I Used Korean Beauty Products for Two Weeks and This Is How It Changed My Skin

Editor tested, complexion approved.

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(Image credit: Brayden Olson)

Korean skincare routines are known for being time-intensive, involving product after product carefully layered over one another, but that’s because they’re thought to be more like rituals than regimens. It’s a me-time way to decompress at night and start the day right in the morning. The back of your serum box may instruct you to slowly rub it in your hands and inhale the scent before applying—a step many busy women would balk at, but try it. Just try it.

If you’re confused about where to start with so many products flooding the market, consider this: Many of the top brands are connected by one parent company. Amorepacific owns an eponymous skincare and makeup line, plus 27 (!!) more that range from ultra-luxe and $$$ to inexpensive and fun. For the sake of this experiment, Marie Claire's site director, Sally Holmes, tried products from Amorepacific, Sulwhasoo, Laneige, and Mamonde. Here’s what she used, and how it worked—plus the glow-y skin pics that speak for themselves.

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(Image credit: Brayden Olson)

The Attitude Transformation

I’m used to a pretty simple routine.

In the morning, I use face wash in the shower followed by moisturizer. At night, I mostly use face wipes (to the horror of MC’s beauty editor) followed by moisturizer. Occasionally I’d slip some toner in there.

I don’t have time to spend 30-40 minutes on my skin.

Basically, I’m lazy. That’s time I could be answering emails, looking at the morning news, or editing a story. And at night, I’m usually so tired I just want to fall into bed without bothering to wash my face.

I found out...it's nice to be able to take a second to take care of myself.

I loved the products—I was wary of how much time I would be spending on a ‘routine,’ but it actually was quite quick, and I liked winding down at night and not being on my phone in the morning. And how I felt after made it worth it!

My skin felt softer and noticeably more hydrated.

Especially coming out of winter, my skin was so dry. After this regular regimen, my skin felt and looked better, brighter, and healthier.

The Product Lineup

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(Image credit: Brayden Olson)

Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser

When to use it: Every AM and PM.

What it does: This oil cleanser transforms into a light foam with the addition of a few drops of water and a little gentle rubbing. The oil component breaks up oils on your skin, and the water portion breaks up dirt, sweat, and pollution.

Sally’s take: My favorite part of this product was the scent. It smells gorgeous—like putting your face in a rose garden sans thorns. It was also so gentle on my skin, but made me feel like I'd removed all the grossness of the day from my face. It felt really, well, clean.

Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser, $21


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(Image credit: Brayden Olson)

Mamonde Petal Purifying Bubble Mask

When to use it: After cleansing, up to twice a week.

What it does: Made with real rose petals, this mask purifies skin from environmental dirt and pollution.

Sally’s take: Okay, I was scared of bubble masks from seeing insane videos on YouTube, but this one doesn’t bubble like crazy, and it made my skin look SO good afterwards… like, immediately afterward, I could see the difference: My pores looked smaller.

Mamonde Petal Purifying Bubble Mask, $25


Mamonde Hydrating Beauty Water

When to use it: Every AM and PM

What it does: This multi-tasker is a combined exfoliator, hydrating toner, and antioxidant-packed essence in one bottle.

Sally’s take: Same smell, same hydrating magic. It’s so gentle and just PLEASANT to use.

Mamonde Hydrating Beauty Water, $23


Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum

When to use it: Every AM and PM

What it does: A serum helps rebalance skin post-cleansing and before the rest of your skincare routine. Sulwhasoo recommends rubbing the serum together in your hands and inhaling its scent before gently patting it onto skin. Don’t skip it!

Sally’s take: The smell of this is also wonderful, and it left my skin looking bright!

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum, $84


Amorepacific The Essential Creme Fluid

When to use it: Every AM and PM

What it does: It's a lightweight moisturizer with a milky texture. Every bottle contains 150 baby green tea leaves handpicked from the brand's gardens.

Sally’s take: This is super luxurious! (Handpicked tea leaves?!)

Amorepacific The Essential Creme Fluid, $98


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(Image credit: Brayden Olson)

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

When to use it: Literally any time you need a little lip hydration.

What it does: Hyaluronic acid and minerals create a protective barrier on the lips, keeping hydration in. Plus, it includes raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, and blueberry extracts, so it smells like a smoothie.

Sally’s take: This is heavenly and I loved using it in the morning instead of a lip gloss because its super shiny and beautiful, but still looks natural and doesn’t have the sticky texture of a gloss.

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, $20


Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

When to use it: Only at night.

What it does: Super-concentrated Hydro Ionized Mineral Water keeps even ultra-dry skin feels soft and supple. Plus, its scent is literally trademarked. It’s called SleepscentTM — and it's uber-calming. Apply it after your regular moisturizer and wash it off in the morning.

Sally’s take: This is both thick and creamy and light as a feather—it feels rich and luxurious going on, but melts into your skin. It isn’t a mask in the way you might be imagining—as soon as it's dry, you can’t even see it, the only reason you know it’s there is it has an almost firming effect so when you wash it off, it’s like a whole new face.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, $25


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(Image credit: Brayden Olson)

Amorepacific Treatment Enzyme Peel

When to use it: Up to twice a week when you need a little extra exfoliation.

What it does: Add water to turn this powder into a peel. It softens and evens skin while also helping to clear the way for your serums and moisturizers to better absorb.

Sally’s take: This was so gentle for an exfoliator, but it worked!

Amorepacific Treatment Enzyme Peel, $60


Eden Univer

I'm the Beauty Director at HearstMade.