A worldwide phenomenon, South Korean beauty, or K-Beauty, is always two steps ahead of the game with a skin-first approach to beauty that combines innovative science with generations-old traditions and herbal medicine. Home to the 10-step skincare routine where hydration and sun protection are non-negotiable, K-beauty brought us the viral likes of “Glass Skin,” “Honey Skin,” and now “Velvet Skin,” and enlightened us to the world of daily sheet masking and fermented essences. From the antioxidant powers of snail slime and ginseng to the healing properties of green tea and bamboo sap, K-Beauty’s “more is more” skincare philosophy brings us high-performing products accessible at various price points.
Don’t let the cute packaging fool you — Saturday Skin’s proprietary Cha-7 es Complex was developed by South Korea’s top skin scientists as a peptide-packed formula that supercharges the skin’s regeneration process for potent anti-aging and youth-preserving results. From ultimate thirst-quenching hydration (we love their Waterfall Glacier Water Cream and sheet masks) to balancing probiotic treatments, this cult skincare line gives your complexion the radiance and suppleness of K-Beauty “Glass Skin.”
Heritage brand Sulwhasoo was founded in 1966 when it launched its ABC Ginseng Cream — the world’s first ginseng-based cosmetic product — and has since pioneered over 50 years of research on the Ginseng plant. Today, the premier skincare label combines the Asian wisdom of balance and harmony with the time-tested medicinal herbs of Korean “Hanbang.” The First Care Activating Serum EX is Sulwhasoo’s signature product — one bottle is sold every ten seconds.
K-Beauty heavyweight Neogen develops skincare products based on the latest derma-ceutical research and its patented six-core biotechnology, which maximises the powers of natural ingredients. Its famous Bio-Peels Gauze pads harness the powers of AHA chemical exfoliation and antioxidant resveratrol, while its Real Ferment Micro Essence brightens and locks in moisture with a cocktail of natural ingredients.
Erborian is a half-Korean, half-French beauty brand — need we say more? By combining the best of traditional Korean herbal ingredients, Korean skincare technology, and the luxury savoir faire of the French, Erborian creates sophisticated formulas that improve both the health and appearance of your skin. Its do-it-all CC creams are loved in both Asia and Europe, and its Solid Cleansing Oil and Double Lotion are staples in any multi-step skincare routine.
CosRX, which stands for cosmetics + RX (prescription), was founded in 2014 with the mission to deliver effective, affordable skincare solutions that focus on formulation and ingredients — its Snail Essence is made with 96% snail mucin. Its low pH cleanser spotlights the importance of maintaining the skin’s optimal acid mantle (i.e. gentle cleansing without stripping the skin of its natural oils), while its Acne Pimple Master Patches are game-changing.
Famous for its cult-favourite line of Sleeping Masks, Laneige was created by Amore Pacific in 1994 and named after the French word for “snow.” The Water Sleeping Mask (an overnight moisture-recharging gel mask) and the Lip Sleeping Mask are some of the most-reviewed and top-rated treatments in the world.
AmorePacific is like the Estée Lauder of Korean beauty, owning nearly 30 of the most well-known K-Beauty labels including Laneige, Sulwhasoo, Etude House and Innisfree. Sung-When Suh founded AmorePacific in 1945 with the idea of incorporating green tea from Jeju island into skin treatments, giving birth to the Vintage Single Extract Essence, which is made from handpicked green tea leaves that are naturally fermented in optimal conditions for 50 days. Other signature products like the Enzyme Peel Cleansing Powder balance tradition with modern science and, most importantly, is one of the most gentle and effective exfoliators on the market.
One of the first K-Beauty brands to break into the western market, Dr. Jart was created in 2004 by dermatologist Dr. SungJae Jung to provide science-driven skincare solutions and cosmetics targeting dryness, sensitive and acne-prone skin. Dr. Jart’s first product was the BB Cream in 2006 and the brand consistently produced other hits like the Cicapair Tiger Grass colour correcting line and the Cermidin range.
SU:M37 specializes in skincare made from advanced natural fermentation technology. At the heart of its products is a patented compound Cytosis which features over 80 local and seasonal ingredients that are fermented at the optimal temperature of 37 degrees celsius for a minimum of 365 days — some for as long as a decade. Its signature Secret Essence is a magical do-it-all potion that firms, brightens, hydrates and tones all skin types.
The History of Whoo
The History of Whoo is a modern interpretation of traditional Korean royal court beauty secrets using advanced lab ingredients, nanotechnology and premium herbal medicines specifically designed for Asian skin. Each product features the brand’s Gongjinbidan Complex, a key ingredient derived from an ancient health formula used by Korean emperors and empresses for over 800 years to improve blood circulation. The Bichup Ja Saeng Essence is a best selling luxury serum in Asia.