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12 Best Korean Skincare Products for 2023

The Glowsly editors independently test and choose the best products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from the affiliate links.

Korean skincare is a cult topic in most beauty circles. While also synonymous with the Hallyu wave fueled by K-pop and dramas, the nation has earned a prestigious place in the company of other countries, like France and Japan, for creating consistently effective skincare products. And every few months, a new skincare trend emerges from this fashion-forward, tech-savvy country. As a refresher, slugging and glass skin are two trends that originated from South Korea and have dominated the world for quite some time. 

While those trends may come and go, the reality is that the multi-step Korean skincare routine is a popular option for a reason: It works. With a regimen that focuses on properly layering products that work well together, the goal is to achieve gorgeous skin that looks refreshed, plump, and hydrated with an even tone. More importantly, many products are designed to tackle whole-body issues — not just the skin on your face. So, if you’ve been thinking about upgrading your skincare routine beyond a bar of soap and a washcloth, these are the K-beauty products you should consider snagging. 

Best Korean skincare products overview

How we chose the best Korean skincare products

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, including skin type, method of use, product size, and more to create a short list of the top Korean skincare products. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best Korean skincare products for each category.

Our picks for the best Korean skincare products

Best overall
Innisfree Hydrating Micellar Water

What we love

  • Works for all skin types
  • Can also work as a makeup remover
  • Doesn’t have to be washed off

What we don’t love

  • Doesn’t target any specific skin concerns beyond cleansing

Yes, there are definitely traditional cleansers within the K-beauty world. But we’re talking about a cleanser that pulls double duty and gets you out the door fast. Because let’s face it, you don’t always have time for an 11-step routine in the morning or immediately after the gym. Innisfree’s Hydrating Micellar Water is a cleanser that can also serve as a makeup remover. 

Its hero ingredient is green tea, which is packed with 16 amino acids that are beneficial for your skin. This pick can also serve as the first step in a double cleanse when removing makeup — just follow up with your preferred regular cleanser afterward. Better still, you don’t have to rinse after using this product since it’s incredibly moisturizing.

Skin type: All | Size: 10.14 fl oz

Best budget
TonyMoly Changing U Magic Foot Peeling Shoes

What we love

  • Affordable alternative to leading competitors
  • Reveals soft skin
  • Easy to apply

What we don’t love

  • Total application and peeling process takes 2 weeks

Newsflash, your feet have skin too! And if you’re like many of us, your tootsies might not get the TLC they deserve in the winter months when they’re hiding in thick socks and boots. Before you bring your feet for that first spring pedicure — or if you have a fun warm-weather vacay on the horizon — you’ll want to make sure they look right. Foot-peeling masks aren’t entirely new. And we’re not going to lie to you that there aren’t competitors from other nations out there that are equally effective (Baby Foot, anyone?). 

But if you don’t want to pay the import markup, TonyMoly’s Changing U Magic Foot Peeling Shoes is a wallet-friendly alternative. It delivers on its highly effective claims of literally peeling off the rough dead layer of skin on your feet (gross yet satisfying, we know). 

Keep in mind that you need to plan accordingly when using this product since it can take four to six days for the peeling to begin. Then, you need to wait another week or so for the peeling to end. If you’re planning to use this ahead of a trip, make sure you start the application at the right time to avoid having embarrassing feet on your vacay.

Skin type: All | Size: 1 pair

Best sunscreen
Dewytree Urban Shade Cool Calming Sun Stick

What we love

  • No white caste means it works for all skin tones
  • SPF 50 protection
  • Cooling sensation and easy swivel stick application

What we don’t love

  • Only available online in the U.S.

Everyone should wear sunscreen — full stop. But if you’re part of the melanated delegation, you might not have the best relationship with sunscreen because it can leave you with an ashen caste that’s neither cute nor enjoyable. Thankfully, sunscreens do exist that are designed with this concern in mind. And if you dislike the smell of traditional sunscreens or find it annoying to apply them as lotions, we’ve got you. 

Dewytree is another fabulous K-beauty brand with a sunscreen stick. The Urban Shade Cool Calming Sun Stick is non-sticky and won’t leave a white cast. So now, no one has an excuse not to wear sunscreen. It even has a cooling texture so you can feel instantly refreshed. Plus, it’s vegan and has an SPF of 50.

While it does have fragrance, it’s not overpowering, and more importantly, it doesn’t smell like sunscreen. The easy stick design means you can quickly apply it to your entire face and reapply it throughout the day as needed. If you wear makeup, this should be the last step in your skincare routine before you begin applying your makeup.

