The 20 Best Korean Skincare Brands to Start Your K-Beauty Routine

They're safe for sensitive skin—and affordable.

best korean skincare brands collage including Dr Jart+, Peach & Lily, Laneige
(Image credit: Brittany Holloway-Brown/Future)

The K-beauty market is projected to be worth $13.9 billion by 2027, and just a little research proves why the best Korean skincare brands are exploding stateside. They lead the charge in innovation, are sensitive skin-approved (K-beauty is focused on increasing hydration and reducing inflammation), and are sold at an accessible price point. "Korea is a leading global mecca for innovation with incredible skincare advancements emerging from Korea's labs," says Alicia Yoon, the brains behind K-Beauty retailer Peach & Lily, which sells nearly 20 K-Beauty skincare brands. "You'll see new product formats, incredible new ingredients, and new product categories coming out of the country."

Brands like Laneige, Glow Recipe, and Sulwhasoo have become cult favorites—and quickly at that. But K-Beauty experts and industry insiders will tell you that those just scratch the surface of what Korean beauty offers. There are dozens of new-to-the-US companies that sell elite Korean sunscreen formulas, glow-boosting essences, and products that use ingredients like matcha, niacinamide, and ginger to nourish the skin barrier. As such, we’ve taken the time to round up the best Korean skincare brands that deserve a spot in your routine.

The Best Korean Skincare Brands

  • The Best K-Beauty Skincare Brand for a Double Cleanse: Then I Met You
  • The Best Luxury K-Beauty Skincare Brand: Sulwhasoo
  • The Best K-Beauty Skincare Brand at Sephora: Glow Recipe
  • The Best K-Beauty Skincare Brand on Amazon: d'Alba

Then I Met You

This is the brainchild of Charlotte Cho, the brains behind K-Beauty retailer Soko Glam. The brand is marketed as an "elevated" take on Korean beauty, and features a tightly edited range of products that seek to connect you to your skincare routine. Then I Met You is committed to sustainability, packing all of their products in 100 percent recyclable boxes.

Sulwhasoo

Pronounced “Suhl-ha-soo," this skincare brand was founded on the principles of balance and harmony. Started in 1966, the brand is committed to melding natural ingredients with innovative skincare practices, resulting in dozens of best-selling products and a pristine reputation that's lasted through the generations.

Glow Recipe

Christine Chang and Sarah Lee founded Glow Recipe in 2017 after working together at L'Oréal. In crafting their own brand, they decided to focus on inclusive marketing and effective formulas based in antioxidant-rich fruits like watermelon, plum, and strawberry. All of their products are clean, vegan, and cruelty-free, and they boast a variety of products that cater to every skin type and concern.

d'Alba

"This vegan brand has taken Korea by storm with its hero ingredient, white truffle, which is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants," says Yoon. While you typically associate the star ingredient as a topper on a pasta dish, it actually boasts a ton of skin benefits. Inside, you'll find vitamin C, B12, and amino acids, which provide top line antioxidant protection.

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Lagom

Created by Kowon, one of Korea's most sought-after celebrity makeup artists and a team of scientists and doctors, this brand delivers an advanced take on skin hydration, explains Yoon. The star ingredient across their products is called DermaFlux. It's so effective at sealing in moisture, that the patented ingredient won the team a Nobel Peace Prize.

Eco Your Skin

Korea's spa services are next-level with incredible innovative formulas and treatments. "Eco Your Skin is the largest spa in Korea loved by K-Drama and K-Pop A-listers for their dramatic results that leave you so glowy and plumped up," notes Yoon. "Their treatments come bottled for at-home use.

Aestura

Aestura was founded in 1983 with the goal of delivering skincare products whose efficacy is supported by dermatological science. A part of the skincare umbrella brand Amorepacific, they've gained a reputation for supporting healthy skin through products designed for all ages and skin types.

Laneige

The brand might have a French name, but Laneige (which translates to “snow”) was founded in Seoul, South Korea in 1994 by Amorepacific, the corporation behind several of the brands in this list. Known for their iconic sleeping lip mask, the brand has more recently branched into additional skincare items such as face moisturizers, toner, essences, and more.

Amorepacific

Luxury Korean skincare brand, Amorepacific is the namesake brand of the Amore Pacific corporation, which operates well known Korean beauty brands Laneige, Sulwhasoo, Innisfree, and more. With a focus on ingredients enriched with green tea, Amorepacific seeks to provide skincare that penetrates skin with natural, moisturizing formulas.

Banila Co

Founded in 2006 in South Korea, Banila Co. isn’t new to the Korean skincare game. In fact, their ever-popular cleansing balm is purchased every 3.1 seconds. The brand champions a simplified, less-is-more routine in order to make premium skincare easier, faster, and more accessible to consumers worldwide. Plus, it's sold at an affordable price point, making it the dewy skin possible for people of all budgets.

The Crème Shop

The Crème Shop is beloved for its adorable packaging, which often features popular characters like Hello Kitty, Trolls, and BT21, but they're products are more than just cute—they're also packed with nourishing ingredients handpicked to support long term skincare. With this brand, you can look after your health and have fun while you're at it.

