Seven Korean Skincare Must-Haves

The Korean skincare essentials to know if you're thinking of exploring K-beauty products
Published: 26 March 2024

Double-cleansing, glass skin, sunscreen... Korean beauty trends are endless, and so are the variety of skincare products they offer. To help simplify things, we've curated seven products based on their promising qualities after scouring through many reviews. These are the essentials that will up your skincare game, leaving you with glowing and radiant skin.

Clean it Zero Cleansing Balm, BANILA CO

Cleansing oils and balms are necessities in double-cleansing. BANILA CO’s Clean it Zero Cleansing Balm has been a cult classic for many years and for good reason. The cleansing balm comes in a sherbet-like texture, and melts into a smooth oil upon contact with skin. It does what it claims to do: efficiently cleaning off sunscreen, skin impurities, dirt and make up—effectively "cleaning it zero". Its Zero Balance Technology deeply cleanses without stripping the skin's natural moisture, leaving it hydrated and fresh. Formulated with active botanicals, hot springs water, vitamin E and vitamin C, this cleansing balm will leave your skin looking radiant and healthy.

Available at or Watsons.

SoonJung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser, ETUDE HOUSE

Considered as one of the pioneering brands that paved the way for the popularisation of K-beauty, Etude House has been around for many years in the Korean skincare market. Known for its fragrance-free formulation, Etude House’s SoonJung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser is a gentle and mild cleanser that is great for sensitive skin. It contains many beneficial ingredients, including Panthenol, which strengthens the skin barrier and soothes dry skin, and Madecassoside, which soothes irritated skin and protects it from external stimuli. Additionally, its smooth foam-like lather doesn't strip your skin of its natural oils.

Available at Shopee or Watsons.

Heartleaf 77% Soothing Toner, ANUA

Looking to soothe any redness or irritation of your skin? Give Anua’s Heartleaf 77% Soothing Toner a try. This toner is known to be a holy grail of K-pop group EXO’s Suho, and is perfectly formulated to soothe, tone, hydrate, and balance the pH level of your skin. Its watery texture provides a layer-able, lightweight hydration too. Heartleaf is renowned for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, and Anua only uses heartleaf sourced exclusively from Korea for stringent quality control.

Available at or

Centella Ampoule, SKIN1004

SKIN1004’s Centella Ampoule main ingredient, Centella asiatica, is known for its ability to soothe inflamed skin and simultaneously reducing redness. Containing nothing except for pure Centella extract from Madagascar (with only water and preservatives added), the ampoule provides skin with the optimal benefits of Centella. Due to its lightweight and watery texture, the ampoule is extremely fast-absorbing. It helps to restore skin imbalances caused by harsh environments, while hydrating and healing the skin barrier.

Available at or

Bean Essence, MIXSOON

Achieve Korean glass skin with MIXSOON’s Bean Essence. Made with four fermented ingredients, this gentle essence is great for strengthening skin health. Due to their smaller particle size, fermented ingredients facilitate easy spreading and rapid absorption of the essence into the skin. The Bean Essence serves to both exfoliate and hydrate textured skin. The natural ingredients also provide natural antioxidants rich in vitamins C and E so that clogged pores and dead skin are cleared while achieving a renewed glow.

Available at Shopee or

Atobarrier 365 Cream, AESTURA

Aestura’s fragrance-free Atobarrier 365 Cream has recently been heavily endorsed by many beauty influencers for its 120-hour long-lasting hydration. This is achieved through its unique formulation containing ceramide, cholesterol, and fatty acid that mimic the lipid-like structure of the skin, allowing for easy absorption while strengthening the skin barrier. The Atobarrier 365 Cream contains capsules that melt and comfortably penetrate the skin, delivering moisture deep into its layers.

Available at or Shopee.

Birch Moisturising Sunscreen SPF 50+, PA++++, ROUND LAB

Many Koreans follow a strict regimen for sun protection—not just to maintain their desired complexion but also to protect against sun damage. Overexposure to UV rays leads to premature ageing, making sunscreen an essential. Round Lab’s Birch Moisturising Sunscreen SPF 50+, PA++++ has been a recent cult favourite. Its key ingredients—birch tree sap, Betula Platyphylla Japonica Juice(1,425ppm) and niacinamide—are known for their soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, making it suitable for sensitive skin. It's also infused with hyaluronic acid, making it moisturising enough that you could skip that moisturiser in the morning. Rest assured, this fragrance-free sunscreen won't leave behind that notorious white cast associated with many sunscreens.

Available at or

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