I Used Only Korean Skincare Products for a Month—Here's My Honest Review

They were recommended by a beloved esthetician.

Vanese Maddix before/after korean skincare

Vanese Maddix/Design by Cristina Cianci

I can admit I have an obsession with skincare—I love testing the latest products and innovations. I want my skin to feel hydrated and look glowy all the time. Is that too much to ask? Here's the gist: I suffered from a tough case of eczema when I was a young girl, and I could only use products prescribed by my doctor. Fortunately, that cleared up as I got older, and my skin is far less sensitive. Now, I have a little more room to test formulas through trial and error.

My skincare products mainly consist of anything that my favorite "skinfluencers" Caroline Hirons, Tiara Willis, and Hyram Yarbo suggest. Like many of us, I love everything about K-Beauty—from the packaging, ingredients, and results but I had never actually tried any products.

With so many products available, everything tends to feel a little overwhelming, and sometimes it can be unclear where to begin. After a few hours of research, I decided to purchase $200 worth of K-Beauty products from Beauty & Seoul. "Customers are getting more clued up about formulations and ingredients, which are a huge focus in South Korean skincare products. BB creams, sheet masks, essences, etc., are all South Korean inventions, and as more people learn this, they realize how advanced these products are," founder Maree Kinder says.

I was then fortunate enough to participate in a Zoom skincare consultation with celebrity esthetician, Korean beauty expert, and founder of Peach & Lily, Alicia Yoon. Though it was virtual, we covered all the same elements of an in-person consultation. Yoon started by asking me questions relating to my skin type and current routine. I let her know that I wanted my skin to look less dull and more radiant.

After our consultation, Yoon then compiled a list of Peach & Lily products to help me achieve my skin goals. "Your current skincare routine is in a good place, but what I’m recommending is more focused on providing a little bit more of that extra hydration, nourishment, and radiance-boosters so that you can experience that glass skin glow from within that you’re seeking," she said.

She also noted that various ingredients and hydrators will work together to help attain the glow I am seeking. "Only thin layers of each product are needed. But see how your skin feels and if more layers are desired, these products can be layered more heavily," she says.

I decided to mix a few of my Beauty & Seoul products with a few products recommended by Yoon. Below, I’ve documented my honest thoughts on how the products have worked on my skin over the past month.

Cleansers

Peach Pudding Makeup Cleanser
Peach & Lily Peach Pudding Makeup Cleanser $10
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Rating: 4.9/5

Description: This cleanser was recommended to me by Yoon and is the first step in a double-cleanse to remove oil-based makeup, SPF, and other impurities. It’s recommended for dry, oily, and normal skin types. On why she recommended it, Yoon said, "It’s super hydrating and won’t strip skin dry." She recommended that it be applied onto dry skin, massaged in, and rinsed off with lukewarm water.

My Thoughts: I used this cleanser a handful of times over the last month. I completely agree that it's ideal for removing oil-based makeup, SPF, and other impurities as my makeup slid off like butter. I tried it once or twice when I didn’t have anything heavy on my face, and I didn’t find the results to be quite as hydrating as when I removed heavy makeup. Overall, I really love this cleanser as it’s packed full of some of my favorite oils, including jojoba. It’s an ingredient that works wonders for soothing my dry skin.

All Clean Balm
Heimish All Clean Balm $18
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Rating: 5/5

Description: This balm helps remove makeup, excess sebum, and impurities without leaving your skin dry. A spatula is provided so that you never have to dip your fingers into the product. It’s recommended that this balm is applied to dry skin with a hint of water and then rinsed off with warm water.

My Thoughts: This balm is truly incredible, and I know it’s a product I’ll continue to repurchase. I strive only to purchase products with outstanding reviews, and this one had practically all positive reviews. It did an excellent job at removing my makeup and being a great first step to my double-cleanse. I found that this balm was so effective that my skin was spotless when I came to my second cleanse. It’s another product that contains some of the best oils, making it perfect for instant makeup and impurity removal.

Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser
Peach & Lily Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser $28
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Rating: 5/5

Description: Yoon added this product to my morning cleanser regimen and the second step to my evening double-cleanse. She recommended this sulfate-free, low-pH cleanser to help respect my skin barrier and keep it hydrated.

My Thoughts: This cleanser was so calming on my skin and gentle whether used morning or night. Because I have dry skin, my skin tends to dry out after applying a cleanser. I’m happy to report that this wasn’t the case with this cleanser, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone with a dry skin type.

