These 5 Affordable Korean Skincare Products Completely Transformed My Skin

written by LACEY BROWN

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Graphics by: Kirra Wallace
Graphics by: Kirra Wallace

Over the last five years, we’ve watched skincare trends go from overly complicated to extremely simple. Gone are the days of slathering on an excess of active products every morning and night; now, we’ve seen the pendulum swing the other way, with a focus on a more curated skincare routine with products that actually work. For that reason, it makes sense that we’ve seen a rise in the popularity of Korean skincare (or K-Beauty, as it’s affectionately known) in the U.S.

I first became familiar with Korean skincare because of my college roommate. We were obsessed with sheet masks, and from there, my curiosity grew. I explored the Korean Skincare aisle of Ulta on the regular, and the variety of products (and their affordable price point) continued to impress me. Now, they’re a staple in my daily routine—and should be in yours, too.


What Is Korean Skincare?

Korean skincare has been up and coming for years, as Charlotte Cho, the founder of Soko Glam, told us back in 2019. She explained that Korean skincare focuses less on covering up issues, and more on addressing them at the root of the cause. “Korean skincare products are incredibly innovative, gentle, and effective,” Cho said. “There are entirely new categories, consistencies, formats, and ingredients that were created in Korea.”

Korean skincare’s ingredients are much gentler than ones found in the U.S., with less of a focus on acids and scrubs than we often see on the shelves of Sephora. From snail mucin to fermented rice water to bee pollen, Korean skincare embraces simple-yet-effective ingredients that still deliver visible results.

“When you’re educated about skincare and you stay committed to a routine, you’ll see results,” Cho said. “Korean skincare is not about the amount of products or steps you have, it’s about having the knowledge that will help you achieve only good (skin) days ahead.”


Korean Skincare Products I Love

After years of testing out Korean skincare products, these are the ones that have a permanent spot in my routine:

Peach & Lily
Ginger Melt Oil Cleanser

Cho said that double-cleansing is her top skincare tip, and this oil cleanser is the perfect first cleanse in my routine. It dissolves makeup (including waterproof makeup), skincare, and dirt and oil while keeping my skin hydrated (and without leaving a residue). Its gentle, fragrance-free formula is suitable for all skin types—including sensitive skin.

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Peach Slices
Snail Rescue Intensive Wash-Off Jelly Mask

With the help of 95% snail mucin, birch juice, and licorice, this mask targets darks spots, blemishes, dullness, and leaves my skin ultra-hydrated. Its jelly-like texture also gives a cooling effect, which is a welcome treat in the summer months.

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Snail Mucin Power Essence

This viral product was completely sold-out earlier this year, and the results it delivers make it easy to see why. This essence targets dryness and aging, and leaves you with nourished, plump, moisturized skin. It completely improved my texture and dark spots, and it's become a must in my daily routine.

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Hyalu-CICA Water-fit Sun Serum

The name might be a mouthful, but this affordable sunscreen is the best I've tried in a very long time. It boasts UVA/UVB protection of SPF 50+, and blends in flawlessly to be worn alone or under makeup. If you're in need of motivation to apply SPF every day, the gorgeous glow this sunscreen gives will provide it for you.

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The True Cream Aqua Bomb Hydrating Moisturizer

This lightweight moisturizer is my go-to in the summer months. Its fast-absorbing gel texture is ultra-hydrating for the skin, but soaks in quickly, which ensures you aren't left feeling sticky after applying it. It's a total game-changer for dull, dry skin.

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