Korean skincare has entered elite circles in the beauty industry. Find out why it has disrupted our self-care routines beyond TikTok trends.
In search of the ultimate “glass skin”, many of us have turned to South Korean skincare products to achieve that enviable healthy looking, dewy skin look.
Some beauty aficionados and people fighting serious acne or skin inflammation chose to either add a few K-beauty products into their skincare routines or adopt the ten-step Korean skincare for optimum results.
With massive government investment, South Korea’s skincare market that is estimated to reach $11.4 billion in value by 2026, has carved a space amongst the most high-performing and respected categories in global beauty. With their instagram and TikTok friendly packaging, K-beauty brands have created a global storm in the most coveted beauty circles.
But, are Korean skincare products truly worth the hype? A little digging around has provided ample answers to that multi-billion dollar question. Keep reading to find out more.
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Is Korean Skincare Really Worth It?
Korean skincare has grown in popularity amongst beauty connoisseurs and people trying to figure out the most cost-effective ways to better take care of their skin for many reasons. Here are some of them:
Clever Use of Unique Ingredients
Korean skincare products are known for their high-quality ingredients and advanced technologies that help deliver remarkable skin benefits such as hydration, brightening, or anti-aging.
High-performing ingredients such as fermented rice water, centella asiatica aka cica – a retinol alternative, allantoin, and snail mucin that are mainstream in Korean skin care products for helping to lock in moisture have slowly started to emerge in Western skin care.
Hence the huge popularity of the highly moisturising Korean CosRx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.
Another popular ingredient in Korean skin care, bee propolis, a natural substance derived from honey bees clinically proven to smooth and protect skin from environmental pollutants, remains a novelty for Western skincare customers.
Innovative and Gentler Formulas
Korean skincare brands are known for their innovative and gentler formulas, which often incorporate cutting-edge technology and ingredients to achieve maximum effectiveness with minimal irritation to the skin.
Whilst Western skincare heavily relies on active ingredients such as retinoids and exfoliating acids such as AHA and BHA that tend to trigger severe skin irritation, Korean skin care prefers to champion natural ingredients and a lower concentration of active ingredients.
Hence the reason why PHAs (polyhydroxy acids), the gentlest category of exfoliating acids, is hugely popular in Korean skin care. A prime example of this is the highly acclaimed Dr. Jart+’s Pore Remedy PHA Exfoliating Serum.
In light of their large molecular size, PHAs exfoliate the top layer of the skin without penetrating the skin at a deeper level as some AHAs and BHAs do, therefore avoiding skin irritation.
Korean skincare products from CosRx and Glow Recipe are formulated, using that gentler approach to skincare which works well for dry skin, sensitive skin, and melanin-rich skin that are more prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and transepidermal water loss.
In a nutshell, Korean skin care helps minimise inflammation and promote hydration rather than drying out skin to treat a condition as emphasised by acid-based skincare.
Focus on Prevention
Korean skincare products often focus on preventing skin problems before they occur, rather than just treating existing issues.
This is achieved by offering a wide range of skincare products that specifically focus on plumping and deeply nourishing the skin to strengthen the skin ‘s barrier function to maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin over time.
Steeped in Traditional Korean Medicine
Korean culture places a strong emphasis on skincare and beauty, inspired by centuries-old ‘hanbang’ ingredients with healing properties found on their land and powered by cutting-edge technology and mild active ingredients.
Green tea, mugworth, licorice root, and ginseng, just to name a few, are star hanbang ingredients featured in Korean skincare product formulas.
Despite their high quality and effectiveness, many Korean skincare products are also relatively affordable, making them accessible to a wide range of consumers.
Some K-beauty brands even have dupes of premium skincare brands that they sold at a faction of the price that deliver incredible results. Just to give you some perspective, the ma:nyo – Bifida Biome Complex Ampoule that costs $35 at Soko Glam is a renowned dupe for Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair that fetches for $110 at Nordstrom or Sephora. Needless to say that the K-beauty serum is a fast-selling item with a cult following.
Below are other in-demand Korean skincare products worth checking out, if you fancy levelling up your beauty routine at an affordable price.
24 High-Performing Korean Skincare Products To Try
Here are some popular Korean skincare products customers are raving about that will hopefully help you enjoy the almost reflective glass skin.
Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum
© PEACH & LILY
Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, East Asian mountain yam, madecassoside, peach extract, hyaluronic acid, and peptides,
Skin Benefits: The vegan, cruelty free serum helps fade dark spots, boost skin elasticity, and promote brighter, and more supple skin, leading to visibly firmer and better hydrated skin.
Neogen Day-Light Protection Airy Sunscreen
Key Ingredients: Hibiscus (bergamot) fruit Oil, evening primrose flower extract, rosa damascena extract, acai, avocado, and aloe.
Skin Benefits: The fast-absorbing, lightweight sunscreen SPF 50 comprises 20 plant extracts that deliver a powerful UV protection. It helps moisturise and calm skin without leaving behind a white cast or any greasiness.
I’m From Mugwort Cream
© I’m From
Key Ingredients: 73.55% mugwort extract, panthenol, evening primrose flower extract, and pueraria lobata root extract
Skin Benefits: This lightweight cream effortlessly glides on skin to nourish, calm, and restore dry, irritated and sensitive skin, including those with eczema and psoriasis, from environmental stressors. Mugworth extract together with pueraria lobata root extract antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and skin whitening properties help soothe and brighten skin for a visibly healthy looking complexion.
Benton Let’s Carrot Oil Toner
Key Ingredients: Beta-carotene, carrot root water, carrot seed oil, and carrot root extract
Skin Benefits: Prep your skin with this toner containing a high-performing blend of beta-carotene and carrot oil to help balance sebum production, soothe irritation, and plump skin. This toner works beautifully for oily and acne-prone skin types.
CosRx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
Key Ingredients: 96.3% snail mucin and panthenol
Skin Benefits: A lightweight essence that helps to minimise the appearance of dark spots, wrinkles, scars, and soften skin, thanks to a combination of snail mucin that supports skin resurfacing, elasticity, and hydration and panthenol, a humectant that helps lock in moisture.
Innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mask
Key Ingredients: Butylene glycol, volcanic ash, kaolin, bentonite, lactic Acid/glycolic acid
Skin Benefits: Bring radiance back to your skin with this pore tightening and skin refining clay mask that expertly blends bentonite clay with volcanic ash and a touch of lactic acid and glycolic acid to dislodge impurities from your skin. Butylene glycol in the formula helps maintain water content in skin and smooth dull, uneven texture for a soft and glowing skin.
Hanskin BHA Pore Cleansing Oil
Key Ingredients: Jojoba oil, salicylic acid, orange, lemon, and grapefruit oils
Skin Benefits: A pore cleansing oil that expertly blends jojoba oil together with salicylic acid to regulate sebum production and citrus fruit oils to brighten and even skin tone. Kiss goodbye to blackheads and inflamed skin, especially if you have oily or acne-prone skin.
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
© Then I Met You
Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, persimmon extract, olive oil, and sea-buckthorn oil
Skin Benefits: An oil-based cleanser with sea-buckthorn oil, rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, that helps lift away stubborn makeup, sunscreen, and impurities to reveal a soft skin texture ready for a water-based cleanser as part of a double-cleansing routine.
AHC Aqualuronic Emulsion
Key Ingredients: French sea water, ceramides, and a triple blend of hyaluronic acid,
Skin Benefits: A gel-textured face moisturiser emulsion that helps to hydrate your skin and fortify your skin barrier by helping to lock in moisture. Use after toner and before serum for better results.
Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream
Key Ingredients: Guaiazulene (derivative from chamomile oil), candelilla cera, and centella asiatica extract.
Skin Benefits: The gentle cream formula helps calm sunburnt, oily, acne-prone and sensitive skin types. Powerful skin soothing ingredient, guaiazulene, relieves inflammation, whilst centella asiatica extract delivers hydration to skin and minimises irritation and redness.
Missha Time Revolution Artemisia Treatment Essence
Key Ingredients: 100% artemisia extract (mugwort).
Skin Benefits: This powerful essence formulated with artemisia extract helps nourish and heal inflamed and irritated skin, courtesy of mugwort’s powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, leading to your reinforced skin’s barrier.
Amorepacific Youth Revolution Vitamin C Radiance Concentrator
Key Ingredients: Green tea, vitamin C, and white-peony extract
Skin Benefits: This facial serum expertly combines a high concentration of green tea, vitamin C, and white peony extract, three highly potent antioxidants renowned to brighten skin, even skin tone and texture, and strengthen skin barrier from environmental stressors.