Skin type: All | Size: 1.69 oz

Best pore-refining
SKINFOOD Egg White Pore Mask

What we love

  • Clears pores to prevent breakouts
  • Easy to apply
  • Hydrates with glycerin and olive fruit oil

What we don’t love

  • Contains eggs, so some may be allergic

Big or clogged pores can be the bane of many people’s existence — and understandably so. While pore size is actually genetic, you can still do something if your pores are filled with gunk. SKINFOOD is another popular Korean beauty brand known for leveraging the power of food to create effective skincare products.

The Egg White Pore Mask is another such option. However, if you’re allergic to eggs, stay away: This pick does contain egg whites. Specifically, those egg whites work to penetrate your pores and remove oils that can clog them.

Note that this isn’t a peel-off mask. It dries down, and you can feel it tightening. When the time comes, it requires serious rinsing or wiping to remove it. It might be a more intense experience than some people are used to. But the egg white, which aids in tightening, is countered with olive fruit oil and glycerin to add a bit of moisture. This product should be applied after you cleanse but before you continue to apply toners, serums, and moisturizers.

Skin type: All, ideal for oily or acne-prone skin | Size: 4.4 oz

Best device
Medicube Collagen Stimulation Age-R Ussera Deep Shot

What we love

  • Can aid in better penetration of topical products
  • Can improve the look and texture of your skin
  • Dual-energy with ultrasound and high-frequency electrodes

What we don’t love

  • Expensive
  • Has a slight learning curve to use device properly

If you don’t just want pretty skin but want to turn back the hands of time, let’s introduce you to a device that promises to do that and then some. Yes, we admit, it’s a serious splurge. But if your wallet can handle it, the Medicube Collagen Stimulation Age-R Ussera Deep Shot is a microcurrent device that boosts collagen production. 

If you’re unfamiliar, collagen is essential for maintaining elasticity in the skin and giving you a more youthful appearance. This device isn’t meant to be used by itself. You’ll want to first apply your preferred serums or creams, then use the tool to work the product into your skin. It relies on a dual-energy format that leverages high-frequency and ultrasound electrodes to penetrate deeply and stimulate the subdermal layers of your skin. 

Note that this product has been clinically tested. Participants shared that with consistent use over four weeks, many saw improvement with sunken and saggy areas around the cheek and smile lines as well as faster skin mark recovery, improved elasticity, smaller pores, and better texture and skin glossiness.

Skin type: All, ideal for oily or acne-prone skin | Size: 4.4 oz

Best DIY
Nature Republic Soothing & Moisture Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel

What we love

  • Vegan formula
  • 92% pure
  • Multitasking product for hair, body, and face

What we don’t love

  • More expensive than drugstore aloe vera
  • Contains alcohol

You might be wondering why aloe vera is on this list. After all, isn’t this just for after-sun care? Nope! In Korean skincare, aloe vera is a wonder product that’s considered pretty essential. It’s a multitasking powerhouse ingredient that’s effective when incorporated into skincare formulas but can also do the heavy lifting on its own. 

So, why are we including a jar of aloe vera when you can run to your nearest drugstore and grab a tube for slightly less? First, this is a vegan aloe vera gel that’s free from questionable ingredients and dyes that are often included in those after-sun care aloe veras you find in the drugstore. Moreover, Nature Republic’s aloe vera is 92% pure — a relatively high concentration. 

You can use this aloe by itself as a simple moisturizer on your entire body. But K-beauty insiders know that to truly harness the power of aloe, you’ll want to add it to your serums or moisturizers, or create sleeping packs with it. It becomes a wonderful DIY ingredient that can be used from head to toe to boost your skin’s moisture retention. 

And for the curious, if you want to make a sleeping pack, simply combine a lotion, your favorite oil or serum, and this aloe vera gel, then apply a thick layer to your face. For the natural hair fans, you can also add aloe to your DIY shea butter hair moisturizers for a more malleable texture that emulsifies better and enhances hydration.

Skin type: All | Size: 10.56 oz

Best serum
Lamel Hyaluronic Acid Serum

What we love

  • Lightweight water-based formula
  • Hyaluronic acid to hydrate and vitamin C to brighten
  • Can also double as an illuminator

What we don’t love

  • Contains synthetic fragrance

It wouldn’t be a worthwhile Korean skincare roundup without at least one serum. While we’ve created a more diverse list tackling various skincare issues across the body, we think this serum deserves some attention. Lamel’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a great option for anyone who dislikes layering serums because it combines ingredients that can be safely paired together. 

The hyaluronic acid works to hydrate your skin and ensure it retains moisture, and the vitamin C aids in brightening (not whitening) your skin for a glowing complexion. Another interesting aspect of this serum is that it incorporates illuminators to reflect light. So if you’re not the type to wear makeup, this serum can give you a gentle glow with just a single use.

