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The Korean beauty rituals Westerners have grown to love are mostly rooted in all-natural ingredients. Their benefits are a paradox of sorts. They’re among the gentlest and softest, but somehow pack the power of a product that’s been engineered with heavy-duty man-made materials.
As the K-beauty sector continues to grow, so does the number of under-the-radar, completely left-field ingredients being used in our essences, serums, and cleansers. And since it’s a pain to keep up with it all, we went straight to two experts for a shortlist of the ones we should be paying attention to right now; snail slime not included.
This succulent plant is said to harness a host of benefits, from diminishing scarring to treating sunburn. According to Angela Kim, founder of Savor Beauty, it’s also a cooling power player in the K-beauty club since it calms redness.
The Savor Beauty Champagne Cleanser harnesses this all-natural skin soother, in addition to champagne grapeseeds for exfoliation and rosemary extract for tightening pores.
Savor Beauty Champagne Cleanser, $52 at Savor Beauty
Centella Asiatica Extract
Alicia Yoon, CEO/Founder of Peach & Lily and licensed aesthetician, says Centella Asiatica extract is another botanical that should be on everyone’s radar. According to Korean folklore, tigers would heal their wounds by rolling around in it.
If you want to give it a go, she recommends Femmue Flower Infused Fine Peel, as it’s great at soothing and gently exfoliating the skin.
Femmue Flower Infused Fine Peel, $42 at Peach & Lily
Coptis Root Extract
Yoon cites coptis root extract as another K-beauty-approved herbal miracle. “It’s known to really help reduce inflammation, which is key, as inflammation can lead to hyperpigmentation, collagen breakdown, and reactive skin,” she says.
Atoclassic’s Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist includes a healthy dose of coptis, so you can stay cool and irritation-free this spring and summer.
Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist, $19 at Peach & Lily
Kim’s Pearl Cleansing Cream contains ginseng extract, an ancient beauty remedy in Korea. Because it’s an antioxidant, or a compound that delays damage, it can effectively protect pores from free radicals and promote a brighter glow.
Savor Beauty Pearl Cleansing Cream, $52 at Savor Beauty
Marine Solide Micro-Needles
When we think of skin care that tingles, acid-infused formulas, or microneedling, are usually the first things that come to mind. The all-natural version of the latter according to Yoon are micro-needles made of marine solide (freshwater sponges). They help stimulate collagen and tingle slightly, but that means it’s working!
Use Eco Your Skin’s Meso Ampoule one or two times a week as the last step in your regimen to experience it for yourself.
Eco Your Skin Meso Ampoule, $130 at Peach & Lily
According to Kim, honey has been a staple in the K-beauty industry for years. “The natural antibacterial properties clear skin for a deep detox and lock in hydration for glow,” she says.
The Savor Beauty Manuka Honey Mask also contains papaya and apricot enzymes for sloughing away dead skin cells so you’re getting moisture to the next level.
Savor Beauty Manuka Honey Mask, $64 at Savor Beauty
Lotus extract is derived from the lotus flower, whose leaves are chock-full of natural antibiotics and known for their self-cleaning properties. Yoon says they’re also jam-packed with flavonoids, which are teeny plant compounds known to be anti-inflammatory.
The Lotus Essence is made with 89 percent of this stuff instead of water, ensuring that acne-prone skin will get the healing it needs.
The Lotus Essence, $64 at Peach & Lily
“Truffles are a prized ingredient that can cost from $6,000 to 10,000 per pound,” says Kim. Today, they’re being infused into the K-beauty products for their glow-boosting vitamin B, which restores the skin’s radiance and luminosity.
We can personally vouch for Savor Beauty Truffle Face Cream, which feels like a warm, juicy blanket over dry skin.
Savor Beauty Truffle Face Cream, $74 at Savor Beauty
Another way to give your skin a huge blast of antioxidants is through pomegranate extract. Yoon says it’s “so nourishing, hydrating, and firming without being heavy.”
Frudia’s Pomegranate Nutri-Moisturizing Toner contains 87 percent of it so your skin doesn’t get the watered-down version.
Frudia Pomegranate Nutri-Moisturizing Toner, $14.49 at Peach & Lily