Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 5 years, Korean skincare is all over the place. But you don’t have to book a ticket to Seoul in order to get the best that K-Beauty has to offer. Online retailers like Soko Glam, Sephora, and Dermstore all carry popular K-Beauty items. Here are some of the best and they’re only 1-click away:
Cosrx Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
Snail mucin. It’s exactly what you think it is, and it’s huge in Korean beauty. Wondering how the snail mucin is collected? Snail secretion is collected after the snail leaves a trail and it is then treated and completely purified before being included in skincare products.
Snail mucin is a combination of glycolic acid and proteins. The benefits evidenced from snail mucin are generally just from additional glycolic acid and hydrators like hyaluronic acid. That said, preliminary studies do show snail mucin is effective against acne scarring.
The CosRx Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is incredibly popular among K-Beauty followers. It is a clear, sticky gel that helps to hydrate the skin giving it a honey-like appearance. It feels sticky at first but it absorbs quickly into the skin. If you want to start using snail mucin in your routine, this is a great place to start.
Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner
Speaking of honey skin, the Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner gives you just that. The primary ingredient in this product is licorice root extract, which contains glycyrrhizinate, a potent antioxidant. Licorice has been shown in peer-reviewed studies to be anti-inflammatory and to help prevent the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Use this after cleansing to prep your skin for your serums and treatments.
The Face Shop Rice Water Cleanser
Asian cultures have been using rice water to cleanse their skin for centuries! It is believed to soften and brighten the skin. And the science backs those claims up. Oryza sativa (or more commonly known as Asian rice) is an emollient, moisturizing, and cleansing oil that contains antioxidant gamma oryzanol (African Journal of Biotechnology, International Journal of Toxicology). Gamma orzanol is a free-radical scavenger and helps to improve the stability of oils and fatty acids (International Journal of Pharmaceutics). Tests on irritation found that it was, at most, mildly irritating, but that users generally didn’t have a problem.
If you want to introduce rice water into your routine, try the Rice Water Cleanser from The Face Shop. This cleansing foam is both effective and hydrating, removing leftover traces of makeup that your oil cleanser missed without stripping the skin and drying it out.
Neogen Dermalogy Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Green Tea
Green tea is another popular ingredient in K-beauty, both as a drink and in skincare. Green tea contains the polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to have remarkable preventive effects against photocarcinogenesis and phototoxicity in mouse models. While EGCG comprises only 50% of “green tea extract” found in skincare and cosmeceuticals (Mukhtar), there is still enough EGCG to demonstrate anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties in most skincare and cosmeceuticals.
In a 2001 study in the journal Carcinogenesis, topical application of EGCG to human skin resulted in decreased oxidative stress and an increase in antioxidant enzymes after UV irradiation. Specifically, catalase and glutathione activity were increased due to the application of EGCG. A further 2003 study in Molecular Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention found that the polyphenols in green tea prevent UVB-induced oxidation of lipids and proteins and prevent the depletion in antioxidant enzymes experienced after UVB exposure in mouse skin.
One of my favorites products with green tea is the Neogen Dermalogy Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Green Tea. This is an exceptional product for anyone who is struggling with acne and has normal to oily skin. It is more gentle than AHAs and will help to soothe irritated skin, take down inflamed skin, and aid redness.
J.One Jelly Pack
Finally, we have the J.One Jelly Pack! This product is a bit of a mystery to me because some people use it as a primer, others as a treatment, and the rest as a moisturizer. I use it in the morning as a makeup primer. Unlike jelly, it’s not sticky. A little thick and viscous, maybe, but not sticky. It glides across the skin and leaves a slightly glossy, dewy finish. It did make my foundation go on more easily.
The superstar in this product is fullerene. Studies show fullerene has a unique “sponge-like” antioxidant activity that may work on a variety of pathways as an oxygen radical absorber. It may also improve acne vulgaris. In an open trial using a fullerene gel twice a day, the number of acne lesions was reduced by 23% after four weeks and by about 35% after eight weeks (Nano Med Journal, 2010).