Curated Lists

Top 10 K-beauty Products to Try in 2021

5 minute read

As K-dramas have their own category on Netflix now and k-pop superstars like BTS and Blackpink become household names in North America, Korean beauty products are also becoming shelf staples. Korean beauty or K-beauty is becoming more mainstream in western markets, too.

K-beauty skin care is known to be rigorous, but the final results are impeccable. K-beauty products obsess about clarifying, hydrating, and firming, which leaves K-beauty users with "glass skin." Famous Korean celebrities like Suzy (right) and Seo Ye-Ji (left) are known for having flawless looking glass skin.

A photo of Suzy (right) and Seo Ye-Ji (left)

Now, Korean skin care products are more accessible than ever before. Mall retailers like Sephora and Ulta now have a section dedicated to K-beauty. Popular brands like Glow Recipe, Saturday Skin, and Belif are K-beauty brands. Meanwhile, Olive Young, South Korea's equivalent of Sephora, offers international shipping for those seeking products that are not as well-known in America.

Independent North American e-commerce retailers like Soko Glam and Peach & Lily created their own in-house K-beauty skin care lines, too.

Whether you're new to Korean skin care or are discovering new products to try, we've rounded up the top 10 K-beauty products you need to try.

From cleansers, exfoliators, to toners, serums and moisturizers, we got your back. What's unique about our list is that we researched and ensure these products are either cruelty-free, vegan, natural, or organic.

Get your cute headband ready! Read on to discover new K-beauty staples for your skin care routine!

Cleanser

Infographic of mentioned cleansers

Dear, Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil

Dear, Klairs—or better known as just Klairs—is steadily gaining popularity in the western skin care market. One of Klairs' most popular product is the Gentle Black Deep Cleansing oil. This product is suitable for people of all skin types.

It features a mix of natural oils to help remove impurities, replenish moisture and protect your skin moisture barrier. Additionally, ingredients such as black currant seed and black sesame help prevent signs of aging.

Key Ingredients: Jojoba oil, Soy Bean oil, Sesame Seed oil, Black Currant Seed oil

Price: $23

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You is Soko Glam's in-house skin care line. Their Living Cleansing Balm is a 12x award winner from Allure, Byrdie, and Women's Health.

The Living Cleansing Balm gently melts away any oil-based impurities like sebum, makeup, and sunscreen. Even though it's creamy texture may be intimidating to pick up at first, it's formulated with antioxidants and seabuckthorn oil to ensure your skin doesn't feel greasy afterward.

Key Ingredients: Sea buckthorn oil, Persimmon extract, Olive oil, Vitamin E

Price: $38

Exfoliator

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Rovectin Skin Essentials Activating Treatment Lotion

If you haven't heard about Rovectin before, let me introduce you to the next big contender in the K-beauty scene. Rovectin is best known for its anti-irritant line to relieve dry, aging, and sensitive skin.

The Skin Essentials Activating Treatment Lotion is a multi-purpose lotion that performs several duties: hydrates, exfoliates, firms, and soothes. All that power in one bottle.

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, Hyaluronic acid, Niacinamide, Papaya extract, Caffeine

Price: $29

Benton PHA Peeling Gel

Move aside AHA/BHA. There's a new acid in now. PHA (more scientifically known as lactobionic acid) is one of the trendiest chemical exfoliators to hit the mainstream market.

Benton PHA Peeling Gel is a mild exfoliator that contains a chemical exfoliant and a physical exfoliant. It includes naturally-derived cellulose that removes dead skin cells and PHA to help rejuvenate your skin's appearance.

This exfoliator is suitable for dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin.

Key Ingredients: Lactobionic Acid (PHA), Chrysanthemum Flower extract, Ceramide NP, Hyaluronic acid

Price: $16

Toner

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Round Lab 1025 Dokdo Toner

Although Round Lab 1025's Dokdo Toner is relatively unknown to North American consumers, it's one of the best, all-the-superlatives toner amongst South Korean beauty communities.

The Dokdo Toner contains Ulreungdo's deep seawater with 72 minerals processed by patented technology. This product contains minimal ingredients, but all the ingredients listed are effective and clinically proven.

This toner has won awards from Allure Korea, Jolse Best, Hwahe Beauty Award, and Unpa Beauty Review.

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, Protease, Betaine, Panthenol, Sugarcane extract

Price: $16.20

Abib Heartleaf Calming Toner Skin Booster

Another lesser-known brand to North American skin care enthusiasts is Abib. Their Heartleaf Calming Toner Skin Booster is suitable for all skin types. The unique blend is antioxidant-rich, contains collagen-boosting properties, and soothes irritated skin.

It contains a blend of two plant extracts native to Asia. The houttuynia cordata (also known as 'heart leaf'), a flowering plant native to southeast Asia, and centella asiatica, a herbaceous plant native to wetlands in Asia.

Key Ingredients: Houttuynia Cordata extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Soybean Seed extract,

Price: $19.60

Serum

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Torriden Dive-In Serum

Torriden Drive-In Serum is another highly regarded, award-winning product in South Korea. It's won numerous awards from top publications like Allure Korea, Naver, Unpa, and Hwahae. Like its name, 'Drive-In,' this serum is a one-stop-shop for your skin care needs.

This product contains a boatload of hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, panthenol, ceramide, and maddecassic acid. Torriden Drive-In Serum can help reduce redness, acne, dryness, and more. The Drive-In serum does it all.  

Key Ingredients: Panthenol, Hyaluronic Acid, Betaine, Witch Hazel extract, Ceramide NP

Price: $21.60

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

Did you know Peach & Lily has their own skin care line? The Peach & Lily collection has a line up of products that'll help you get the K-beauty "glass skin."

Peach & Lily's Glass Skin Refining Serum is jam-packed with nourishing properties for all skin types. This soothing essence is safe for all skin types.

It contains your skin's favorite, niacinamide, peptides, and madecassoisde with a melange of peach fruit and wild yam. With all these ingredients combined, you'll achieve the "glass skin" look.

Key Ingredients: Niacimicide, Peach Fruit extract, Wild Yam Root extract, Propanediol

Price: $39

Moisturizer

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THE LAB by blanc doux Oligo Hyaluronic Acid Calming+ Cream

If you have sensitive or dry skin, you must try the Oligo Hyaluronic Acid Calming + Cream by THE LAB by blanc doux.

It's formulated specifically for those with sensitive skin or skin that needs intense hydration. Unlike conventional thick creams, this cream has a milky texture. Consequently, leaving your skin feeling moisturized and protected without a mountain of products on your face.

Key Ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Meadow Foam Seed oil, Mango Seed butter

Price: $28.10

Cosrx Advanced Snail 92 All-in-One Cream

Cosrx is one of the most well-known K-beauty outside South Korea. Within the K-beauty community in America, Cosrx has cult-following status.

One of their more intriguing product is the Advanced Snail 92 All-in-One Cream. Don't let the name gross you out—it works. The cream includes 92% snail mucin, which helps enrich, nourish, and moisturize skin.

The All-in-One Cream is suitable for all skin types and is extremely beneficial for those with dull and dehydrated skin.

Key Ingredients: Snail Secretion filtrate, Betaine, Panthenol, Allantoin

Price: $24

Want to see it k-beauty in action? International K-pop superstar Tiffany Young shows us her Korean beauty routine with Vogue.