Korean beauty has been popular in the West for quite some time now, so at this point, whether you're a relative skin-care novice or you're a devoted member of Reddit's r/AsianBeauty community, you probably already know about the most popular Korean beauty products, like AmorePacific's cushion compact and Son & Park's Beauty Water. That said, there are still tons of little-known Korean beauty products out there waiting to be discovered. And on this list, ahead, you'll find 23 of the very best — according to Amazon reviewers, Redditors, and K-beauty authorities like Soko Glam and Peach & Lily.
From K-beauty standbys like Neogen and TONYMOLY to brands that have managed to fly relatively under the radar, these 23 products represent exactly what makes Korean beauty so great. Combining innovative ingredients and cutting-edge technologies with clever delivery systems and adorably designed packaging, the products on this list are not only incredibly effective, but also fun to use (think "milkshake" makeup removers, velvet sheet masks, and jumbo-sized cotton swabs soaked in an exfoliating essence). To shop all of these Korean skin care innovations, scroll on — and if you still can't get enough, you can find 43 more fascinating Korean beauty products, here.
1. A Potent Vitamin C Serum For Under $20
When it comes to achieving a brighter, more even, and generally "glowier" complexion, there are few products that work better than vitamin C serums. That said, many of the best vitamin C serums tend to be pricey — which is why this Some By Mi serum is so unique. It's loaded with 10 different kinds of vitamin C, as well as galactomyces, a byproduct of fermented sake that has soothing, hydrating, and barrier-strengthening benefits. With continued use, expect smoother, clearer, and more radiant-looking skin.
2. A Five-Pack Of Tea Tree Sheet Masks To Clarify & Exfoliate Your Skin
Mediheal is Korea's number-one sheet mask brand — yet somehow, they've managed to remain relatively under the radar in the U.S. Their tea tree sheet masks are a great choice for anyone with acne-prone, oily, or generally congested skin. Willowbark, rosemary, and tea tree, which have purifying and exfoliating properties, all make appearances in the formula, while chamomile and pennywort help calm redness and irritation.
"This is probably my favorite sheet mask for calming my skin when I have inflamed acne lesions," commented one reviewer. "When I have active breakouts, I like to leave this mask on until it dries completely, which seems to help reduce the size and redness of acne much more than simply leaving the mask on for 20 minutes."
Another fan, with self-described dry, sensitive, acne-prone skin simply wrote, "Exceptional quality and results."
3. The Cult-Favorite Hair Mask That Fans Call "Better Than Olaplex"
Another under-the-radar K-beauty find, this Elizavecca hair treatment is wildly popular among beauty-savvy Amazon reviewers and Redditors (in fact, it has over 700 perfect five-star reviews and counting). Hailed by many as the best hair mask out there — and labelled by many as a dupe for the much more expensive Olaplex hair treatment — this mask works to restore softness, enhance shine, and reduce unwanted frizz. "It has done the most for my extremely damaged bleached blonde hair out of any rinse out product I’ve ever used," noted one reviewer, who uses it as their go-to conditioner.
4. A Water-Based Sunscreen Made Of Skin-Soothing Ingredients
If you think an oil-free, reef-safe, ultra gentle sunscreen with a high SPF is too good to be true — think again. The Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sunscreen SPF 50+ is all of those things and more. As its name suggests, it's completely unscented — it doesn't even contain any essential oils — and it uses the Asian beauty miracle ingredient, centalla asiatica, to help soothe and calm skin types of all kinds. It's also non-sticky and fast-absorbing, and doesn't leave behind a white cast, either.
"It doesn’t upset my extremely sensitive skin or make me break out (every other brand I’ve tried does) and doesn’t disrupt makeup application," reported one reviewer.
Another commenter wrote, "Fragrance free. No drying alcohols. State of the art filters. No cast, feels better than a lot of moisturizers, and has a high amount of niacinamide that helps diminish the appearance of my man pores. The redness around my nose has gone down," he also noted.
