My Journey with K-Beauty: Finding the Best Products for Black Skin

I’m a big fan of Korean skincare products now, but that wasn’t always the case. Before moving to South Korea, my skincare routine was minimal at best—if I managed to wash my makeup off before bed, I considered it a win. Back then, I didn’t think I needed a skincare regimen. Now, you’d never guess that was the case; I’m a total skincare enthusiast. Although I don’t use all these products every day, I’ve found several favorites among Korean skincare offerings that are great for anti-aging, reducing hyperpigmentation, and enhancing skin brightness.

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Korean Skincare Products are Made for Black Skin

What are the best Korean skincare products for beginners?

To start, I’d like to clarify that this post is not sponsored–yet. However, I am a big fan of the products mentioned below and would be happy to collaborate with any of them. If interested, feel free to email me at info@duffelbagspousetravels. Check out this interesting face calculator.

I want to note that I am not a dermatologist, esthetician, or beauty expert. Although I am lucky to have fairly resilient skin, it is not perfect and has some hyperpigmentation, dark circles around my eyes, folliculitis, smallpox scars, and signs of aging.

In short, while I may have good genes for skin, there are still great options available for me to treat these issues and indulge in some pampering.

My issues: hyperpigmentation, dark circles around my eyes, folliculitis, smallpox scars, and anti-aging.

 

What are the essential steps in a Korean skincare routine?

Pick and Choose Some or All of the following K-beauty Products

 

Korean Skincare (K-Beauty) Products

How Can Korean Skincare Help with Anti-aging? What Benefits does a K-beauty Regimen Offer over Western Products?

Sulwhasoo

Amorepacific Luxury

  • First Care Activating Serum
  • Balancing Water
  • Emulsion

The first K-beauty products I love are also the most expensive luxury brand in the Amorepacific line-up of Korean Skincare products.

Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum is amazing. I used to use the Balancing Water and Balancing Emulsion (toner and lotion) every day. And even though I do love the light coverage the emulsion provides during the day, I’ve found a couple of toners I use a little more often these days. See Niacinamide Brightening Toner and Moon Glow Milky Toning Lotion below.

First Care Activating Serum

I use the First Care serum multiple times a day, as do many others. According to Amorepacific, one bottle of this serum is sold every ten seconds, and over 400,000 customers have purchased ten or more bottles in their lifetimes. Sulwhasoo’s First Care serum is designed to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier. After washing my face, I apply two or three pumps of the ginger-colored emollient to my face and neck before any other serums. The serum has a lovely scent and goes on smoothly, with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of any other products layered on top, including makeup, serums, and toners. I should note that this is not a sponsored post.

Then I Met You

Fermented Ingredients & Niacinamide

  • The Giving Essence

The Giving Essence is full of skin-nourishing ingredients like galactomyces- a derivative of fermented sake that helps to brighten, calm inflammation, and unlock healthy and hydrated skin. In addition to a cocktail of antioxidant-rich red algae, berries, ellagic acid, and polyglutamic acid, works to unveil a brighter, more even complexion.

Acwell

Balance skin’s pH Level

  • Licorice pH Balancing Advance Serum

The Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Advance Serum refines and brightens dull skin with natural licorice water & licorice root extracts. Even out pigmentation in the skin to help acne scars and dark spots fade over time. Also formulated with antioxidant-rich Pycnogenol® (pine bark extract) to draw in hydration and minimize fine lines, plus glutathione and niacinamide additionally to help brighten. White eggplant has astringent properties and is also known to help give skin a healthy glow.

Innisfree-beauty-products-396x450 My Journey with K-Beauty: Finding the Best Products for Black Skin

Innisfree

Green Tea Infused

  • Olive Real Body Oil (unfortunately discontinued)
  • Youth Enhancing Black Tea Cream
  • Brightening Pore Sleeping Mask
  • Green Tea Seed Serum
  • Jeju Cherry Blossom Jelly Cream

I was totally obsessed with Innisfree products when I first arrived in South Korea. That’s why there are so many Innisfree products on my list. Like Sulwhasoo, it is a mid-market Amorepacific brand.

I use the Olive Real Body Oil on Dewey wet décolleté area after a shower. It has a pleasant light fragrance and offers a light, effervescent shine to that area of the body that seems to highlight my face without looking greasy.

The Jeju Cherry Blossom Jelly Cream feels like jelly but goes on smooth and hydrates my face with a subtle glow. Like many black people, I misunderstood the word brightening when I got here. I avoided anything with the words. However, now I understand brightening is akin to glowing. It’s almost like walking around with a flashlight on my face.

How do Korean Skincare Products Help with Hyperpigmentation?

I fluctuate between the Youth Enhancing Black Tea Cream and wash off Brightening Pore Sleeping Mask. I love both because they moisturize my skin without suffocating my pores. This cream is packed with hyaluronic acid and black tea. It relieves tight, dehydrated skin and melts instantly into the skin when applied. The new Green Tea Seed Serum is 3.5 times more enriched with 16 types of amino acids for a higher hydration level. As the name suggests, it is formulated with green tea water and seed oil.

