K-beauty moisturisers are packed full of natural ingredients that suit most skin types. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Take a look at your vanity table: do you spot any K-beauty favourites?

It’s possible, even probable. Ever since Korean beauty swept across social media platforms in the Hallyu (or Korean wave) of 2011, it has converted millions of people around the world, introducing them to the wonders of natural, effective ingredients like snail mucin and fermented rice water.

Nowhere has the impact of K-beauty been more obvious than in skincare. It introduced never-before-seen concepts to the mainstream: new active ingredients, eye-catching packaging and innovative technology.

We’re exploring one such coveted Korean skincare product here: moisturisers. Offering great hydration, with natural and holistic ingredients, all the while keeping the texture light and non-greasy, these moisturisers are customised to every skin type.

We spoke with Dr Yulia Krasnaya, dermatologist at Evolution Aesthetics Clinic, Dubai, who shared her thoughts about Korean skincare, and why K-beauty moisturisers are a solid addition to your dresser. Scroll down to read her advice.

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1. Best Overall: Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb 

Rated 4.7 stars by thousands of reviewers on Amazon, and an old favourite for K-beauty enthusiasts, Belif’s Aqua Bomb feels as refreshing as its name suggests. It has a gel-like formula that absorbs into the skin in seconds, instantly cooling and hydrating it. The formula comprises a blend of apothecary herbs, including the antioxidant lady’s mantle, which is known for neutralising free radicals, improving the skin’s elasticity and minimising pores. Some satisfied reviewers say they’ve used it successfully as a make-up primer, while others say they’ve combined it with liquid highlighter for a dewy glow. Many store it in the fridge for a delightful cooling sensation upon application.

2. Best for Dry Skin: Aestura Atobarrier365 Cream 

This iconic white-and-blue Aestura tube is well known on TikTok’s #BeautyTok and other beauty forums, for its incredibly hydrating formula. Packed with ceramides, it offers a calming, soothing effect, especially for people with dry skin. The brand’s proprietary ingredients mimic the composition and proportion of skin lipids, so it immediately locks in moisture and fills in the gaps in the skin’s barrier. The result is a lightweight, non-greasy formula that grants over 100 hours of lasting hydration. Reviewers with sensitive skin say the moisturiser has a cooling effect, and gives their skin a healthy glow.

3. Best for Combination Skin: Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturising Cream 

If you’re keen on a moisturiser with naturally derived ingredients, consider this option from Round Lab. It draws on botanicals, like birch tree sap, aloe vera and turmeric extract, along with moringa seed oil, to address skin concerns, and soothe and comfort stressed-out skin. The moisturiser has an airy, gel-like texture, thanks to glyceryl glucoside, which is an excellent humectant that keeps the skin hydrated and supple. It forms a water barrier that helps prevent moisture loss, leaving your face feeling nourished and hydrated all day long.

4. Best for Oily Skin: Torriden Dive-In Low Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Soothing Cream 

This trending sky-blue tube is all over social media right now, for good reason. Torriden’s soothing cream is a must-have for people with oily skin, thanks to its potent formula. The moisturiser combines five types of hyaluronic acid with panthenol (or vitamin B5) to help boost the skin’s moisture. Its weightless gel-cream texture glides on smoothly and absorbs quickly, and since it has anti-inflammatory properties, you don’t have to worry about irritating your skin or causing breakouts.

5. Best Anti-Ageing: Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream 

Thanks to decades of research, Sulwhasoo has perfected its anti-ageing cream, which features the star ingredient ginseng saponin. Combined with peptides, the formula helps boost the circulation of the skin’s blood vessels to promote collagen synthesis, which then helps improve texture and elasticity. The moisturiser is silky-soft, almost weightless, and is well-suited for mature skin that needs a little lifting and tightening. Do note, however, that it does carry a slight earthy fragrance of ginseng flower.

6. Best for Damaged Skin: Cosrx Advance Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence and All-in-One Cream 

An excellent moisturiser set for those dealing with skin conditions, Cosrx harnesses the potent benefits of snail mucin, which is used as the base in this formula, instead of water or oil. The unique ingredient is known to help repair skin damage, and soothe redness and sensitive, breakout-prone skin. Cosrx’s power essence garners 96.3 per cent of snail secretion filtrate to protect the skin’s barrier and prevent moisture loss, while its nourishing moisturiser uses actives to treat irritated skin and improve uneven skin tone. It also reduces signs of inflammation from blemishes, and improves the skin’s elasticity.

7. Best for Acne: Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream 

Another moisturiser that is infused with snail mucin, Missha’s Super Aqua snail cream is a classic that isn’t just well-suited to acne-prone skin, but to mature or damaged skin as well. Snail mucin works to support cell regeneration, as well as heal and repair the skin barrier, even as its anti-inflammatory properties calm breakouts and soothe redness. Baobab tree extract and deep ocean water are also used in this formula, to help the skin retain moisture. Reviewers say the moisturiser has a lightweight texture and is incredibly hydrating, leaving their skin feeling supple and nourished.

The important of moisturisers in skincare

Moisturisers are a daily essential, since they help improve the skin's hydration and texture, and balance oil production. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Before you even consider a Korean moisturiser, it’s worth asking if you even need one. Ask any dermatologist, and the resounding answer is – yes.

Dr Krasnaya explained why: “Moisturiser is a crucial part of any skincare routine. Its main function is to hydrate the skin by providing a barrier that locks in moisture, preventing dryness and flakiness. Hydrated skin not only looks healthier but also functions better in terms of protecting against environmental damage and maintaining its elasticity. Moisturisers can help balance the skin's oil production, which is beneficial for both dry and oily skin types. Regular use of a moisturiser can improve the overall texture and appearance of the skin, making it a vital step in maintaining a youthful and radiant complexion.”

What makes Korean moisturisers stand out?

While pharmacy and supermarket aisles are filled with different kinds of moisturisers, Korean iterations work a little differently from the rest.

Dr Krasnaya said: “K-beauty moisturisers have gained significant popularity due to their innovative formulations and effectiveness. They are known for their lightweight textures and hydrating properties. These moisturisers often incorporate a blend of natural ingredients and advanced skincare technologies.”

Since they’re gently formulated, they are well tolerated by most people and fit different skin types. Even those who have more reactive or sensitive skin will find they tolerate K-beauty skincare much better than other formulations.

Dr Krasnaya added: “They are designed to deeply nourish the skin without leaving a greasy residue, making them suitable for a wide range of skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin. The emphasis on hydration and skin barrier protection in K-beauty products ensures that they provide long-lasting moisture and support overall skin health. Their gentle yet effective formulations make them a versatile option for most individuals seeking to enhance their skincare routine.”

K-beauty ingredients make the difference

Korean moisturisers tend to emphasise gentle ingredients that support the skin barrier, along with extracts that are commonly used in Asian herbal medicine.

Dr Krasnaya outlined some commonly used ingredients in K-beauty:

  • Hyaluronic acid: It is known for its exceptional ability to attract and retain moisture, ensuring the skin stays hydrated and plump.
  • Snail mucin: [This ingredient] is rich in glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid, providing intense hydration, promoting collagen production, and aiding in skin repair.
  • Centella asiatica: Many Korean moisturisers include centella asiatica, also known as cica or tiger grass, which is renowned for its soothing and healing properties, making it ideal for calming irritated or sensitive skin.

Korean botanicals, like ginseng, green tea, and licorice root extract, are other unique ingredients that offer a number of skincare benefits.

Our expert concluded: “These ingredients, among others, contribute to the effectiveness of Korean moisturisers in delivering deep hydration, improving skin texture, and enhancing overall skin health.”

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