Add These Korean Skincare Superstars to Your Must-Have List

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If you can think back to the first Korean skincare product you’ve ever tried, what was it? For me, it was an overnight sleeping mask—scroll down to find out which one (hint: it’s best overall)—and it changed the way I viewed and treated my skin.

“The world of Korean skincare brings a lot of awareness and excitement when it comes to caring for your skin,” says Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in NYC. “It also offers exposure to a variety of ingredients that can give you a glowing complexion.”

The K-beauty market also gave us some of our most popular trends of all time, including sheet masks, BB cream, the 10-step routine, and more. But, like all skincare, regimens and products should be tailored to each person. “What works [for] one may not work for others, so when building a skincare routine, it’s important to introduce new products slowly to your skin,” says Garshick.

And when it comes to the best Korean skincare products on the market, we’ve rounded them up right here.

Our Top Picks
This light overnight mask delivers major moisture with a cooling gel texture.
Reviewers find that the potent formula hydrates immediately and brightens over time.
A cult favorite, this gentle cleansing water smooths and refreshes skin.
Users report that the texture feels like a plush serum.
While it's ultra moisturizing, it doesn't leave a heavy, greasy residue.
This formula strengthens and firms the delicate eye area while reducing puffiness.
Effectively cleanse away impurities with this unique product that transforms from an oil into a foam.
What starts off as a balm quickly turns into an oil that melts makeup and debris.
Runner-Up, Best Cleansing Balm:
Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm at Amazon
Cleanse and nourish skin all at once with this balm that removes even stubborn eye makeup.
The K-beauty trend combines a toner and moisturizer for lightweight hydration.

Best Overall: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

laneige water sleeping mask

With a cooling gel texture, this light overnight mask is just what’s needed after a long day. As the last step in your nighttime skincare routine, your skin will quickly drink it up before bed. Plus, the formula will deliver major moisture all throughout the night.

What Our Testers Say

"I felt a sense of relief. I had finally found a product that hydrated my dry skin and fought against potential breakouts." — Celeste Polanco, Product Tester

Best Essence: Primera Miracle Seed Essence

Primera Miracle Seed Essence

Right after you cleanse, swipe on this super potent formula to prep your skin and allow it to absorb the serums and creams that follow. Reviewers find that it’s hydrating immediately after use and brightening over time.

Best Toner: Son & Park Beauty Water

Son & Park Beauty Water

This gentle cleansing water is a cult favorite—and not just because of its chic, minimal packaging. It’s laced with papaya extract and hazel water meant to help brighten and smooth your skin. Use it all throughout the day whenever your skin needs a quick refresh.

Best Gel-Cream: Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb

Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb

Described as a gel-cream, users report that the texture feels more like a plush serum. And all you need is a small amount to hydrate your entire face.

Best Cream: SkinRx Lab MadeCera Cream

SkinRX Lab MadeCera Cream

This handy, bright tube is easy to tote around, and the formula inside helps to target redness, sensitivity, and dryness. Reviewers also find that while it’s ultra moisturizing, it doesn’t leave a heavy, greasy residue behind.

Best Eye Cream: Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginger Eye Cream

This formula, with star tightening ingredient red ginseng, works to strengthen and firm the delicate skin around the eyes while reducing puffiness. Pro tip: Stick your eye cream in the fridge overnight for extra depuffing.

Best Cleanser: Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser

Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser

Get a double cleanse in one product. Apply this rose-infused oil all over dry skin, then add water to transform the formula into a foam that effectively cleanses away impurities.

Best Cleansing Balm: Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

Key Ingredients

Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also helps soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.

What starts off as a balm quickly turns into an oil as you massage it into your skin. The thick and powerful formula—with ingredients like vitamin E and olive oil—melts makeup and debris. Add warm water to emulsify the product and wash off.

Runner-Up, Best Cleansing Balm: Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying

Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying

Get nourishing hydration and a relaxing cleanse all at once. Scoop out the luxurious balm with the included spatula and apply all over the face—it’s even gentle enough to remove stubborn eye makeup.

