20 Top-Rated Korean Beauty Products That Will Make You Look Flawless
These best-selling Korean beauty products can help you achieve the dewy, luminescent glow that K-beauty is known for.
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These K-beauty products can change everything
K-beauty may be a certified trend in the West, but in South Korea, skin care routines that include moisturizers, masks, serums, and sunscreens have always been considered as basic as brushing your teeth. “In South Korea, skin care is considered a fundamental part of self-care,” says Alicia Yoon, CEO of K-beauty brand Peach & Lily. “It’s not a vanity thing or an afterthought but about long-term skin health.” And while it’s taken Americans a little while to catch on, they’re finally understanding exactly why Korean beauty products are so amazing.
“Traditionally in the U.S., there was less focus on skin care and more on makeup,” explains Ju Rhyu, CEO of Hero Cosmetics. “But the skin care culture is changing.” Consumers are catching on to the K-beauty philosophy, which takes a more holistic, preventative approach to skin care.
Yoon equates the famous 10-step K-beauty routine to a balanced diet: Just as the body runs best on a mixture of complex carbs, lean protein, and good fats, skin will also be its most radiant when fed the vitamins and nutrients it needs. “It’s not about the number of steps but about making sure your skin gets the 360-degree support it needs,” she says.
How we chose the best Korean beauty products
The Korean beauty products from South Korean and Asian American businesses that made our list are beloved by K-beauty fans overseas and in the United States. They made our list for their cult followings, proven results, stellar ingredients, and overwhelmingly positive user reviews. Whether they’re skin care products or makeup, they’ll help you achieve the luminous, dewy, “glass skin” K-beauty is famous for. And while K-beauty may be on your mind during AAPI Month, you’ll be using these products and tips in your beauty regimen all year long.
Best lip balm
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
This isn’t your ordinary lip balm. Laneige’s overnight lip mask consistently tops “best of” beauty lists for making even the angriest chapped and cracked lips soft and supple by morning. Hyaluronic acid and minerals work to lock in moisture, while vitamin C and berry-based antioxidants repair the damage caused by dryness. It comes in an unapologetically artificial but cheerful berry scent (as well as a bunch of others like gummy bear, sweet candy, and apple lime), and you can slather it on your lips with the included mini spatula applicator.
- Uses the brand’s exclusive Moisture Wrap technology
- Packed with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and more good-for-you ingredients
- Strong artificial fruit scent
Best makeup remover
Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm
A cult classic in the makeup remover category for Korean beauty products, Banila’s sherbet-like Zero Cleansing Balm undergoes a magical kind of alchemy when it makes contact with skin, melting into an oil that breaks down makeup—even waterproof mascara—and residue. The hypoallergenic formula is free of parabens, phthalates, and mineral oil, and it cleanses without stripping the skin of its natural moisture or leaving it feeling greasy. Verified Amazon reviewer Maria calls it “the holy grail for oily, acne-prone, sensitive skin,” while another fan raves, “My skin has never felt so clean. What the heck have I been missing all this time?! It’s AMAZING!”
- Removes waterproof mascara
- Doesn’t contain common toxins
Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence
Not familiar with essence? It’s a water-based skin care product that hydrates and improves overall skin health. Missha’s Time Revolution is famous for being a dupe of the more expensive SK-II Essence, achieving similar brightening, hydrating, and moisturizing results for a fraction of the price. In addition to working some serious moisturizing magic, it gets reviewer raves for improving skin texture and lightening dark spots. The latest formula is based on the same yeast and enzyme ingredients, but it uses a double-fermentation method to create a more powerful solution.
Though instructions call for pouring a generous amount onto a cotton pad, savvy users know this is a waste of product. It’s more efficient to pour directly into your hands and tap onto your face.
- Good for dry or sensitive skin
- May cause certain skin types to break out
Dr. G Green Mild Up Sun SPF 50+
If there’s one single beauty product Korean women are fanatical about, it’s sunscreen—they won’t leave home without it. Of the thousands of sunscreens and moisturizers with SPF to choose from, mineral, zinc oxide–based Dr. G Mild Up Sun is a safer alternative to chemical sunscreens and is particularly well suited for those with sensitive skin. Despite being a physical sunscreen, it leaves little to no white cast, according to its fans. The unscented formula is non-greasy and also absorbs easily into the skin.
