One of the most frustrating things about having skin prone to redness is how many things can trigger it. It could be sensitivity to a certain product, a weakened barrier, sun exposure, or even a chronic condition called rosacea. That's why the best Korean skin care products for reducing redness are free of common irritants — which can send reactive faces into a frenzy — and full of calming ingredients that help soothe your skin and make it better equipped to shield itself from future irritation.
If you're interested in building a Korean skin care routine for redness prone skin, or even just adding a product or two to your current routine, keep in mind that reactive skin types should always reach for products containing ingredients that reduce inflammation and reinforce the skin's natural protective barrier. Centella Asiatica extract is one superstar ingredient worth knowing, and you'll find it in a lot of Korean beauty products. This botanical extract is believed to calm inflammation, help wounds heal faster, and even increase skin cell turnover. And, when it comes to improving barrier function, ceramides, a B Vitamin called "niacinamide," and oils rich in fatty acids are some of the best ingredients out there.
But there's more to preventing redness than the ingredients you apply to your skin: it's equally important to learn what to avoid. Look for cleansers that are free of harsh cleansing agents, such as sulfates, that can strip the skin and break down your barrier. "Bad" alcohols, which are pretty much reactive skin's worst enemy, can be listed under many names — the most common being SD alcohol, denatured alcohol (alcohol denat.), and isopropyl alcohol. And, don't forget that unprotected exposure to the sun can be a major trigger for people prone to redness. So, while it's important for everyone to wear sunscreen, those with reactive skin should never skip a day.
If your skin's in need of soothing, but you're not sure where to begin, these 13 calming Korean beauty products are chock full of ingredients that help reduce redness, so you can start building a gentler routine your skin is sure to appreciate.
1. A Calming Serum Formulated With Centella Asiatica Extract
Serums can serve a lot of different purposes, from brightening to hydrating or treating breakouts. But a great serum will always contain a high concentration of ingredients meant to target your specific skin condition. The Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Serum's primary goal is in the name: it aims to calm and hydrate irritated skin, and help keep it that way. This super potent serum features a blend of ingredients that fight inflammation and redness, including Centella Asiatica extract, sodium hyaluronate, licorice, and anise — plus enough vegetable extracts to constitute a salad.
Apply a pump of this serum after cleansing and toning, gently pat into the skin, and follow up with a great moisturizer to lock in all of its soothing goodness.
2. This Overnight Mask That Soothes Skin With 85 Percent Propolis Extract
Most of your skin's renewal process occurs overnight, which makes it the perfect time to apply products with healing ingredients. The COSRX Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask is a gel-like overnight mask, meant to applied as the last step of your nighttime skin care routine, and washed off in the morning. This mask quickly dries into a light, transparent film — so it won't rub off on your pillow while you sleep.
What makes this sleeping mask so unique is that it's formulated with 85 percent propolis extract to reduce redness and inflammation and make your skin glow. Propolis also has antibacterial properties that help breakouts heal fast, which is a major bonus if you have acne.
3. This Lightweight Moisturizing Gel Made From Aloe & Propolis Extract
This lightweight, hydrating gel from Benton is designed to soothe and cool irritated skin with 80 percent aloe vera, 10 percent propolis, chamomile, and even cucumber. Apply this calming gel after cleansing, toning, and using any treatment products like essence or serum. Oily skin types can use this gel alone as their daily moisturizer, but dry skin types may want to apply a thicker moisturizing cream on top.
4. This Rice Bran Wash Off Mask Born Out Of An Age Old Korean Beauty Ritual
Washing your face with rice water — the water the rice is rinsed with before cooking — is a Korean skin care tip so old it precedes the term "K-beauty" by hundreds of years. Rice is rich in vitamins and nutrients that help reduce inflammation and leave skin dewy and soft. The Skinfood Rice Mask Wash Off is a modern take on this ancient beauty ritual. It contains rice bran that's been ground into a fine powder and blended with hydrating ingredients to create this milky mask.
Massage this mask into damp skin after cleansing two or three times a week to gently exfoliate easily irritated skin with the rice bran powder. Then, let the mask sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse your face with lukewarm water, and continue with the rest of your skin care routine.
5. A Cream That Contains Guaiazulene, A Blue Extract From Chamomile Oil
The Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream gets its blue color from one very amazing botanical extract called "guaiazulene," which comes from chamomile oil. Ceramides, Centella Asiatica extract, shea butter, jojoba oil, and hyaluronic acid — along with a plethora of natural extracts — join forces in the moisturizer to combat redness and irritation. And, this soothing cream is free of alcohol, fragrance, mineral oil, and other common irritants.
