For years, experts have considered Korean skincare to be the gold standard of quality and efficacy. And while lately, the signature 12-step routine has been falling out of popularity in favor of simpler and more succinct routines (at least Stateside), Americans still tend to look to K-beauty for the best products and techniques.
Yet just like with anything else in life, approaching something new that you're wholly unfamiliar with can feel overwhelming and intimidating. That includes Korean skincare. With so many brands, products, ingredients, and devices, it can be difficult to know where to start. Well, that's where we come in. Our philosophy is to start with a few tried-and-true brands. Dip your toe in, familiarize yourself with each of their product offerings, and then build from there, pushing further into the market until you feel like a bona fide K-beauty expert in your own right. So without further ado, keep scrolling to see 20 of our favorite Korean skincare brands.
1. Peach & Lily
We couldn't talk about K-beauty without mentioning Peach & Lily. This Korean-inspired brand, which was founded by aesthetician Alicia Yoon, produces some of our favorite skincare products, like this serum. With ingredients such as peach extract, East Asian mountain yam extract, hyaluronic acid, and peptides, it hydrates, calms, brightens, and firms skin all in one go. It's one of those rare serums that made a visible difference in the state of our skin after just a few uses.
2. Glow Recipe
Glow Recipe, another Korean-inspired brand, which was founded by Christine Chang and Sarah Lee, focuses on fruit-forward skincare products. Take this guava serum, for instance. With brightening ingredients like vitamin C, tranexamic acid, and ferulic acid, it targets dullness and dark spots.
This brand was created by an iconic Korean makeup artist, Kowon, and a team of scientists and doctors. Its products are now trusted to deliver maximum results. While there are multiple standouts in the product lineup, we like this rich moisture cream best. It's perfect for applying ahead of a brisk winter day.
Mizon's Snail Repair Eye Cream contains 80% snail extract (yes, really). Snail mucin, or snail slime, as it's more colloquially known, is a hero hydrating ingredient. As such, this eye cream promises to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and even firm and tighten skin.
5. May Coop
The most iconic product from May Coop has to be the Raw Sauce. It's a toner, emulsion, and essence in one that's formulated with 93% maple tree sap as well as other herbal and fruit extracts. It's anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant-rich for hydrated, dewy skin.
Shangpree is an iconic and highly renowned spa in Korea. Its subsequent product line is just as highly renowned (and luxurious). This little disc of eye patches is a good example of the brand's product offerings. Each hydrogel mask contains black pearl and gold along with minerals, amino acids, and proteins to help fight signs of aging around the eye area.
7. Peach Slices
Peach Slices is technically a sister brand to Peach & Lily, but it's worth mentioning thanks to a lineup of effective yet affordable products, like these Acne Spot Dots. We pop one of these on a breakout, and after a few hours, it's diminished in size and redness (it's like magic).
8. Saturday Skin
You might recognize this brand from Sephora. It's one of our favorite Korean skincare brands thanks to a collection of effective, no-frills products. (The pretty pink packaging doesn't hurt, either.) This peel works like a gommage. Apply it to dry skin, and rub in circular motions to cleanse the skin and improve dullness with natural enzymes from papaya and pineapple.
If there's one thing we recommend trying from Neogen (although, let's be honest, there are so many products worth trying from this brand), we suggest these peeling pads. They're soaked with a combination of tartaric, glycolic, and lactic acids plus green tea to provide soothing, anti-inflammatory support.
10. I'm From
11. Good Light
Good Light is a non-binary skincare brand with some seriously good products that are vegan, cruelty-free, and made with sustainable packaging. Our favorite is this Milky Toning Lotion. It's formulated with ceramides to promote a healthy skin barrier, AHAs to gently exfoliate, and meadowfoam seed oil to provide anti-inflammatory support.
Although there is a whole host of products we recommend trying from Klairs, this best-selling vitamin C serum tops the list. It contains 5% ascorbic acid to brighten the skin and provide anti-aging benefits. Even though it contains a high percentage of vitamin C, it's still gentle enough for sensitive skin types.
This is another popular Korean skincare brand you probably recognize (if you haven't tried a product from the line already). We have a special place in our hearts for this hydrating face mist. It's formulated with lotus, cactus fruit, bamboo leaf, wild soybean, and green tea extract to relieve dryness and soften skin.
The CosRx Triple C Lightening Fluid ($27) may be the most recognizable product from the brand, but we think more credit is due to this Overnight Spa Mask. It contains 68% rice extract and 2% niacinamide to moisturize, nourish, and brighten your skin as you sleep.
15. Dr. Jart+
Another recognizable Korean skincare brand, Dr. Jart+ has multiple unique and effective products lining Sephora's shelves. This is one of them. It's half skincare product, half makeup product. It starts out green and then, as it's rubbed into the skin, turns beige. (It also offers SPF 30!) Anyone who struggles with redness needs to try it.
One of our favorite products from Innisfree is this essence. It's formulated with fermented soybean extract (an antioxidant-rich, anti-aging ingredient), fermented soybean oil (an amino acid–rich ingredient), and oat kernel extract (a softening and smoothing ingredient). Over time, it helps to visibly improve the appearance of the skin's firmness, brightness, and tone.
How could we mention Korean skincare without mentioning Laneige and this Lip Sleeping Mask in particular? It's a best seller for the brand and for good reason. Beta-glucan hydrates and smooths the lips while antioxidant-rich ingredients keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay.
Many people aren't aware that Belif is in fact a Korean brand. The True Cream Aqua Bomb ($38) is perhaps the most iconic product from the brand (and a really good one, too), but we also want to draw attention to the accompanying toner. With honeysuckle, baobab, and sodium hyaluronate, it gives the skin a major boost of hydration, just like the name implies.
Korean skincare brands are known for amazing oil-based cleansers and makeup removers, and this one from Sulwhasoo is no exception. Its silky texture feels luxurious on the skin while the apricot kernel oil removes impurities and waterproof makeup in a snap.
We were first introduced to Venn through this oil-serum hybrid. It contains 34 active root extracts and botanicals (yes, 34), including a few that are fermented for 150 hours at low temperature for ultra-effective delivery and performance. Over time, it makes the skin look smoother, brighter, firmer, and generally healthier.