kim go eun
Get more value for your money with a moisturiser that hydrates all, from dry cheeks and neck to hair and nails. Image Credit: Instagram/@kahi_official

A ‘lip balm’ that goes over your cheeks, forehead, neck and even cuticles – this multitasking Korean beauty product is a miracle in a stick. Say your face feels a little taut, dehydrated away from home; a few swipes from a multi balm stick can instantly restore your glow. It leaves the skin looking supple and hydrated, staying true to K-beauty’s endless toil for perfect ‘glass skin’. The best part? Your fingers never come in contact with your face.

Born out of the pandemic, the multi balm stick came to be when the world needed touchless application the most. K-drama fans quickly became familiar with the pink wonder stick by the Korean cosmetics brand KAHI, most famously wielded by actress Kim Go-Eun in ‘The King: The Eternal Monarch’ (2020). 

“In this day and age, convenience has become imperative, and that also extends to skincare. The multi balm stick comes in an easy chapstick form, which prevents you from sticking your finger into the product,” said Dr Swetha Kurian, a specialist dermatologist in aesthetic and medical dermatology, with Dr Sunny Medical Centre in Sharjah.

What does the multi balm do?

For all its touted benefits, from skin brightening to anti-ageing properties, is the multi balm truly an all-rounder? According to Dr Kurian, the stick is primarily a moisturiser made from a variety of seed oils, all of which improve elasticity and moisture content in the skin. As far as wrinkles are concerned, a hydrating product can, to an extent, reduce the appearance of fine lines.

“It has a balmy texture, so opt for the stick in drier weather. In summer months, the application would be less ideal, since the balm layer acts like a cold cream. It seals in whatever natural moisture you have and protects the skin from external elements. On a humid day, this can cause breakouts,” advised Dr Kurian.

In the same vein, if you have oily, acne-prone skin, the balm can become counterproductive. Dr Kurian recommends a patch test, just as you would with any other skincare product, to be extra vigilant.

Where should I apply the multi balm?

Most brands claim that the stick can even double as a primer for makeup, and iron out any foundation creases after. Celebrities are seen gliding the product everywhere in one long swoop, from the lips to the cheeks. But, this is where the application could get tricky.

“The microbiome of your mouth is completely different from the one on your skin. Moving the stick from the mouth to the cheek could mean displacing the bacteria there – it can cause some irritation,” explained Dr Kurian. Perhaps, this is also why influencers are seen rubbing the product on the back of their hands, before targeting different areas. It’s still advisable to stick to either the skin or the lips.

“I do think it’s a great idea to seal the cuticles with a multi balm. When we get manicures done, the cuticles are usually clipped and left exposed to potential infections,” Dr Kurian added.

In short, the multi balm stick is a handy, on-the-go moisturiser for when you’re stuck in air-conditioned indoors or the chilly outdoors. Our expert urges a patch test, since K-beauty products “cater to Korean skin that’s genetically different to Middle Eastern and South Asian skin types”.

We’ve selected viral multi balm sticks from Amazon, including the K-drama-favourite KAHI product, per reviews. Amp up your beauty routine this winter with our list, and shop with Prime for next-day, free delivery on some of these sticks. 

1. Best Overall: KAHI Wrinkle Bounce Multi Balm (9g)

KAHI’s multi balm delivers long-lasting hydration to the skin, and even adds a glossy sheen over your makeup. The moisture barrier is made up of three key salmon-derived ingredients, among others: salmon collagen, PDRN (DNA) and proteoglycan. Dr Kurian says, contrary to popular belief, the collagen derivative is not absorbed by the skin, but rather, it serves to retain moisture. The formula also boasts fermented oil from Korea’s Jeju Island, along with turmeric and scion root. This is truly a multi-purpose product, since it can go onto the split ends of your hair, as well. Buyers have opted it for highlighting the cheeks, hydrating the skin around the eyes and priming for makeup. Do note that it carries a light fragrance.

2. Best Cruelty-Free Balm: KIMUSE Hydrating Moisturising Stick

The Kimuse stick is often picked up as a Kahi alternative. It’s a cruelty-, gluten-free multi balm that can be used on the face, lips, elbows and hands. Its main ingredients feature ultra-hydrating shea butter and jojoba seed oil that seals in moisture with a water-based film over the skin. Reviewers say the product absorption improves gradually with time, visibly smoothing over dry, patchy areas of the skin. Others mention replacing their makeup primer with it. The stick is rose-scented.

3. Best for Makeup: IASO Youth Balm Anti-Wrinkle Moisturising Multi Balm Stick (10g)

The IASO Youth Balm offers more product, for nearly the same price as our best overall. Like the Kahi Wrinkle Bounce, this stick contains three types of fish collagen for moisturising wrinkles and protecting the skin from free radicals. Packed with shea butter and plant oils, such as macadamia oil and jojoba seed oil, the balm is used as an overnight moisturiser and eye cream by buyers. Stellar reviews also add that users have seen a noticeable improvement in the brightness of their skin. It’s even excellent over makeup, note others, as it leaves no greasy mess behind.

4. Best Balm with Vitamin C: I'mele Multi Balm Stick

If you’re looking for a more complex ingredients list, check out the I’mele multi balm stick. Korean actor Ahn Hyo-Seop is famously seen representing the skincare brand. Besides marine collagen, you get four types of peptides, vitamin C and baobab seed oil in a single glide. These ingredients add a lustrous sheen to the face for up to 24 hours, easily melting at body temperature. While our pick reduces the appearance of wrinkles, you can go for a soothing balm or a skin-brightening one, by the same brand.

5. Best for Sensitive Skin on a Budget: LU'PIUM Relief Multi Care Stick Balm

Most sensitive skin types prefer a scent-free product to avoid unnecessary irritation. This 99 per cent natural multi balm stick excludes perfume in its formula. Safe for children and adults alike, the mild product is best used as a relief moisturiser for dry, rough or itchy areas, including the knees, heels and nails. It contains seven types of vegetable oils, such as canola oil, avocado oil and sunflower seed oil, and a natural active ingredient, MultiEx BSASM, known for soothing extreme irritation.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.