These Are the 19 Best Korean Skincare Products We've Tried This Year

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

If you can think back to the first Korean skincare product you’ve ever tried, what was it? For me, it was an overnight sleeping mask—scroll down to find out which one (hint: it’s best overall)—and it changed the way I viewed and treated my skin.

“The world of Korean skincare brings a lot of awareness and excitement when it comes to caring for your skin,” says Marisa Garshick, MD a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in NYC. “It also offers exposure to a variety of ingredients that can give you a glowing complexion.”

The K-beauty market also gave us some of our most popular trends of all time, including sheet masks, BB cream, the 10-step routine, and more. But, like all skincare, regimens and products should be tailored to each person. “What works [for] one may not work for others, so when building a skincare routine, it’s important to introduce new products slowly to your skin,” says Garshick.

And when it comes to the best Korean skincare products on the market, we’ve rounded them up right here.

Best Overall: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

4.5
laneige water sleeping mask

Courtesy of Laneige

What We Like
  • Quick results

  • Non-greasy

  • Cooling

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

Who else recommends it? Oprah Daily and Good Housekeeping also selected the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask.

What do buyers say? 89% of 700+ Amazon reviewers gave it 4 stars or above.

With a cooling gel texture, this light overnight mask is just what’s needed after a long day. As the last step in your nighttime skincare routine, your skin will quickly drink it up before bed. Plus, the formula will deliver major moisture all throughout the night.

Benefits: Hydrates, boosts radiance, smooths skin | Active Ingredients: Probiotic-derived Complex, squalane | Skin Type: Balanced, dry | Size: 2.3 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"I felt a sense of relief. I had finally found a product that hydrated my dry skin and fought against potential breakouts." — Celeste Polanco, Product Tester

Best Essence: Primera Miracle Seed Essence

Primera Miracle Seed Essence

 Courtesy of Primera

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Layers well under other products

  • Bottle indicates how much to use

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Right after you cleanse, swipe on this super potent formula to prep your skin and allow it to absorb the serums and creams that follow. Reviewers find that it’s hydrating immediately after use and brightening over time.

Active Ingredients: Lotus seeds | Skin Type: Combination, dry, balanced, oily | Benefits: Hydrates, boosts radiance | Size: 5.4 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Toner: Son & Park Beauty Water

Son & Park Beauty Water

Courtesy of Soko Glam

What We Like
  • Chic packaging

  • Can use throughout the day

  • Bottle lasts a long time

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

This gentle cleansing water is a cult favorite—and not just because of its chic, minimal packaging. It’s laced with papaya extract and hazel water meant to help brighten and smooth your skin. Use it all throughout the day whenever your skin needs a quick refresh.

Active Ingredients: Rose flower water, witch hazel water, papaya fruit water | Skin Type: Balanced, oily, dry, combination | Benefits: Cleanses, exfoliates, soothes skin, boosts radiance, hydrates | Size: 11.49 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Gel-Cream: Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb

4.5
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Cooling

  • Lightweight

  • Non-greasy

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

Described as a gel-cream, users report that the texture feels more like a plush serum. And all you need is a small amount to hydrate your entire face.

Active Ingredients: Lady's mantle, malachite, plantin, oat husk | Skin Type: Balanced, combination, oily | Size: 1.69 oz. or 3.38 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

"Belif's The True Cream Aqua Bomb definitely delivers on the promise of a hydration burst. It glides onto the skin, melts in quickly, and has a cool, gel-cream finish. It’s bouncy but not sticky, and works really well under makeup." — Emily Algar, Product Tester

Best Cream: SkinRx Lab MadeCera Cream

SkinRX Lab MadeCera Cream

 Courtesy of Cosco

What We Like
  • Non-greasy

  • Reduces redness

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

This handy, bright tube is easy to tote around, and the formula inside helps to target redness, sensitivity, and dryness. Reviewers also find that while it’s ultra moisturizing, it doesn’t leave a heavy, greasy residue behind.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, ceramide NP, asiaticoside, madecassic acid, asiatic acid, adenosine, madecassoside | Skin Type: All | Size: 0.51 fl. oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Eye Cream: Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginger Eye Cream

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Quick results

  • Smells good

  • Absorbs quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

This formula, with star tightening ingredient red ginseng, works to strengthen and firm the delicate skin around the eyes while reducing puffiness. Pro tip: Stick your eye cream in the fridge overnight for extra depuffing.

