I get quite a few emails and messages regarding my take on Korean skincare, what products I'm loving, which I'd recommend, and where to start if you're new to kbeauty. One question in particular that I'm frequently asked, is what brands I really covet, so I wanted to address that with you today. Hope you enjoy!
I feel like 'favourite products' and 'favourite brands' can be quite different things. For example, there are a few Mizon items I really love, but the brand as a whole leaves me a little wanting, and my skin's actually reacted adversely to several of their products, making me think I could be allergic to something? So today I'm sharing the brands that impress me across the range, the ones whose products I've tried numerous of and enjoy them all. Many of my choices are really affordable, some better known than others, but all brands I use regularly, trust, and would recommend to my closest and mostest, so please, I'd love you to consider this a beauty chitchat between friends!
The more I try from this brand, the more I enjoy it. I tried the H+ cushion, Skin Complex mist and Laser Cream c/o Kbeautybay several months ago (you can have a look at my first review here) and I've got a few more pieces to update you with today.
First up, I've been trying out the little set of specialist ampoules, which I'm completely in love with. There are four potent formulas, red for anti-aging and repair, yellow for brightening and hyperpigmentation, green for healing and moisturisation, and blue for acne and trouble skin. What I love is that these teeny bottles can be dripped into other Troiareuke products, like the Skin Complex facial spray, or their moisturisers, to customise your own skincare regimen, or used alone if that's what you best feel like. I had a little chat with the proprietor of Kbeautybay about using these, and you can even use a tiny dab of the red ampoule as an eye serum to sort out fine lines, and the blue as a spot treatment for blemishes, they're just so versatile. (and let me know if you'd like any of the ingredients lists for the Troiareuke products, as I know they're not always easy to find!)
I've also been trying out the Ascen Oil Cut cleanser, which is a fab one to use with a Clarisonic, and really gently formulated for sensitive or acne-prone skins. This is pretty much odourless so I think would make a great alternative for those that enjoy the Cosrx Low pH cleanser but find it too strong in scent. Their cushions are exemplary, the H+ I spoke about in my first review post, and I've been using the A+ cushion for the last few months and I love it, in fact they're all I've been using lately. Exclusivity, always the true test! The A+ is a smidge darker in colour, so more of an NC20-25 than 15-20, and said to be more suitable for an oilier skin type but I personally think they're both suitable for a pretty wide range, from a little dry to reasonably oily.
Having originated making natural, fermented soaps around 10 or so years ago, Swanicoco, now excelling at skincare, are a brand specialising in quality ingredients, low-chemical formulas and natural fermentation. Now we all know how I feel about fermented skincare (you can read more about why I love it so, here) and I love their ethos - they claim to be completely dye, artificial fragrance, chemical preservative, steroid, alcohol, mineral oil, paraben and benzophenone free. (FYI they're my cousin's favourite brand, which is how I was introduced to them!) Their EGF ampoule has got to be one of my very favourite skincare items of the moment, especially for anti-aging - you can read more in this post, and I've been loving their Pore Tightening Glacier cream too.
If you're after a little innovation then look no further. The Blithe splash masks are a) unlike any other exfoliant you'll likely find and b) completely brilliant. I first reviewed them here, getting on for a year ago now, and I'm just as much in love today as I was back then. A cocktail of lactic acid and botanical extracts, it leaves my face feeling baby soft in under a minute, just so fantastic if I've no time, or if I'm travelling - I can just multitask this in with my shower and save all the faff of a more traditional exfoliant. I also mentioned the Abalone masks in this kbeauty post, which sit proudly among my top 5 favourite sheet masks for being oh so richly, deliciously hydrating.
I can't recall many items I haven't tried from Cosrx - which is a pretty strong indication of my fangirling! Their formulations include but a scarce few, choice ingredients, and blend research-backed favourites like niacinamide and adenosine, as well as botanical extracts. I often say they're a good place to start if you're just getting into Korean skincare, as I personally feel all of their products are of a good quality, and are just sound. Their Galactomyces 95 Essence, for example is, in my opinion, not only a wonderful product outright, but preferrable to SKII's Facial Treatment Essence - a dupe that makes you a substantial saving. I love applying their Honey cream to drier patches during the day, as it wears particularly well under makeup, and the brightening Rice Mask (which you can use just like a moisturiser) is great at night.
OK so I'll admit, the main reason I'm including Banila Co in this list is for their Honey Flower range, particularly the Essence Oil - I think I'm on my third bottle! Firstly, we should mention that it's not an oil. It's a beautifully hydrating serum with lovely ingredients like niacinamide, collagen, propolis, honey, adenosine and a mild and stable form of vitamin C. In fact it's one of my favourite skincare items. Otherwise, there's the rest of the Honey Flower range, the toner, the cream, and the essence stick, which are all wonderful, dependent on your skin type. Beyond that, there's yet more to love. I think Banila Co are a great place to start for 'entry-levellers', as many of their products are exceedingly affordable. They have a huge range, which can perhaps make it difficult in knowing where to start, so I'd suggest the Honey Flowers range and the Clean It balms. They sell them in a set of minis too, so you can decide which if your fave. A+.
Agatha are a relatively small brand, that you may not have heard of, but I'm utterly enamoured with their hydrogel sheet masks! Available in lavender, camomile and rose, the latter being my favourite, they're comfortable to wear, not too sloppy or sticky, and leave my skin feeling wonderful. Outside of the sheet masks, Agatha offer a nice, simple range of 'essential skincare', and some really gorgeous little makeup bits, like these beautiful, metallic, rose gold eye duos, and this dinky French Lookbook kit that's perfect for travel.
I think if you're looking for quality products, natural and organic ingredients and are willing to pay a smidgen more for the privilege, then you can't go far wrong with Whamisa. They certainly don't have the largest range of skincare, but each product is carefully considered, gentle on the skin, feels luxurious to use and works really well. Whether in their sheet masks, or as standalones, their essences are completely standout - the Organic Flowers toner is so thick and hydrating, it's really more like a serum on the skin, and leaves mine feeling plump and delicious. I reviewed a few pieces c/o Buttermilk skincare, which you can read about here if you fancy knowing a bit more :)
I hope you've found that helpful if you're a newbie, and enjoyable if otherwise! I'd love to know, what are your favourite Korean beauty brands? And if you've any standout products, feel free to share those too, I'm always open-minded towards a little enabling ;)
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