6. This Higher Coverage BB Cream That Conceals Redness, Hydrates, & Protects
While most BB creams provide coverage that's on the lower side, the Gold Label BB Cream from Skin79 is known for its highly pigmented, creamy formula that easily conceals imperfections with just a light layer. A blend of soothing and hydrating ingredients, including algae and caviar extracts, keep skin comfortable throughout the day while SPF keeps your skin safe from sun damage.
This buildable BB cream comes in one adaptable shade that's perfect for light to medium skin tones. If you have fair skin, you may want to try Skin79's Green Label BB Cream, which has lighter coverage and is a great match for fair to light skin tones.
7. This Award-Winning, Hypoallergenic Oil Cleanser That Removes Makeup & Excess Oil Without Stripping Your Skin
It might not seem this way, but cleansing is pretty much a minefield of potential skin irritation. Many people resort to cleansing their skin too roughly, or for too long, in an attempt to remove their makeup thoroughly. Or, they unwittingly use an oil cleanser or makeup remover comprised of harsh ingredients, like mineral oil and artificial fragrance.
Banila Co's Clean It Zero Purity is one of the gentlest cleansers I've used on my incredibly easily irritated skin. This award winning, hypoallergenic cleanser performs exactly as promised — it never leaves my skin itchy, red, or dry, and is even gentle enough to remove my eye makeup with. For best results, follow your oil cleanser with a sulfate free foaming cleanser — a practice known as the "Korean double cleanse"
8. This Gentle Low-Foaming Cleanser That Contains Calming Herbs
If your skin is tight and red after cleansing, it's definitely trying to tell you something: the cleanser you're using is too harsh. The Dermaclear Micro Foam cleanser is free of harsh cleansing agents, like sulfates, and uses fine micro-bubbles of gentle cleansing ingredients to remove dirt and oil. The mild formula includes a blend of soothing herbs and oils, and this cleanser won't break down your skin's natural moisture barrier.
9. This Soothing Sheet Mask That's Packed With Reparative Snail Secretions
This multi-tasking sheet mask does so much more than reduce redness and inflammation (though, it'll certainly help with that, too). Using an innovative combination of bee venom and snail secretions, the formula works to smooth out uneven complexions, reverse damage from environmental stressors, and provide a hearty dose of moisture. After one use, your face will look dewy, glowy, and healthy; store them (each order comes with a pack of 10) in the fridge for an even more refreshing experience.
10. This Vitamin-Infused Face Mist That Nourishes, Soothes, And Calms Skin
A refreshing face mist is one of the most amazing beauty products to keep on hand throughout the day; whether your skin's looking dull or you're mentally exhausted, a quick spritz acts as an instant pick-me-up. This non-toxic, paraben-free formula is especially beneficial, as it includes nutrients (from fruits and veggies like broccoli, carrots, and, apples) and vitamins (derived from things like biotin and niacinamide) that are essential to a healthy complexion; Just a few sprays can calm inflammation, reduce redness, and overall, revitalize your skin.
11. A Nourishing Essence That Contains 95 Percent Fermented Yeast Extract
Essence is an incredibly important step in any Korean skin care routine, but it's also the most baffling step to people who are new to K-beauty. These watery products are intended to be applied after cleansing and toning the skin, but before using your serum or moisturizer. They pack a light, but concentrated, punch of hydration — and it's best to choose one that's designed for your specific skin type.
The Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Power Essence contains 95 percent galactomyces, a fermented yeast extract, which is known to have calming, anti-inflammatory properties. This essence is the texture of a thin serum, which allows it to create a light, protective layer of moisture on the skin.
12. This Skin-Loving Alcohol Free Toner That Hydrates And Soothes
Cleansing your face causes your skin's natural pH to become imbalanced, but that's where toner comes in. This essential skin care step is designed to restore your skin's pH, which is important to the health of your skin and how well your barrier can function. But, many Western toners are loaded with alcohol and drying ingredients that can make redness much worse.
This gentle toner from Klairs is free of alcohol and added fragrance, and is loaded with hydrating and soothing ingredients — including Centella Asiatica and aloe extracts — to help sensitive skin settle down after cleansing.
13. This Light, Creamy Sunscreen Is Formulated With Soothing Aloe Extracts
I won't bore you again by telling you just how important it is to apply sunscreen everyday. But yeah, it's about a million times more important than applying makeup and takes one percent of the time. COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream is a great option for those prone to redness because the aloe in it helps to keep skin cool and calm when exposed to heat and sun, a major redness trigger for many people. And, the light, creamy texture absorbs quickly and won't leave a white cast — which makes this sunscreen wear incredibly well under makeup.
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