Exfoliator

Peeling Gel
Pyunkang Yul Peeling Gel $14
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Rating: 4/5

Description: This exfoliator is designed to help reveal a smoother, more radiant complexion by gently removing dead skin cells and excess sebum. It’s only meant to be used a handful of times per week.

My Thoughts: Compared to other exfoliators I’ve used in the past, I am a fan of this exfoliator. It was gentle and left my face feeling super hydrated. To avoid over-exfoliating, I only used this in my evening routine twice a week. The only downside was the poignant scent; it was not as pleasant as other products in my routine. However, that is to be expected when a product doesn’t use ingredients to make the product smell sweet—which I think is a good thing.

Toner

The Good Acids Pore Toner
Peach & Lily The Good Acids Pore Toner $39
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Rating: 5/5

Description: This was another recommendation by Yoon. This toner should only use be used three times per week rather than daily. "It's gentle enough for everyday use, but every three days is a good amount for you," she explains. It tones the skin and gently exfoliates it ever-so-slightly to help keep skin looking polished and radiant.

My Thoughts: I thought it was fascinating to use this toner three times a week, as I’m used to daily toners. However, I found that my skin didn’t ever feel dried out (as it has before) by using it less often. I apply this toner with a cotton pad and lightly pat it into my skin for instant results.

Essence

 Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence $25
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Rating: 5/5

Description: This essence contains 96% snail secretion filtrate to help repair skin and restore skin elasticity. "Snail secretion filtrate is used in many Korean skincare products due to its soothing and repairing benefits to the skin," Kinder says, "Snail secretion filtrate also acts as a mild exfoliant promoting a clearer complexion by stimulating the cell renewal process."

My Thoughts: I was quite apprehensive about trying this essence at first because I wondered whether the mucin would feel gooey on my face. Thankfully, it wasn’t gooey and instantly felt super hydrating. The reviews I’d initially read raved highly of this essence, so it made my decision-making process much easier. 

Serum

Glass Skin Refining Serum
Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum $39
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Rating: 5/5

Description: This is one of the most sought-after products by Peach & Lily due to its capabilities to give you glass-like skin. "This serum has everything from soothing ingredients to antioxidants to fatty acids to vitamins to minerals to hydrators," Yoon says. She recommended that I use one-to-three pumps of this serum in the morning and night.

My Thoughts: One of my goals for this month was to achieve the look of glass skin—and this serum definitely helped me meet it. Every time I used it, I could see a glowy reflection in my skin and was inundated with compliments. It felt so lightweight and gave an overall radiance to my complexion.

Face Mask

Natural Brightening Velvet Mask
Dr. Althea Natural Brightening Velvet Mask $16
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Rating: 5/5

Description: This mask is said to revitalize dull-looking skin with its soothing and radiance-boosting ingredients, including rice, oatmeal, and honey extract.

My Thoughts: Over the past month, I used one face mask per week during my evening routine. For me, none of the other masks compared to this one by Dr. Althea. Firstly, K-Beauty face masks provide a fun and simple experience compared to what I’ve used in the past. All K-Beauty sheet masks include high-quality protective paper for better mask precision which meant it was effortless to apply. After it had been on for 20 minutes, I genuinely didn’t want to take it off as my skin felt rehydrated and looked super polished.

Face Cream

Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream
Peach & Lily Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream $40
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Rating: 5/5

Description: This face cream is for morning and evening use. It’s packed with antioxidants to help fight off free radicals, and matcha to soothe your skin.

My Thoughts: In the past, I’ve found it difficult to find face creams that I’ve truly loved. So when I find a face cream that works well for me, I end up sticking with it and not trying anything else. I was pleasantly surprised at how hydrating this cream was. It includes one of my favorite ingredients, niacinamide, which helps calm skin conditions like eczema and redness. I also found that it works to keep skin looking and feeling smooth from the inside out.

Sunscreen

Mobitherapy UV Sun Shield
Rootree Mobitherapy UV Sun Shield $23
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Rating: 5/5

Description: This sunscreen offers SPF 50+ PA++++ protection without leaving behind a white cast or causing irritation. It also contains Korean Dendropanax, which is known for leaving skin calm and supple.

My Thoughts: As someone with dark skin, I’m always hesitant to try sunscreens that I'm not very familiar with. I often have to do extensive research to find one that doesn’t leave me with a white cast. Due to this, I tend to only use products recommended by people with similar skin tones to mine. Yoon took this into account when recommending this sunscreen. It applied gently and definitely was my favorite part of my whole routine. Also, I found that this worked well under and over makeup which is something I wear daily.

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