The Face Masks and Must-Haves From A Trip To Korea
5 things you can’t leave without...
Coveted around the world for their high quality and innovative formulas, South Korean beauty products are every cool girls not-so-secret secret. From endless varieties of sheet masks to watery essences and the perfect berry hued lip stains, the Korean beauty scene has a lot to offer — and can be a lot to digest for the uninitiated.
That’s why before leaving on your next trip to Seoul or embarking on your next online shopping adventure, knowing what to buy is essential. Below we’ve done the heavy lifting for you, compiling our top five Korean beauty must-haves in one handy list. Buy a few (or a lot) for yourself, and, if you’re feeling generous, they also make great gifts. Added bonus: most of these are small enough to fit in your carry-on.
1. SHEET MASKS
You can’t leave Korea without buying a bundle (or two or three..) of their infamous sheet masks. These thin cloth masks are soaked in serum with active ingredients designed to address a wide variety of skin concerns. But their real benefit lies in the moisture they pack. Put one on for at least twenty minutes, and your face will feel dewy and refreshed, even after a 5+ hour flight.
Try Tosowoong’s pure snail mask (yes, we know it sounds strange but the anti-aging, regenerating powers of this unconventional ingredient will make you forget about any reservations you may have rather quickly) or Klavuu’s White Pearlsation Pearl Serum Mask for its powerful brightening effects.
2. LIP STAINS
One thing you’ll notice when walking around Seoul’s bustling streets is the abundance of distinctively red pouts. Korean girls favor a berry-stained look concentrated in the center of the lips. As such, there are plenty of great lip stains you can buy to try out the look for yourself. There are a handful of great brands to put on your radar, one of which is the Korean mega-brand, Etude House.
You’ll see their distinctive doll-house pink storefronts all over Seoul, and inside they have tons of options to choose from. Our favorite is probably their Color In Liquid Lips Mousse line, which has a wonderful creamy yet matte texture and features the perfect applicator that always delivers just the right amount of product. Another great go-to is a relative newcomer on the Korean Beauty scene; Too Cool for School. Their Glossy Blaster Tint line has a subtle sheen, a delectably subtle scent and a velvety texture we just can’t get enough of.
3. SERUMS & ESSENCES
Another thing you’ll notice about Korean beauty is just how many different types of products they have. In many other places around the world, women are satisfied with a basic three-step — cleanse, tone, moisturize — routine. But in Korea, ten-step regimens are considered run-of-the-mill.
What could possibly make a skin care routine so long? Well, in large part, Korean beauty routines employ more moisturizing products like essences, serums and ampoules, all of which are used to lock in the ultimate dewy complexion. But before we get too caught up in the differences between all of these products, just know that essentially they are all designed to give your skin more concentrated levels of active ingredients on a continuum of moisture. Serums are typically the thickest formulation, essences are usually more watery in texture and ampoules are generally used as boosters when you have a specific skin concern to deal with. Don’t leave without grabbing a few different essences and serums to try for yourself -- we recommend Time Revolution by Missha.
Another Korean beauty item you will want to be sure to take advantage of is sunscreen. While it’s not the sexiest of beauty items, it’s an essential that no Korean girl goes without, and you shouldn't either.
You can forget about your usual sunscreen woes; Korean sunscreens are an entirely different ball game. No sticky textures, no strong-smelling formulations to speak of. Instead, Korean sunscreens are light, often watery in texture, pleasant-smelling and leave you completely protected while feeling like you’re wearing nothing at all. This means you’ll have no excuse for not applying one every day. While there, reach for UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence by Biore.
5. BLUSH STICKS
Last but not least, another fun beauty item you’ll want to toss in your carry-on are the blush sticks you’ll find all over Korean makeup stores. While you can get your blush in cream, powder or compact form, we think the stick format makes life just that much easier when you’re on the road.
Quickly swipe on and blend in, with no extra brushes to fiddle with or take up precious room in your suitcase. Plus, they make the cutest gifts for friends of all skin types. We suggest trying Etude House’s Play 101 Stick.
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