- Mineral based
- Doesn’t leave a white cast
- Not tinted
Best hydrating moisturizer
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
Good for all skin types, all year round, this water-based, ultra-lightweight gel delivers a surprising amount of hydration. And as Peach & Lily’s Yoon points out, dehydration is more common than you might think, even among those with oily skin. “I have yet to meet someone who has overly hydrated skin,” she says. “That doesn’t happen.”
Like all of Belif’s products, which are based on apothecary herbs and Korean skin care science, the Aqua Bomb is free of sulfates and phthalates. But this Korean beauty product’s particular missions include relieving dry, dehydrated skin, minimizing the appearance of pores, and improving skin elasticity. “This is just as described, and it doesn’t irritate my skin at all, which is unusual,” raves one reviewer. “It’s great for summer, and not sticky like others I’ve tried.” Pro tip: In the summer, store this in the fridge for an extra cooling application.
- Works on all skin types, even oily skin
- Some reviewers report going through it quickly
Best lip tint
Etude House Dear Darling Water Tint
One of the signature lip looks in K-beauty is the berry-kissed lip—the look of I’ve-just-had-a-cherry-popsicle or eaten a small vat of strawberries. It’s part of the youthful, innocent, and girly aesthetic that dominates the K-beauty ethos. These lip stains from Etude House achieve just that by creating a natural-looking, juicy, long-wearing stain that doesn’t dry out lips. The formula is also enriched with pomegranate and soapberry extracts to help moisturize lips. For the classic K-beauty look, apply more at the center of the lips and blend outward for a gradient effect.
- Long lasting
- Doesn’t dry out lips
- May last longer than you want it to
Touch in Sol No Pore Blem Primer
“K-beauty uses a lot of anti-acne ingredients throughout the skin care regimen, so it can be in your cleanser, in your toner, or in your moisturizer,” says Rhyu of Hero Cosmetics. Touch in Sol’s No Pore Blem Primer is a classic example of a K-beauty makeup product enriched with skin-saving benefits. Enriched with antioxidant-rich green tea extracts, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and soluble collagen for moisture and elasticity, the pore-perfecting primer is popular as a base for both makeup and no-makeup days.
It has more than 7,100 five-star reviews on Amazon, including from one happy customer who calls it her “holy grail” product: “This primer is a godsend for those with large pores. I have tried just about everything on the market, from drugstore to high end, in an attempt to disguise my enlarged pores. Nothing has worked like this. I will never use another primer again.”
- Includes acne-fighting compounds
- Works well under makeup or without any makeup at all
- Doesn’t color-correct skin
Best anti-aging cream
Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream
For those with more mature skin and deep pockets, consider investing in this Sulwhasoo Renewing Cream that harnesses the power of Korean red ginseng concentrate and retinol to improve skin’s elasticity, moisture, and radiance. Sulwhasoo is one of the most luxe and expensive Korean beauty brands on the market but also one of the most trusted. If wrinkles are your main concern, this antioxidant-packed cream helps minimize the appearance of fine lines by replenishing moisture and evening out skin tone. While this anti-aging cream carries a pretty price tag, fans say they’re faithful because it delivers concrete results.
- Fights wrinkles
- Incredibly hydrating
- Delivers visible results almost instantly
Clio Kill Cover Glow Cushion
The popularity of cushion foundations seems to have petered out in Western beauty culture, but these liquid-based compacts are still going strong in South Korea, particularly for the convenience factor and the impressive formulas. One of the most popular cushion foundations is the Clio Kill Cover Glow. It offers more coverage than other cushion foundations on the market, and it leaves skin radiant, dewy, and youthful, thanks to hyaluronic acid. A blend of seven jewel powders (including amethyst, coral, and pearl) add to the glow.
