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The Best Korean Skincare Brands to Swear By

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.

LANEIGE

 

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. 

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

A luxury Korean skincare brand, AMOREPACIFIC is the namesake brand of the Amore Pacific corporation, which operates well known Korean beauty brands LANEIGE, Sulwhasoo, Innisfree, and more. With a focus on ingredients enriched with green tea, AMOREPACIFIC seeks to provide skincare that penetrates skin with natural and moisture-enhancing formulas. 

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

Founded in 2006 in South Korea, Banila Co. isn’t new to the Korean skincare game. In fact, their ever-popular cleansing balm is purchased every 3.1 seconds. With a focus on a simplified routine, this skin-first brand boasts hybrid products to cut back on the mounaint of steps in your routine. Currently, Korean actor  Song Kang  and actress and singer  Shin Se-kyung  are the models/spokespeople for the brand. 

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.

 

MEDIHEAL

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

Pronounced  “Suhl-ha-soo,"  this skincare brand was founded on the philosophy of balance and harmony. Bringing together natural ingredients and innovative skincare practices since 1966, Sulwhasoo is one of the best-selling luxury brands of Amore Pacific's roster of brands. Keeping with the founders' dedication to holistic skincare, the brand is still a favorite of many thanks to its texture-smoothing formulas and subtle fragrance. 

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

Inspired by the W.B. Yeats poem of the same name, innisfree is a Korean skincare brand that uses the natural ingredients found on the island of Jeju to enhance skin in the cleanest way possible. For every skin need, there's a moisturizer, sheet mask, clay mask, or serum. Hero ingredients include green tea, pomegranate, volcanic cluster, and soybean.

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

Having been in development since 2002, Cosrx (which stands for Cosmetics + Rx) was officially launched in 2013 by founder Jun Sang Hun. The brand keeps it to the point with simplified packaging and ingredients that get to the root of skincare concerns with reparative ingredients like cica, snail mucin, and propolis.

 

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+

When you ask someone about their favorite Korean skincare brand, chances are they’ll probably mention Dr. Jart+. This brand bridges the gap between art and dermatological science—that’s where the abbreviated name comes from; it means “Doctors Joins Art." Now a part of the Estée Lauder brand, Dr. Jart+ sticks to its founders' goals of creating innovative products that have become a staple in Korean skincare.

 

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.

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