The 14 Best Korean Beauty Products of 2023 for Radiant, Glass Skin

Thanks to their innovative ingredients and proven results, these K-beauty skincare products are worth the hype.

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Best Korean Beauty Products

InStyle / David Hattan

Korea’s ancient beauty rituals have been passed down through generations, but their skin-first philosophy has remained the same. Thanks to social media, along with our increased interest in prevention, wellness and skincare, K-beauty has now gone global. In fact, in 2019, the market size of K-beauty products was valued at $10.2 billion, and that number is expected to increase to $13.9 billion by 2027. 

Korean skincare practices focus on treating common skin concerns, like dullness and acne, with effective, yet gentle, ingredients across a wide range of different products, rather than hiding imperfections with layers of makeup. Glass skin, the concept of super dewy, poreless skin, began in K-beauty, as did the ritual of double cleansing. Harnessing the power of ingredients, like snail mucin, matcha, and ginger, Korea’s skincare staples are highly effective, but gentle enough for even those with sensitive skin to use.  

Best Overall

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask


What We Love: You’ll see a noticeable boost in hydration after just one use of this soothing mask.

What We Don’t Love: This mask contains fragrance, so those with sensitive skin may experience some irritation.

Don’t let the light, gel texture of this overnight mask fool you, it’s designed to give skin a deep and powerful boost of hydration. With squalene, hyaluronic acid, and a probiotic-derived complex, the mask will mimic skin’s natural lipids and restore the moisture barrier while you sleep. Put this on as the last step in your evening skincare routine, and wake up to softer, brighter, and more supple skin.

Price at time of publish: $29

Key Ingredients: Squalene, probiotic-derived complex|Skin Type: Dry|Size: 2.3 oz

Best Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You

What We Love: This balm removes even the toughest of makeup but won’t leave skin feeling tight or dehydrated.

What We Don’t Love: This balm starts off with a waxy texture, so it can be difficult to get it out of the jar without having to dig a bit and therefore contaminate the product.

There’s nothing quite like using a good cleansing balm: it’s thorough at removing makeup, dirt, and debris, washes off easily, and leaves skin feeling nourished and smooth. The bestselling Living Cleansing Balm from Then I Met You does all that — and more.

It starts as a balm, but as you massage it into your skin, it quickly becomes an oil, and when water is added, it emulsifies and washes off easily. Vitamin E, olive oil, and sea buckthorn melt makeup and impurities, leaving skin feeling fresh, clean, and hydrated.

Price at time of publish: $38

Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, olive oil, sea buckthorn|Skin Type: All|Size: 3.17 oz

Best Cleanser

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam


What We Love: This cleanser does some very heavy lifting to get all the gunk out of skin, but it’s still gentle enough to use on even the most reactive and sensitive of skin types.

What We Don’t Love: Some users don’t like the strong ginger scent.

This soothing gel cleanser is gentle yet effective. Ideal for dry and sensitive skin, it lathers into a rich foam to pull makeup, dirt, and buildup from pores, then washes away easily. The cleanser is infused with nourishing duckweed, brightening citrus peel, and hydrating chestnut shell extract to leave skin feeling thoroughly cleansed, but not stripped of moisture.

In a clinical trial, 93 percent of participants agreed that their skin felt soft after cleansing, while 80 percent said this cleanser provided long-lasting hydration.

Price at time of publish: $38

Key Ingredients: Duckweed, citrus peel, chestnut shell extract|Skin Type: All|Size: 6.76 oz

Best Essence

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence


What We Love: This essence is great for all skin types, but it especially works wonders for very dry or mature skin.

What We Don’t Love: Because this essence is full of moisture, it can feel a bit sticky initially following application.

Snail mucin is an extremely popular ingredient in K-beauty products, but it’s also the ingredient that’s generated the most shock and awe in the United States. Even so, the last few years have proven snail mucin’s value as a powerful hydrating and resurfacing agent — and that’s in large part thanks to CosRx’s Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. The lightweight essence, which contains 96 percent snail mucin, nourishes, repairs, and pumps skin full of moisture, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and revealing a natural glow.

