The comprehensive guide to the best Korean skin-care brands22.08.2022
Many people are shocked to hear that Korean skin care has revolutionized the industry. Many of us now double cleanse with oils and cleansing balms (never again will we look back at traditional harsh makeup removers), while others swear by essences and ampoules or the redness-soothing properties of herbs (also called “hanbang”) such as lotus, ginseng and cica.
As the epicenter for Korean skin care, Seoul, South Korea is the place to be. It’s the best spot for all the latest skin-care products. You’ll find prominent brands such as AHC and Kahi creating multi-balms that combine essences, serums and moisturizers in one compact, portable container. There are also products that address the growing demand for maskne treatment and counteracting. While nothing can duplicate the results of in-office lasers’ effects, tech-savvy brands have invested time, money and research to develop at-home devices that will allow your products absorb deeper and provide skin-plumping effects any time of day.
K-beauty focuses on gentle, hydrating products that improve your skin’s moisture barrier and reduce inflammation. This is a way to prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles. In ingredient lists, look out for ingredients such as peptides and red ginseng. Hyaluronic acid and licorice root extract are all common. Sunscreen is an essential part of any skin-care regimen, especially as Korean brands produce some of the most hydrating and lightest formulas we have ever seen.
Below are the top Korean skin-care products. We also have a few favorites from Korean beauty experts. (You’re welcome.)
Dr. Jart+ is a brand we love. K-beauty’s powerhouse brand incorporates ultra-soothing ingredients such as tiger grass (also known by cica or centella asiatica), and ceramides (upto five varieties) into its skin-nourishing formulas to stop irritation and redness. It’s no wonder that so many of its key products have been so popular, including the Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatments SPF 30, and the Best of Beauty-winning Tiger Grass Calming Cream.
Star Product: Dr. Jart+’s Cicapair Tiger Grass Sleepair Intensive Mask ($42), was an easy winner. The formula’s cica boosts the hydration and brings down inflammation, while the moisturizing glycerin and texture-smoothing Niacinamide and anti-inflammatory heartleaf wrap your skin in a layer of moisture overnight, repairing and maintaining hydrating levels.
Saturday Skin, true to its name is about celebrating the weekend philosophy of stress-free days that focus on relaxation and self care. When you have an extra 10-20 minutes or 30 minutes, you can devote it to your skin. The Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask, which is leave-on, does all the work (e.g. The Waterfall Glacier Water Cream is lightweight and can be used anytime of the day thanks to its gel-cream formula).
Star Product: The Melt + Cleanse Makeup Melting Balm ($20), is so great that it may just make even the most dedicated makeup-wipe users reconsider their approach. Cleansing balms are more eco-friendly than single-use wipes. This sorbet-like formulation is rich in natural exfoliants, including fruit acids (including sugar maple and orange), to deep-cleanse pores and pumpkin seed oil, to nourish the skin.
We can’t help but love Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask. It has been awarded three Readers Choice Awards and one Best of Beauty Awards. But, K-beauty has many other products that we think are worth the hype. Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney, who is an ambassador for the brand, swears to the Cream Skin Milk Oil Cleanser as well as the Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Cream. This will give you radiant, healthy skin.
Star Product: The Water Sleeping Mask ($29), is the ultimate in thirst-quenching moisturizers. It’s lightweight, absorbs quickly, and feels light. This overnight mask is infused with hydrating ingredients like squalane, probiotics (like Lactobacillus fermentation lysate), which locks in moisture, strengthens skin barrier, and boosts visibility so that you wake up feeling more refreshed.
Thank you Farmer
It becomes a household name that you can’t forget once you hear Thank You Farmer. This line is known for producing some of the most effective Korean sunscreens on the market. This brand’s skin-care line is about taking care of your skin, much like a farmer tending to his crops. It also uses non-irritating formulas. The skin-soothing ingredients include aloe vera and sunflower seed, as well as rice, green tea and green tea.
Star Product: The Sun Project Light Sun Essence ($27), simply puts, ticks all the boxes when it comes to what we want in an SPF. The chemical formula is instantly absorbed into the skin and leaves behind a semi-matte, glowy finish. It’s also completely free of any trace. Your barrier can be strengthened with the help of soybean lipids, lotus flower water and aloe leaf.
Cosrx is an affordable and approachable K-beauty brand. Some say it’s comparable to Paula’s Choice, which is a U.S.-based brand. Snail mucin can be used to reduce hyperpigmentation and improve your skin tone. This could be because of the Advanced Snail Line. How about your introduction of pimple patches? The Master Patch is probably the reason.
Star Product: The Full-Fit Propolis Light Ampoule ($20), is the solution to all your stress-related skin problems. You can say goodbye to skin redness with this 83 percent concentration of black bee propolis extract. It can be used in place of your regular serum, mixed with your moisturizer, or sandwiched between your serum and moisturizer to add extra nourishment.
If you are familiar with K-beauty, chances are you have heard of Innisfree. Innisfree is probably the most affordable leg of Amorepacific’s vast empire — at least according to this U.S-based editor — and offers highly effective skin-care treatments for $30 or less. This includes the Innisfree Youth Enhancing Cream with Black Tea and the Intensive Hydrating Gel with Green Tea.
Star Product: While there are many great products in Innisfree’s extensive product line, we’re currently highlighting the Dewy Glow Jelly Cream ($25). The delightfully soft gel moisturizer gives your skin a light, refreshing layer of hydration thanks to sugar beet betaine, cherry blossom flavonoids and niacinamide. Always refreshing, never sticky.
Sulwhasoo skin care products are luxurious and feel as good as they look. We’ll explain more. There are silky-smooth formulations that will cushion your skin with a soothing blanket of moisture. This protects the skin from environmental stressors and visibly smoothens, lifts, as well as protecting it.
Ginseng is a brand star ingredient. Ginsenomics, an exclusive ingredient to Sulwhasoo, stemming out of decades of research and putting skin resilience in overdrive, is a trademark ingredient. The Best of Beauty-winning Gentle Cleansing Oil, which is ideal for removing waterproof makeup, is another highlight.
Star Product: The First Care Activating serum ($89) is a brand-recognized product that is sold in Korea every 10 seconds. This fifth version of the famous treatment is infused with moisturizing, soothing and brightening ingredients like lotus, white Lily, and Solomon’s Seal. It is meant to be used right after cleansing. Sarah Han, editor at Allure Commerce, uses this product every day to keep her skin looking fresh and plump. She’s also referred some friends to it.