Top Korean Beauty Product Picks


Korean beauty has become a big part of my life, not just because I married into a Korean family with lots of K-beauty experience, but also because Korean beauty products have taken the world by storm! Not a day goes by without someone asking me what I think about a certain K-beauty trend or item. I’ve written multiple reviews on my favorite and not so favorite items in the past (those reviews here and here), and some of my picks were included in this Bustle article titled “23 Life Changing Korean Beauty Products that Dermatologists are Obsessed with.” I liked that article because I got to see what K-beauty products some other dermatologists, Korean and non-Korean, enjoy using on a regular basis. Today I want to share some of my top K-beauty finds that I have been reaching for more and more often this winter season.


Memebox bon vivant Botanical Pure Mask (c/o): I LOVE this line of sheet masks, and they are my new favorite! These masks are made with 100% Eucalyptus-derived elements, boasting a natural formulation that does not irritate the skin. Each mask is soaked in one of 6 superfood essences, such as acai or chamomile, and each one targets a different skin concern such as redness, dull, or dry skin. The masks are thin and breathable, and they adhere to the face like a second skin throughout the entire 15 minutes you have them on. Plus, the price is unbeatable – $22 for 14 masks AND a free cute cat headband to keep your hair back while masking (I received one as a gift and my husband can’t stop teasing me when I wear it!).

Nature Republic steam cream

Nature Republic Steam Cream with Shea Butter: An oldie but a goodie, my heavy duty winter-makes-my-skin-crack night cream! I reviewed this before here and I’ll just reiterate: I haven’t been able to find anything else quite so moisturizing when my skin is dried out from the cold. The ingredients consist of Shea butter from Africa mixed with soothing and moisturizing oils that provide lightweight but lasting hydration to your skin overnight. I’ve already gone through two jars of this and it is still by far my most effective night cream.

Skin Food Cover

Skin Food Inner





Skin Food Brown Sugar Scrub: This brown sugar exfoliating scrub does wonders for removing layers of dead dry skin from my face. After cleaning my face, I pat dry, and while my skin is still slightly damp, I layer on this sugar scrub, mixing it with some water to facilitate application. Leave on for 10-15 minutes and then wash off. I’m always surprised by how smooth and polished my skin feels after using this mask, and it is only $10! I use this once a week, alternating with my Clarisonic Mia 2 and my Cure Natural Aqua Gel (a huge huge hit in Japan).

Laneige Water Sleeping MaskLaneige Water Bank Serum (c/o): This serum contains six different minerals that help hydrate the skin and delivers moisture that actually lasts throughout the night and well into the next day. The formulation is light-weight, smells nice, and doesn’t irritate my sensitive rosacea-prone skin. During the winter, when I need some extra moisturizer during the day, I use this serum underneath my sunscreen when I get ready in the morning (view my sunscreen picks here).

Nature Republic Cleansing Oil: This is a great oil-based makeup remover that I use in addition to my Neutrogena Makeup Wipes on days that I’m wearing more foundation or eye makeup. The only thing to note is that you should remove your contact lens before you use this product; otherwise, you’ll end up with makeup smudged onto your lenses!

Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask: I do this once in a blue moon because this mask is super messy and makes me look like the Wicked Witch of the West, but it does help to clean out my pores. Once you have enlarged pores they are extremely hard to shrink back down so most of what I do is maintenance and trying to prevent them from getting bigger. This clay mask is a thick gooey formulation of volcanic ash designed to absorb sebum and cleanse pores. Pro tip: do not wait until the mask is completely dried out to wash out because that means your skin is getting totally desiccated too. Set a timer for 10 minutes but if your mask has already completely dried out, just wash it off and follow with serum plus night cream.

Shop some of my picks here:

What are your favorite K Beauty finds? Would love to hear!

10 Comments on Top Korean Beauty Product Picks

  1. Ana
    February 1, 2017 at 3:52 pm (1 year ago)

    Love this! I’ve been toying around with tonymoly, lululun, and dr. jart+ (the ceramidin cream is one of my favs) but I’m definitely going to check these out.