Price at time of publish: $25

Key Ingredients: Snail mucin, hyaluronic acid, arginine|Skin Type: All|Size: 3.38 oz

Best Toner

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow BHA + PHA Pore-Tight Toner

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner


What We Love: Because this toner works to cleanse skin on a deep level, it can help reduce the appearance of pores.

What We Don’t Love: Some may find the watermelon scent overwhelming.

This Glow Recipe toner is a beloved fan favorite for the dewy glow it delivers. Formulated with PHAs, BHAs, watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid, and cactus water, the lightweight liquid gently exfoliates, cleanses, hydrates, and soothes skin, preparing it for the skincare products and steps that follow. Plus, the natural watermelon scent smells amazing.

Price at time of publish: $34

Key Ingredients: PHA, BHA, hyaluronic acid|Skin Type: All|Size: 5.07 oz

Best Serum

Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Serum with Green Tea Seed

Innisfree Green Tea Seed Hyaluronic Acid Serum


What We Love: This serum is lightweight, but even a little goes a very long way.

What We Don’t Love: The serum penetrates skin deeply, but can feel a little sticky at first.

Green tea has been making the rounds as a hero ingredient for some years now — and for good reason. The powerful antioxidant is the star of this hydrating serum from Innisfree, where it’s coupled with hyaluronic acid to visibly soothe skin and support moisture barrier. Jeju green tea tri-biotics and extracts offer a heavy dose of amino acids to hydrate and strengthen skin, while five different types of hyaluronic acid amplify hydration for up to 24 hours.

Price at time of publish: $30

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, green tea tri-biotics, green tea extracts|Skin Type: Dry, combination|Size: 2.7 oz

Best Lightweight Moisturizer

Hanacure Nano Emulsion

Hanacure Nano Emulsion

Violet Grey

What We Love: Despite its light texture, this moisturizer has serious lasting power, leaving skin supple and bouncy all day long.

What We Don’t Love: Those with dry skin want need a thicker cream at night.

“In this lightweight, ultra-hydrating moisturizer, the portulaca oleracea extract serves as an antioxidant and offers skin soothing benefits,” says board certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick. “It also contains peptides and humectants, leaving the skin looking healthy and refreshed.”

This moisturizer quickly penetrates skin (via its proprietary nanotechnology) to plump and hydrate. It even helps reduce inflammation and rebalance skin tone and texture.

Price at time of publish: $100

Key Ingredients: Portulaca oleracea, Ruby of the Forest mushroom extract|Skin Type: All|Size: 3.4 oz

Best Cream

I’m From Mugwort Cream

I’m From Mugwort Cream


What We Love: This cream is lightweight enough to use in the warmer months, but hardworking enough to also use in the depths of winter.

What We Don’t Love: The inclusion of mugwort extract in the formula makes it highly effective, but also slightly smelly.

Mugwort extract is another one of those ingredients that seems pretty out there, but it actually has a long history of being used in Korean skincare. The plant’s extract is known as a powerful anti-inflammatory, plus it’s rich in antioxidants and helps prevent premature aging from environmental damage. It’s also what accounts for 73.55 percent of this cream from I’m Best, which offers a gentle formula that’s fast-absorbing and hardworking. The moisturizer nourishes tired or dry skin and restores softness without leaving a sticky residue behind. 

Price at time of publish: $22

Key Ingredients: Mugwort extract, evening primrose flower extract|Skin Type: All|Size: 1.76 oz

Best Eye Cream

Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb

Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb


What We Love: This eye cream is refreshing and cooling on skin, making it a great way to awaken tired skin after a sleepless night.

What We Don’t Love: It may be too light for mature or very wrinkled skin.