5. This Fun & Effective "Milkshake" Makeup Remover
For a makeup remover that's fun to use and even more fun to display, the SKIN FOOD SKIN Milk Shake Point Make-up Remover is a must-buy. It's a dual-layer formula, so you need to shake the bottle to mix the layers together before using (hence its name), and the creamy, milky formula — which, yes, contains actual milk — leaves skin so moisturized and soft. Though it may sound weird, milk actually has a ton of skin care benefits — hence why Cleopatra and so may other historical figures purportedly bathed in it!
6. A 10-Pack Of Ready-To-Use Facial Peels That Look Like Huge Cotton Swabs
Facial peels don't get much easier than this. The Dr. Oracle A-Thera Peeling Sticks come in 10 single-use packets, so they're great for travel or storing in your gym bag. They're basically giant cotton swabs soaked in an essence containing exfoliating acids, tea tree oil, and nutrient-rich bamboo water, so all you have to do is swipe one along any congested areas of your skin to purify and resurface the area. Their Q-tip style design makes them ideal for using on your T-zone, or as a spot treatment for blemishes.
"The ingredients in these peeling sticks are gentle enough to not make my face red, but effective enough to calm my acne, reduce redness, and smooth my complexion," reported one reviewer.
7. This Oil-To-Foam Cleanser That Smells Like Fresh Roses
With a unique oil-to-foam texture and a heavenly rose scent, everything about this Mamonde Petal Spa cleanser feels like sheer luxury. The oils in the formula work to expertly remove stubborn makeup, including waterproof mascara and foundation, and instead of leaving your face feeling "stripped" like other foam cleansers can, your skin will be left hydrated and soft. "Love this face wash," commented one reviewer. "It’s oil that turns to foam, saving an extra step in my skincare regimen. Smells wonderful and leaves my skin dewey and refreshed."
8. A Skin-Plumping Face Mask With A Unique Jelly Texture
Collagen, which exists naturally in our skin, is an incredibly beneficial skin care ingredient. It can be ingested orally or applied topically — like with this Elizavecca Green Piggy Collagen Jella Intense Hydration Mask. Use it as a sleeping mask (aka overnight) to wake up refreshed and radiant, or as a quick, two-minute mask when you need some immediate plumping and hydration. The jelly-like consistency of this mask is oddly satisfying to play with and apply, but don't worry: once absorbed, it won't feel sticky or slimy at all.
"I've used it as a moisturizer during the day because it really helps on those days where my skin is extra dry. Particularly in winter," noted one reviewer. Another fan of the mask wrote, "This is the most amazing product that I ever bought [...] I have super dry skin, and this left my face soft and hydrated. It is a miracle!"
9. A Shampoo & Conditioner Duo That Fans Swear By For Stronger Hair
Though they're marketed as a shampoo/conditioner for hair loss, this duo will simply help encourage stronger, healthier hair, whether it has become damaged from bleach and dye or from styling it with hot tools. Even if you don't have damaged hair at all, you can likely still benefit from this duo from Ryo, a brand by K-beauty mega-conglomerate AmorePacific. Each bottle contains about 16 ounces of product, so they should last you ages.
10. The Perfect Gift For The K-Beauty Enthusiast
TONYMOLY sheet masks don't exactly fall into the "little-known" category. But, this fun, creatively packaged sheet mask set does — and it makes an especially great gift for the K-beauty lover in your life, whether that's yourself, your mom, or a friend. The TONYMOLY Super Food Mask Bowl, which is supposed to resemble a take-away salad container, contains six of the brand's popular I'm Real sheet masks, each of which uses a unique "superfood" (cactus, honey, aloe, peach, green tea, and coconut) as its star ingredient.
11. A Skin-Illuminating Essence With An SPF Of 30+
THANKYOU FARMER is a little-known, but excellent Korean beauty brand that puts an emphasis on using clean, naturally derived ingredients and a thoughtful approach to skin care. This is a super unique product for a few reasons. For one thing, it's an essence — but it has an SPF of 30, which is the minimum amount of daily sun protection recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. That said, being an essence, it's super lightweight, so people who typically hate the feeling of thick, greasy sunscreens will absolutely love this stuff. Finally, it's formulated with a subtle hint of pink-hued shimmer, so your skin will look dewy, radiant, and ever-so slightly iridescent. Use it on its own sans foundation or as a primer for the rest of your makeup.