Skin type: All | Size: 0.96 oz

Best exfoliator
Aprilskin Calendula PHA Hyaluronic Peeling Gel

What we love

  • Gentle exfoliator
  • Hyaluronic acid to improve hydration
  • Works immediately to reveal soft skin

What we don’t love

  • Some reviews noted the product lacks effectiveness

Once upon a time, the only way to exfoliate your skin was to engage in an intense mechanical exfoliation process. These days, we’ve realized that harsh exfoliating is neither necessary nor helpful. And we’re thrilled that Aprilskin’s Calendula PHA Hyaluronic Peeling Gel is here. 

This product is no gimmick. It’s a truly gentle exfoliator that works immediately to lift dead skin from your face. Within 30 seconds of applying the product and working it into your skin, you’ll see dead skin appear like pilling on your face. Once you rinse, you’re left with baby-soft skin. But the best part is that it’s incredibly gentle with no stinging or irritation — even if you have sensitive skin.

So what causes that instant exfoliation to occur? Say hello to Papain +0.3% PHA. It’s a very gentle chemical exfoliant blend that combines PHA with natural papaya enzymes (papain). It works to digest dead skin cells by breaking them down. And the calendula is rich in antioxidants that work to calm your skin. Of course, hyaluronic acid rounds out the trifecta of hero ingredients by boosting hydration, so your skin won’t feel tight after exfoliating.

Skin type: All | Size: 4.05 oz

Best toner
Mamonde Rose Water Toner

What we love

  • Safe for all skin types
  • Hydrating formula
  • Contains 90.97% rose water extracted from 100% organic Damask roses

What we don’t love

  • Doesn’t tackle any real skin concerns beyond hydration and soothing post-cleansing

Toners come in a variety of styles. But if you’re looking for something gentle to help soothe and hydrate your skin after cleansing, then the Mamonde Rose Water Toner is a solid pick. Made with 90.97% rose water, it’s incredibly hydrating. As long as you don’t have an aversion to the scent of roses, it’s intoxicating too. 

This toner is designed with all skin types in mind. While it doesn’t do more than moisturize your face, it’s a great middle step before you continue to apply your serums, oils, and creams. And for the curious, the rose water is extracted from 100% organic Damask roses.

Skin type: All | Size: 8.45 oz

Best lip care
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

What we love

  • Deeply hydrates dry lips
  • Shea butter and coconut oil as key ingredients
  • Ideal for all skin types but especially dry lips

What we don’t love

  • A little pricey

Even if it’s not the winter, your lips deserve some TLC. Thankfully, Laneige is a brand that cares about your smackers. The Lip Sleeping Mask is a thick, heavy-duty lip product that’s meant to be used overnight. Key ingredients include shea butter, murumuru butter, vitamin C, and coconut oil.

The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask is specifically designed to hydrate parched kissers not just to banish flakes but also improve the look and feel of your lips. If you love to rock ultra matte liquid lips, you’ll want to invest in this product to give your lips a break between crafting the perfect pout. There are seven different scents to choose from, although the original berry option remains a fan favorite. 

Fun fact: Even though this lip sleeping mask is marketed as an overnight-only solution, go ahead and wear it during the day if it’s the middle of winter and windburn is leaving your lips chapped.

Skin type: All, especially dry lips | Size: 0.7 oz

Best mask
Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Sleepair Intensive Mask

What we love

  • Ideal for dry and sensitive skin
  • Works to boost moisture retention
  • Also improves skin texture

What we don’t love

  • Expensive

If you haven’t yet harnessed the power of a nighttime skincare routine, it’s time to start. First, indulging in a multi-step routine at night is an excellent way to treat yourself to some self-care. Second, since you’re usually not in a rush before bedtime, you can take your time with it (and that means you’ll take more care in how you handle your skin). 

If you’re ready to go all out with a nighttime routine, consider incorporating the Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Sleepair Intensive Mask. This is a leave-on mask that’s designed with sensitive skin in mind. You’ll get a cooling gel that’s packed with moisturizers, and Tiger grass, also known as Centella Asiatic or cica, works as a humectant to aid moisture retention. 

So slather it on, head off to dreamland, and wake up feeling and looking refreshed. Along with dryness, this mask will tackle uneven texture and skin irritation. The brand promises to offer radiant, hyrdated, and smooth skin with consistent use.

Skin type: All, especially dry and sensitive skin | Size: 3.38 fl oz

Best makeup remover
Etude Lip & Eye Remover

What we love

  • Effective at removing budge-proof makeup
  • Gentle formula can even be used on the eyes
  • Moisturizing

What we don’t love

  • Bitter aftertaste when used on lips

We’re rounding out our guide with a must-have for anyone who rocks makeup — especially longwear and liquid lipsticks. Etude’s Lip & Eye Remover is a biphase makeup remover solution that easily breaks down even the most stubborn makeup without drying out your skin. 

