By Elicka Ghahramani, @elicka_g
Korean skincare follows a failproof philosophy which has ensured that natives are often the highest subjects of skincare envy. They believe in nurturing and maintaining healthy skin and body at all times, to prevent breakouts and blemishes before they can even think about forming. This means that what we often see in Korean skincare is: feed, hydrate and brighten (and unclog those pores properly!)
A Korean beautician working at a spa in Battersea once told me that the magic skincare formula is: “Cleanse, tone, mask, moisturise. Keep your routine consistent and that’s all you need”. So, following this magic formula, we’re going to take a look at the best Korean cleansers, toners, masks and moisturisers available to buy in the UK.
Upkeeping constant innovation, K-beauty is a minefield for cleanser forms –but we thoroughly enjoyed exploring them all
At OBVS, we’re partial to transitional cleansers, which is why the Erborian Milk and Peel Resurfacing Balm caught our eye. Offering the benefits of a milk, balm and oil, this cleanser manages to lift make-up as well as dead skin cells. Our favourite ingredient on the list? Sesame milk.
The formulation for this cleanser is impressively packed with Amino Acids, Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramide to boost your skin’s cell production while keeping it hydrated. This hypoallergenic facewash is low irritation, and a rare foaming cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin.
Here at OBVS we just love the fast absorbing action of a serum for moisturising (plus the little pipets let us feel like we’re playing scientist), so forgive us for the serum-heavy focus. The below items did the trick without us feeling like we needed to reach for extra hydration.
Light, refreshing and with the perfect gel texture, this super hydrating moisture sinks into thirsty skin like water, offering an immediate quench. The OBVS team found that this was a particular favourite under make up, and left a dewy but non-greasy residue.
A serum offering Peptides and Hyaluronic Acid to feed your skin with the nourishment it needs to stay as ‘plum plump’ as the name promises. The added bonus is an adorably round, baby pink vial pump to brighten up your vanity or bathroom cabinet.
The third favourite to round us off is the Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop. This product boasts 5% pure Vitamin C for guaranteed brightening, without being too high of a percentage to easily sensitise the skin.
We’re all about hydration at OBVS, because we plan to look 32 when we’re 52, so it’s no surprise that our favourite K-beauty masks are all about hydration and glow. And of course, K-beauty has become synonymous with sheet masks due to the sheer volume of brands on the market (Seoulista Beauty, Oh! K, Dr Jart+, Holika Holika) Below are some of our tried and tested favourites which offer the best glow with the lowest level of irritation.
We’re going back to Dr Jart+ a little soon, but this time with the clearing mask, for those of us who haven’t lived life with the good practices and nutrition of Koreans.
The ingredients found in this sheet mask target pimples and blemishes, such as niacinamide, salicylic acid and tea tree, giving your skin a fast but powerful zap when you need it.
Although Erborian go heavy-handed on the use of natural ingredients (their Ginseng infused products being a range my sensitive skin cowers from) I’m admittedly a fan of their Glow Eye Patch. As with all eye masks, it’s most effective after being stored in the fridge (plus, the feel of the cool, little slices is incredibly relaxing) and you don’t need to leave them on for long before you can see an illuminating effect. The pearly sheen left behind is noticeably brightening, giving the undereye skin a milky glow that’s almost ethereal.
Just as with the Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop, this mask has been approved for the sensitive souls, with low percentage Vitamin C. This Vitamin C, AHA sheet mask offers a fast brightening treatment by lifting off dead skin cells thanks to those sweet, sweet acids. However, as a staple with Seoulista’s sheet masks, it’s also infused with coconut oil to help replenish moisture.
We’re still sceptical on the use of toners (and many who don’t wear make-up choose to forgo the product in their routine altogether). However, since our trusted facialist insisted on it, we’re starting to come around, starting with these picks below.
BHA is a buzz term everyone’s drawn to these days (not least the OBVS team) and this K-beauty toner is packed with the hottest skincare ingredient on the market. Buffing away dead skin cells without irritating the skin, this toner leaves the glow we’re after, with an added bonus of a stylish mod design bottle for your skincare collection.
Although we haven’t been blown away in general by Holika Holika (finding that some of their products can be a bit aggravating for sensitive skin), this Ceramide toner manages to tackle pigmentation and blotchiness, as well as impurities, without being overly irritating or drying.
This acid toner has added Hyaluronic Acid so that it manages to lift of the last, clinging bits of dirt, make-up and impurities while still moisturising the skin. The only down side is that the product is hard to source in the UK.