Whenever I return from a trip to Korea, my suitcase often comes back with me about five pounds heavier than it originally had been. Why? It’s because I’m guilty of stuffing all of the Korean beauty products I bought during my trip, making attempts to squeeze a new moisturizer or lipstick in every corner of my suitcase. But I promise, it’s not just my lack of self-control that contributes to this indulgence. The presence of Korean beauty supply stores on nearly every major street in Seoul makes it all the more convenient to buy just another sheet mask or two for later, and the sheer assortment of interesting products available in stores only enables me to purchase something new and test it out for myself.
But aside from my empty wallet and bursting suitcase, the biggest issue upon returning to the U.S. is that I can no longer casually walk down a street five minutes away from my house and pop into the nearest store to satisfy my K-beauty needs. But thanks to online retailers, purchasing Korean beauty products has become so much easier. And the best part of all this is that most of the products these retailers sell tend to be cult favorites, meaning you are getting the best of the best. Here are some of everyone’s favorite bestsellers from these sites:
Son and Park Beauty Water
If you’re like me, you can’t afford to waste even three minutes of your morning on an extensively long skincare routine, because let’s face it: you hit the snooze button about a hundred times. Lucky for us, Son and Park’s Beauty Water is a godsend because it not only tones your skin, but also cleanses, exfoliates, and soothes! An online bestseller, it’s often out-of-stock on both Sokoglam and Sephora, but it’s always worth waiting for the bottle of this magical stuff to come back. After washing your face, this amazing multi-tasker can be applied to your skin with a cotton pad to gently exfoliate and prepare your skin to effectively absorb whatever product you apply afterwards. It even gets rid of any makeup or gunky residue you might have missed while cleaning, so you know you’re starting your morning or ending your evenings on a clean slate.
MISSHA Time Revolution First Treatment Essence
One of MISSHA’s bestselling products both in and out of Korea, the Time Revolution First Treatment Essence – neither a toner nor a serum – contains fermented yeast concentrate and Niancinamide (a vitamin B3 complex if you want to get extremely technical) that has the power to repair your skin and enhance its elasticity down on a cellular level. In other words, this is potent stuff that changes your skin from the inside out, rather than on a superficial level. But if you do get a bottle of this essence, remember: you want to dab it on your face using your hands, starting from the chin upward for the best results.
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum
Eco-friendly products and organic ingredients are totally in. In a world where we constantly turn to toxic chemicals with lengthy names we can’t even pronounce correctly, there’s nothing more refreshing than a product comprised of ingredients we know for sure are good for us. This gentle but effective Green Tea Seed Serum from the environmentally friendly brand Innisfree contains organic green tea and green tea seeds from Jeju island that hydrate your skin from the inside out. Research shows that drinking green tea regularly provides a plethora of antioxidants for your body, so it should come as no surprise that applying it directly on your face will benefit you, too.
Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid
When I first tried this serum, I was a little shocked. It was definitely runny like a liquid when poured into my hands, but once I started patting it onto my skin I realized it gave my skin a plump, cushion-like feeling, — a sign that it’s more than adequately moisturized! Dr. Jart+ is a favorite in America, and it’s no wonder that the brand’s Ceramidin Liquid has over 10,000 likes on Sephora. This liquid serum strengthens and protects the skin’s natural moisture barrier from water loss with ceramides, its secret ingredient. It also contains several tried-and-true ingredients that combat irritated skin, including aloe vera and licorice root extract. It’s so perfect for anyone with dry and/or sensitive skin.
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
Many people I know have a love-hate relationship with moisturizers, especially during the winter. The frigid winds and indoor heating wreak havoc on the skin’s natural moisture barrier, which means you will tend to reach for moisturizers to compensate for that moisture loss. Unfortunately, many intensely hydrating moisturizers are often too rich for every day use – oh, the paradox! Luckily, Belif’s True Cream Aqua Bomb is a mineral oil-free gel cream that’s lightweight enough to use on a regular basis but is just as deeply hydrating as any other rich cream out there. It is also dermatologist tested, so you know you’re getting the real deal when you purchase this little jar.
Tony Moly I’m Real Wine Mask
Treatment masks have taken over the United States by storm as of late: aside from the more traditional kinds, now there are bubbling masks, foil masks, and even 24-karat gold masks. However, in my personal opinion, sheet masks still take the cake in terms of affordability, convenience, and portability; it’s no surprise that many people still use them today, despite the ubiquity of other types in the beauty sphere. It’s just so easy: you open up the package, unfold the mask, stick it on your face, and relax for about twenty minutes before revealing newly revived skin. Try this Makgeolli Sheet Mask from Tony Moly, which soothes and hydrates your skin in mere minutes. In Korea, makgeolli (rice wine) is considered to be a good remedy (at least a mental one) for certain illnesses. So why not make use of its disease-fighting effects to treat your skin after a long day?
Tony Moly Peach Hand Cream
I’ve been talking so much about the skin on our faces, but what about those on our hands that tend to shrivel up and get all scaly during the brutal winter months? Luckily, an adorable little Peach Hand Cream from Tony Moly has got you covered in that respect. The cream itself contains peach and apricot extracts and Shea butter to intensely moisturize your hands, and that delicious peach scent is a good aromatic refresher for when you’re in a mental rut. And once you run out of the cream, you can re-use the peach-shaped container for either decoration or storage.
seehkay is a contributing writer for Soompi. In her free time, she likes to read, discover new music, analyze Korean dramas, and drink coffee every chance she gets.