To use this product, you’ll want to shake the bottle to blend the two layers (clear and blue — no, that’s not just the color of the bottle) and then wet a cotton pad with the solution. All you have to do is gently wipe your face to remove the most budge-proof makeup you can imagine. Better still, because this is a biphase that leverages an oil layer to break down that makeup, you won’t be left with tight or dry skin.

Skin type: All| Size: 3.38 fl oz

Create a skincare routine you’ll love

Korean skincare is a massive category consisting of hundreds of brands — many of which still haven’t crossed the Pacific and entered the U.S. beauty market. But even with the brands that have arrived stateside, it can be overwhelming to figure out which products are right for you. Just like with traditional brands, you’ll want to consider certain criteria, such as skin concerns, formulation, and ease of use.

If you want to start simple, our Best Overall pick, the Innisfree Hydrating Micellar Water is a solid choice. Along with being easy to use, it’s designed with all skin types in mind, meaning it’s well tolerated. Plus, the no-wash formula is convenient if you’re short on time.

How to pick the right Korean skincare products for you

Korean skincare can seem like a magical category consisting of miracle products. But you still need to do your homework and consider key factors, such as the ones outlined below. 


Historically, Korean skincare has been characterized by its multi-step nature. This means you’re not simply washing your face, slathering on a moisturizer, and racing out the door. Instead, your routine can have anywhere from five (cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen) to as many as 11 or more steps. 

Typically, daytime routines are shorter, given that people still have to go to work. But what may change is that not all products are used for both a.m. and p.m. facial routines. With so many steps to incorporate, even on the low end with four or five, it’s easy for K-beauty routine newbies to get overwhelmed. For products to work correctly, you’ll want to always start by cleansing and end with moisturizers (or sunscreen for daytime routines). In most cases, even the most basic routine will go as follows: cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen. 

When you start incorporating occasional steps, such as a mask or exfoliation, you need to pay attention to where within the above routine this happens. Pretty much every exfoliating product — whether from Korea or the U.S. — will say to use it after cleansing. But with masks, it can get tricky. Depending on the kind of mask you’re using, you might want to apply it before toning, unless it’s a leave-on. In that case, it might be your last step, like with the Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Sleepair Intensive Mask. 

Rather than worrying about a rigid adherence to every step within a full Korean multi-step routine, consider focusing on the basics and expanding as needed. This means that you’ll always have a minimum of four to five steps depending on the time of day. 


Ingredients can vary widely with Korean beauty products. While mainstays like hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, cica, green tea, and other alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are fairly standard, K-beauty can also incorporate items that are less common in the U.S. In truth, animal-derived ingredients that aren’t as common in the U.S. are more likely to be found if you’re shopping from lesser known Korean brands that have yet to make a real mainstream presence in America. 

By contrast, well-known brands like TonyMoly, Etude, Innisfree, SKINFOOD, Aprilskin, and Nature Republic usually offer formulations that appeal to an audience expecting those that are not just cruelty-free but vegan. For example, animal extracts like snail extract and even horse oil are common ingredients in many skincare products. So if you’re vegan, you need to review the ingredients list and ensure that your coveted product still meets your ethical standards. 


When creating a skincare routine, you need to consider whether the ingredients in the products are compatible with one another. This is especially true if you’re layering products that have active ingredients. 

For example, while hyaluronic acid is gentle and can be paired with almost any product, the same can’t be said for skincare products containing retinol or vitamin C. Pairing too many active ingredients that tackle the same concern, such as cellular turnover, can cause them to stop working (in the best case scenario) or chemical reactions (in the worst case scenario). 

So, be prepared to adjust your product lineup depending on how you’ve changed your routine. As another example, on exfoliation days, you should avoid using any other products that contain AHAs and BHAs beyond your exfoliator because they’re too aggressive on that fresh layer of skin you’ve just revealed. 


Which Korean skincare brand is the best? 

There are so many Korean skincare brands that it’s impossible to pick one as the standalone best. Likewise, skincare is personal, and the No. 1 option will depend on your skin type, concerns, and the product that best fits your lifestyle. However, we do recommend the Innisfree Hydrating Micellar Water, as it’s safe for all skin types and can be used as a makeup remover or routine cleanser. 

Why does Korean skincare work so well?

South Korea is synonymous with excellence in cosmetics — across skincare and cosmetic procedures. Within the skincare niche, multiple research facilities exist to leverage the power of naturally derived ingredients to create more effective yet gentle formulas that target common and obscure skincare concerns. For this reason, South Korea is one of the top nations for skincare innovations. 

What’s the best serum in Korea?

The best serum is going to depend on your skin concerns. While our list was more holistic and reviewed a wide range of K-beauty products designed to target a host of issues, we did include one serum in particular from Lamel. It’s a hyaluronic acid serum that also incorporates vitamin C to improve moisture retention and boost your skin’s radiance.