The ingredients listed on the packaging of K-beauty products are among the wildest and most interesting you’ll ever read. They’re typically a hodgepodge of sciencey terms, animal parts, and all-natural extracts and oils, all of which somehow combine to deliver the kind of results we’d be willing to spread the word about.
For years, it seemed there was a pretty exclusive list of things making leeway stateside, but as our knowledge and enthusiasm for all things K-beauty grows, so does the number of truly one-of-a-kind ingredients. We’ve already gotten a beginner’s lesson on the ones gaining ground in 2018, but here are the ones both past and present that continue to show up in some of today’s most popular K-beauty products.
Snails are said to excrete a thick fluid that’s packed with the same nutrients our skin craves to stay hydrated and plump, such as peptides and hyaluronic acid.
Try This: Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cleansing Foam, $10 at Missha
An all-natural ingredient known for its cooling properties, which heals irritated skin.
Try This: Hanskin Cleansing Oil & Blackhead PHA, $25 at Soko Glam
Centella Asiatica Extract
This ingredient comes from the centella asiatica plant, whose main properties are said to increase collagen production.
Try This: SkinRX Lab MadeCera Body Moisturizer, $22 at ban.do
Coptis Root Extract
The coptis root plant contains properties that are known to reduce inflammation.
Try This: Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist, $19 at Peach & Lily
Because it’s an antioxidant, or a compound that delays damage, it can effectively protect pores from free radicals and promote a brighter glow.
Try This: Acwell Honey Anti-Wrinkle Daanje Mask, $2.50 at Soko Glam
Marine Solide Micro-Needles
Micro-needles made of freshwater sponges help stimulate collagen.
Try This: Eco Your Skin Meso Ampoule, $130 at Peach & Lily
The natural antibacterial properties clear skin for a deep detox and lock in hydration for brightening a dull complexion.
Try This: Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel, $28 at Glow Recipe
Lotus extract is derived from the lotus flower, whose leaves are chock-full of natural antibiotics and known for their self-cleaning properties.
Try This: The Lotus Lotus Leaf Extract Sleeping Pack, $49 at The Lotus
These lipid molecules help keep skin cells bound together, thus preventing moisture loss and promoting plumpness.
Try This: Aromatica Calendula Juicy Cream, $37 at Peach & Lily
Epidermal growth factors, naturally occurring chemical compounds found in your skin, regulate cell growth. Beauty brands often create topical versions of EGFs to infuse in their products, thus making them more effective during use.
Try This: EasyDew EX Repair Control EGF, $88 at Soko Glam
This compound is produced by bees, who often leave it on trees. The sticky substance contains polyphenols, which are known for their protective and antioxidant properties.
Try This: CosRX One Step Moisture Up Pad, $14.90 at Amazon
Also known as vitamin B3, this nutrient is a skin restorer that helps lift and firm aging skin.
Try This: Enature Plantlicious UV Sunscreen SPF 48/PA+++, $28 at Soko Glam
A yeast-derived ingredient that soothes and smooths to improve the skin’s texture.
Try This: Manefit Bling Bling Hydrogel Mask—Wrinkle Gold, $6 at Soko Glam
A powerhouse moisturizing molecule that can hold more than 1,000 times its weight in water.
Try This: Klairs Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser, $14.40 at Wishtrend
Like hydroquinone, this ingredient is a powerhouse solution for lightening dark spots.
Try This: Shangpree Crystal BB Cream, $67 at Peach & Lily
An ascorbic acid that not only aids in the growth of body tissue but also promotes collagen growth and brightens a dull complexion.
Try This: Thank You Farmer Back to Relax Soothing Gel Mask, $38 at Soko Glam
An antiseptic oil that breaks up and removes debris from skin blemishes.
Try This: SkinFood Tea Tree Soft Bubble Foam, $40 at Amazon
This prized ingredient that can cost from $6,000 to 10,000 per pound is typically infused into products for its glow-boosting vitamin B, which restores the skin’s radiance and luminosity.
Try This: D’Alba Piedmont Peptide No-Sebum Balancing Toner, $35 at Soko Glam
Rice water contains ferulic acid, an antioxidant known for its antibacterial properties; an ideal solution for pesky breakouts and acne.
Try This: SkinFood Rice Brightening Cleansing Foam, $14 at Ulta
Egg whites are actually all-natural astringents that can help tighten the skin and shrink blemishes.
Try This: Tony Moly Egg Pore Tightening Cooling Pack, $13.50 at Tony Moly
Watermelon extract is rich in amino acids, which aid in boosting your skin’s collagen production, thus making it firmer and more elastic.
Try This: Mizon Water Volume Aqua Gel Cream, $10 at Peach & Lily
In addition to reducing redness, kelp contains properties that can easily penetrate the skin and hydrate it from the inside out.
Try This: Holika Holika Gudetama All Kill Cleanser Oil to Foam, $15.99 at Peach & Lily
Salmon egg extract is known as a quick-acting solution for under-eye puffiness and over time can help diminish the appearance of dark circles.
Try This: Botanic Farm Salmon Egg Hydrogel Eye Patch, $30 at Botanic Farm