Mediheal

One of the best known steps in the Korean skincare routine is the sheet mask, which is infused with a nourishing essence meant to strengthen the skin barrier. For many Mediheal is the place to go for all things sheet masks, but since their 2009 inception, they've expanded into other skincare items, such as toner pads, haircare items, and skin patches. To produce these premium products, the brand actively works with scientists, dermatologists, and other skin experts to ensure that their ingredients are as safe and effective as possible.

Cosrx

Cosrx's name stands for Cosmetics + Rx, highlighting its emphasis on creating thoughtful, effective, and scientifically backed-up products for skin. Officially launched in 2013 by Jun Sang Hun, the brand is known for its no-nonsense ingredients and packaging, as well as for its highly effective ingredients like cica, snail mucin, and propolis.

Dr. Jart+

When you ask someone about their favorite Korean skincare brand, chances are they’ll probably mention Dr. Jart+. This brand bridges the gap between art and dermatological science, which is where its name comes from—it's an abbreviation of “Doctors Join Art." Now a part of the Estée Lauder umbrella, Dr. Jart+ sticks to its founders' goals of creating innovative products destined to become staples in anyone's skincare routine.

Venn

In less than 10 years, Venn has developed a devoted cult following. Their ethos revolves around balancing the skin’s microbiome so that, rather than applying skincare reactively, users can proactively stay on top of their skin health. The result is fewer breakouts, episodes of dryness, and instances of dullness—something that the brand achieves by creating formulas packed with skin-strengthening nutrients, prebiotics, and probiotics.

Meebak

If redness is your primary skin concern, then Meebak, which launched in 2019, should be on your radar. One of the primary ingredients in their line is cica, which has unmatched soothing and skin-evening powers.

"We don’t add heavy premiums like many brands out there, and instead focus on delivering our brand promise of younger, brighter, happier skin,” brand founder Heeji Kim said in a press release shared with Marie Claire.

Peach Slices

Chances are you’ve seen the brand’s “Snail Rescue” line go viral on TikTok. If you’re unfamiliar, allow us to give you a crash course: It leverages Korean-loved skincare ingredients like snail mucin, along with honey and yuzu to gently exfoliate skin and control shine.

Son & Park

Son & Park was established by two celebrity makeup artists, Son Dae-Sik and Park Tae-Yun, who established their eponymous beauty brand because of their belief that flawless makeup starts with healthy skin. The brand is best known for its Beauty Water, but it also carries products that enhance the appearance of the eyes and lips.

What Makes K-Beauty Different?

In America, you can find skincare products for almost anything. Generally speaking, we love our chemical peels, our retinoids, and our exfoliating acids. Korean skincare, on the other hand, is more focused on long-term skin health and a well-maintained barrier. "There's a deep focus on aspects that keep skin thriving—hydration, calming, and protecting ingredients," says Yoon.

Korea is the birthplace of the double cleanse, which combines an oil cleanser to dissolve makeup and SPF with a water-based cleanser to remove sweat and dirt. "This two-step process delivers clarified, deeply cleansed skin without being harsh on skin," adds Yoon.

Cleansing is always followed by deep hydration. "Essences are a staple skincare category in Korea as they're formulated to flood skin with hydration," says Yoon. "The seven-skin method originated in Korea years ago, and focuses on hydrating skin by patting on seven layers of your essence to flood skin with hydration."

How Long Is a Korean Skincare Routine?

Most people associate Korean skincare with 12-step routines. While a lengthy regimen can be the case, it doesn't have to be. "A standard routine may not always have so many steps, but because each routine is focused on personalization and ensuring skin is cleansed well, amply hydrated, with targeted treatments, and SPFS, you typically have a multi-stepped routine," notes Yoon.

In addition to a double cleanse, essence, and SPF (K-Beauty sunscreens are elite), you'll also likely include serums or ampoules that can address specific concerns. "Some people might use one serum every day of the week while others pair two serums together. Others might switch up serums several times a week to hyper-target how their skin is feeling each day," adds Yoon.

How Expensive Is Korean Skincare?

Because Korea is one of the most competitive beauty landscapes with demanding consumers, brands are constantly challenged to level up formulas, packaging, and value. "We have avid skincare consumers in Korea to thank for many of the innovative, accessible, and exceptional products," notes Yoon. As a result, many products have a lower price point.

Meet the Expert

alicia
Alicia Yoon

Alicia's love of skincare comes from a personal place. She struggled with severe eczema and problematic skin growing up. She worried that she would always have itchy, rashy, painful skin. To take control of her skin, she attended skin school in Korea, and finally discovered the knowledge, techniques, and Korean Beauty product technologies that allowed her to transform it. For the past 20 years, she has continued to study skincare ingredients and Korean Skincare techniques while also obtaining her NY Esthetician license and cultivating my own unique and effective skincare treatments.

Her personal passion – and the mission at Peach & Lily – is to empower you to transform your own skin. A powerful way we do this is through our Active for All™ formulas that finally allow sensitive skin to use clean, potent, active ingredients like Vitamin C, AHAs, BHAs and more without worry.