Best Cream Skin: Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer

Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer

Key Ingredients

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins and have a role in virtually all the biological processes that occur in our bodies, including the reparation of skin.

Streamline your beauty routine with the newest K-beauty trend. “Cream skin combines a toner and moisturizer, so it offers lightweight hydration that doesn’t feel heavy on the skin,” says Garschick. This one is packed with amino acids meant to boost the skin’s barrier. Simply shake the product onto your hands and lightly pat into the skin.

Best Cushion Compact: Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact SPF 50+

Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+

One of my favorite trends to come from K-beauty is the skincare and makeup hybrid. This compact fits the bill—it provides some serious skincare benefits that hydrate and brighten, while it delivers seamless coverage that looks and feels like your skin.

Best Exfoliating Pads: Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling in Lemon

Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling in Lemon

Hate to choose between a physical and chemical exfoliation? With these exfoliating pads, you don’t have to. Lactic and glycolic acids provide the chemical exfoliation, while the innovative 3-layer pad delivers the physical component.

Best Brightening Serum: Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

Peach and Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

This gel texture slides on to give you that coveted “glass skin” complexion—a poreless, clear, and radiant look. The formula—a mix of peptides, hyaluronic acid, and peach extract—promises to give you firmer, brighter skin over time.

Best Hydrating Serum: Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Serum


Don’t let this small bottle fool you—it’s packing a powerful punch of Jeju green tea that essentially creates a layer of protection over your skin. All it takes is one pump for the product to work its magic on your complexion.

Best Overnight Mask: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask

Glow Recipe Watermelon Sleeping Mask

Garshick gives this mask her stamp of approval. “Not only does it include hyaluronic acid to help hydrate the skin, but it also contains alpha-hydroxy acids to help exfoliate, so it leaves my skin looking renewed and refreshed,” she says.

Best Chest Mask: WHEN Beauty and the Breast Bio-Cellulose Breast Mask

WHEN Beauty and the Breast Mask

Formulated with firming and brightening properties—like fermented coconuts—this mighty mask is an essential pick-me-up. Simply place over each breast and let the serum work for 30 minutes for the best results.

Best Ampoule: MISSHA Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule

MISSHA Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule

An amplified version of a serum, ampoules contain higher concentrations of active ingredients. This one in particular contains 10 probiotics and promises to improve the look of wrinkles, strengthen skin’s elasticity, and smooth skin’s texture.

Best Makeup Primer: Laneige Glowy Makeup Serum

Laneige Glowy Makeup Serum

Here’s another hybrid to fall in love with. It works as both a hydrating serum and lightweight primer to repair dullness and dryness. Smooth over skin right before you apply makeup.

Best Lip Mask: TonyMoly Kiss Kiss Lovely Lip Patch

TONYMOLY Kiss Kiss Lovely Lip Patch

“It’s important to remember to take care of your lips, and this patch definitely emphasizes that,” says Garshick. Infused with vitamin C, strawberry extract, and collagen, this super cute lip mask helps to soften and plump your lips. Apply after cleansing and remove after 30 minutes for a strong pout.

Article Sources
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  2. Keen MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatologyIndian Dermatol Online J. 2016;7(4):311-315. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.185494

  3. Solano F. Metabolism and functions of amino acids in the skinAdv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1265:187-199. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-45328-2_11

  4. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on the skinMolecules. 2018;23(4):863. doi:10.3390/molecules23040863

  5. OyetakinWhite P, Tribout H, Baron E. Protective mechanisms of green tea polyphenols in skinOxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:560682. doi:10.1155/2012/560682

  6. Kim S, Jang JE, Kim J, et al. Enhanced barrier functions and anti-inflammatory effect of cultured coconut extract on human skinFood Chem Toxicol. 2017;106(Pt A):367-375. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2017.05.060

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