Pro tip: To reap the full benefits of a cushion foundation, don’t ditch the sponge and use a brush, as many Western beauty bloggers erroneously do. The sponges in cushion foundations are designed to apply the product in the best possible way. Otherwise, you won’t get the intended results.
- Long lasting
- Limited shade range compared with some other foundations
Best contouring makeup
Too Cool for School Artclass by Rodin
Regular K-beauty YouTube viewers will instantly recognize Too Cool for School’s Artclass by Rodin as a long-time favorite of the beauty community in South Korea. It may look like a bronzer to you, but it’s actually a shading and contouring palette that lets you slim down the face with a few artfully applied strokes on your jaw and hairline. The shades can also be mixed to contour the nose and define eyebrows, and you can even use them as eye shadow.
- Easy, complementary contouring
- Matte finish
- Might not work with all skin shades
iUNIK Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum
If you’re prone to breakouts, you should follow the lead of South Korean women and add propolis to your beauty regimen. Propolis is a resin-like compound that bees produce from their saliva, beeswax, and botanical sources, which they use as a sealant while building their hives. In skin care, it has powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This iUNIK serum contains 70 percent propolis, fruit extracts, and vitamins C, E, and K, and it’s known for calming and soothing irritated skin, preventing future breakouts, and brightening hyperpigmentation left by old spots. It also adds a moisture barrier to your skin, keeping it hydrated and protected. Plus, with a $14 price point, you really can’t go wrong with this affordable face serum.
- Soothes skin
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- A few reviewers say it didn’t brighten skin as much as they’d hoped it would
Best smoothing lip color
Peripera Ink Velvet
Instantly recognizable by their signature dropper packaging, Peripera’s Ink Velvet lip tints have become staples in beauty shops and ladies’ purses in South Korea. Along with strong pigmentation, the tints are famous for being lightweight and long lasting, and they’re infused with jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid, and marine collagen for moisture. Unlike liquid lipsticks that can accentuate wrinkles, the whipped cream texture is supposed to smooth out the appearance of fine lines for a soft, almost airbrushed appearance. Even better? These tints don’t bleed. Apply them with a light hand for a gentle stained look, or go heavier for a more opaque, bold effect.
- Long lasting
- Smooths out lip lines
- Some reviewers say the shades were different than they expected
Best product for irritated skin
Nature Republic Soothing & Moisture Aloe Vera Gel
This all-purpose Korean beauty product from Nature Republic is a multitasking gel that can be used alone or in tandem with other products. Made with 92 percent aloe vera from California, it works as a moisturizer for the face and body, but it can also be applied to hair and nails. Users love it for its non-sticky, quick-absorbing formula that soothes dry, irritated skin (whether it’s the result of razor burns or sunburns). Mix the gel with a facial oil and you’ve just made a homemade overnight mask. Or mix the gel with primer to achieve a glowy, dewy makeup base. Need another reason to try it? More than 5,400 Amazon reviewers give it a perfect five-star rating.
- Made in the USA
- Some reviewers aren’t crazy about the scent
Best skin protector
Dr. Jart Ceramidin Cream
For hydration, there’s hyaluronic acid. For skin brightening, there’s vitamin C. And for strengthening the skin’s protective barrier, there are ceramides, naturally occurring skin lipids that act like glue to hold cells together and seal in moisture. One of Dr. Jart’s top sellers, this ceramidin cream is made with a 5-Cera Complex of ceramides, which restores and repairs skin that has been depleted by age and the sun, as well as reduces water loss. The cream’s biggest fans are those with dry skin, who gush about its lightweight silky texture and moisturizing, skin-plumping properties.
- Extremely hydrating
- Not right for all skin types
Best face mask
Mediheal Sheet Masks
When it comes to sheet masks, Mediheal is the OG brand that popularized the concept. The leading brand in South Korea, it makes a wide variety of masks for a wide variety of skin concerns, which makes this variety pack a good starting point. There’s one for every type of skin concern: intensive hydration, blemish control, firming, brightening, skin strengthening, and tightening.
