First encounter: K-beauty brand Then I Met You makes first retail expansion with Asia debut

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

K-beauty skin care brand Then I Met You will debut in five Asian markets this April. ©Then I Met You
K-beauty skin care brand Then I Met You will debut in five Asian markets this April. ©Then I Met You

Related tags K-Beauty Skin care skin barrier Sephora

K-beauty skin care brand Then I Met You is set to debut in five Asian markets this April through a partnership with Sephora, marking its first-ever retail expansion.

Touted as a marriage between Korean beauty innovations and time-honoured ingredients, Then I Met You seeks to offer “meaningful skin care over fleeting trends”.

The brand is founded by Charlotte Cho, a Korean-American who is also the co-founder and chief curator of US-based K-beauty online retailer Soko Glam.

From April 2024, Then I Met You products will be available at Sephora’s online and physical stores in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

“Through Soko Glam’s education and curation, we had already built a global fanbase. Having established credibility from the start, we had the same community rally and support from all corners of the world for Then I Met You when it was launched in 2019. Our Living Cleansing Balm became viral and won many industry awards.

“In fact, we were approached by Sephora Asia several years ago, but we simply did not have the bandwidth to tackle international expansion at the time. Luckily, Sephora was persistent and patient with us. Now, we have created a whole suite of products that we feel confident about distributing them globally. We are finally ready to meet our fans in Asia,” ​Cho told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​.

She believes that the partnership with Sephora will meet the “overwhelming interest” from international customers and increase accessibility to the products.

Prior to the expansion in Asia, Then I Met You was exclusively sold on Soko Glam in the US and Cult Beauty in the UK. The brand is expected to enter another major UK retailer this year.

Hands on deck

Sephora will be introducing selected products from the brand, including its hero product Living Cleansing Balm, and Bong2 Bounce Cream, which is said to be its solution to protect and fortify the skin barrier.

Each ingredient in the collection was hand-picked by Cho to create purposeful formulas that harmonise Korean skin care innovations.

“I’ve always wanted to create a ‘holy grail’ double-cleansing routine because that is what got me hooked on Korean skin care and where I saw the most dramatic change in my skin. After testing thousands of oil cleansers, I had a distinct and personal point of view of what the best cleansing balm and oil cleanser would be.”

According to Cho, the texture of Living Cleansing Balm is “sorbet soft” and the fragrance fresh-smelling. All oil-based debris can be removed easily without leaving a film on the skin, and the formulation is infused with seaberries for its antioxidant effect and skin protection.

“Most ODMs don’t want to innovate with brands, as it is very resource-heavy and costly. However, I had the benefit of getting access to the top R&D expert for cleansers in Korea due to my background as a trained aesthetician as well as in K-beauty and Soko Glam.

“We worked on the formulation for Living Cleansing Balm for almost two years. Together, we pushed the envelope to develop the most unique and luxurious cleansing balm on the market, achieving a result that even we thought was impossible.”

As for Bong2 Bounce Cream, Cho wanted to address the issue of most barrier creams being heavy, oily and creamy, which is regarded as undesirable by consumers.

“My vision was to bring a lighter texture to barrier creams. Ingredients such as ceramides and a high concentration of squalene, a natural lipid, are what make Bong2 Bounce Cream ideal for the barrier specifically.

“The twist is that this cream is formulated to have a very lightweight touch, and yet provides deep hydration and a nice, dewy finish. There’s no better place than Korea to innovate on texture, long-lasting hydration, and improved elasticity to the skin, which have all been verified through extensive consumer studies.”

In Cho’s opinion, the K-beauty industry and the innovations it has brought forth will continue to have staying power.

“Product and category innovations, such as essences, masks, snail mucins, cushion compacts, pimple patches and more, have contributed to billions of dollars in the global beauty industry.”

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