K-Beauty’s Third Wave Is Here — & They Saved The Best For Last

For these new recruits, the brand story isn’t about trendy ingredients or Instagram-worthy gimmicks — it’s about efficacy. AHC, a South Korean skin-care brand known for its spas, recently launched six products in its hyaluronic acid-packed lineup that’s tailored to the U.S. consumer. Mediheal, Korea’s #1 sheet mask brand, also dropped in the U.S. this summer; its products are denoted by an unassuming I.V. logo. And Amorepacific’s no-frills Primera line, which is focused on botanical and natural ingredients, is already a star player in Sephora’s Clean Beauty section.


While all three of these names were relatively unknown to American consumers before 2019, they're all well-established institutions in Seoul. AHC has more than 5,000 spas in South Korea and even featured Anne Hathaway in its skin-care campaigns in 2017. Mediheal sells five masks every second between the 30 Asian Pacific countries where it’s sold. And Primera has a flagship store in the heart of the Myeong-dong shopping district of Seoul, where customers line up daily for its best-selling Miracle Seed Essence.




That is where beauty conglomerates come in. In 2018, AHC’s parent company, CarverKorea, was acquired by Unilever. The multinational corporation that owns brands like Dove, Simple Skincare, and Vaseline helped the Seoul-based brand develop a product line specifically for the American shopper that is available at Target and Amazon. Similarly, Primera is available exclusively at Sephora, and Mediheal is partnering with Soko Glam, Walgreens, and Amazon to launch in the U.S. These trusted partners have strong knowledge of the American beauty consumer, which helps these stalwart K-beauty brands transition smoothly.