ANYONE who watches Korean dramas will agree that these shows are the single source of a multitude of cravings. These dramas will make one want to: eat samgyeopsal (Korean barbeque); cook and eat ramyeon from the cooking pot itself; desperately pray to be in a relationship with an oppa; travel to Seoul, South Korea; wear those smart chic outfits and lastly, work hard for that dewy, glass skin.
A while back, a 10-step Korean skincare regimen went viral. However, these facial foams, cleansers, toners and serums were Korean brands not available in the country. One had to fly out to South Korea “Seoul-searching” for these miraculous skin care products in Myeong-dong, South Korea’s skincare mecca. Unbeknownst to some people, there’s a quaint cafe in La Guardia located in Lahug which recently opened another branch in the city’s latest mall. What they offer may just be the answer to one’s glass skin dreams—Dara Beauty Market.
“It was my business partner who initially introduced Korean skincare products to me as I was more interested in makeup. He recommended and encouraged me to do skincare first as this was what was being pushed more in Korea.” said Alex Ong Oh, owner of Dara Beauty Market.
In 2015, the beauty products were merely a display in Cafe Dara. Patrons of the cafe started to take notice of it and soon, Alex opted to sell these products online. Little by little the crowd grew and the little display in their cafe expanded. Four years later, they finally opened their own boutique in Ayala Central Bloc.
“At first, there was a lot of hesitation. Most of them wondered why we sold it at such an affordable price,” Alex shared, about how customers initially welcomed the products when they first started. She told them aside from it being 100 percent authentic, they wanted to make Korean beauty products not only accessible but affordable as well—as if one was buying it directly from stores in Myeong-dong. Eventually customers got the feel of their sincerity since Alex herself uses the products as much as endorses them.
Dara Beauty Market’s ultimate goal is to provide affordable cosmetics and skincare products to every single person. It wants to relay the message that it isn’t necessary to travel all the way to Korea just to buy the best Korean skincare products. Ride the jeepney, beep, or taxi to get to Dara Beauty Market—the closest thing to Korea’s skincare mecca.
As for the future, Alex is striking while the iron is hot.
“Right now, we have two stores: one in La Guardia which is currently temporarily closed and this one here in Ayala Central Bloc. We’re planning to open up another branch somewhere where it’s more accessible for people to visit since our current stores are located in somewhat interior areas of the city,” she said.
Alex encourages those interested in visiting the shop to buy products, to first research about their skin type and the goals they want to achieve.
This will make it easier for her to pick out what items would best suit their skin.
Dara Beauty Market is located on the second level of Ayala Malls Central Bloc.