Some of you may be less enthusiastic about these blogging trends which circulate around the end of a year, but from memory I don’t think I’ve ever done a K-Beauty round-up post consisting of my favourite skincare products that year.
So why now? Well this year, more than ever, has given me several opportunities to share my knowhow surrounding Korean Skincare and it seems only fitting to narrow down my recommendations down to the best of the best to refine your wishlist next time you aim to replenish your skincare stash.
It was a challenge to conclude which products deserved to place No⁰1 for each product category (cleansers, serums, etc), with many instances where I wanted to mention at least 3 favourites for each segment. Although, here are My Top 10 Favourite Korean Skincare Products Of 2020!
Cleansing Oil (1st cleanse)
Dr. Ceuracle Pro Balance Pure Cleansing Oil
This oil cleanser effectively removes makeup, purifies and replenishes skin. It’s formulated with 44% sunflower seed oil which breaks-down traces of makeup and leaves skin feeling softened rather than stripped of moisture. Other oils within this cleansing oil: olive, macadamia, meadow foam, Jojoba, bergamot, grapefruit & orange peel oils – which all aid in the care of blackhead/whitehead removal.
What makes this cleanser stand out from others which use a similar composition of natural plant derived oils, is the addition of 3 forms of lactobacillus, 2 types of bifida ferment, a saccharomyces ferment for a impactful supply of probiotic cultures. “Pro Balance” more specifically refers to the 5 probiotics complex that uses PhytoG. Fer-kefir. These healthy bacteria which are typically used in digestion aiding yogurts not only strengthen and protect out skin for free radicals, environmental factors, and so on – studies suggest their ability to reduce the amount of abnormal skin lesions.
Just a couple of pumps is enough to remove heavy makeup.
Water Based Cleanser (2nd cleanse)
B.lab Matcha Hydrating Foam Cleanser
I’ve only been using this water based cleanser for a few weeks and it has made it’s already my favourite foam cleanser of this year. It’s made with Matcha extract (10,000ppm) & Green Tea leaves (2550ppm) to balance skin so that the skin barrier is replenished with hydration and natural skin oils aren’t overly cleansed away. It also has natural Hylauronic Acid fructan from barley and lily to lock-in moisture for a prolonged moisture retention. It provides subacid cleansing to protect skin with a pH level of 4.5~5.5.
I like how well it lathers despite only having to add a few drops of water to a thumbnail sized amount of cleanser. The texture is soft enough to minimise irritation and redness. It doesn’t advertise itself to be a cleanser to tackle breakouts, but I hope with further use it will help reduce the number of breakouts I usually have considering green tea works particularly well at balancing skin so that it doesn’t ‘freak out’ so to speak.
This year, many K-Beauty enthusiasts compared this B.lab cleanser to the well known, more pricey, Krave Matcha Hemp Cleanser.
Isntree Hylauronic Acid Toner Plus
In 2020, I finished two bottles of this toner and two bottles of the original version. So what exactly does this beauty contain? – 5 types of Hyaluronic acid, each of which are of different molecular sizes to deliver plenty of moisture to the dermis and epidermis.
Hyaluronic acid aqueous actually makes up 50% of the solution, enabling the toner to further act as an essence or ampoule for plumping skin. Other notable ingredients include soluble collagen, betula alba extract (sap from birch trees), Althaea/alcea Rosea Flower Extract (hollyhock), Aloe, panthenol & Pulsatilla Koreana (a plant native to Korea which is used in herbal medicine).
The texture in my opinion is perfect. It’s thicker than a watery toner and almost resembles a lightweight essence, therefore it’s easier to apply without wasting any by dripping & doesn’t necessarily have to be used with a cotton pad.
No matter how many products I’m testing for review purposes, I always incorporate this toner into my routine. It had become a staple item on my top shelf.
Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water
I have a love hate relationship with essences. There have been more cases of discovering essences I didn’t like more than ones I actually appreciated. In this instance, I cannot stress enough how much I like this essence! Key ingredients: Panax Ginseng Root Water (80%), Niacinamide (2%), Adenosine (0.04%).
First of all, it’s very easy to apply with your hands. Even if it has a watery consistency it doesn’t drip everywhere when you pat it between your hands and then onto your face. I’m really satisfied with how it makes skin feel plumper, smooth and bouncier. Residue is minimal, just enough to make your skin feel and appear glowy. Most of the time I apply it with my hands in 2~3 layers. It’s also ideal for cotton pad masking.
Some By Mi AHA•BHA•PHA 30 Days Miracle Serum
With serums and ampoules being my favourite type of skincare product, it took me some time to select a winning serum. I decided on this Some By Mi serum for a few reasons: I use it the most often, it refines skin textual issues, it helps balance combination and oily skin types, it’s affordable and easily accessible even in the UK due to popular demand.
