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Today it felt like time to round up and talk about some of my favourite Korean skincare products and tools I've been loving over the past 4ish months. I'm splitting this into two posts because I have some other products from Iunik I've really been impressed with, I didn't want to include Axis-Y before my brand review goes up and you might have seen I picked up quite a few things from Tonic 15 around Christmas that I'm working my way through, so I'm sure that will yield some wins. Let's dive into part 1...
A product I keep coming back to is the Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner | £18. This contains a whopping 80% green tea extract, meaning it provides amazing antioxidant benefits for the skin, protecting it against free radical damage, and also soothing the skin. I personally apply this with my hands and find the formula really hydrating (likely as it contains hyaluronic acid, a water magnet), but I know many oily-skinned people also love this toner. This toner is also formulated with centella asiatica, another popular Korean skincare ingredient that again calms the skin down, which made this a great product for me throughout the winter months. For something a little more active, I personally love the By Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water | £20.10 (15% off with code JASMINETALKSBEAUTY). One of the things I really like about Korean skincare is that they pack in some really great ingredients at skin-friendly concentrations. Mandelic acid is the gentlest chemical exfoliant in the AHA family due to its large molecular size and it's great for targeting uneven skin tone and pigmentation. This product gives me softer, smoother, more even skin with zero irritation and I actually think you could use this daily if you really wanted to.
The first mist I have here is a light and refreshing option: the Sioris Falling into the Rose Mist | £17 (15% off with code JASMINETALKSBEAUTY). This is a dual-phase oil and water mist, like the famous Time is Running Out formula from Sioris, but if you found that one a little heavy, this is a lot more watery. Personally, I'd say Time is Running Out is probably my favourite overall, as I'm more normal-to-dry, but this is really nice as we head into spring / summer. It's formulated with sunflower, jojoba, rose and argan oils (as well as squalane) and then glycerin and camellia leaf oil. It provides moisture and hydration that lasts throughout the day. For a one-step serum and mist, I love the Mauve Fantastic Ever Hydro Mafia Booster* | $22. This is a thicker, more gel-like mist which is why I really don't feel like I need to use a serum after it. It's formulated with polyglutamic acid (a humectant, often called the next-generation hyaluronic acid) and gives my skin a healthy, dewy glow.
Another product I've really enjoyed lately is the Beigic Treatment Lotion* | £38 (15% off with code JASMINETALKSBEAUTY) | and got through several minis before I was kindly sent over the full-sized product by Tonic 15. This is a lightly active, hydrating essence-toner. It uses coffee extract as a source of antioxidants, a little bit of niacinamide (to promote a healthy skin barrier and keep the skin in balance) and a peptide complex (peptides help with skin repair, they're super-hydrating and can really plump the skin, possibly even reducing the appearance of fine lines). This is great for hydrated, healthy skin and it's a cumulative effect that you'll see over prolonged use. I don't really know where my next pick fits in but we'll throw it in here! The CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence | £24 | is billed as an essence but it's a heavier gel, so one pump is plenty and you might not need to go in with a serum after use. This is formulated with 96% snail secretion (which is fun!): this ingredient draws water into the skin and helps strengthen it's natural barrier. If you have dry, dehydrated or lacklustre skin then I strongly recommend getting a bit of this snail slime on it.
- SERUM-ESQUE PRODUCTS -
Ok, this is technically an essence but I personally use it more as a water-light serum. The Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Water Essence* | £24 | is formulated with eight forms of hyaluronic acid, which is pretty great considering we have far more expensive brands bragging that they have three! The purpose of this is to get hydration to different layers of the skin, because hyaluronic acid is a magnet for water as opposed to being hydrating in and of itself (for this reason I also apply it to damp skin and seal it right in with my moisturiser). This has such a lovely, light texture, it's not at all sticky and it never fails to leave my skin soft, plump and hydrated.
A product I just keep going back to is the Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule* | £19.50. This helped me so much during the winter months, because it's simple, calming and hydrating. Cica (or centella asiatica), as we discussed, is amazing for soothing the skin and even reducing redness and inflammation (this product contains 84.28%!) and it's formulated with hyaluronic acid and soothing chamomile. It's light, non-sticky and is the sort of underrated hero product that I needed to give a shout-out to. Another go-to during winter was the Acwell Beta Glucan Ultra Moisture Milk Oil* | £28.99 | which was kindly sent to me by the website Skin Library a few months back. This is what I went for when the heating was just drying my skin out like crazy whilst I worked from home. Don't be fooled by the name: yes, this contains moisturising oils, but it's kind of like a thicker milky serum that won't make your face look shiny. The star ingredient is beta glucan, another Korean skincare favourite, which is amazing for its humectant properties. This is overall a great option for dry skin types.
- MOISTURISERS & SUNSCREENS -
This next brand has really impressed me with the quality of its formulas and its amazing price-points. Today I've chosen the Iunik Black Snail Restore Cream* | £15 | which is one of the products sent to me by the website Kosame (at least one of the other products will be in part 2). The texture of this product is absolutely dreamy! It contains 58% black snail extract and it honestly just melts into my skin. It nourishes my skin and gives it glow without feeling heavy and leaves it soft, smooth, hydrated and plump. It contains amazing moisturisers like shea butter and jojoba oil (and some centella asiatica, again) whilst still absorbing beautifully into my skin. It's honestly dreamy. And all that for £15!