If you’ve never used a sheet mask before, here’s how to make sure the serum doesn’t go to waste: After removing the still-moist sheet mask, rub it on the backs of your hands and neck. You’ll also find a good amount of leftover serum in the package itself.
- Six specialized masks for different skin issues
- You may not want all the masks in the variety pack
Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner
Korean toners are nothing like the old-school alcohol-based toners and astringents you probably used in your teen years to remove excess oil. Toners in the K-beauty regimen are much more gentle, and they’re designed to restore the pH balance in your skin after cleansing and washing your face. Pyunkang Yul is a minimalist brand popular among green-minded consumers that aims to eliminate as many filler ingredients as possible. This essence toner is made with just seven ingredients—90 percent of which is something called milk vetch root extract. According to the brand, this compound absorbs more deeply into the skin than purified water, and it helps improve skin elasticity and hydration.
- Restores skin’s pH levels
- May not be what you have in mind when looking for a toner
Best oil-based cleanser
DearKlairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil
Hero Cosmetics CEO Ju Rhyu says one of the most important skin care lessons she learned while living in South Korea and experiencing breakouts was the double cleanse, which calls for removing dirt and makeup with an oil cleanser and then following up with a second foam cleanser. “Introducing an oil-based cleanser was transformative to my skin care and really helped clear up my skin,” she says. “It’s something I still swear by now.”
This DearKlairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil is made from black sesame, black bean, and black currant seed oils, which work together to remove dirt and makeup, help with sebum control, and soothe sensitive skin. Even fans with oily skin say this particular cleansing oil helps minimize blackheads and sebum production and leaves skin soft.
- Helps fight breakouts and oil production
- Soothes skin
- Some reviewers don’t like the scent
Best gentle cleanser
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
After removing makeup with an oil cleanser, the next step in the K-beauty regimen is the second cleanse. This COSRX cleanser helps restore the skin’s natural pH level without stripping it of its natural oils—something that does wonders for oily, sensitive, acne-prone skin. This particular Korean beauty product is gentle enough to be used morning and night and can also be used as a body wash. “This COSRX cleanser has made my skin so healthy. I noticed a huge difference within two weeks,” reads one of the top reviews on Amazon. “My skin glows, I tell you—glows!”
- Good for oily and sensitive skin
- It may not work as well when used solo
Best post-acne healing treatment
Hero Cosmetics Rescue Balm
“Shock and awe.” That’s how Rhyu describes the traditional American approach to acne treatment—and he doesn’t mean that kindly. “In the U.S., the approach is more about drying the pimple out, so you’ll see a lot of products made with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acids,” Rhyu says. But this strategy also tends to dry out the surrounding area, which can lead to flaky, irritated red patches and hyperpigmentation.
Enter Rescue Balm, a post-blemish treatment inspired by first-aid ointments made with antioxidants and peptides to help speed up the healing process. An Amazon’s Choice product, it has racked up nearly 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. If post-acne dark spots are a particular problem, the brand’s pen-like rollerball Lightning Wand, which dispenses a brightening serum, is another fan favorite.
- Not too drying
- Heals skin
- Doesn’t work on acne scars
Best acne spot treatment
Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots
Innovation is one of the ways K-beauty has become a world leader in the beauty industry, says Yoon, whether it’s introducing new skin care ingredients to the world or inventing new product categories altogether. This mindset led to the creation of the company’s Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots. A popular concept in South Korea, the small, thin, translucent stickers use hydrocolloid gel to reduce inflammation and absorb excess fluid without drying the surrounding area. “You don’t want to solve one issue and cause another,” Yoon notes. “Sometimes acne products will help you deal with acne, but then leave you with dry skin.”
The patch system also acts as a shield to prevent nasty picking. The stickers can be used at night but can also be worn under makeup. “I don’t know what magic is in these, but they work like a charm,” says Amazon reviewer Melissa S. “I put the disc on before bed, and depending on the severity, the pimple is either completely gone or significantly decreased.” These Korean beauty products are also super affordable—under $5 for a set of 30 patches.
- Works overnight
- Prevents picking
- Three sizes per package
- Some reviewers say they could be stickier
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