This is the second in a three-part series where we are deep-diving into Korean beauty products and trends. Read part one here, which details the five biggest cosmetic trends coming out of Korea and the rise of several new American e-commerce sites which specialize in this market.
You can't truly understand how innovative and different Korean beauty products are compared to their Western counterparts until you try them. After speaking to the expert curators at e-commerce sites Peach and Lily and Soko Glam, and spending a few productive afternoons wandering through the Korean government-sponsored NYC pop-up Korea Cosmetic Bliss, I felt ready to start buying and trying.
I slathered on everything from the uber-popular cushion compacts to some fairly -- let's call them "esoteric" -- products like hydrogel lip patches and eye cream made with 24k gold flakes and synthetic snake venom. In the reviews that follow, I tried to focus on brands that are readily available in the U.S. and that offer benefits or ingredients I've never seen or experienced before. (You'll see Missha well-represented here because they have an almost infinite variety of weird and wonderful products.) One caveat: there are many classic brands and products I did not try, so I'd love some crowd-sourcing here -- go ahead and tell me your favorite products in the comments section.
Click through for the details on 17 different products I tried. (Note: click on the images to see the captions in full and see below for links to buy.)
To purchase products: Mizon Returning Starfish Cream, $28; Aromatica Orange Cleansing Sherbet, $35; Missha Speedy Solution Anti Trouble Patch Set, $8; Missha Super Aqua Blackhead Clear Oil, $16.99; Tony Moly Kiss Kiss Lovely Lip Patch, $4; ISOI Bulgarian Rose Pore Tightening Tonic Essence, $34.24; Cremorlab O2 Bubble Energizing Mask, $52; Missha M Prism Bright On Auto Powder, $40; Missha Super Aqua D-tox Peeling Gel, $7.20; Elensilia Escargot Original Repair Bee Venom Mist, $19.99; Iope Air Cushion XP, $45; Manefit Bling Bling Hydro Gel Masks, $6; Caolion Blackhead Steam Pore Pack, $38; Missha Complexion Coordinating BB Cream, $34; Mizon Watermax Aqua Gel Cream, $32; ISOI Acni Dr. 1st Speedy Spot, $29.85; May Coop Cleansing Mousse, $32
In the last and final part of our Korean beauty extravaganza, an aesthetician trained in Korea "prescribes" me a typical 10+-step product regimen. I report back on what it's like to use up to 14 products twice a day and how my skin reacted to it.