The Best Korean Skincare Brands to Swear By
The Korean skincare movement is booming, to say the least. In 2019 alone, the industry was worth $10.2 billion . Alicia Yoon, the South Korea-born founder of Korean Skincare brand Peach & Lily , knows a thing or two about the industry: “I started Peach & Lily to make Korean beauty practices, formulas, and ingredients more accessible to everyone globally," she explains of the company she founded in 2021. "After I saw my own eczema skin transform, I began giving facials and skin consultations to those struggling with their skin."
Now, the billion-dollar industry is that for a reason. K-beauty is all about skin-loving, inflammation-reducing ingredients like snail mucin, niacinamide , ginger, matcha, and more. For Yoon, “Korean beauty goes hand in hand with skin care knowledge and empowerment," she says. "I love to see people engaging on the level of skin histology, skincare ingredients, and identifying personalized ways to care for their skin.”
Korean skincare is here to stay—and we’re more than okay with that, because it’s not just a trend but a cherished way of caring for your skin. Even better news: K-beauty products are becoming more widely available by the day. We've tried hundreds of Korean skincare brands and products and we know there are still many more to try, but these 14 brands are the ones that make Marie Claire melt, peel, glow, and repair—in the best ways.
The brand might have a Parisian name, but LANEIGE—which means “fresh snow” in French—was founded in Seoul, South Korea in 1994 by Amorepacific, the corporation behind several of the brands in this list. Known for their iconic sleeping lip mask, they have begun to branch into more skincare items with face moisturizers, toner, essences, and more.
LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask in Original Berry
The cult-favorite lip mask from LANEIGE is everything you could want in a lip balm, with all the sweet goodness of a lip gloss from the beauty supply store, but without the stickiness. Sweet fragrance aside, the antioxidant-rich mask can recover even the most dry and cracked lips, so you better stick up for winter now. The only struggle you'll have is deciding which flavor to buy.
AMOREPACIFIC Moisture Plumping Nectar Cream
Pro tip: Apply this cream in front of a vanity mirror while you’re wearing a silk robe and feel like a movie vixen from the '20s. The silky formula stays firm when applying and covers every inch without needing to go in for a second round for pesky dry patches.
Banila Co. clean it zero cleansing balm
Hypothetically speaking, if you also found yourself insanely nostalgic after finding out that Cynthia Ervio and Ariana Grande were cast in the upcoming movie adaption of Wicked the Musical , and then you decided to paint your entire face with a lime green cream paint courtesy of Danessa Myricks , you might be wondering how to get it all off without sacrificing a layer of skin. Long-winded “hypothetical ” aside, Banila’s cleansing balm will get rid of the toughest glitters, paints, and eyelash glue without clogging pores or irritating your already sensitive skin. However, it can’t keep your roommate from yelling at you about a stained green sink or hand towel.
One of the vital steps in a Korean skincare routine is a serum-filled sheet mask. It’s also a beloved tool for self-care nights or watching The Bachelorette . Mediheal is the place to go for all things sheet masks, and has expanded into other skincare items as well. Founded in 2009, Mediheal actively works with scientists, dermatologists and other skin experts to make sure its products have the best and most updated ingredients.
MEDIHEAL Sheet Mask Heroes 6 Pack
If you’re ever not sure what type of face mask to get, just grab one from Mediheal. The trusted brand is always a safe bet. Their large inventory of sheet masks doesn't disappoint, with formulas for all skin types and ones that help with targeted concerns like acne, uneven texture, and enlarged pores.
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil Makeup Remover
Ginseng isn’t the only hero ingredient taking the reins in this cleansing formula. A light makeup remover, this oil targets all residue to gently wash away dirt and makeup without leaving skin feeling greasy.
Innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mask
One of the downfalls for oily skin is the sebum that traps pores. The Jeju volcanic cluster cleanses deep to absorb the oily sebum in pores, while lactic acid works to gently exfoliate the face. An easy two-in-one choice for a weekly treatment that keeps oiliness at bay.
COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad
Liquid toners and exfoliants can be very annoying for one reason—the application. Sometimes you use too much, sometimes not enough, but these pre-soaked cotton pads make for a quick step after cleansing and before serums. It’s a mild exfoliant, so it won’t leave your skin feeling tight or dry.
Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30
One of Dr. Jart+'s many cult-classic formulas, this product boasts the inflammatory ingredient centella asiatica (also known as cica). With over 187,000 "favorites" on Sephora, this is a miracle worker for those who tend to get red and don’t want to worry about finding the right foundation shade to cover it up. Also, it has SPF 30.