Over winter I was really into two moisturisers and both of them were Korean, so let's get into them. The first is the I'm From Rice Cream | £31 (15% off with code JASMINETALKSBEAUTY). What I love love love about this moisturiser is that it contains all of the good stuff but has a light texture for the type of formula it is. It absorbs with no excess and sits beautifully under makeup, yet it's crammed with ceramides (they contribute towards a healthy skin barrier and are amazing for sensitive skin), rice extract and shea butter. It's fragrance-free (which is fairly uncommon in Korean skincare) and really helps to replenish and rebuild compromised skin. The other option is also ceramide-based but I just had to talk about both. Soz. Obviously, you don't need both: just pick whichever you prefer the sound of, if you need a ceramide moisturiser! The RNW Ceramide Cream* | £30 | is formulated with ceramides and panthenol, which helps with water retention in the skin (ceramides also help prevent transepidermal water loss). It's a thick, rich but non-greasy moisturiser I can use during the day or at night. It was an amazing almost barrier cream that really helped buffer my skin against the elements, I loved this stuff and will definitely be back on it after summer!
A product I started on at the end of last year and have only just (reluctantly) rotated out is the Thank You Farmer Water Project Sun Cream SPF 50 PA +++ | £18 (15% off with code JASMINETALKSBEAUTY). This is an independently-verified sunscreen so you know you're getting the advertised protection and it has such a light, lotiony texture. You can use the correct amount and it just melts right into my skin with zero white cast. It definitely has a dewy finish, so I recommend it for normal and dry skin types, but it's great and sits well under makeup, never pilling.
The final product I have in this section is honestly one I wasn't sure where to place! The Mauve Fantastic Ever Flash Flash Architect* | $24 | is a skin finishing product on no-makeup days or a skin priming product if you're wearing makeup. There's hyaluronic acid and niacinamide in the formula to give those hydrating and skin barrier benefits, but what I really love about this product is its silky smoothing effect with no pilling and no silicone.
- MASKS -
I have two masks containing the same ingredients but I do enjoy both and they have a different format, so it's really about what your preference is if you're in the market for this sort of product. If you like a wash-off mask to use in the bath or on a night in: I recommend the I'm From Honey Mask | £35 (15% off with code JASMINETALKSBEAUTY). This contains an incredible 37.8% real honey, which has soothing, moisturising and also antibacterial properties (kind of like when they say to make lemon tea with locally-sourced honey in the winter to build your immunity). This can be left on for up to an hour, so I can just kick back and relax. It never fails to leave my skin soft, smooth and deeply moisturised - it was a life-saver throughout winter! If you prefer to slap on an overnight mask before bed then go for the CosRX Ultimate Moisturising Honey Overnight Mask | £24 | though the brand does say you can use it as a wash-off product too (I'd apply it liberally if you're going to do that and the bonus is that because it's designed as a leave-on product, you can keep it on your skin for as long as you like). This is formulated with propolis, which isn't quite the same as honey but offers many of the same benefits. I was expecting this to be a cream-based mask but it's more like a melting gel-to-oil, so if you have very dry skin: put on your moisturiser and then this, if not: just use this after your serum. It's so nourishing, fixing any dry patches by morning and leaving my skin incredibly soft.
- TOOLS -
There are also a few tools you might not have come across if you haven't dabbled in East Asian skincare before. The first is the Mandala Yellow Clay Face Konjac Sponge* | £9.99. There are many variations of this sponge; I do find them all to be similar enough, but that's just me! These are manufactured on Jeju Island with a variety of natural, mineral-rich materials. They provide gentle exfoliation and really help with cleansing, in my experience (including makeup removal). You simply wet them before use and they're so gentle on the skin whilst providing mild exfoliation. Just be sure to wash them properly, hang them up to dry (they come with a thread) and don't keep them for ages, because (as mentioned) these are made from natural materials.
I'm also loving the White Rabbit Naked Cotton Original & Textured* | $14.99 each. Cotton wool pads aren't the best thing for the environment and I've tried to find good reusable ones but haven't had much luck. Instead I'm opting to use a lot less cotton wool (99% of the time I'll apply hydrating toners and essences with my hands), which is why I really don't mind splurging a bit on quality, and these are quality! They're strong but fine and gentle, the textured ones are especially great for exfoliation. Plus, you get absolutely loads in here: I've been using them for months and I'm only about 10% through each pack.
Lastly, we have the Glosome 100% Rose Quartz Gua Sha Tool* | £40. There are so many benefits to gua sha and facial massage in general - I really recommend getting on YouTube and looking up some different techniques and tops because it can help with lymphatic drainage, as well as being incredibly relaxing. This is a great option because these tools can get super-expensive: we're talking £100+, but at the same time you're getting proper rose quartz here. I far prefer rose quartz to jade because it's non-porous, so isn't going to absorb anything you wouldn't want to spread over your face: you simply clean this before and after use, then you're good to go!
Have you tried any of these products or brands? What are your Korean skincare favourites?