Don’t let the lightweight texture of this eye cream deceive you, it packs a big punch. Infused with squalene, ceramides, and centella asiatica extract, it offers skin a 26-hour boost of hydration. It also works to improve the skin's elasticity and increase firmness. Plus, it has a silky feel that blends into skin easily. We particularly love the way it smooths our under eye skin for an easy makeup application.

Price at time of publish: $48

Key Ingredients: Squalane, ceramides, centella asiatica extract|Skin Type: Normal, oily, combination|Size: 0.84 oz

Best Mask

innisfree Volcanic AHA Pore Clearing Clay Mask

innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mask


What We Love: Unlike many deep-cleansing or exfoliating masks and treatments, this clay mask does not leave skin feeling dry or tight.

What We Don’t Love: This mask has a clay base, so it will dry out in the jar over time.

This bestselling creamy clay mask from Innisfree is the key to gentle, but effective cleansing and exfoliation. Formulated with Jeju volcanic clusters and AHA, it sloughs away dead skin cells, absorbs excess oil, and reduces the appearance of pores — all in just 20 minutes. Skin feels cleaner, smoother, and softer after just one use.

Price at time of publish: $16

Key Ingredients: Lactic acid, Jeju Island volcanic clusters|Skin Type: All|Size: 3.38 oz

Best Sheet Mask

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Calming Serum Mask

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Calming Serum Mask


What We Love: Although this sheet mask is truly dripping in serum, it wraps around the face and stays put.

What We Don’t Love: Those who are sensitive to essential oils should avoid this sheet mask.

The Dr. Jart+ Cicapair sheet mask is soaked in serum with ingredients to reduce irritation and redness. “This mask is especially good for those with sensitive skin, as it is soothing on the skin while also moisturizing the skin and improving overall dryness,” says Dr. Garshick. “It contains Centella asiatica, which can be calming, soothing and hydrating on the skin. By also strengthening the skin barrier, this mask also works to helping to lock moisture in.”

Price at time of publish: $9

Key Ingredients: Tiger grass extract, allantoin, niacinamide|Skin Type: Dull, dry|Size: 0.88 oz

Best for Sensitive Skin

Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream

Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream


What We Love: This cream is great for post-inflammatory care, so reach for it after intense sun exposure, an acne or eczema flare up, or any other trauma to the skin.

What We Don’t Love: Some may find this cream too thick for everyday use.

This moisturizer has a gorgeous, creamy texture, and it’s extremely gentle. Ideal for sensitive or acne-prone skin, the Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream is packed with guaiazulene, a hydrating ingredient derived from chamomile oil, alongside centella asiatica, which helps regenerate cell turnover in damaged skin. You can use it as a spot treatment when your skin is especially irritated, or you can slather it all over to calm and strengthen the moisture barrier.

Price at time of publish: $25

Key Ingredients: Guaiazulene, centella asiatica extract|Skin Type: Dry, irritated|Size: 1 oz

Best for Acne-Prone Skin

Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum

Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum


What We Love: This serum is super hydrating, but won’t leave skin feeling greasy or sticky.

What We Don’t Love: The pipette occasionally gets bubbles in it, making it difficult to get enough serum.

This hydrating serum was formulated with acne-prone skin in mind to help heal and calm flare ups. Rich in propolis extract, a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, the Beauty of Joseon serum helps soothe angry skin, while boosting cell turnover to fade hyperpigmentation. The formulation also contains niacinamide to brighten and revive the complexion overall, along with turmeric to fight damage from free radicals.

Price at time of publish: $17

Key Ingredients: Propolis extract, niacinamide|Skin Type: Acne-prone|Size: 1.01 oz

Best for Dull Skin

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum


What We Love: This fragrance-free serum is made with clean ingredients and comes in a sustainable, easy-to-use bottle. 

What We Don’t Love: Those with dry skin may need to layer a more hydrating serum on top.

