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NOW READING These 7 Skincare Products Epitomize Why People Love K-Beauty So Much
February 6, 2018

These 7 Skincare Products Epitomize Why People Love K-Beauty So Much

They’re hardcore skincare with all of the active ingredients you rely on, the results you can see, and the price tag your wallet will thank you for. Oh, and none of these K-beauty products come in a panda-shaped jar. How’s that for serious skincare?



Novelty packaging is known for being affordable and adorable. And while peach-shaped jars might catch the attention of some, it can also turn others off completely. Here in the West, a lot of people seem to think that all K-beauty is are tubs shaped like fruit and masks that grow Papa Smurf bubble beards. Unfortunately for them, they’re missing out on the true reason why people fangirl (and boy) over K-beauty: It works.


Oh, and don’t think that you have to populate your vanity with jars your child will mistaken for a plaything to put together an affordable skincare regimen, or that because a product is under $20 that it won’t do much. Here, I offer some tried-and-true products under $25 (yes, really!) that have all of the affordability and efficacy of a more expensive product with none of the dorkability.


why people love k-beauty


1. COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, $19


If you haven’t heard about the benefits of snail secretion filtrate yet, you might have been sleeping under a rock. (In fact, you just might be a snail if you’ve been sleeping under a rock.)


why people love k-beauty


If you have heard of snail mucin, you’ve also probably heard all the raves about COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. It contains one of the highest concentrations of snail mucin out there, ringing in at 96%, but it has the price point of something full of no-good fillers and fluff. You get to experience the full force of snail without forking out so much cash.


2. A’Pieu Good Night Water Sleeping Mask, $12.58


why people love k-beauty


This sleeping mask has a child’s price tag with a grown-up formula. The gel has a thick consistency that veers into the cream territory but is still light. It performs a lot like the pricier Laneige Water Sleeping Mask but with significant savings. It does a great job of hydrating overnight, and you’ll wake up with fresher, bouncier skin, thanks to the birch extract and hydrolyzed collagen. In this case, the happy, goofy face will belong to you, not on the packaging.


3. Tia’m My Signature C Source, $17.86


A serum doesn’t have to come in an orange-shaped bottle to let you know it’s a vitamin C product. About four to five years ago, the K-beauty world online was going nuts over a little product called OST C20 Vitamin C Serum. The before and after pictures of brightened skin, cleared out pores, and smoother skin had everyone clamoring for the stuff. Many imitators came in and jumped on the vitamin C serum craze, and even OST C20 changed its formula several times before quietly disappearing. People have been on the hunt for a replacement of their beloved old OST ever since.



Well, now they don’t have to look any further. It’s back, but now rebranded as Tia’m My Signature C Source. (One sign that it’s a potential keeper: Tia’m is COSRX’s sister company.) If you have always wanted to try that old product but were too late, or have been pining away for your first vitamin C love, look no further than this dignified little amber bottle (to slow down oxidation). It’s also much cheaper than it used to be, coming in at just under $18!


4. Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream, $21.75


why people love k-beauty


Who amongst us hasn’t bemoaned the inflated price of a dedicated eye cream? This pretty little purple jar delivers results with no added money woes. Innisfree’s Orchid line brings a certain luxuriousness to the table that you wouldn’t expect from a cream with an under $25 price tag. The inclusion of squalane, meadowfoam oil, and shea butter gives this stuff a very rich feel without heaviness or greasiness. It’s great for relieving any fine lines cause by dehydration.


5. Swanicoco Herb Snail Care Emulsion, $12


why people love k-beauty

Swanicoco is an insider favorite K-beauty brand that is already affordable, and their basics line is the best of the affordable best. This lightweight moisturizer also features the gift of our friend the snail, along with some ingredients usually found in much pricier products, including a host of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.


6. Benton Cacao Moist and Mild Cream, $16


why people love k-beauty


This cream may be little and pink, but don’t let that fool you. I am very impressed with this stuff, and I’ve used it from summer to winter. Depending on who you ask, it’s either a lightweight cream or a heavier finishing cream. As a very dry person, I find it to be a great extra step in my winter routine between my emulsion and occlusive cream; in summer (or for an oily person), it’s nourishing enough to be the last step cream. Its texture is heavier than a gel but still light and glides on like one. The first two ingredients are cocoa extract and cocoa butter, so it’s not messing around when it comes to its name. It’s also not messing around when it comes to being a bargain, because it’s less than $20.


7. Innisfree Perfect UV Protection Cream SPF50+/PA+++ (Triple Care), $11.99


why people love k-beauty


Also from Innisfree is this heavyweight champion sunscreen that knocks out any opponent, novelty or professional. This is a broad spectrum SPF 50 that gives you the highest levels of protection against both UVA and UVB rays with the old school duo of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They also sprinkle in some skin beneficial ingredients like niacinamide and Camellia sinensis leaf extract. Your sunscreen is no replacement for your serums, but it’s nice to know those little dudes are in there fighting the good fight.


When your friends ask you why people love K-beauty so much, what do you tell them? And what are your favorite K-beauty products that are serious skincare but still super affordable? Share your tried-and-true faves here!



Coco Park is an author, beauty journalist, blogger, podcast host, and all around oddball living in Montreal Quebec with her family. Originally from the southern USA, she worked for several years in the makeup industry as a professional makeup artist and holds a certificate in esthetics. She is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Want to know more? Check her out on the Beauty Beyond Basics podcast, on her blog, on Instagram @thebeautywolf, and in her book "Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Makeup."




Forgot to ask in my previous comment: How does the Tia’m My Signature C Source compare to the Cosrx Lightning Liquid?


For me, the Tia'm can feel a little sticky (so I apply it when my face is still slightly damp from cleansing). Its predecessor was a cult favorite (OST) and Tia'm is the sister company to COSRX. The COSRX Lightning Liquid is nice and liquid-y, though it can get sticky towards the end of patting in.


Great post! I can honestly say I have not tried a single one of these (yet)! I love Cosrx and have put the Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence in my cart about 1,000 times only to remove it later on. I love snail mucin masks, so I should just give it a try. Where do you use it in your routine? I can't imagine it being used as an essence, despite the name. Also, I do absolutely love my sunscreen (Neogen Day-Light), but I very much like the price of the Innisfree! That's another one I'll need to try... Read more


I love the Neogen Day-Light too! Isn't it surprising how good it is? I like the COSRX Aloe Sun Cream, too — they're pretty similar to each other imo.

I use the COSRX Snail Mucin Essence right before my face cream. It almost acts like an emulsion for me, it's so rich (for an essence).