity when they initially launched this cleanser & sent it to all the K-beauty bloggers as part of PR. I am intrigued to try this now that the hype has waned to see if it lives up to its former reputation!
Beauty of Joseon Revitalize Sleeping Mask $11.09 / 80ml
The regular cream is a cult classic amongst K-beauty enthusiasts, but the ingredient list never spoke to me greatly & it was a more difficult product to obtain for some time. However, I discovered the sleeping pack on this site & it more than piqued my curiosity.
Tea Time Cat Eye Mask $4.80
This is just an eye mask, I am an extremely light sleeper so I always use this type of mask at night. My previous one finally broke after years of abuse, this one was cheap & it had a cat drinking tea so I obviously had to purchase it. I was surprised the eye mask came with a cooling gel pack that can be kept in the refrigerator, the mask actually has a pocket for the gel. Nothing was mentioned about this on the product page so it was a nice surprise feature!
These are some luxe samples though I had some qualms once I looked a little closer, this is what I received:
- 1 Regular sheet mask
- 2 Cellulose sheet masks
- 1 Deluxe sample moisturizer
Preferences vary when it comes to samples. Some people prefer as many different things as possible, personally I do not see value in skincare samples unless it is a product I would actually use. I love receiving sheet masks or exfoliating clothes, otherwise I am usually unimpressed with whatever handful of single-use samples are tossed in a typical K-beauty order.
The deluxe sample is one of my favorite moisturizers so I am happy to have this for my travel bag. The cellulose sheet masks are more luxurious than any freebie I have received in a skincare order before, I would ordinarily be excited for this type of product.
But they are horse oil, it is one of the few cosmetic ingredients that makes me squeamish.
I would ordinarily pass this on to someone else, but I noticed both of these sheet masks expire within two weeks upon closer inspection of the packaging. I cannot complain too much about free products, but it feels like I was essentially gifted free garbage & it added extra weight to a package where I paid for shipping.
The initial wholesale price is cheap, but shipping & fees add up quickly. I got stung by French customs, which is the first time this has happened to me on all international shipments the two years I have lived here. The shipping & duties increased my order cost by 42%, it is still a reasonable price to me for this overall order though it is definitely not pocket change.
Order: $112.54 [12 Items]
Shipping: $47.55 [$3.96 / Item]
DHL Fee: $33.33 [$2.78 / Item]
Total Cost: $193.42
Small packages can be sent via K-Packets to Europe & North America, otherwise customers have a choice between DHL & EMS.
Both of these mail services charge based upon the package weight. SweetCorea has a handy feature that allows consumers to estimate shipping, but additional packaging weight is not configured into this. My package was roughly 0.39kg heavier than estimated on my initial order.
An important note is SweetCorea’s website states they will not refund damaged goods in order to keep prices as low as possible. My order arrived in perfect condition, but this definitely makes me hesitate because I have received damaged products damaged in transit before & I always received full refunds from other K-beauty retailers in those instances.
This is the first time I have ever been charged extra duties on an order from South Korea. I have been in Europe for many moons now, more large orders from the likes of Jolse & TesterKorea than I care to admit have been placed in this time.
I was charged an additional $33.33 to pay towards DHL for French customs, I was able to pay online so I did not have to fuss with the post office at least.
I glanced at the paperwork in the order in an attempt to find the culprit that triggered customs. The invoice states my order contains 10 cosmetics that value $30, similar to Jolse. However, the box weighed more than Sweet Corea’s online estimation & my order was 12 full-size cosmetic items, plus the free samples. The box was not declared as a gift either, so I imagine it was some combination of three that led to the extra fees.
Initially, I was irritated about getting dinged by French customs & I had to pay duties to DHL. When I was comparing the cost of SweetCorea to other K-Beauty online retailers, I chose to include my customs fees because it is still an extra cost to the consumer even though it is not the fault of SweetCorea.
Despite this additional cost I contributed towards my SweetCorea order, it was still most cost-effective to pay the additional duties with my SweetCorea goodies than to shop at other common K-Beauty retailers.
ARITAUM Aloe No Wash Cleansing Water
- SweetCorea: $4.00 [Shipping + Duties] = $10.74
- Jolse: $13.16 [Free Shipping]
- TesterKorea: $4.92 [K-Packet Shipping / $10.80] = $15.72
the SAEM Healing Tea Garden Green Tea Cleansing Water
- SweetCorea: $3.13 [Shipping + Duties] = $9.87
- Jolse: $11.19 [Free Shipping]
- RoseRoseShop: $3.10 [K-Packet Shipping / $10.80] = $12.86
There are a lot of things to like about SweetCorea, but I have some reservations as well. I would likely place infrequent larger cosmetic hauls with this retailer, but they would not be my go-to for online shopping. I would seek out SweetCorea for specialty cosmetics brands that are difficult to find in Europe, but I still need to find a replacement for Jolse that was my go-to for empty replacements & routine staples.
+ Wide K-Beauty brand selection
+ Competitively low wholesale prices
+ Carefully packed for shipment
= I only received order 1 – 2 days quicker than K-Beauty retailers with free economy shipping
= Rarely has promotions, but they do sell discounted cosmetics that are past expiration
= No customer loyalty rewards, rare promotions
– Does not send order as a “gift” so I incurred custom fees
– Received nearly expired free samples
– Does not refund products damaged in transit