2018 Korean Beauty & Skincare Favorites
How is it already December? I still remember filing our 2017 taxes like it was yesterday. A “year in review” sort of analysis is common this time of the year, so I decided to tackle a nearly impossible task of compiling a list of my 2018 favorites - one in each category.
This is simply my subjective opinion. Not all of these things may work for other people, but I certainly hope they do. Also, some of them were purchased for the first time prior to 2018, but if I consider something a holy grail (a must-have product), I will still include it here. Links for detailed reviews are provided when available. Please don’t take this list for a full routine - I simply picked one favorite from each category in the order that people would typically use the products. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive skincare ritual.
About my skin: I’m 29 years old with fair, freckle-prone, combination skin (oily t-zone, dry-to-normal everything else) and a couple of small forehead wrinkles. I favor natural and non-toxic products whenever possible.
Ready? Let’s do this!
1. First step cleanser - Tosowoong Natural Pure Apricot Seed Oil
This is an affordable, botanically-based product that does a great job removing makeup (including eye makeup), sunscreen and other impurities that foaming cleansers can’t tackle. The texture and consistency are just right - not runny and very smooth. I really enjoy massaging my face with this oil and watching all of the dirt of the day dissolve. It’s suitable for all skin types. Full review here.
2. Second step cleanser - Manyo Factory Deep Pore Cleansing Soda Foam
The ingenious minds behind the Manyo Factory Korean skincare brand managed to put a cleansing powder of cornstarch, diatomite clay, chamomile flower, soda, green tea, mung bean and other beneficial ingredients into a foaming wash. The natural particles of this powder are smaller than pores and clean effectively yet gently, without causing irritation or compromising the skin barrier. I can’t say enough good things about this foam. It’s very effective - my skin feels so clean, and the pores look smaller. It's suitable for all skin types. Full review here.
3. Exfoliator - Neogen Dermalogy Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Pad (Green Tea)
The Neogen Peeling Pads are soaked in green tea serum to help eliminate dead cells and prepare the skin for the subsequent care steps. Green tea also moisturizes. The patented design of the pads is a 100% 3-layer cotton gauze with two different sides/textures. The exfoliation is mild yet effective. I don’t have any negative effects like flaking or peeling, only brighter, more even looking skin. I’m seriously in love with these pads and will probably have to get the wine ones next. Full review here.
4. Wash-off mask - Missha Black Ghassoul Tightening Mask
A fantastic clay-based mask that clears and tightens pores, makes the sebaceous filaments less noticeable, and creates soft, smooth skin. I’m in love. Full review here.
5. Toner - Purito Centella Green Level Calming Toner
This toner contains 10% centella asiatica and panthenol. Panthenol attracts moisture and, combined with hyaluronic acid, soothes and restores damaged skin and supports a healthy barrier function. This toner has been a favorite of mine since the first use. The texture is a bit thicker than water and so soothing. A must have for anyone prone to redness, irritation, and breakouts (even if those are occasional). Full review here.
6. Essence - Manyo Factory Galactomyces Niacin Special Treatment Essence
An absolutely fantastic essence that combines the goodness of fermented ingredients with niacinamide and Japanese pepper for healthy, glowing skin. My pores are smaller and freckles are less noticeable. Safe to during any season and for any skin type. Full review here.
7. Sheet mask - Dr.Jart+ Dermask Wrinkless Solution
It’s nearly impossible to narrow down the dozens (or hundreds?) of sheet masks I have tried to ONE favorite. But here it goes. The Dr.Jart+ Wrinkless Solution mask contains collagen, adenosine, and bio peptides for an ultimate anti-aging effect. The gel molds to the face as it warms with your body heat. The essence gets absorbed very well and doesn’t leave a sticky residue. My forehead line always looks much, much smoother and feels less deep to the touch. The entire face is hydrated, plump, and more radiant. I highly recommend these masks to anyone who wants some superb anti-aging care. Full review here.
8. Serum - Purito Pure Hyaluronic Acid 90 Serum
A gentle, hydrating serum that feels so soothing on the skin. I am currently on my second bottle and it’s a solid staple in my routine. Bonus points for having all green/safe EWG ingredients. Suitable for all skin types. Full review here.
9. Emulsion - Etude House Soon Jung 10-Free Moist Emulsion
A fantastic, light yet hydrating emulsion combining madecassoside, panthenol, green tea, squalane and other goodies. Suitable for all skin types, but especially formulated for sensitive and acne-prone people. I regret not buying the biggest size they had. Full review here.
10. Cream - Innisfree No Sebum Powder Cream
The first jar of this cream was one of my earliest Korean beauty purchases and I have not regretted it. The cream has several effects - sebum control without drying out the skin, locking in moisture and acting as a primer. I absolutely love it and am currently on my second jar (after taking a break for other cream). I will probably always buy it. It provides a smooth finish that’s fairly matte and pleasant to the touch, can be used morning or night (I mostly do mornings) and provides a fantastic base for makeup. Love love love. Full review is coming soon.
11. Eye cream - Manyo Factory 4GF Eye Cream
This cream includes 4 different growth factors to care for tired, sagging skin. It’s clinically proven to reduce wrinkles and make the skin more resilient. The product is tested by dermatologists and ophthalmologists and is not comedogenic (won’t clog pores). The cream is EWG (environmental working group) certified as safe. Full review here.
12. Sunscreen - Purito Centella Green Level Safe Sun
A completely transparent (yes, NO white cast), gentle sunscreen with safe (per EWG) ingredients. Contains centella asiatica like the rest of this line, making it perfect for even sensitive skin. A very pleasant finish (no weird shine). High sun protection - SPF50+ and PA++++. Full review here.
13. Sleeping mask - Innisfree Wine Jelly Sleeping Pack
My most successful impulse buy of all time! The texture, the smell, the effect on the skin - I love it all! The mask hydrates, improves skin texture, and smoothes fine lines. I could go on and on about all the benefits and the luxurious experience of using it, but I will let you read the full review here instead.
There are many other cute and effective things that I use and love, but for the sake of your time and wallets, I will end the list of 2018 favorites here. I try my best to provide honest, informative reviews and share them on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook group and page, and of course, here on the blog (you can subscribe below for updates). I was very, very bad during all the November 2018 sales, so 2019 will bring many more reviews for both wins and fails. Stay tuned and have fantastic (and safe) holidays!