8 of the Best Korean Skincare Brands That Are Worth the Hype, According to a Korean Beauty Editor Who’s Tried It All

From Anua to Sulwhasoo

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As a Korean-American beauty editor with over 10 years of experience in the industry, I’ve always been intrigued by the skincare scene in Seoul. After all, it’s one of the largest beauty meccas in the world, known for being ahead of the curve with their research, ingredients and innovative textures. Since there’s a dizzying array of options to choose from, I’ve put together this very streamlined guide to just eight of the best Korean skincare brands I’ve tried and loved throughout the years. (Another thing: Everything listed is widely available here in the States without having to pay extra shipping fees.)

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About K-Beauty

Best Overall



Start With: Birch Juice Sunscreen ($20)

Inspired by natural resources native to the Korean Peninsula, ROUND LAB uses local ingredients in everything. From the brand’s bestselling 1025 Dokdo line, which is formulated with mineral-rich sea water from the Ulleungdo and Dokdo islands to the moisturizing Birch Juice line that’s enriched with silver birch sap from Inje county, all of the products are rich in nutrients and natural minerals. (My personal favorite is their Birch Juice Sunscreen, which I’ve written about at length for being incredibly moisturizing.)

The Heritage Brand

2. Sulwhasoo


Start With: First Care Activating Serum VI ($89)

Sulwhasoo is a heritage brand that’s been around for over 50 years and beloved by my very discerning mom and aunts in Korea. (It should be noted that these women are all in their 60s and 70s and have impressively smooth skin that can be at least partially attributed to their skincare regimens, which include Sulwhasoo.)  The brand uses ginseng in their products because it’s a potent multi-tasker that does everything from strengthen your moisture barrier to brighten your skin.

Best Masks

3. Mediheal


Start With: Tea Tree Essential Mask ($20/10-pack)

Developed by a team of top dermatologists and aestheticians, Mediheal is South Korea’s number one sheet mask brand, a title they’ve steadfastly held onto for years now because of their efficacy, relative affordability and wide-ranging offerings for varying skin concerns. From collagen masks and vitamin C masks, I’ve tried them all, but the Tea Tree Essential Mask is my current MVP, as I find myself in a season of breakouts.

Best for Sensitive Skin

4. Aestura


Start With: ATOBARRIER365 Cream ($32)

During my most recent visit to Korea, I kept hearing about this brand and how good it was for calming inflamed skin. First launched in 1982 with a mission to create effective, science-led beauty for sensitive skin, it has since become a top selling brand at Olive Young (aka Korean Sephora), winning numerous awards throughout its 40-plus years on the market. Thankfully for us, Aestura is now available through Amazon, where I ordered their ATOBARRIER365 Cream to help me through a rough patch of dermatitis last winter.

The All-Rounder

5. Dr. Jart+

Dr. Jart+

Start With: Ceramidin Skin Barrier Moisturizing Cream ($48)

I will always have a soft spot for Dr. Jart because it was the first Korean skincare brand I remember really falling in love with as a bright-eyed beauty assistant in my 20s. The brand is known for their innovative, science-backed ingredients and the packaging is always eye-catching, though slightly odd at times (in the case of the Cryo rubber masks). This all makes perfect sense when you find out that Dr. Jart stands for “doctor joins art.” Per the brand, they “take skincare’s best ingredients and innovations (that’s the Dr.) and join them with artful experiences to create high-performance derma skincare with a playful twist that brings a smile to your face.” Mission accomplished, team Jart.

Best Splurge

6. d'Alba


Start With: White Truffle Serum Spray ($26)

Not gonna lie, I initially thought d’Alba was a European brand because of the way it was marketed, but it is, in fact, a Korean skincare brand. The main ingredient that’s touted throughout the line is white truffles extracted from Piedmont, Italy. Apparently, these truffles are very rare and loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that supercharge your skin with moisture. Dermatologist tested and vegan, d’Alba is perhaps best known for their First Spray Serum, which is currently ranked as Amazon's number one spray serum and is a frequent fixture in celebrity makeup artist’s kits.  

Best for the Entire Family

7. Illiyoon


Start With: Ceramide Ato Lotion ($30)

If you’re looking for a family-friendly skincare brand that everyone from your toddler to your grandmother can use, Illiyoon is a safe bet. Dermatologist-tested to be gentle enough for even the most delicate skin, this Korean skincare brand is centered around ceramides that are derived from black beans and then encapsulated to offer a cosmetically elegant moisture boost both in and out of the shower.

Most Viral

8. Anua


Start With: Heartleaf 77% Soothing Toner ($19)

If you’re on SkinTok, you’ve likely come across Anua. The viral skincare brand has become quite popular on the social platform for their cleansing oil, which has sold over 90,000 bottles on Amazon in the last month alone. Infused with heartleaf, an anti-inflammatory botanical that’s grown and harvested in Korea, their products have a well-earned reputation for soothing easily flushed or irritated skin. I’m especially a fan of their toner, which is refreshingly lightweight, yet hydrating. 

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...