Korean women are well-known for their snowy, bouncy skin and seemingly permanent pearlescent glow. In my opinion, that’s what probably started the strobing revolution. They’ve even mastered the art of the subtle contour—yes, they do it, too!—but their version is not as chiseled or angular as the Kardashians’. The idea is to look slimmer but still baby-faced.

Basically, these girls love their makeup—but they love their skincare even more. That dewy look you’ve seen in countless K-beauty ads is a combination of a diligent, moisture-based, million-step routine and skin-perfecting cosmetics.

Today, I thought I’d share some of my all-time favorite Korean products which are perfect for Filipinas, too!

SKINCARE PICKS

Innisfree Green Tea Mineral Mist. This is a must-have! A multi-purpose mist packed with green tea extracts, this solution calms, hydrates, and plumps the skin in a spritz. Korean girls pack this in their handbags and use it to set and refresh their makeup throughout the day. It really helps get back that dewy, glowy look. They also spray it on right after washing their faces (it’s the step that follows their oil cleanser and precedes their toner).
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum. Serum is seen as the most potent skincare you can use, which is why I’ve chosen one of the bestselling Korean formulas to include in this post. I personally feel that you can experiment with different oil cleansers, facial washes, and moisturizers as they all somehow produce the same results. But serums deliver completely different results depending on their active ingredients.
Look at that! This formula uses fresh green tea to deeply nourish the skin and green tea seed oil to create a strong moisture barrier. In short, it super-hydrates you. The serum is best applied on bare, damp skin. What I do is right after washing my face, without waiting for my skin to dry completely, I spritz on the Mineral Mist and follow it up with the serum. Hello to that plump, bouncy, boing-boing skin sensation!
Banila Co. Clean It Zero. Even though they wear minimal makeup most of the time, Seoulites are quite anal about their makeup removal routines. While cleansing with oil is still quite popular, many women now prefer to use solid formulas, AKA cleansing balms. This particular tub by Banila Co. is one of the most popular and raved-about cleansers in the whole of Korea!
Clean It Zero has a sherbet-like consistency, like a thick lip balm. You scoop it out of the tub with the little spatula that comes with the product, then smear it on the palm of your hand. Then, gently massage the balm all over your face. You’ll feel it slowly turning into oil as it breaks down all the gunk you’re wearing (waterproof or not). Add a bit of lukewarm water to emulsify the balm, and this will turn it into a milkier, runnier cleanser that you can rinse off with water. I like to wipe it off with a muslin cloth to be extra thorough.

MAKEUP PICKS

Sure, Korean beauties pile on the falsies and pop in those huge circle lenses, but the rest of their makeup is often quite minimalist. It’s a combination of juicy tinted lips, lined eyes, a smidgen of blush, and perfect, barely-there, straight brows (opposite of the #OnFleek ones seen on Instagram). Here are some of my Korean cosmetic finds!
Banila Co. Prime Primer Classic. Disclaimer: Dewy is not equal to oily. Korean girls always prime their skin before applying any base product to make sure their makeup stays on point the entire day. This primer from Banila Co. helps smooth down rough patches, cover up pores, and make wrinkles less visible while prolonging the wear of makeup.
Banila Co. It Radiant CC Cream. Don’t expect any coverage at all from this CC Cream—it serves as more of a whitening and perfecting primer that helps keep flaking at bay. It has a slightly pearlescent colour that reminds me of the MAC Strobe Cream and a creamy, weightless feel to it that absorbs quickly. It’s not greasy, so I think it serves as a base for heavier makeup products. I’m actually not sure if this should go under makeup as it has strong skincare functions—but that’s the way it always is with Korean cosmetics.
3CE Triple Shadow in Tintin. This palette offers a mix of everyday shades—light gold, rose, and chocolate brown. Each one is silky and creamy, so blending is virtually a non-issue. I found the colors quite pigmented upon swatching, but on my eyelids, they appear much more subtle! I would categorize their finish as shimmery, but in a way that gives off a soft, beautiful glow. No gritty or flaky textures here.
3CE Lip Pigment in Mink Beige. This is the Korean version of a liquid matte lipstick, and it can also be used as a cheek tint and eyeshadow. It comes in a variety of shades that you can mix together to create new colors. It is very creamy and best applied with a lip brush but blended out using your fingers. That will give you a nice, not-too-perfect, lived-in look that appears natural despite the fact that the pigment is a pure dry matte. I’m wearing Mink Beige in the photo above with Tintin eyeshadow on my lids. I also used Banila Co.’s primer and CC Cream as my base.

So, are there any Korean beauty products you swear by? Do share them below!

Photos by Shari Macainag