Active Ingredients: Japanese honeysuckle, Licorice | Benefits: Firms, reduce wrinkles, improves elasticity, plumps | Dosage: 1 pump | Size: 0.67 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Cleanser: Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser

Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Ideal for double cleansing

  • Removes tough makeup

  • Pump bottle

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

Get a double cleanse in one product. Apply this rose-infused oil all over dry skin, then add water to transform the formula into a foam that effectively cleanses away impurities.

Active Ingredients: Damask rose oil, soapberry extract | Skin Type: All | Size: 5.9 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Cleansing Balm: Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

4.8
Then I Met You Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You

What We Like
  • Removes tough makeup

  • Smells good

  • Softens skin

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

Key Ingredients

Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also helps soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.

What starts off as a balm quickly turns into an oil as you massage it into your skin. The thick and powerful formula—with ingredients like vitamin E and olive oil—melts makeup and debris. Add warm water to emulsify the product and wash off.

Active Ingredients: Sea buckthorn, persimmon extract, olive oil, vitamin E | Size: 3.17 oz. | Scent: Fresh | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

Byrdie / Faith Xue

Runner-Up, Best Cleansing Balm: Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying

Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying

Courtesy of SokoGlam

What We Like
  • Includes a spatula

  • Removes tough makeup

  • Award-winning formula

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

Get nourishing hydration and a relaxing cleanse all at once. Scoop out the luxurious balm with the included spatula and apply all over the face—it’s even gentle enough to remove stubborn eye makeup.

Active Ingredients: Centella, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, Asian knotweed extract, Chinese liquorice extract, green tea extract, rosemary leaf extract, chamomile extract, vitamin E, hot springs water, vitamin C | Size: 3.38 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Cream Skin: Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer

Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer

 Courtesy of Laneige

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • A little goes a long way

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel sticky

Key Ingredients

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins and have a role in virtually all the biological processes that occur in our bodies, including the reparation of skin.

Streamline your beauty routine with the newest K-beauty trend. “Cream skin combines a toner and moisturizer, so it offers lightweight hydration that doesn’t feel heavy on the skin,” says Garschick. This one is packed with amino acids meant to boost the skin’s barrier. Simply shake the product onto your hands and lightly pat into the skin.

Active Ingredients: Amino Acids, antioxidants, white leaf tea water | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Benefits: Hydrates, softens skin | Size: 5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Cushion Compact: Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact SPF 50+

5
Amazon Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+

Amazon

What We Like
  • Provides sun protection

  • Hydrating

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

One of my favorite trends to come from K-beauty is the skincare and makeup hybrid. This compact fits the bill—it provides some serious skincare benefits that hydrate and brighten, while it delivers seamless coverage that looks and feels like your skin.

Coverage: Buildable | Shade Range: 5 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 1.05 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Exfoliating Pads: Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling in Lemon

Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling in Lemon
What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Fades discoloration

  • Smells good

What We Don't Like
  • May be too strong for sensitive skin

Hate to choose between a physical and chemical exfoliation? With these exfoliating pads, you don’t have to. Lactic and glycolic acids provide the chemical exfoliation, while the innovative 3-layer pad delivers the physical component.

Type: Pads | Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, glycolic acid, lemon fruit extract, sodium hyaluronate, papaya fruit extract | Size: 30 single-use pads | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Brightening Serum: Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

Peach and Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Absorbs quickly

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Some may prefer something more hydrating

This gel texture slides on to give you that coveted “glass skin” complexion—a poreless, clear, and radiant look. The formula—a mix of peptides, hyaluronic acid, and peach extract—promises to give you firmer, brighter skin over time.

Benefits: Smooths skin, boosts radiance, firms, calms irritation | Skin Type: Dry, balanced, oily, combination | Dosage: Apply liberally | Size: 1.35 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Hydrating Serum: Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Serum

innisfree
What We Like
  • A little goes a long way

  • Affordable

  • Pump bottle

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel sticky

Don’t let this small bottle fool you—it’s packing a powerful punch of Jeju green tea that essentially creates a layer of protection over your skin. All it takes is one pump for the product to work its magic on your complexion.

Benefits: Hydrates, replenishes skin barrier | Skin Type: Oily, combination, dry, balanced | Dosage: 2 to 3 pumps | Size: 2.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Overnight Mask: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask

4
Glow Recipe Watermelon Sleeping Mask

 Courtesy of Glow Recipe

What We Like
  • Smells good

  • Absorbs quickly

  • Quick results

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

Garshick gives this mask her stamp of approval. “Not only does it include hyaluronic acid to help hydrate the skin, but it also contains alpha-hydroxy acids to help exfoliate, so it leaves my skin looking renewed and refreshed,” she says.

