Earlier this summer, I went to Korea for nearly a month and had the best time. I documented bits of it and shared it on Instagram (saved in highlights if you’re curious!) and a big part of my trip was exploring all things beauty and skincare.
Korean skincare has been on the rise for several years now with many of my favorite brands entering the U.S. marketplace through sites like Sokoglam or Stylevana. What started off with an introduction to face masks has now become a global phenomenon for all. Most recently, any time I went into any Olive Young store (a Korean version of Sephora), it was mostly packed with people from the wider global community. I never would have thought that this small country I would visit with my family so many times in my childhood would be so popular!
As soon as I shared on social media that I was in Korea people would message me asking what the latest Korean skincare trends are so I’m here to share what was popular and the products I’ve been loving this summer that will take me into the changing seasons. What I also love about the products I got from Korea is that the price point on each item is significantly less, in my opinion, than some of the leading brands here in the U.S. Below I categorized the products I’ve tried into my personal problem areas around redness, inflammation, hyperpigmentation and others; hope it helps you.
Cica based skincare products are beneficial for redness and can help all year round
Cica, short for Centella asiatica, is known for its soothing and healing properties. It is extremely popular in warmer months because the heat and constant direct sun can lead to irritation. I noticed so many products with cica infused into them through creams, serums, and masks. I’ve been using it for a few months and it definitely helps calm irritated skin, redness, and also gives your skin a natural boost. I tend to have more sensitive skin so it’s nice to be able to find more gentle active ingredients.
Heartleaf is helpful to soothe and calm your skin
In keeping with the theme of calming your skin, I noticed heartleaf in several products. Upon further investigation, it’s particularly useful for when your skin is heating up due to the harsh sun. It has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which make it an effective ingredient for treating acne prone skin. A dermatologist at a skin clinic in Korea told me that this ingredient can be good to soothe skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Sunscreen and sun protection are less of a trend but more of a way of life in Korea
Upon visiting skin clinics, the number one advice they all had was wear sunscreen at all times of the day – and reapply! I’ve tried on several different ones from Korea and have a round-up of my favorite Korean sunscreen products here but below is a more robust list. What I love about Korean sunscreen is that it’s gentle, more lightweight than what I’ve tried in the U.S. and they are generally more innovative with their formulas and ingredients, many times including skincare properties, like brightening or anti-aging, into their sunscreen.
Vitamin C serums are an everyday must for skin brightening and can help treat hyperpigmentation
In my younger years, despite what my mom would always tell me, I did not always wear sunscreen and I did not care if my skin got freckles. Now that I’m older, I know better that those “freckles” can actually lead to hard-to-remove hyperpigmentation and dark spots. I’ve been trying for years to brighten my skin from some of the sun damage from years ago and it’s been a slow and steady process but I do think that incorporating daily usage of Vitamin C has been helping me.
Ampoules are used for a high concentration of an active ingredient on target areas
Ampoules were everywhere in Korea due to its highly concentrated ingredients with each application. You typically only need a drop or two of the concentration to target specific skin concerns. They enhance absorption and I’ve noticed some results in texture and tone of my skin very soon after within a week or so.
With all of these new products I’ve been incorporating and using on a daily, or nearly daily basis it was getting hard for me to keep track of what to use – and when, so I decided to create a skincare tracker in Notion to help me stay organized. Feel free to download the tracker on your own and update it with your own products.