When Korea’s BB Cream craze expanded (or rather, exploded) into the U.S. in 2011, we were suddenly made aware of just how far ahead of the skincare game Asia was in terms of both innovation and technology. Since then, we’ve seen other Asian beauty products, like CC Creams and sheet masks, introduced to America under crossover brands like SK-II and AmorePacific (both of which are sold at Sephora). Of course, it was only a matter of time before more niche Asian brands found a place on the average American woman’s medicine cabinet.
But for anyone who has ever fallen in love with the creamy lightness of a BB Cream, or experienced the thrill of a post-sheet mask glow, comes one caveat: Asian skincare products—though effective and cutting-edge—can come across as somewhat intimidating to the unschooled at first. Ingredients like snail slime or starfish essence, and ambiguous terms like “snow cream” or “smooth pudding” (yes, it’s a real product), can leave a lot of women scratching their heads and wondering if they’re supposed to apply the product, or spoon it in their mouths.
We spoke with Alicia Yoon and Cindy Kim, founders of Korean and Japanese beauty e-commerce site Peach and Lily, and Katherine Tocheff, Director of Marketing & Innovation for Japanese skincare line Hada Labo, and asked them to explain the basics of Asian skincare to us. From the main differences between Asian and American skin products, to their predictions on the “next big thing” from Asia to take the U.S. by storm, they gave us the ultimate crash course—and we’re sharing all of their knowledge with you.
Click through the slideshow above for our beginner’s guide to understanding Asian skincare products—plus, some truly wondrous products you NEED to know!