Benefits: Exfoliates, plumps, hydrates | Active Ingredients: Watermelon, hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, pumpkin extract | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.01 oz. or 2.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"This stuff works! Whether overnight or just for 10 minutes, it 100% plumps and brightens the skin." — Emily Algar, Product Tester

Best Chest Mask: WHEN Beauty and the Breast Bio-Cellulose Breast Mask

WHEN Beauty and the Breast Mask

 Courtesy of Lucky Vitamin

What We Like
  • Eco-friendly

  • Easy to use

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • May need two pairs for larger breasts

Formulated with firming and brightening properties—like fermented coconuts—this mighty mask is an essential pick-me-up. Simply place over each breast and let the serum work for 30 minutes for the best results.

Benefits: Hydrates, firms, boosts radiance | Active Ingredients: Volufiline, pomegranate extract, hydrolyzed marine collagen | Skin Type: All | Size: 1 fl. oz. (single pair) or 4 fl. oz. (4-pair boxed set) | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Ampoule: MISSHA Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule

MISSHA Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule
What We Like
  • Potent

  • Quick results

  • Absorbs quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel sticky

An amplified version of a serum, ampoules contain higher concentrations of active ingredients. This one in particular contains 10 probiotics and promises to improve the look of wrinkles, strengthen skin’s elasticity, and smooth skin’s texture.

Benefits: Firms, hydrates, strengthens, boosts radiance, reduces fine lines | Active Ingredients: Bifida ferment lysate | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.69 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Makeup Primer: Laneige Glowy Makeup Serum

Laneige Glowy Makeup Serum

Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • A little goes a long way

  • Great for no makeup makeup

What We Don't Like
  • Glow could last a bit longer

Here’s another hybrid to fall in love with. It works as both a hydrating serum and lightweight primer to repair dullness and dryness. Smooth over skin right before you apply makeup.

Benefits: Hydrates, boosts radiance, makes makeup last longer | Active Ingredients: Diamond mineral powder, ceramide hydration gel | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Lip Mask: TonyMoly Kiss Kiss Lovely Lip Patch

TONYMOLY Kiss Kiss Lovely Lip Patch

 Courtesy of TONYMOLY

What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Plumps lips

  • Smells good

What We Don't Like
  • Can be hard to put on

“It’s important to remember to take care of your lips, and this patch definitely emphasizes that,” says Garshick. Infused with vitamin C, strawberry extract, and collagen, this super cute lip mask helps to soften and plump your lips. Apply after cleansing and remove after 30 minutes for a strong pout.

Active Ingredients: Collagen, witch hazel extract | Size: 2 patches | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

What to Look For in a Korean Skincare Product

Steps 

The traditional Korean skincare routine includes 10 steps: an oil-based cleanser, water-based cleanser, exfoliant, toner, essence, serum, sheet mask, eye cream, moisturizer, and SPF. Based on your skincare needs (and time constraints!), you can shorten to a five-step routine that includes an oil-based cleanser, water-based cleaner, toner, moisturizer, and SPF for the day. 

Morning vs. nighttime routines 

Morning and night-times routines do not need to be the same and you can tailor your routine to your needs. Not everyone has time for a longer routine before starting your day, so it’s okay to focus on hydrating and SPF protection. A night time routine can be more extensive and prioritize products like exfoliants and face masks.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. The 25 Best Korean Skincare Products with Anti-Aging Benefits. Oprah Daily. https://www.oprahdaily.com/beauty/skin-makeup/g32959694/best-korean-skin-care-products/

  2. 20 Best Korean Skincare Products for Clearer, More Hydrated Skin. Good Housekeeping. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/anti-aging/g3296/best-korean-skin-care-products/

  3. Kim YH, Park HR, Cha SY, et al. Effect of red ginseng NaturalGEL on skin agingJ Ginseng Res. 2020;44(1):115-122. doi:10.1016/j.jgr.2018.09.006

  4. Keen MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatologyIndian Dermatol Online J. 2016;7(4):311-315. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.185494

  5. Solano F. Metabolism and functions of amino acids in the skinAdv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1265:187-199. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-45328-2_11

  6. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on the skinMolecules. 2018;23(4):863. doi:10.3390/molecules23040863

  7. OyetakinWhite P, Tribout H, Baron E. Protective mechanisms of green tea polyphenols in skinOxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:560682. doi:10.1155/2012/560682

  8. Kim S, Jang JE, Kim J, et al. Enhanced barrier functions and anti-inflammatory effect of cultured coconut extract on human skinFood Chem Toxicol. 2017;106(Pt A):367-375. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2017.05.060

Related Stories