The powerful trio of antioxidants also helps reduce the look of wrinkles for a youthful-looking appearance.
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil
Key Ingredients: apricot-kernel oil and tangerine-peel extract.
Skin Benefits: A lightweight oil cleanser that to use in the first step of a double cleanse. The gentle formula lifts away makeup, dirt, and impurities whilst nourishing and brightening your skin, courtesy of tangerine-peel extract.
Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum
© Beauty of Joseon
Key Ingredients: Propolis extract, niacinamide, and centella asiatica extract
Skin Benefits: This serum works wonders on irritated and acne-prone skin by relieving inflammation thanks to propolis antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, brightening your complexion, and improving cell turnover to rejuvenate troubled skin.
Laneige Water Sleeping Mask with Squalane
Key Ingredients: Squalane, Probiotic-Derived Complex
Skin Benefits: An overnight mask with a gel texture that is formulated with squalene to boost moisture of dry and dull skin, helping to improve uneven skin texture and strengthen skin’s barrier for a visibly noticeable glow.
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops
© GLOW RECIPE
Key Ingredients: watermelon, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and moringa-seed oil.
Skin Benefits: This multitasking skincare gem can be used as a serum, primer, or highlighter under or over makeup. The product formula helps deeply hydrate and gradually brighten your skin for a glowy complexion.
Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb
Key Ingredients: Tiger grass (pennywort), squalane, ceramides, comfrey leaf, and centella asiatica leaf extract.
Skin Benefits: Keep your delicate under eye area healthy and hydrated with this eye cream that works to minimise the look of fine lines and puffiness under your eyes. Tiger grass in the formula helps calm your delicate skin, centella provides much needed hydration, and whilst comfrey leaf detoxifies your under eye skin, leaving it soft and clear.
Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, zostera marina extract, and hydrolyzed collagen
Skin Benefits: This powerful essence revives dry and dehydrated skin, courtesy of sodium hyaluronate, a form of hyaluronic acid that holds 1,000 more moisture than water. Zostera marina extract antioxidant properties help protect the skin from free radicals, whilst hydrolyzed collagen boosts cells’ natural renewal for a healthy and youthful complexion.
Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner
Key Ingredients: Licorice water, green tea, and peony-flower extract
Skin Benefits: A skin-soothing toner that helps to balance skin’s pH, fade dark spots, even skin tone, and protect your skin from pollutants, for a radiant complexion.
The Plant Base Time Stop Collagen Ampoule
© The Plant Base
Key Ingredients: Mushroom extract, macadamia-seed oil, aloe, centella asiatica extract, and panthenol
Skin Benefits: firm up your skin with this ampoule morning and night that is infused with hydrating powerhouses of aloe, panthenol and mushroom extract to promote well nourished, toned, and smooth skin.
Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30
© Dr. Jar+
Key Ingredients: Centella asiatica extract, niacinamide, proprietary probiotic complex
Skin Benefits: A colour-correcting treatment that delivers SPF30 sun protection topped up by moisture barrier-replenishing and dark spot correcting ingredients to minimise irritation and even skin tone. Your skin is left well hydrated, smooth, and shielded from free radicals.
Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF 50+
© Thank You Farmer
Key Ingredients: Lotus flower water, aloe leaf extract, and soybean lipids.
Skin Benefits: This innovative essence calms irritation, strengthens skin’s barrier and helps minimise pores, courtesy of aloe and lotus flower water, whilst delivering essential sun protection. Once applied, the fast-absorbing essence leaves you with a semi-matte finish.
Banila Co Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm
© BANILA CO
Key Ingredients: Onsen-Sui, vitamin C-rich acerola extract
Skin Benefits: A cleansing balm with cult status that lifts away stubborn makeup, excessive oil, dirt, and other pollutants, revealing your freshened up skin. A gentle exfoliation courtesy of acerola extract helps brighten and even out your skin tone for a more radiant look.
Saturday Skin Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask
© SATURDAY SKIN
Key Ingredients: Yuzu, tocopherol (vitamin E), niacinamide (vitamin B), retinol (vitamin A)
Skin Benefits: This overnight facial treatment deeply nourishes your skin whilst you sleep to deliver a smooth and radiant skin once you are awake. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, star ingredient yuzu, a citrus fruit that contains 3 times more vitamin C than a lemon, helps brighten the skin. Niacinamide and retinol even skin tone and support collagen production.