When looking for innovative skincare products that work actual miracles, we turn to Korean beauty first. It's always light-years ahead of any skincare trend here, and we have yet to come across a product we didn't like.
But trends differ from place to place. What we're loving here might be yesterday's news somewhere else. So just short of booking a ticket overseas (even though a beauty shopping spree in Seoul is at the top of our bucket list), we asked the experts who would really know what's big in Korea. Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam, Christine Chang and Sarah Lee of Glow Recipe, and Alicia Yoon of Peach & Lily break it down for us. Scroll below to see the best Korean skincare products you need to buy right now.
"I created this serum that contains a whopping 20.5% pure vitamin C with the brand CosRX. Since we launched it in April this year, it has been sold out over a dozen times, with waiting lists up to 10,000 people within a few days. It's unique because it's made in small batches and contains 72% black chokeberry, which is a powerful antioxidant," says Cho.
"Hydrocolloid bandages are super popular in Korea as they help speed up healing time for blemishes. I love the Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots. Since they're drug-free (no harsh ingredients like benzoyl peroxide), they don't leave skin irritated or flaky. Rather, the patch absorbs breakout secretions and helps them flatten and reduce in size quickly. Plus, you can apply makeup on top (which is especially helpful if skin is broken)," says Yoon.
"The Enature Birch Juice Sleeping Pack contains 74% birch juice. Birch juice is now a common replacement for water in Korean skincare products because it provides more intense hydration and moisture. This one cocoons your skin and locks in all the skin benefiting ingredients you placed on prior to this last step. I love how it absorbs quickly and doesn't leave a sticky or heavy-feeling residue," says Cho.
"This is the number one mask in Olive Young, as well—when we first curated this mask, we were amazed by how the brand made rubber masking easy to use at home by offering a creative and convenient cup format with spatula, which was inspired from Cup Noodle. Formulated with alginate and also a blend of botanicals and clays, the mineral-rich [mask] helps to detoxify skin by gently lifting away impurities and dead skin cells while supplying nutrients into the skin to reveal instant brightening effects," say Lee and Chang.
"We saw this mist in Olive Young (Korea's answer to Sephora) as a top-selling item. Women in Korea love this bi-phase mist as it is completely waterless (i.e., more concentrated) and effectively hydrates, cools, and locks moisture into the skin with soothing jojoba oil. With apple and tomato extracts, it also smooths the skin, leaving it silky soft‚ which is why it is ideal for even the most sensitive skin types," say Lee and Chang.
"Exfoliating sleeping masks, or packs (as they're commonly called in Korea), like the Eco Your Skin Lavender Bedside Mask are also really trendy as it helps skin renew itself overnight. And who doesn't want to multitask and wake up to a glowing complexion? This version contains beta hydroxy acids, but it's not irritating, because it's combined with milk proteins and shea butter which soothe skin," says Yoon.