The Brightening Pore Sleeping Mask is formulated with a balanced combination of B3, C, and B5 to fight hyperpigmentation and discoloration in my skin. It also includes Jeju Hallabong peel extract for firmer and clearer skin and white capsules that build a moisture barrier overnight for brighter and smoother skin. The gel formula has a unique texture with white capsules that burst upon contact to build a moisture barrier while I sleep.

Good Light

Ultra Hydrating Toner

  • Moon Glow Milky Toning Lotion

Korean toners are different from Western toners. They’re milder, gently formulations as Korean skincare tends to go. They provide the first layer of hydration in the Korean skincare routine. They’re not astringent, alcohol-laden toners. They’re intended to balance and hydrate not dry skin like an astringent would. Toners are formulated to do one thing: to balance the pH level in your skin. The Moon Glow Milky Toning Lotion is super hydrating, nourishing, and soothing. This toner also has ceramides to help promote a stronger skin barrier.

Want more? Natural Alpha Hydroxy Acids slough dead skin cells, meadowfoam seed oil helps with anti-inflammation, and together they help with dryness and to strengthen your skin.

Klairs-vitamin-C-and-E My Journey with K-Beauty: Finding the Best Products for Black Skin

Klairs

Anti-Aging

  • Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask
  • Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop

Fortified with antioxidant Vitamin E, the Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask brightens, improves wrinkles, and prevents other signs of aging. The unique pudding-like texture has a memory foam consistency to reveal brighter, firmer, and more hydrated skin. Use as a sleeping pack or daily moisturizer.

The Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop hypoallergenic vitamin serum was formulated with stabilized pure Vitamin C to treat dead skin cells, dull skin tone, and enlarged pores. You don’t need a lot, and it’s pretty greasy. I use it at night for a brighter complexion and clearer skin in the morning.

Hanyul

Traditional Ingredients (Hanbang)

  • Yuja VITA-C Serum

Hanyul is an Amorepacific brand inspired by the term hanbang, or the use of traditional medicines (ginseng, fermented rice, green tea, propolis, mugwort, etc.). These ingredients have been used in skincare routines for centuries by Korean women from their own homes. The Yuja VITA-C Serum is enriched with 5 different vitamins and taurine to help erase visible fatigue and hyperpigmentation. The serum brightens, firms, and provides moisturizer to my skin. As a result, it has helped even my skin tone and decreased pore size around my nose.  And while the vitamin C in this product is stable, I do store this in the refrigerator for increased longevity of the product.

Secret Key

Exfoliation

  • Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel

Secret Key is a Korean skin-care and makeup brand that combines the best of nature, K-beauty, and skin sciences. Zenpia launched the brand in 2006. I love the Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel a few times a week. I am not a big fan of physical exfoliants because so many great chemical peels don’t damage the skin. However, this gel is very gentle and leaves my skin feeling soft and clean.

Good Molecules

Hyperpigmentation

  • Pineapple Exfoliating Powder
  • Niacinamide Brightening Toner
  • Discoloration Correction Serum

With both chemical and physical exfoliating properties, the Pineapple Exfoliating Powder mixed in water creates a silky-smooth paste that gently resurfaces, smooths, and brightens without irritation. Enzyme-rich pineapple, kiwi, and papaya extracts gently loosen dead skin cells while 3-0 ethyl ascorbic acid supports a bright tone.

Niacinamide Brightening Toner with arbutin, vitamin C, and niacinamide has greatly decreased the hyperpigmentation caused by age and chickenpox, while licorice root extract soothes inflammation and inhibits excess melanin production.

Improve the appearance of skin discoloration and uneven skin tone with Discoloration Correcting Serum. Formulated with an advanced form of tranexamic acid (cetyl tranexamate mesylate) and 4% niacinamide, this lightweight serum improves the appearance of my scars, hyperpigmentation, and sun damage.

Saturday Skin

Exfoliation

  • Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask

The Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask is a lightweight mask that includes both Yuzu extract and retinol (Vitamin A). This mask has a unique jelly texture suitable for all skin types.

The key ingredient, yuzu is a citrus fruit known to promote anti-aging and rejuvenation with powerful antioxidants and vitamins. Yuzu has 3x more antioxidant properties (vitamin C) than a standard lemon to fight against free radicals from the environment as well as repair any damage to the skin barrier. This mask also includes a K-beauty favorite, niacinamide, to brighten and retinol (Vitamin A) to minimize the appearance of pores, even out tone, and smooth skin texture.

Use this as a part of your PM Korean skincare routine, applying on top of your moisturizer and leaving on overnight.

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Comments

    1. Stacey A. Peters

      Unfortunately, Innisfree products and stores are hard to find now. The company has downsized a lot due to losses in the Chinese market. Sad for us!!

  1. rhianwestbury

    I’ve used some Klairs products before, but I’ve not seen or heard of the other brands, they look like great products x

  2. Glass Mosaic Tiles

    I don’t know the brands because they’re Korean but I heard they’re very very good!!! I can’t wait to test them out.

  3. Stephanie

    I used to be one of those who was doing well if I washed my face, too. Now I do it every night and have started getting a few other skincare products into the routine.

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