12. The Best Toner For Sensitive, Breakout-Prone Skin
K-beauty fanatics swear by this Some By Mi "miracle" toner. Ideal for congested, breakout-prone skin that errs on the sensitive side (or for sensitive skin types who typically can't use other exfoliators), this toner uses a blend of witch hazel, tea tree water, papaya extract, and niacinamide to keep skin looking radiant and clear. Meanwhile, a blend of acids (including a BHA, AHA, and PHA) offer gentle exfoliation to help decongest clogged pores. Despite all that, reviewers are quick to point out that it doesn't leave skin feeling dry.
"This is really something special!" raved one reviewer. "This toner not only cured my hormonal acne but has keep my skin clear for months! It has also helped even out my complexion and has given me more ‘doll-like skin’. I’m so in love with this toner I will never stop re-purchasing!"
Another reviewer commented, "I am addicted to this toner. It is so surprisingly gentle, and soothing, it literally never stings my face or leaves it feeling dry."
13. This Smartly Designed Day/Night Cream Duo
Once again, Korean beauty nails it again. This genius day/night cream duo from Neogen x Joan Kim contains two moisturizers — one for daily use, one for nightly use — in a single jar. The day cream contains antioxidant-rich, skin-protecting ingredients like green tea and vitamin C, while the night cream focuses more on soothing and repairing with vitamin E and lavender. Multiple Amazon reviewers have called it their new "holy grail" moisturizer.
14. The Cult-Favorite Korean Ampoule That Beauty Insiders Swear By
Though it's not as well-known as many of the other best Korean ampoules on the market, The Plant Base's Time Stop Collagen Ampoule is basically the K-beauty community's best kept secret. It uses a unique blend of botanical ingredients, like mushroom extract, persimmon leaf, and licorice, plus more traditional hydrators (including including panthenol and hyaluronic acid) to smooth, firm, and nourish skin. It also has soothing and brightening benefits, so basically, it does everything you'd want from a serum — which tend to be among the priciest skin care products — for under $30.
15. The Best Korean Cleanser For Dehydrated Skin
Dry and/or dehydrated skin types often struggle to find a cleanser that'll do a good enough job at, well, cleansing their skin, without leaving it feeling tight and dry. That's where this AHC Aqualuronic Facial Cleanser comes in. It provides a rich, foamy enough lather so that you don't even need to double cleanse, while hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and French sea water work to hydrate, strengthen, and nourish dry skin. Of course, you don't have to have dry skin to benefit from this cleanser — it'll work for just about anyone.
Note that, if you do swear by the double-cleansing method, this would make for an excellent second cleanser after using something oil-based first.
16. A Sheet Mask That Uses Ground Diamonds To Brighten Your Skin
Using innovative, cutting-edge ingredients is the name of the game in Korean beauty — and that's exactly what SNP does best. Aside from Mediheal, SNP is probably the other most popular sheet mask brand in Korea (though again, it's managed to fly under the radar Stateside). These masks come in packs of 11, so you're getting a great value, and come in diamond brightening, jade soothing, and black pearl renewing formulas, among others.
17. These Exfoliating Pads That Also Work To Soothe & Calm Sensitive Skin
Most exfoliating pads do one thing: exfoliate. And they also tend to be too harsh to use if you have sensitive skin. But that's what sets these Neogen Real Cica pads apart from the rest. Though they do (very gently) exfoliate, they more importantly use ingredients like allantoin, ceramides, and centella asiatica to soothe, hydrate, and strengthen skin.
One reviewer commented, "I know it's important to exfoliate but my sensitive skin is prone to overkill. I like these pads for giving me the exfoliation step I like while calming my skin at the same time. Nice bonus: The round pad is quite large (like the width of my hand at least), which makes it easy to run it all over my neck, chest, and arms, which benefit from mild regular exfoliation as well."
