The craze that is K-beauty (short for Korean-beauty) is pretty much not going away. These days, it is the brands from South Korea that are dominating the industry – even in countries like the US.
K-beauty essentials have been hailed for offering results. From serums to essences and sunscreens to toners, they present a complete arsenal when it comes to taking care of your looks.
Here, we try out a few skincare products from K-beauty brands to see how well they stack up against their reputation.
Sulwhasoo Bloomstay Vitalizing Serum, RM530
This serum contains a combination of antioxidant properties of plum blossom and components of five germinated fruits and seeds. It’s supposed to make your skin feel rejuvenated and combat signs of anti-ageing (plum blossom has one of the highest antioxidant content). It has a gel-like substance that dissolves quickly after application. I’m really particular about my serums, and hydration, smoothness and how my skin looks and feels after application is important. The best ones to me are those that deliver visible radiance or a luminous glow. I really liked how it went on smoothly, no sticky residue and left my skin feeling soft. It also gave my skin that luminous glow and after a month of using it, I must say this will be one of my favourite serums. – Dzireena Mahadzir
Laneige White Dew Tone Up Fluid SPF 35 PA++, RM170
This is probably one of the few sunblocks I have tried that meets its claim of offering skincare benefits. The Laneige White Dew Tone Up Fluid SPF35 PA++ is described as a “moisture and radiant tone-up fluid that protects skin from fine dust and UV rays while brightening the skin tone”. First off, what I like about it is the non-sticky feel and the easy absorption into skin. For a makeup user, that’s always a plus point. After a week of using the light cream, I was quite surprised to see that my skin did indeed become clearer and brighter. Some days, I even went without foundation! Infused with a gentle floral scent, this product is certainly a keeper. – Wong Li Za
Mamonde Vital Vitamin Essence Flower Bitter Orange, RM135
Mamonde’s Vital Vitamin Essence contains Bitter Orange Flower extract as well as six different kinds of vitamins including vitamin B3, C, F, E and B5, and promises to moisturise, brighten, and revitalise the skin with their antioxidant properties. The texture is lightweight and absorbs easily into the skin, but it felt slightly astringent and unremarkable. With no helpful English instructions on the bottle, I turned to Google and found out it’s best to use it with your sheet mask or dabbed on cotton wool, and left on the face for ten minutes. I tried the cotton wool method, and it made all the difference. After a few minutes, my skin feels soft and hydrated, and the fragrance was soothing. It’s too early to gauge what the essence can do in the long term, but using it like a mask felt like a mini spa treatment. – Ivy Soon
The Saem Jeju Fresh Aloe Sun Gel SPF 50+ PA+++, RM53
Looking for a sunscreen that doesn’t give you that icky feeling is like waiting for rain in a drought. But the wait is over with this sun gel. True to its name, the product is a watery gel with a fresh fragrance. That lightweight texture translates well upon application too – it sinks in easily and doesn’t leave a white cast. The sunscreen bills aloe vera leaf extract as its star ingredient, with moisturising and soothing qualities. However, alcohol is pretty high on the ingredient list. For someone with mildly sensitive skin, this is a red flag. I notice some breakouts, but it might be caused by my diet. That said, I’m won over by the texture and will definitely give this a second chance. – Chester Chin
Innisfree 3-Minute Green Tea Skin Pack, RM77 (100 sheets)
The brand describes this as an S.O.S. morning pack for quick yet effective moisture replenishment and to prep your skin for makeup, with smoothening and cooling effects. It feels instantly cooling but after the designated three minutes the sheets are still soaked so I left it on for five minutes instead. Personally, I’d rather slap on a good moisturiser that works to prep my skin for makeup. However, for frequent travellers who have to battle dry cabin air, these sheets would make a good on the spot treatment to moisturise dry skin and because it’s quite invisible it would look less awkward than applying a full face sheet mask while on the plane! – Sandra Low
Cosrx AC Collection Ultimate Spot Cream, RM89
This is no miracle cream, but I do feel that it performs well enough. While the brand claims that it is able to work “overnight magic” on visible acne, it was not the case for me. It took more than one application for my pimple to disappear. Yet, the healing does seem a whole lot faster. Maybe half the time of the usual? I noticed that inflammation was greatly reduced too, which is definitely a welcomed result. As redness and irritation from acne is a big problem for my skin, I will indeed put this product on my list of must-haves for dealing with breakouts. – Bervin Cheong