Interview with Innisfree, the No. #1 beauty brand in Korea, for their European launch

Interview with Innisfree, the No. #1 beauty brand in Korea, for their European launch

Written by Yasmine Mubarak by Elva Ahlbin

One of the most popular skincare brands has arrived in Europe. The brand was the first natural beauty brand from Korea and has one of the largest followings in Asia, with multiple stores for skincare and beauty enthusiasts to the everyday women and men who simply want great skincare for an affordable price.

My own experience with the brand started during my time living in Hong Kong, I noticed stores named Innisfree in almost every corner decorated with nature inspirations - always packed with people of all ages.

I never went into the store until my last day at the airport going home to Europe. I thought it’s now or never, and I purchased the Green Tea Seed moisturizer at the Tax Free. I clearly remember trying the moisturizer on the airplane (since it was a 9 hour flight, hydration is key) - the refreshing scent of green tea, the soft texture, long lasting hydration. This was the start of my Korean skincare enthusiasm and I never looked at skincare the same.

To my surprise and sadness, getting off the plane back in Europe, Innisfree was nowhere to be found. Not in the U.K, France, Germany absolutely nowhere (not officially anyway) - the time I stepped my foot off that airplane the possibility of a refill of my newly found lovely cream was gone. Until now. Innisfree has finally launched at Sephora in Europe.

The brand story is fascinating. Innisfree was created by Hu Shu, whose mother used to make her own skincare at home with natural ingredients from Korea. With fascination, Hu Shu created a brand which is unique in the world. Why, you may ask? A minimum of 80% of its ingredients are natural and come from one place, Jeju Island. Located off the coast of South Korea, the island was formed by repeated volcanic eruptions. At the pristine Jeju, they discovered 12 ingredients from the island’s land, sea, and water that are the baseline of the product lines.

Having the opportunity to talk to Innisfree representatives is almost like talking to Serena Williams' trainer about Tennis. So, for the European launch, let’s talk about skincare with the forefront of not only Korean beauty but skincare as a whole.

Welcome to Europe, it has been a long wait!

- Yes, we are super excited. It has been a long time! We have been preparing and preparing, on how to implement the brand and to see how Europe will react. Our plan was to launch during last year with Sephora, but we all know what happend. So we waited one more year, just to make sure Europe was ready for Innisfree!

If I am new to the brand, what product is the first go-to?

- The products to try if you are new to the brand is the star product Green Tea Seed serum, it's our best-seller. It boosts your skin with hydration the second you apply it. It works for every skin type as well - oily, combination and dry skin.

Listening to Anne-Lise and Nadin, the representatives talking about the brand  - I couldn’t agree more, the serum is a great start to get introduced to the brand, since it works for all skin types. Personally, I would also have you try one of their face masks as well - that have one for each skin type to fit you, which are all popular.

What’s your own favorite Innisfree product?

Anne-Lise: My favorite product is the green tea moisturiser, since I have dry skin, and I am sensitive. I love to apply the cream at night and it's definitely my best product. The scent is amazing, a light scent of green tea and since I love matcha, it works perfectly.

Nadin: I also prefer the Green Tea line, I usually apply it on a daily basis but I also love the Green Tea Serum and the Green Tea night mask which I use at night when I am dry.

Working with a korean brand that are in the forefront, tell me about a skincare hack you have learned from Korea?

N: So, they love to apply toner in layers. Before and after serum.
Applying serum before toner, gives you that extra hydration boost and intensifies the hydration. As we instead in Europe are used to applying a toner before serum as an extra cleansing step to remove extensions of make up. They simply use it as a hydration tool. The Green Tea Toner would be the example, using first the Green Tea Serum followed by 3-4 layers of toner. Try it!

Regarding the Green Tea Seed line, I heard you grow your own Green Tea? How does that work?

- The Green Tea Seed is at the very center of the brand. We grow our own Green Tea at Jeju Island, and is also actually the third largest producer of Green Tea in the world. The island with its clear fresh air and the right climate is perfect to grow green tea. It’s nourished for 3 years from the soil in the territory of Seo-Gwang Tea Field that was created by Innisfree on the ashes of the volcano.


Regarding the Volcano line, which includes one of the most popular skincare products in Korean Beauty, the Super Volcano Mask, tell me a bit more about using real volcano leftovers from Jeju Island?

N: The Juji Island is created on volcanoes. Innisfree's Volcanic Line products use volcanic ash, which is one form of ejecta. And we use those ingredients to create our Volcano products with clusters that remove sebum clogging the pores on the inside as well as dead skin on the outside. Important to say is that volcanic ash can only be collected in certain permitted areas.

So after our conversation, I had to try the new Super Volcanic Clay Mousse Mask 2X, learning that their ingredients are from the island. However, I was a bit nervous about using it since I have sensitive skin. But it worked, I woke up a bit red on my cheeks but my skin was glowing. It is very purifying formulated with Jeju Volcanic Clusters & Spheres™, which helps remove excess oil and cleanse the pores. The texture of the clay mousse is incredible, it's almost therapeutic applying it over your face.

I know Koreans are careful around their eyes, what do you think of eye care? What’s the difference in eye care between when you are 25 years old, and when you are 45 years old?

A: I would say that when you are in your late twenties, use more hydrating eye care, and at 45 years old use richer products that help both with hydration and nourishment. For example Green Tea Seed eye roller is nice since it massages your skin when you apply it - and you feel energized. Compared to the Cherry Blossom cream that has very rich ingredients that’s good for the more mature skin.

What do you think differs Innisfree from other skincare brands?
-
A: It’s not because of the origin being a korean brand. It’s because of the ingredients, and the technology behind it. With all ingredients coming from Jeju island. And every product has a minimum of 80% natural ingredients coming from the same place.

N: Not all brands have the opportunity to grow their own ingredients in their own farms. So that’s something we are really proud of, being so close to the farmers and producers on the island making sure everything is produced well.

Have you noticed anything prior to your launch in Europe?

A: Only four years ago, korean beauty was still a small market in Europe, but today I think it’s the perfect timing for the launch in Europe.

N: We see the korean hype and how korean beauty is being more accessible and wanted in Europe with all social media. Personally I think Koreans have an immense knowledge and beauty secrets, which I personally want to learn all about. They are definitely the leading. It’s just growing and growing.

How many products are launching at Sephora?

A: 24 products will launch at Sephora. From the Green Tea Seed line, Cherry Blossom, 4 different sheet masks, as well as the Volcano and Baja line which is created for sensitive skin and acne-pro skin.


After an influential talk with the two representatives, we ended up discussing some upcoming secrets of the future of Innisfree that I can’t tell you - but are very excited about.

My next step in my Innisfree journey is to get my hands on their eye creams they talked about well, as well as their new Soybean sheet masks, which have a three step function for extra hydration. Not to mention, I am definitely trying the new skincare secret - applying my toner after the serum. Once again, you learn that Korean skincare is already in the future. I am heading straight to the Sephora online store, to purchase, it may be a review on those as well!