Well hello there, K-beauty newbie! If you’re in your twenties or your early thirties and curious about how Korean skincare products can benefit your skin, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got what you need to get a glow now and keep it for as long as you want.
From 20-35 years old, the most important thing you can do for your skin is to protect it from UV radiation, emitted by the sun and by sunless tanning beds (which you should avoid like the plague). Want to avoid sagging, wrinkling, and a constellation of sunspots? Wear sunscreen, wear it daily, and wear it generously.
Unfortunately, many Western sunscreens are simply too thick, greasy, and unpleasantly textured to wear daily. Korean sunscreens, on the other hand, are renowned for their lightness, wearability, and high protection. Many of the best, like our recommendations, are also affordable enough to slather on daily.
+ Normal skin: Try A’Pieu Pure Block Natural Sun Cream, a light, smooth cream that dries totally clear with a soft satin finish.
+ Oily skin: Try A’Pieu Pure Block Aqua Sun Gel, the even more lightweight and watery sister to the Natural Sun Cream.
+ Dry or sensitive skin: Try COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream, which provides intensive moisture and extra calming properties.
UV damage isn’t the only damage you should avoid. Cleansing is critical to healthy skin, but overly harsh cleansers can cause catastrophic damage to your skin’s natural moisture barrier, leading to breakouts, sensitivity, roughness, dryness, and premature fine lines. “Squeaky clean” is good for toilets but bad for faces—treat your skin like the treasure it is.
Instead of relying on ultra-harsh cleansers to clean your face, remove makeup with an emulsifying oil cleanser and follow up with a mild, low-pH foaming wash that respects your skin barrier’s boundaries.
+ Cleansing oil: Try Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil to easy break up and lift off makeup and sunscreen while softening and nourishing skin. Bonus: It smells just like apple Jolly Ranchers!
+ Foaming cleanser: Try COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, a barrier-friendly classic that gets skin of all types sparkling clean without stripping it of its natural glow.
Third on the list of damaging, wrinkle-accelerating elements to avoid is free radical damage like that caused by pollution and other environmental factors. Antioxidants are an excellent supplement to your basic skincare routine. You can get them in a high dose in a fermentation essence. These thin and lightweight essences sink right into skin and deliver potent environmental protection as well as skin-brightening, tone-refining benefits.
+ Normal to dry skin: Try COSRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence, which delivers a burst of plumping hydration along with its skin-defending antioxidants.
+ Normal to oily skin: Try Swanicoco The Bio Theraphy 1st Essence, a totally weightless but ultra-concentrated antioxidant liquid.
(Want a more targeted treatment? Shop our full selection of essences and serums here!)
We’re almost there! The last building block of a basic K-beauty routine is a skin-appropriate moisturizer to lock in your skin’s natural hydration and the nutrients you’ve added with your new first essence. The right moisturizer will keep your skin soft and comfortable all day or all night, no greasiness or shine required.
+ Normal skin: Try Hanyul Pure Artemisia Watery Calming Cream. With its silky gel-cream texture and soft clean scent, this refreshing moisturizer gives just enough hydration without going overboard.
+ Oily skin: Try COSRX Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap. This lotion manages the feat of delivering flawlessly soft skin without a hint of oiliness.
+ Dry skin: Try Swanicoco Swan Cream Intensive Vital, a rich and nourishing cream with a peerless velvet finish.
By now, you should be all set with a solid basic Korean skincare routine that’s appropriate for your age and skin as well as ultra-protective for the long-term health of your skin. But wait—there’s more! So much more. Here’s a quickie reading list to further your Korean beauty education.
And, of course, feel free to explore our editorial section for more tips, tricks, reviews, and how-tos.