18. The Best Moisturizer For Dry, Sensitive Skin
Formulated specifically for dry, sensitive skin, this is one of the best (but least-known) moisturizers on the market. It's a rich, but non-greasy face cream that helps strengthen skin by replenishing lost lipids and preventing the loss of further moisture. Because of this, the Atopalm Intensive Moisturizing Cream is also a great choice for post-treatment skin, whether you've recently gotten a chemical peel or microdermabrasion. Plus, it comes in a huge tab that will last you ages.
"This beats SK-II and La Mer!" gushed one reviewer. Another wrote, "This is an amazing product, the only thing I have tried that really works for dermatitis. After just 2 days of use I have seen great results."
Keep in mind that, given the huge size of the tub, you can also use this cream on other severely dry areas of your body, like your elbows and heels.
19. A Moisturizing & Exfoliating Lip Mask That Smells Good Enough To Eat
This lip mask smells (and dare we say, tastes?) good enough to eat — but obviously, please don't. Shea moisture and vitamin-rich mint extract work to nourish and replenish moisture, while AHAs sourced from apple water gently exfoliate, which can help with chapped lips and flaking. Put this treatment on before bed, and wake up with smooth, soft, lipstick-ready lips.
20. An Egg White-Rich Cleanser That's Ideal For Congested Skin
Got congested skin? Then you might want to give this Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam a try. Egg whites purportedly have a bunch of great skin care benefits, as they're rich in collagen and protein, and Skinfood says their cleanser can help decongest pores and balance oily skin. Hundreds of Amazon shoppers who gave this cleanser a perfect five-star review back up the claim, saying it really does work to deep-clean skin.
"It does give you the squeaky clean feeling which I like," described one reviewer. "I have very large pores and oily skin and after I use this I just feel like my face has tightened and all the gunk from the day is gone."
Another reviewer wrote, "This is my new HOLY GRAIL face wash. So creamy and foamy, cleanses super well, and truly does help with overproduction of oil."
21. A 10-Pack Of Herbal Sheet Masks Made Of Smooth Velvet Fibers
Made of smooth, velvet nano-fibers that feel heavenly against skin, these Dr. Althea sheet masks are sold in a convenient pack of 10. Soaked in an essence comprising traditional hydrating ingredients, like glycerin and olive oil, and several different botanicals and herbs (including chamomile, calendula, and camellia), these super soft sheet masks are safe for use on any type of skin, including sensitive and acne-prone complexions.
22. A Cleansing Powder & Face Scrub Made With Nutrient-Rich Rice Bran
Rice bran is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and enzymes that are great for your skin — and that's the key ingredient in this SRB powder cleanser, which is simultaneously soothing, thanks to rice's anti-inflammatory properties, and gently exfoliating (courtesy of papaya enzymes). The powder transforms into a creamy lather when mixed with water, and since it's a liquid-less formula, it's perfect for travel.
"This is a spot on dupe for the Tatcha Rice Enzyme powder at nearly 1/3 of the cost," noted one reviewer. Another commented, "This cleanser is extremely gentle, yet because of the properties of the rice bran, it still exfoliates. But it is the most gentle exfoliation ever. My skin feels so soft and bouncy after using this and I can tell a noticeable difference in the tone, texture and pigmentation in my skin."
23. A 5-in-1 Face Cream That Strengthens, Repairs, & Brightens Skin
Too Cool For School says their All-in-One Egg Mellow Cream is actually a serum, moisturizer, neck cream, eye cream, and sleeping mask in one — so basically, if this is the only skin care product you own (aside from a great cleanser), you'll have all your bases covered. The formula combines egg white extract with more traditional ingredients, like niacinamide, ceramides, and collagen, to help reinforce a healthy moisture barrier, plump and nourish skin, and encourage a brighter, more even-looking complexion.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Bustle's editorial and sales departments.