The Saem opened its first Manhattan/Chinatown location in February 2017 and it’s conveniently on the corner of Canal Street and Centre Street, inside the New Land Plaza building. I recommend coming to Chinatown in the morning for Asian/Korean Beauty shopping, eating an authentic Asian-style lunch, more K-Beauty and J-Beauty indulgence and then snacking on bubble tea or Chinese buns! There is also a Flushing branch but The Saem Manhattan is a pretty sizeable shop with three cosmetic hutches in the center and it carries the most popular products from Korea (I list a few to check out in my post)! The Saem I also have a really big surprise that I’m going to start rolling out across all my Photo Tour posts too… click to the exciting new feature that will add a new level of “touring” through these shops!
234 Canal St #105
New York, NY 10013
The 6, N, R, W, Q, J, Z trains stop right on Canal Street so it’s a short walk over to a must-visit part of Chinatown. Because of its great corner location right off the train station, this should be one of your first stops if you want to follow my K-Beauty shopping map from my NYC K-Beauty Shopping Guide. The Saem emerged in 2010 and the name supposedly means “the spring water of beauty” which I’m sure is a loose translation. The Saem’s main target seems to be the 13 – 24 female demographic but they also have men’s skincare as well as an anti-aging line. They focus their inspiration from nature and I emphasize the word inspiration because their products aren’t actually certified organic. Instead their lines are based on interesting star ingredients from nature (which is just like any other Korean road shop brand). I’ll give it to The Saem that their main ingredient selection is bit more unique than say, Hyaluronic Acid, which is a baseline hydration ingredient in ANY cream nowadays. Their most popular skincare lines are based on the Waratah flower, Harakeke plant, Chaga mushroom and Icelandic Glacial Water.
360 Photo Tour!
This is an exciting announcement that I will be using new 360 photos for my Photo Tour posts! I bought a 360 camera that can take 360 degree photos and video and this will give visitors a way to virtually visit a shop! On desktop you can click the play icon and use your mouse to view around. On a phone browser or a webVR enabled desktop browser, you’ll see a VR button in the bottom right — select it and your viewer will render the content in full 3D mode inside your VR gear. Go ahead and turn your phone around in a 360 circle! You’ll move around to see a full view of the store! I’ll update existing Photo Tour posts and include a 360 view for all post in the future.
Photo Tour & Recommendations
I’ll still include regular photos per usual because it gives you a closer look, shelf by shelf of each category. Below is a loose guide to the major skincare lines from The Saem. This isn’t by any means a complete list! You’ll have to hit the store or go online to to see all the offerings!
Harakeke (green line, for normal skin): Harakeke is a New Zealand plant that helps retain a lot of moisture in your skin.
Harakeke Firming Seed (orange line, for normal to dry skin): Made from Harakake seeds in New Zealand, this line promotes hydration, firmness and elasticity.
Waratah (red line, for dry skin): Waratah extract from Australia boosts skin energy through strengthening the skin barrier with rich nourishment and moisture. This line was recommended to me and I’m trying the Waratah toner now (PR gift).
Cleome (blue line, for oil/sebum control): Africa Cleome (flower) is used for sebum care. This line is recommended for oily skin.
Changa (brown line, for anti-aging): Cave-fermented Chaga mushroom extract can enhance skin regeneration and is proved to be capable of improving wrinkle and dull skin color problem. Together with different herbs and marine plants, like Red ginseng, Oak apple, Sargasso, Seaweed, Eucalyptus and Lady’s Mantle, 3 main functions can be provided including minimizing pores, improve skin texture and brighten the skin tone.
Iceland Water line (basic hydration line): Within the Iceland Water line are sub-lines for Combination, Dry and Oily skin.
See & Saw line (for acne control): For problematic and sensitive skin, this line addresses acne concerns.
Snail Essential line (for uneven skin tone, dry and dull skin): Contains snail mucin of course. Snail filtrate is highly regenerative and will smoothe and hydrate skin. Works for almost all skin types.
Cell Renew Bio (for anti-aging): Contains real plant cells and bio mimetic water provide rich vitality to skin. Strengthen the skin barrier to create young and tight skin.
Sooyeran line (for anti-aging): There’s a Radiance sub-line and a Wild Ginseng sub-line within Sooyeran. Sooyeran focuses on using Korean hanbang medicinal ingredients like Korean tea, yeast, and ferments. The Ginseng line focuses on using ginseng and niacinamide for brightening.
The first wall you’ll gravitate to is the Mask Sheet wall! During their grand opening period there was a Buy 10, Get 5 Free sheet mask promotion. I’d visit during key holidays to see if this promo comes back.
I bought a Natural-Tox sheet mask in Tomato and the 3-Step Perfect Peel & Clean that includes an AHA and BHA Aqua Peeling Swab, a Nose Patch and an Ampoule Sheet Mask to nourish everything.
There are so many different lip products in Korea that I highly recommend you browse the website to see what might interest you first. There are lipsticks, tints, glosses, mousse textures, matte finishes, balms, lip cushions, lip scrubs, etc.! Narrow down what type you want to test and you can swatch colors at the store.
The sales associates speak English so you don’t have to worry about a language barrier. They know enough about skin types and can make recommendations on which product will address your skin concerns. They will leave you alone to browse freely so you don’t have to worry about someone “following you” as if you were shopping in Asia. They will respect pure window shopping and will answer any questions you may have!
I visited on two accounts; the first time as a patron just checking out the store and I bought a few masks to try. I asked about the store’s most popular products and the sales associate knew a lot about both skincare and makeup best sellers. The second account, I was invited back through Instagram to sample a few things complimentary as a blogger. They heard it was my birthday week and wanted to know what I was truly interested in testing. I’ve always known of the Gem Miracle Black Pearl O2 Bubble Mask being a hit so I chose that along with the Aqua Peeler 3-Pack, the Lip & Cheek Dual Tint with matching nail polish, a Heating Sheet Mask and they recommended the Waratah Toner and gave me a ton of Waratah foil packets so I can test the whole line! The toner is truly unique in that there’s a whipped cream layer and you have to shake it up before dispensing it onto a cotton pad. The difference on my skin was immediately noticeable as it was so smooth and hydrated. I can’t remember the last time a toner gave me a glossy look in a few swipes.
The elephant in the room is probably price markup. Since the store is paying NYC rent and selling imported Korean products, there is a markup on all products but it’s expected. It depends on what you want to buy that the markup makes up for itself in shipping fees and customs tax if you were to buy it from an online shop. Sheet masks are definitely well-priced! Makeup, bodycare and the mid-range skincare lines won’t break the bank if you really want something. I find that the most marked up items are the anti-aging lines but the majority of the store is reasonable given that you can try testers and they’ll gift a lot of samples.