“Koreans know what they want, like innovation, gentle ingredients, pleasing packaging, and they definitely don’t want to pay a fortune for it,” says Charlotte Cho, the founder of sokoglam.com, an online retailer specializing in Korean beauty products.
If you are an enthusiast of the Korean broad range of skin care products, welcome to this guide, which gives you a sneak peek into the best, the latest in K-beauty and why you need these Korean products. Additionally, get to know the best products for your skin type and which brands to target for your skin care inspo.
Korean skincare routine is big on double-cleansing. This involves using plant-based oil cleansers, followed by a water-based cleanser.
The cult: Misha super off cleansing oil, Innisfree oil-based cleanser.
Again, why do you need a cleanser in your skin care regimen? A cleanser (oil-based) melts away makeup, bacteria, pollutants and dirt, making your cleansing process easier, while it nourishes the skin. Peach & Lily’s Power calm hydrating gel is a soothing cleanser, packed with a cocktail of natural ingredients like chamomile and Camellia. This lightweight gel is suitable for all skin types, giving attention to acne-prone, mature and sensitive skin. It has pH levels of 5.5.
Pro: No sulfates
Exfoliate to get rid of dead skin, open up pores allowing the blood on your face to circulate. Do not exfoliate every day as this will damage your skin. Wash off with a soft towel and warm water.
The Strawberry Black Sugar Wash Off Mask is one of the holy grails of Korean exfoliators. Loved for its heavenly scent this fruity mask has refined black sugar grains, which dissolve as you massage it into your skin. It contains shea butter and lanolin ensuring that your skin will stay moisturized even after you wash it off. It is suitable for dry skin with the ideal pH levels of 5.
Oily skin: COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-SOL
Sensitive skin: REP Bio Fresh Mask with real Calming Herbs
Acne prone: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Normal skin: SON & PARK Beauty Water
Combination skin: (this is where your T-zone gets oily, but your forehead and cheeks remain dry). Use COSRX One Step Pimple Pads
A toner restores the pH levels of your skin, prepping it for the absorption of the next products in your routine. On this step, you can also opt to pay extra attention to your problem areas. That is, what else do you want your toner to do apart from addressing your pH levels? Is it ageing, dryness or mattifying? 6 Benefits Of Using A Toner In Your Skincare Routine
Ageing: Etude House Moistfull Collagen Skin toner
Acne prone: Benton, Snail Bee High content Skin toner. Also good for sensitive skin.
Sensitive skin: Mizon Intensive Skin Barrier Toner
Dry skin: COSRx Galactomyces Alcohol-Free toner
Oily skin: the 2in1 Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner It is also an essence.
Combination skin: Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin toner.
Why Korean toner? It has no alcohol.
Pro tip: this is the last step of your cleansing routine.
Looks like a toner but it is meant to nourish your skin, enhance your complexion and address ageing. Ideally, it is used twice daily.
Oily skin: Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence
Dry skin: Skin Food Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence (boy, you will love the packaging, but bee cautious if you are allergic).
Combination skin: Benton Fermentation Essence
Sensitive skin: Huxley Oil Essence Secret of Sahara
Normal skin: COSRx Advanced mucin 96 Power Essence. (Since I discovered this product I look at snails with an ulterior motive). It is 96% snail slime. A cult for hydration and ageing.
Pro tip: this is the beginning of your hydrating process.
- Serum & Ampoule
These are treatment and skin repair products that enhance the effectiveness of any cream that you will apply later. In this step, you can target problem areas like the minimizing of pores, hydrating and soothing. Pro Tips: Everything You Need To Know About Facial Serums
Oily skin: Innisfree Green Tea Serum
Ageing Skin: The plant base, Time Stop Collagen Ampoule
Dry Skin: The Plant Base Waterfall Moist Balanced Hyaluronic Acid
Combination skin: Be The Skin Botanical Pore Serum
Acne-prone skin: Boots No.7 Protect & Perfect Advanced Serum.
- Sheet mask
They vary from sheet masks, wash masks (easily washed off) and sleep masks. You can wear a sheet mask 2-3 times (at night) in a week. A mask is important as it helps the face absorb moisture and nutrients. Don’t keep it on for too long as it will suck up the moisture from your face when it starts drying up.
It might take a while so give it some time for the moisture to set in. About 10-20 minutes or depending on the instructions indicated.
Oily skin: Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze Mask
Dry skin: Mediheal x BTS Mask Sheet special set
Acne prone skin: Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack
Combination skin: COSRx Hydrogel very Simple Pack
- Eye cream
Why you need it because you don’t want those smile lines forming under your eyes to continue. An eye cream makes sure that you pay attention to the particular areas on your eyes and importantly keep them hydrated. Benefit, you’ll notice how well your eye makeup blends flawlessly, after a few days of eye cream application. 7 Benefits Of Eye Masks And Eye Creams
Elensilia CPP Collagen 80% Intensive Eye Cream. Suitable for all skin types.
De-puffs eyes, diminishes lines and wrinkles, hydrates and perks up dark circles.
Pro: no parabens, artificial fragrance, alcohol or mineral oils.
These range from day creams, night creams, lotions and gels. A lotion could be used at night and during the day since it is light.
Pro tip: ingredients like glycolic acid and retinol are found in products used at night. Green tea and hyaluronic acid are lightweight ingredients found in hydrating products.
Oily skin: COSRx Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion
Dry skin: Etude House Moistfull collagen Emulsion
Normal skin: Neogen White Truffle Serum In Oil Drop
Sensitive skin: Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel
Combination skin: Benton Snail Bee High Content Lotion
- Sleep mask
Used occasionally to lock in moisture from all your products. You need once in a while, especially for those big days. Otherwise, a sheet mask will suffice. Beauty: 5 Amazing Benefits Of Face Masks
Did you know that ageing is mostly caused by exposure to UV rays? This is a forever and always type of product applied even when it’s cloudy.
SPF 45 and above will help protect your skin against UV rays which cause dryness and hence ageing. Use it during the day if the sun doesn’t rise at night wherever you are. You can apply it before your foundation. Skincare: The Benefits Of Sunscreen And How To Apply It Properly
Suitable for all skin types: Neogen Daylight Protection Sun Screen SPF 50/PA+++.
: Missha Mild Essence Sun Milk SPF 50/ PA +++
Pro tip: A good rule of thumb. If you are unsure of which order to apply K-products, start from the thinnest to the thickest. Of course, sunscreen always comes last.
A visit to the dermatologist is advisable to get a second opinion on what your skin needs and what you should stay away from.
Here is a post on A Breakdown Of My Korean 10 Step Skincare Routine