Sure, you're already acquainted with the drugstore basics—you know, the same beloved Burt’s Bees moisturizer and Wet n Wild blush you’ve used since college—but it’s time to break out of your comfort zone and step into the wide, wonderful world of Asian beauty products.
Not only are the ingredients in Japanese and Korean formulas unique and, well, straight-up fun, but they're also influenced by eastern medicine and a centuries-old emphasis on good skincare, making them just as effective—if not more so, in some cases—than American products. Plus, who wouldn't want to play with a snail-based toner or egg-white cleanser in the name of beauty? To make the transition easy for you, we’ve curated the best cult-favorite Asian beauty products to try immediately.
1. This Firming Cleanser
Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam, $10
This Korean beauty brand is famous for its food-based products, but none rival the popularity of its beloved pore foam, which uses egg whites to temporarily tighten fine lines and mattify oily skin after each use.
2. This Skin-Fixing Essence
Cosrx Advanced Snail Mucin Power Essence, $22
Don't worry—the 96 percent snail mucin in this essence isn't the same slime you'd get from a sidewalk snail; it's a processed, cosmetically elegant version that's collected from edible snails. Mucin has been shown to fade acne scars, brighten dark spots, and deeply hydrate even the driest of skin, so massage a dime-size drop of this toner over your clean, dry face every night to even out your complexion.
3. These Brightening Pads
Neogen Bio-Peel Lemon Pads, $19
Fact: Physical exfoliators (i.e. those gritty face scrubs you love to use) are actually horrible for your skin. They create micro-tears in your skin barrier, leading to inflammation, irritation, and even premature aging.
But these chemical exfoliating pads use lemon fruit extract and lactic acid to gently smooth rough skin and dissolve flakes and blackheads, leaving you with a brighter, glowier complexion that's still healthy.
4. This Gentle Cleanser
Erborian Cleansing Micellar Water, $26
This herb-infused micellar water (i.e. a water filled with oil-dissolving molecules) does the hard work of removing grime and leftover makeup with just a few swipes of a cotton swab. It's a must-have addition for your pre-snooze routine—especially on the lazy nights when even brushing your teeth feels too difficult.
5. This Skin-Perfection Toner
Whal Myung Skin Elixir, $58
If your skin is maybe dry, but also maybe oily, or maybe it’s a bit acne-prone, but kinda dull, too, and also, you have no idea, then this is the product for you. The medicinal-level toner dates back to the Joseon dynasty in late 19th-century Korea (yes, really), and its herb-spiked formula brightens, softens, and hydrates your skin after just a few uses. Basically, this is living proof of the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
6. This Smoothing Face Peel
Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel, $36
This two-step skin peel is formulated with soothing coconut milk and sqaulene, making it surprisingly gentle on most skin types (except the very sensitive—sorry, rosacea kids). Just dampen one of the included cotton swabs with the liquid peel and swipe it over your face, letting the lactic acid and salicylic acid chemically exfoliate your skin for one minute before rinsing off.
7. This Redness-Reducing Mask
Innisfree It's Real Squeeze Mask in Green Tea , $2
Not only is this green tea sheet mask made by a brand that's literally located on a green tea farm (so, you know, hella credible), but it's also full of naturally derived ingredients that soothe irritation and redness with just one use.
8. This Exfoliating Water
Blithe Patting Splash Mask, $45
Any skin-softening product that yields immediate results is our kind of magic, and this Korean "splash mask" works in mere seconds. Just pat the lactic acid–filled liquid over your damp face (or add a capful to cup of water and pour the water over your skin), and let the AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) brighten and smooth skin for an instantly clearer appearance.
9. This Budge-Proof Brow Pencil
The Faceshop Lovely Me:Ex Design My Eyebrow, $8
The hero of this beloved K-beauty pencil is its waxy, long-wear formula, which doesn't smudge or fade until you wash it off. Just line and fill in your brows with the angled tip, then soften and distribute the color with the spoolie on the other end.
10. This Ultra-Smoothing Cuticle Oil
UKA Nail 7:15, $36
We're gonna wager that your cuticles are looking a little rough right now, because when are they not? Enter: this cult-favorite aromatherapy oil that was specifically designed by Japanese manicurist Kiho Watanab to make a mundane chore feel, well, a little more spa-like.
11. This Anti-Aging Serum
Mizon Skin Recovery Night Repair Seruming Ampoule, $18
This ampoule (which is a fancy name for an amped-up serum) is packed with potent skin-boosting ingredients, like brightening vitamin B, hydrating aloe vera, and anti-aging lathyrus japonicas extract. Smooth it over your dry skin before bed and wake up to softer, glowier skin—at least, after about a week of use.
12. This Anti-Aging BB Cream
Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42 PA+++, $22
This multitasking BB cream really does do it all. A few drops of the tinted formula evens out redness, covers dark spots and blemishes, and protects your skin from sun damage and fine lines with a potent dose of both UVB and UVA protection.
13. This No-Smudge Liquid Liner
Clio Waterproof Pen Liner, $12
This ultra-pigmented Korean liner marries the opaque drama of a liquid liner with the precision and ease of a pen. Plus, its waterproof formula prevents flaking or fading all day, even if you have watery eyes.
14. This Volumizing Mascara
Kiss Me Heroine Volume and Curl Mascara, $21
Don't judge a book—or a mascara—by its cover. Inside this cutesy box is an intensely rich, waterproof formula that'll give your lashes double the volume and length, without the clumps.
15. This Dewy Cushion Compact
AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact, Broad Spectrum SPF 50+, $60
Inside this compact is a springy, CC cream–soaked cushion that allows you to build up consistent coverage without accidentally going overboard. Gently stamp the included sponge into the cushion and press it over your face to cover redness and blemishes.
16. This Cushioned Blush
Peripera Ah Much Real My Cushion Blusher, $14
Cream blushes can get streaky (and messy) fast, but this sponge-tip applicator makes it ridiculously simple to evenly tap and dab a sheer layer of color over the apples of your cheeks.
17. This Smoothing Cleanser
Cure Natural Aqua Gel, $37
This internet-favorite cleanser looks like water and feels like gel, yet still somehow manages to smooth your skin with invisible exfoliators. How? The conditioner-based formula balls up when you massage it over your dry skin (yes, your face has to be dry), and those little squishy balls gently lift flakes without irritating your skin.
18. This Hydrating Lip Stain
Peripera Peri's Tint Marker, $20
Most lip stains apply unevenly, sinking into every fine line and crease for a patchy finish. This hydrating marker glides over your lips, leaving behind a wash of long-lasting color that won't feather or fade for hours.
19. This Magical Eyelash Curler
Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler, $18
This cult-favorite gem is essentially the Rolls Royce of eyelash curlers (seriously—it has 1,600 five-star reviews on Amazon), thanks to the specific curvature of its rubber pads and metal clamps, which perfectly distribute pressure across your lashes so they bend and stay bent...even without mascara.
20. This Deep-Conditioning Mask
Kokostar Hair Therapy, $8
Get ready, sheet mask addicts: This keratin- and aloe-infused sheet mask isn't for your face, but for your hair. Just unpack the pre-soaked cap, slip it over damp hair, let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse. Your super-smooth hair will thank you—and then beg for another.
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