Guide to Korean Moisturizers

Korean women are known for their youthful-looking, glowing skin that makes them look way younger than their actual age. You may wonder why, so here’s their secret – they focus on keeping their skin healthy instead of covering up their skin problems under makeup and trying to remedy them with anti-aging products. They believe that beauty comes naturally if your skin is healthy.

K-beauty or Korean beauty products work to achieve that goal: to make the skin healthy. To understand Korean beauty, note that skincare – most importantly, moisturizing – is at the center of everything. Even the toners, serums, and the ubiquitous sheet masks are created to hydrate the skin further. For Koreans, skincare is like a tradition, and they are taking care of their skin at a young age, which means moisturizers are a must.

The Secret of Korean Moisturizers

What makes Korean moisturizers popular and even superior to others? It comes with the texture and formulation of these products. Korean moisturizers are super lightweight and fast-absorbing. Most Korean moisturizers are like hybrids between a gel and cream or lotion with whipped consistencies. The ingredients are also skin-friendly and are typically infused with natural ingredients that can be easily adapted to most skin types.

How to Choose a Korean Moisturizer

There are so many kinds of K-beauty products that can offer hydration to your skin. If you use a hydrating primer, an essence, or serum – you will notice a great difference in your skin’s elasticity. But all in all, moisturizers give your skin the hydration it needs while protecting your skin from sun damage, aging, and wrinkles.

The influx of K-beauty options can be overwhelming, so to make shopping a little bit easier, here are some tips on how to pick one:

Determine your skin type.

Knowing your skin type will help you find the product that works best for you. The spectrum of skin types is pretty large, so make sure you find the product that fits your skin description best.

Generally, if your skin tends to get red easily or stings when you apply some skincare products, you have sensitive skin. For this type of skin, avoid ingredients like alcohol, artificial fragrances, and dyes and choose milder formulas. Many products are now labeled as “for sensitive skin,” but a better indicator is “fragrance-free” or if it contains soothing ingredients like chamomile, aloe, or colloidal oatmeal.

To figure out if your skin is dry, oily, or combination skin, look at your T-zone at the end of the day. If that area of your face looks relatively matte, you have dry skin. If it’s shiny, you have oily skin. If you have a bit of both, you have normal or combination skin. Dry skin can handle a richer formula like creams, while oilier skin types can benefit from a lightweight moisturizer or gel. A hydrating serum can also double as a moisturizer for oily skin types. For normal and combination skin, a medium-weight moisturizer can do the trick.

Check the unique ingredients.

Korean beauty products take advantage of way more special ingredients due to their incredible skincare benefits. Choose the moisturizer with an ingredient that’s beneficial to your needs to make the most out of the product.

Check the scent.

Your nose must like the scent of the product you’ll be applying to your face. Luckily for you, Korean beauty products have different fun scents – most of them mild and non-irritating.

Things to Discover about Korean Moisturizers

Korean beauty is a thing best determined by Korean themselves, but Westerners can benefit a lot from it. Even mainstream beauty outlets are discovering the secrets of Korean skincare. Here’s what you need to know about Korean moisturizers.

Toners, serums, essences, and emulsions are different from one another.

In the Korean context, these products mean different things, but they all add hydration to the skin.

Toners are used for cleansing the skin and balancing its pH. It helps prepare your skin for the products you’re about to use. It’s not the stripping-oil kind that you’re used to – Korean toners can be splashed or spritzed on the face and patted on lightly using your fingers.

Essences are the next skincare product to use after the skin is primed by a toner. They are lightweight substances that aim to brighten, tighten, and moisturize the skin. It can be used in conjunction with serums or on its own.

Korean serums work much like serums from Western brands. They are heavier than essences, but it’s packed with beauty-enhancing ingredients. There are different serums available to cater to your needs – some are designed for tightening, some are for brightening, some are anti-aging.

Emulsions are a featherweight moisturizer. If you have oily skin or if you are not going to be under the sun, this will serve as your only moisturizer. But since Koreans use moisturizer and sunscreen, this will rarely be your last step in your skincare routine.

Creams are the typical moisturizer – there are day creams and night creams, and so many other creams.

Attack, moisturize, and use sunscreen.

This is the mantra for Korean skincare. First, you have to use essences, serums, and eye creams to attack problematic areas (this must be done after cleansing the skin using an oil cleanser, toner, and exfoliator!). Then, apply a moisturizer. Koreans use two different types of moisturizers: one lighter and one heavier. As a final step, the sunscreen layer since the sun is the enemy of Asian skin. But if you’re using a Korean BB cream or a foundation with SPF, you don’t need to apply sunscreen.

Embrace the sheet mask.

Those wet cotton masks that come in individual packages come with different types of essences, from black pearl to mung bean to rice water to seaweed. Once unfolded and applied to your face, these masks can make you look like a serial killer. But still, it’s fantastic! These things can be bought for about $2 apiece or even cheaper. Apply it to your skin and keep it for at least 20 minutes until it’s all absorbed. It’s best to use it after washing your face and using it before sleep. Don’t throw the package right away after one use – there’s probably still enough essence in there that you can squeeze out and use the next night.

Don’t be wary of weird ingredients.

Korean beauty products follow traditional Chinese medicine rules, which uses herbs, plants, and animal byproducts to cause healing, regenerating, and antioxidant touting effects for the skin. Korean moisturizers and other skincare products may come with salmon eggs, bee venom, pearls, mushroom extract, salmon oil, horse oil, pig collagen, tomato, donkey milk, chia seeds, green tea, and even snail slime. Don’t be afraid of these – Korean brands take pride in sourcing high-quality ingredients, and products are closely regulated by their food and drug administration.

Tap the product on your face and not rub.

When applying moisturizers and other skincare products, always tap and don’t rub. Rubbing can stretch the skin, and for Koreans, it doesn’t help the skin absorb all these tomatoes, royal jelly, snail slime, or charcoal you just bought.

Whitening doesn’t mean bleaching.

There are many Korean skincare products that tout “whitening” as it’s a benefit. This doesn’t mean that the product will bleach your skin or you’re going to look like a white person once you use it regularly. In the case of Korean moisturizers and products, whitening is synonymous with brightening, and the ingredients that bring the “whitening” effect are basically vitamin C-based rejuvenators and brighteners, no bleaches.

Where to Buy
[Klairs] Rich Moist Soothing cream, 60ml, soothing and hydrating
ETUDE HOUSE Moistfull Collagen Cream 75ml (New Version) | Facial Moisturizing Wrinkle Cream with Collagen for Women Skin Care
COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap, 3.38 fl.oz / 100ml | Daily Moisturizer | Korean Skin Care, Vegan, Cruelty Free, Paraben Free
Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Cream Ex 1.69fl oz / 50milliliter
THE FACE SHOP Mangoseed Moisturizing Butter
MISSHA Super Aqua Ultra Waterfull Clear Cream Value Set
COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream, 3.53 oz / 100g | Wrinkle Cream | Korean Skin Care, Vegan, Cruelty Free, Paraben Free
[KLAIRS] Midnight Blue Calming Cream, facial spot cream, calming cream, night calming spot cream, 30ml, 1.01ounce
Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream
Collagen Power Lifting Cream, Collagen Face Moisturizer by Mizon, Day and Night Cream, Anti-Aging Facial Cream to Smooth Wrinkles, Non-Greasy and Non-sticky Formula, Lifting and Tightening, Natural


Best Korean Moisturizers

These are some of the top-performing Korean moisturizers in the market: