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Korean Model

Korean Beauty 101: Ten Affordable Skin Care Products

Beauty blogs worldwide have been buzzing about Korean beauty secrets recently due to the pore-free and dewy-fresh complexions of Korea’s hottest stars. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite affordable, yet high-quality, brands so you don’t have to spend big to look good.

1. Pre-cleansing/Makeup removing  

Use a gentle makeup-removing tissue to wipe off hard-to-budge eye and lip products or use cleansing oil all over your face, gently massaging it into your skin to melt away makeup. To boost the cleansing oil’s power, steam your face with a warm towel for a few minutes after oil application, then dab away any excess oil.

We love: Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissues (5,000 won) and The Face Shop Rice Water Cleansing Oil (10,000 won)

2. Cleansing     

Again? Yep! Choose a gentle, foaming cleanser that suits your skin’s needs and gently (i.e. don’t scrub) whisk away any lingering impurities.

We love: Too Cool for School Egg Mousse Soap Foam Cleanser (12,000 won)


Egg Mousse Soap
Too Cool for School Egg Mousse Soap Foam Cleanser

3. Exfoliation

This is definitely not an everyday thing. Try it once a week (or even once a fortnight) to get rid of any dead skin cells and smooth out your skin texture. Focus on trouble areas like the nose and chin, and, as always, be gentle!

We love: Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash-off (7,700 won)

4. Toner/Refresher  

The aim of a freshener, aka a toner, is to remove any residual oil or cleanser, restore the skin’s pH balance and prepare it to absorb the next few steps. Korean toners tend to be less harsh and drying than Western brands. TIP: Always go for an alcohol-free product.

We love: Etude House Wonder Pore Freshener (15,000 won)   

5. Essence  

Regarded by some as the most essential part of the process, essence kick-starts your skin’s cellular renewal process, aiding in improved elasticity and firmness. Try one with a spritzer and then gently tap it onto the skin with your fingertips.

We love: Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence (just like SKII, but MUCH cheaper 15,000-42,000 won) 


Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence
Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence

6. Ampoule

Super concentrated and full o’ vitamins, this is basically a thicker, more condensed version of an essence. Usually sold in eyedropper form, one shot on the palms and dabbed all over is plenty.

We love: Nature Republic Argan 20° Real Ampoule (25,000 won)

7. Sheet mask

Loaded with any kind of nutrient-rich serum you can think of, sheet masks are equally amazing and hilarious, but you don’t need one every day (2-3 times a week or as needed). You can also substitute any other kind of cute and quirky ‘patch’ you might feel like trying out.

We love: Innisfree It’s Real Masks (1,000 won each or 10+10), Nature Republic Aqua Collagen Solution Marine Hydrogel Eye Patch (2,500 won), Etude House Cherry Lip Gel Patch (Mrs. Potato Head alert! 2,500 won), and Holika Holika Pig Nose Clear Blackhead 3-step Kit (2,000 won)


Cherry Lip Gel Pack
Etude House Cherry Lip Gel Patch

8. Eye cream

Whether it’s fine lines, puffiness, or the dreaded dark circles you’re battling: don’t neglect this step! Use the end of your ring finger to delicately and generously dab (never rub) the cream around the entire eye.

We love: Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Repair Eye Cream (18,000 won)

9. Moisturizer/Emulsion   

You are almost done! As you might’ve already noticed, Korean skincare regimes are all about layering, so though you might feel like the prettiest seven-layer beauty bean dip you’ve ever seen, don’t skip this part.

We love: Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Watery Cream (22,000 won)


Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Watery Cream
Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Watery Cream

10. Night pack/Sun care

Depending on the time of day, here’s your chance to crank that hydration up one more notch! At night, try a pack to reap the benefits while you sleep. In the daytime, SPF is a must year-round, and you can add a hint of color with a CC cream or the hot new trend: the ‘cushion.’

We love: Innisfree Green Tea Sleeping Pack (13,000 won) and Etude House Precious Mineral Any Cushion (compact 18,000 won, refills 10,000 won)

And you’re done! Oh, did we mention you’re supposed to do this morning and night?


Main Image by Kwan Hyen Park via photopin


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