This lightweight serum from Peach & Lily is a classic K-beauty staple, thanks to its incredible brightening abilities. It’s formulated with peach extract, niacinamide, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and East Asian mountain yam, which work together to visibly firm, hydrate, and brighten dull skin. The gel texture easily glides on skin to give a radiant, glassy complexion that is immediately visible after applying. Even better, it also works over time to improve elasticity and bounce.

Price at time of publish: $39

Key Ingredients: Peach extract, peptides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid|Skin Type: Dull, normal|Size: 1.35 oz

What to Keep in Mind

Your Skincare Routine

First, you’ll want to think about the sort of skincare routine you have or want to have. When K-beauty first took off in the United States, one of its most notable qualities was the long, multi-step regimen, with some including up to 20 products. In the years since, however, we’ve learned that you don’t necessarily need a dozen or more steps to get great results. So, instead, focus on the staples, and try not to get distracted by novelty. If you use an essence, but not a toner, you don’t need to add in the latter unless you’ll really benefit from it. And if you prefer a cleansing balm on its own rather than in tandem with a cleanser, don’t feel the need to expand your lineup if you don’t need to. 

“What works for one person may not necessarily work for everyone, so it is especially important when building your skincare routine that you introduce new things slowly to make sure your skin doesn’t get irritated or sensitive to a new product,” says Dr. Garshick.


There are many ingredients in Korean skincare that you may not have used before, so it’s wise to tread lightly when incorporating them into your regimen. 

“Look for the hydrating and calming ingredients such as niacinamide, green tea, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid,” says Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, a board certified dermatologist in Westport, Connecticut. “You’ll also notice soothing and inflammation-reducing herbs and essences.” 

At night, you should opt for ingredients that encourage skin renewal and restoration, and during the day, look for ingredients that help protect the skin.

Your Questions, Answered

What is Korean skincare known for?

There are many things that set Korean skincare apart from American skincare, namely its use of wide-ranging ingredients.

“Korean skincare is known for the use of various, often unique and natural ingredients, designed to effectively improve the overall appearance of the skin as well as customized, often extensive routines that layer various products including toners, essences, serums, moisturizers, sunscreens and more,” Dr. Garshick says.

“Korean skincare is committed to constant innovation and to making skincare enjoyable through products that are easy and enjoyable to use, while focusing on hydration and gentle exfoliation to achieve glowing skin.”

It also tends to be much gentler, prioritizing skin support and nourishment over collagen stimulation through ‘controlled injury.’ 

What products does a typical Korean skincare routine include?

Generally speaking, a Korean skincare routine has quite a few more steps than Americans may be used to, and it often includes more individually focused products than the multitasking products the Western world gravitates towards. 

“Typically, the routine kicks off with an oil-based cleanser (double cleansing is popular), a chemical exfoliant (at night), a series of ampoules of active ingredients like Vitamin C and HA, serums, moisturizer, mineral SPF (in the morning),” Dr. Mraz Robinson explains. “In the evening, it’s also popular to do something called ‘slugging,’ which involves applying a layer of an occlusive, like petroleum jelly, overtop of your skincare routine to lock in the actives underneath.”

Where are the best places to shop Korean skincare?

Luckily, there’s no shortage of Korean skincare available in the American market, from specialized shops to legacy beauty and department stores. That said, if you’re looking to really hone in on all things Korean skincare and only Korean skincare, you should check out a K-beauty retailer. SokoGlam is one such K-beauty destination, with over 85 Korean brands and many of the leading product options.

Additionally, you can find Korean skincare at big-box retailers, like Sephora, Ulta, Amazon (providing it’s an authorized seller), and even Target. “I think it’s also important to get it from the source,” Dr. Mraz Robisnon says. “Seek out Korean Skincare influencers on social media to discover new brands coming stateside!”

Why Shop With Us

Gabby Shacknai is a freelance writer who has been covering beauty for more than six years. She writes about all things skincare and is particularly interested in the global influence of beauty. For this story, she consulted two board certified dermatologists, Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson and Dr. Marisa Garshick, and tested dozens of products to bring you the best of the best.

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