Figuring that the small boutique brand was not locally available, I initially ordered my COSRX products via Amazon and had them brought home by family from the US. But I took a stab at Googling “COSRX Philippines” anyway, just on the off chance that some savvy Facebook/Instragram seller carried the brand. Through that search, I found this thread on the Asian Beauty sub-reddit and, eventually The Skin Care Curator.
I was beyond giddy to find out that COSRX was available locally. I was even happier to see that it was available from a clean, professional-looking, easy-to-use website. All my transactions (and yes, I’ve had many) have been easy, items were shipped immediately, and packages received promptly.
They’re also incredibly accommodating when it comes to answering questions from customers, even the more,
annoying persistent ones like me. Whether it be on their Instagram or on Facebook message, they’ll gladly respond to your questions about product availability, order status, etc. They are so accommodating, in fact, that Dee and Mark, the couple behind the website, agreed to answer a few of my questions.
What made you start The Skin Care Curator? You initially only offered one brand, CosRx. What made you decide to launch with this specific brand?
Dee: I’ve always struggled with very oily skin with bouts of painful cystic hormonal acne since puberty and now in my late twenties it’s become increasingly frustrating to deal with my “acne beard” (it’s mostly concentrated on my chin and mouth). I was looking for a way to have better skin and wear less make-up, because it’s really hot in the Philippines and everything just melts right off and I end up feeling gross and uncomfortable with my own face.
I started reading a lot of books and researching on the internet and saw that finding a BHA would be really beneficial for my skin, but I couldn’t find a good one locally. There were a lot of products with BHA but they were either filled with denatured alcohol or badly formulated and too harsh for my skin. I stumbled on CosRx, ordered some from Korea, and I was hooked.
I like trying out different products for fun, and to minimize on the shipping and customs costs I always tried to look for a sale and buy more than one and just sell the extras online or to friends. Mark, coming from a very business-oriented family, wanted to take it a step further and started getting in contact with the brands, registering a business name, making the website and it just kinda happened while I was on the sidelines putting things on my face. If there was anyone who needed convincing it was me, because suddenly my fun hobby was turned into this potential stress. My night time routine was suddenly haunted with the thought of paperwork. But he was having too much fun and I couldn’t stop him so now I guess it’s like a weird couple hobby. We both come from creative industries, he’s an animation/commercial director and I come from the world of art, this venture of ours is really out of our comfort zone but it has been a great way to learn about how to run a small business and also an excuse to keep coming back to Korea.
Mark: To me it’s as a great way to think about other things besides videos which can be really hectic and stressful. A lot of my friends really don’t understand it. First being a guy and all, second it being so far from my field of expertise. But I really enjoy it, I like building things on my computer. Most of the time they’re cute animations, now it’s a website, it’s the same thing to me.
Why do you think Korean skincare has been so popular in the Philippines?
Dee: I think Korean skincare is popular in the Philippines because the cosmetics industry in Korea is very competitive and they come out with a lot of good products. You can only sell so much with cute packaging and things that smell nice, but in the end buyers will return because the product was effective, therefore they have to continue to innovate or go out of business.
You’ve already expanded your offerings to include Benton and Lee Ji Ham products. How do you decide what brands to make available on the site?
Dee: I like to put a lot of things on my face and if it works and I see a gap in the market here in the Philippines, we’ll try to contact the brand and see what we can work out. A lot of our customers also give us a little nudge or a suggestion now and then and we take note of that. I also like prioritizing things that help ease acne, because I know how frustrating it can be. There are so many products available for whitening and moisturizing but effective yet gentle anti-acne products are hard to come by.
Mark: Originally, I just wanted to sell CosRx, try to be exclusive and try to distribute it in stores and online. But after talking to them, CosRx suggested and we decided that we should test the market first by selling online. And as soon as we launched the website, people were really excited and bought stuff, which was great. Then came nonstop suggestions on what kind of brands they want to see on the site, this made me realize that they weren’t only excited to see CosRx sold locally. But they’re also really excited on the potential of the website, they’re hoping for Skin Care Curator to be a site where they can find all their hard to find brands. I wasn’t too hot on it at first. But this was an opportunity, and from what I’ve learned, you can’t really choose your clients, just cater to the business that comes your way. So here we are.
What’s been the best-selling product so far, and why do you think it’s been so popular?
Dee: Our bestseller by far is the CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch, followed by the BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid and the Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol. I think they’re popular because finding well-priced and well-formulated products for people struggling with acne that works is very hard.
If you would recommend just one product to your customers, what product would that be and why?
Dee: Oh, that’s haaaard. But I’m an AHA evangelist and preach the wonders of exfoliation. The AHA can help with a lot of skin concerns, from closed comedones to premature wrinkles, so if it was only one it would be that.
Are you planning to expand your brand offerings further? Can we get a hint as to which brands you will be launching next?
Dee: Right now we’re just trying to stay afloat amidst the cost of shipping the products here and maintaining a competitive price. Haha! But seriously, I would like to see if we can bring OST to the market, we’re bringing in a few next week and see how it goes. It’s such a volatile product so we need to continue to bring it in fresh and it probably won’t fit in our fridge. J Also we’ll have more Taiwanese masks soon and the oil control line of Leejiham is coming in soon as well.
Mark: Yeah, OST is great. It was actually second on our list, I don’t know what happened, why we still don’t carry it (ed’s note: They now do, but it’s currently sold out). Right now though, we want to focus on our relationships with our current brands and letting more people know how great they are. We also need to focus on serving our current customers, that means making sure everything is on-stock all the time. We also want to make these products more accessible. Like the Acne pimple patch, I would love to see those over the counter and in stores. But we’re learning that it takes a lot of time to get to that point. We’re still pretty new to this and there are a lot of things we need to learn but we’ll get there.