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Our selection of cult skin care products from the world’s leading beauty nation


titleBy Saira Noorani

Skin care in Korea is serious business. The beauty industry is their second largest – thanks to their government for pushing in enough investment to make it seven years ahead of the rest of the world. So while we’re still lathering on facemasks and BB creams, Korean women are enjoying their groundbreaking serums and masks. No wonder western beauty houses are reverse engineering these must-have products, with mega brand versions hitting the shelves as quickly as possible.

Check out our list of Korean beauty must-haves and their Western brand counterparts.

The eye makeup remover

You need to remove your eye makeup gently so that you don’t tug the thin and sensitive skin under your eye.  Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing tissues (makeup removal wipes) and the Chia Oil by Nicholas Perricone (use a Q tip) are popular for a reason – they will remove all stubborn makeup (including those liquid lipsticks) without irritating any sensitive skin and causing damage.

Korean recommendation:  Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissues

Western version: Bioderma Micellar Water or Super by Dr. Nicholas Perricone’s O-Mega Oil

High Street version: Garnier Micellar Water

The face cleanser

The general rule is: if it takes 30 minutes to apply makeup it should take 30 minutes to remove it.  First, remove your makeup with a cream/ oil cleanser to remove the oil-based impurities without drying your skin. Here’s the next step that we didn’t know about: cleansing again with a gentle water-based foaming cleanser, or cream cleanser, like the Face Shop Rice Water Cleansing Oil, to remove the water-based impurities. Apply in a circular motion and the massage will help with circulation and will lead to a brighter complexion.

Korean recommendation: The Face Shop Rice Water Cleansing Oil followed by Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Cleansing Foam, T.E.N. Cremor Gentle Foaming Cleanser, or Banila Co Clean It Zero

Western version: Dermalogica pre cleanse, Cetaphil Cleanser followed by Bioderma Micellar Water for any residue

High Street version: Coconut oil for removing make up, followed by Garnier Micellar Water

The Serum or Ampoule 

Serums address very specific problems that your normal creams and potions may not be able to do like smoothing fine lines, acne-scars, brightening, skin discolouration, etc. There is a higher concentration of active ingredients and they have smaller molecules for greater absorption, making them more expensive than a moisturiser.

Ampoules are super-concentrated versions of a serum/ essence, with a higher concentration of activated ingredients, and are often referred to as serums and boosters in the West.  These come in smaller bottles due to their concentration and can be used in place of a serum, or they can be layered before your essence/ serum to boost your routine.

Korean recommendation: The Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule

Western version:  Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Cream, Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate

High Street version: L’Oréal Revitalift Laser Renew Super Serum

The eye cream

We aren’t talking about an anti-aging eye cream, this is little wonder is before your concealer to give you around 8 hours of magic sleep. Gently tap the cream around your eye and the 80 percent snail mucin will firm the skin underneath. The blend of natural oils will also give you the most amazing base for under eye concealer – bye bye cakey under eyes and hello brighter eyes! Ensure you tap the cream under your eyes using your ring finger for gentle and even application.

Korean recommendation: Snail Repair Eye Cream or Cremorlab Shadow-Off Eye Cream

Western Version: Etude House Moistfull Collagen EmulsionMizon All-in-one Snail Repair Cream

The sleep pack

You’ve done all the work now and it’s time to add on the final step to make sure all those products are working. These masks are drenched in serum and create a seal over your skin ensuring the layers of products underneath penetrate better. Whatever your skin issue, there’s a sheet mask for it, and they contain retinol, Vitamin C, and collagen, along with carbonated water, charcoal, and avocado extract! These masks are so fun you can even buy one called The Job Interview mask, and the First Date mask.

Korean recommendation: Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Mask, T.P.O V-Banding Mask

Western version: Estée Lauder Nutritious Overnight Crème/Mask and La Prairie Luxe Sleep Mask.

High Street version: Garnier Miracle Sleeping Cream

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