This serum is formulated Centella Asiatica Extract (14.5%), whereas the corresponding toner favours Niacinamide more greatly. Tea tree leaf water (10,000ppm) remains a key ingredient in this serum a like the other products within the range; however several different ingredients contribute to this serum. The main functions of this serum is to soothe skin & strengthen the skin barrier.
It hydrates oily skin well without promoting excess sebum production at the t-zone. In the summer I found that using the Miracle toner, the Miracle Serum, plus a gel-type sunscreen were hydrating enough for daytime.
Isntree Spot Saver Mugwort Ampoule
Designed for soothing & clearing troubled skin with several ingredients, most of which are sourced from nature. Ingredients include 85% capillary woodworm/Artemisia (Mugwort) & Kava Kava – to calm & clarify skin, Cineol – focuses on skin’s overall health, Chlorogenic acid & Beta-carotene – firms & strengthens weakened protective layers of skin, Ceramide NP, Hydrogenated Lecithin (a fatty substance/emulsifier) – for the rejuvenation of cells & contributing to the ampoule’s texture.
The high concentration of Mugwort enables the ampoule to absorb smoothly, replicating the gliding movement of water. Time-drop™ refers to the extensive 6~8hr process for extracting the purest beneficial substances from Ganghwa Mugwort. The ampoule has a skin irritation index of 0.00.
Whenever I don’t use this product I have break-outs, so it’s become a trustworthy addition to my skincare routines in order to maintain a blemish-free complexion. To ensure the ampoule targets spots well, I apply a full pipette worth of ampoule over the entire surface of my face and then apply a second layer to pinpointed areas to irradiate imperfections more rapidly. This ampoule is considered a ‘skin saver’ for many people with acne-prone skin and rightly so.
Hanyul Pure Artemisia Watery Calming Cream
This cream specifically contains Artemisia grown in Ganghwado: an Island belonging to South Korea. Artemisia/Mugwort was originally used in ancient herbal Oriental medicine practices for pain relief, hence why it is used for calming and soothing effects in this light cream mainly for sensitive skin types.
My skin responds well to using this cream, just a like other Mugwort skincare I’ve used. It appears to minimise the number of breakouts I have – keeping skin relatively clear. I prefer to use this as the last step in my morning routine, but found it helpful in my evening routine during Summer as I wanted to focus on only applying thin layers of skincare.
It has a distinctive Artemisia scent, or as some may say a ‘evergreen garden’ aroma, which I like. You can easily use this all year round as it’s non-greasy but stays around long enough to actually feel like it’s slowly releasing hydration back into skin without the impression that it’s vanished into thin air not long after application.
Bellflower Watermelon Fresh Sunscreen
Similarly to the carrot version, this Watermelon sunscreen is SPF50+ PA++++ – giving protection against intensive UV light. It’s formulated with Watermelon fruit extract (11,700ppm), Centella Asiatica, Sodium Hyaluronate, Niacinamide Adenosine. This sunscreen isn’t sticky, oily or doesn’t cause a white cast. It provides light moisturising and soothing effects.
It dries semi-matte, but still dewy enough to supply some moisture. The main reason why I appreciate this sunscreen is because I doesn’t take too long to run into skin in order to get an even coverage without a white cast. Simply, this suncream has a soft spreadable texture which doesn’t interfere with makeup application. It’s not too basic, nor too complex.
Keep Cool Ocean Deep Blue Oil
If EuniUnni says it’s a ‘must try’ then you best believe I need it in my life too! Are you wondering how special can this oil really be? Is it all a gimmick?
Well…Ocean Deep Blue Oil is a 100% natural origin oil which rapidly soaks into skin to provide long-lasting moisture and nourishment throughout wear; thus performing uniquely to the majority of oils which seep into skin gradually. Because of the nature of this formula, only a few drops are needed and can be comfortably worn during the daytime even in warmer climates. This oil contains countless plant extracts.
No matter which season it is, this oil remains comfortable and doesn’t seem to greatly effect my sebum production moreso than usual. It’s also a fantastic oil for nighttime use as it doesn’t leave too much residue which otherwise would make your pillowcase greasy.
Mediheal D:NA Proatin Mask (Creamy Serum Aquaring Mask)
Now this is what I call a ‘skin recovery mask’. I have a bundle of these creamy essence masks set aside for when my skin needs a reset. The sheet itself is ultra soft and hugs the contours of my face without shifting. The essence is rich and does have a slight tackiness to it, but it doesn’t congest my pores. It’s as if this mask replenishes lost moisture in a generous dosage down to the deepest layers of skin whilst also improving the vitality and overall health of the skin barrier.
I highly recommend this mask for outer dry and inner dehydrated skin types that require a pick-me-up midway through the week.
💬 Name one of your Korean or Western skincare favourites of 2020 in the comments section.