    Have you tried Nivea Creme? It’s one of the best heavy-duty moisturizers I’ve found and it’s very affordable :)

    Also, how do you feel about creams with Vit C in them? I’ve been using The Body Shop vit c moisturizer the past few weeks. I think eating more Vit C has been helping my skin but not sure if the cream is actually doing much on top of that…

    • Ana
      February 1, 2017 at 3:53 pm (1 year ago)

      sorry Lululun is actually a Japanese brand I forgot!

    • Joyce
      February 1, 2017 at 6:15 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Ana, thanks so much for your comment! I’ve been hearing SO much about tonymoly and their sheet mask packaging is so cute and enticing at Sephora. I’ll definitely have to try them next time. I haven’t heard of Lulun before, so thanks for sharing, and Dr. Jart+ ceramidin cream looks amazing. I’ll pick one up the next time I’m skincare shopping! I have not tried Nivea creme specifically but I’ve used their body wash in the past.

      You ask a PERFECT question about Vitamin C. One of our MD/PhD residents just gave a departmental wide talk on efficacy on topical vitamin C last week, and he kindly agreed to write something for on this topic in the near future (after our exams). The gist of it is that Vitamin C is extremely hard to stabilize in topical preparations; it breaks down very quickly and needs to be kept in cold temperatures without light exposure. My coresident said that the only brand that has found a way to stabilize topical Vitamin C is Skinceuticals, which holds a patent for their C+E Ferulic formulation. If you love using vitamin C products I suggest keeping it in the refrigerator and wrapping it in aluminum foil to prevent it from degrading every time you expose it to light or air! Stay tuned for the post on vitamin C!

      • Ana
        February 6, 2017 at 1:58 pm (1 year ago)

        Thanks for the reply! Lululun has super cheap face sheets that I ordered with my friend from if you’re interested! And if you’re interested the Dr. Jart+ ceramidin cream comes in this lighter liquid formulation as well, which is really nice for under makeup (doesn’t add a thick layer) or for lighter moisturizing during the summer.

        And thank you for the info on Vit. C – I’m looking forward to reading the post for sure. I might just stick with eating more citrus for right now haha, but will check out Skinceuticals :)

        Have a good week!

  2. Jen
    February 4, 2017 at 12:32 pm (1 year ago)

    Totally going to try Nature Republic Steam Cream – I’ve been waking up in the morning with dry skin from the heater being on all night and it’s the worst!!!

    • Joyce
      February 5, 2017 at 11:31 am (1 year ago)

      Hey Jen! Hope this works for you :) I totally feel your pain with the heater blasting at my skin all night…

  3. Katie
    February 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Joyce! Thanks for this informative post! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile but first time commenting. Questions:

    1) Skinceuticals C ferulic – could your colleague consider commenting on other formulations? There seem to be others that are similar and ranked well by the reviewers at
    e.g. Drunk Elephant’s C Firma

    2) Shea butter based products – love the thought of this but is it expected to clog pores? For those of us who are blessed with propensity for large pores and blackheads, shea butter (or any oil on the face) scares me.

    Thanks in advance for any info you might have.

    • Joyce
      February 6, 2017 at 3:48 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Katie,

      Great question. I will ask my coresident to give his opinions on what he came across while he was doing his research; I’m not sure about the Drunk Elephant’s C Firma but perhaps we could ask him his thoughts on that as well!

      As far as shea butter: shea butter is non-comedogenic but some think that it could thicken the sebum. I personally have not experienced any increase in breakouts or pore size when I use this product. I would recommend testing the product on one part of your face to see whether or not you like it before applying to the rest of the face!

  4. Ju
    February 18, 2017 at 4:10 pm (1 year ago)

    Joyce, we should collaborate!

    • Joyce
      February 22, 2017 at 11:44 am (1 year ago)

      Let’s do it! 😀


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