7 Must Have Korean Acne Products

Seventy million Americans use Samsung smartphones - second only to the electronics behemoth Apple's iPhone. In one year, Hyundai and Kia sold 1,400,000 cars in the U. S. Electronics and cars are only 17% of the $70 billion of imports that the U. S. receives from South Korea. We clearly have a thing for Korean products.

But why stop at phones and cars? Especially since Koreans have been busy applying their knack for research, development and innovation to one of the most important pursuits of all: clear, perfect, translucent skin.

It won't be long before Korean skin care products (known as K-beauty) take their place right up there with the phones and cars. Korea is already close to displacing France as the global leader in beauty. Korean skin care companies use natural and avant-garde ingredients in innovative, sometimes quirky, applications while respecting the increasing fragility of our environment. And they keep the products affordable!

Ready to try some out? We've selected the seven best K-beauty products that prevent, cure, or conceal acne and the havoc it wreaks on your skin.

Goodal Phytowash Yerba Mate Bubble Peeling

korean acne products
best korean acne products

Goodal Phytowash, $18

This phytowash isn't just effective, it's straight up fun. It's not often that you can actually feel a product working.

First, let's “decode” the name. “Peeling” is the Korean term for what we know as “exfoliating” - not to be confused with a chemical peel. Yerba mate is a tea from South America believed to have miraculous healing properties - it's called “God's drink,” for gosh sakes! “Phyto” means “plant-related.” In other words, this is a cleansing gel full of natural ingredients that clear up acne and acne scars and prevent future occurrences by deep cleaning your pores, removing dead cells, and killing off bacteria - all while leaving your skin soft and smooth.

It might be easier to list what yerba mate does not do. It contains 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and 90% more antioxidants than green tea, and we know the mighty antioxidant powers of green tea. Yerba mate hydrates, reduces inflammation, lightens scars, brightens the complexion, and leaves the skin soft and nourished. Salicylic acid is another powerhouse. As a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), it penetrates more deeply into the skin and is less irritating than an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It exfoliates, promotes cell turnover, opens pores and clears them of oil plugs, increases collagen production, and lightens dark spots on the skin.

The wash does double duty. There are granules in the formula that slough off dead cells on the surface of your skin, while the chemical ingredients get inside those clogged pores and “excavate” the debris.

Okay, I'm getting to the fun part - I know you've been waiting. After cleansing, toning, and drying your face, apply the smooth, luxurious gel, and soon you will see and feel it transform into silky, frothy micro-bubbles, fizzing all over your face. All that awful debris is being drawn out of your pores, dead cells are being pick up off your skin and the hydrating ingredients are leaving your skin soft and smooth. Leave it on for five minutes.

The foam forms a soft mask that you can peel off. Or you can massage the foam into your skin and rinse off with warm water. Or you can skip the foam, apply the gel to a wet face (where it won't foam), massage in and rinse. However you use it, your skin is clear, nourished and vibrant.


Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner

korean acne products

COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Toner, $13

Toners cleanse the skin, correct the pH level, reduce the appearance of pores, protect from impurities, and refresh - perfect, right? How about if a toner could do all that and exfoliate your acne-prone skin? That's what this Cosrx toner does.

AHAs remove dead skin cells, improve the appearance of acne scars, and moisturize, firm and smooth your skin. BHAs penetrate deeply into the skin to clear the dead cells, excess oil, and bacteria from inside your pores, as well as exfoliate the skin surface. They also have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that are ideal for treating acne without irritating the skin.

The primary ingredients of the Clarifying Treatment Toner are glycolic acid, an AHA, and willow bark, a natural source of salicylic acid, a BHA. Allantoin, another natural and versatile compound, heals skin pitted with acne scars, protects the skin as it heals, and promotes cell regeneration. Apple fruit extract contains malic acid, an AHA, that exfoliates, lightens dark spots, and improves the overall health of your skin.

After washing your face, spray the toner onto a cotton pad. Gently sweep the damp pad all over your face and pat it gently to allow better absorption. Wait for the toner to be fully absorbed before applying serums, lotions, creams, etc.

Note: In case you're wondering if this toner is going to leave your skin dry and feeling stripped - rest assured, this toner is actually recommended for dry skin. It hydrates and dispenses flaking skin with its exfoliant properties.


Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch

best korean acne products
korean acne products

COSRX Pimple Master Patch, $29 (for 24 patches)

The Cosrx pimple patch gets right down to the nitty-gritty and is an absolute must have Korean acne product. The patch delivers healing ingredients directly to the blemish and keeps them there. It also protects the blemish while it heals and conceals it. It's almost an “abracadabra” for making acne vanish.

The patch is thin and almost transparent. It's barely noticeable on your skin or you can apply makeup over it. The main ingredient in the gel is cellulose gum (purified CMC), found on the cell wall of plants, that is both adhesive and absorbent. It helps keep the patch on the blemish while it dissolves and draws out the oil, dead cells, bacteria and debris that plug up your pores and result in blackheads and whiteheads (see the picture on the right for an example of what these patches suck out of your pores). The patch adheres so well that you can shower or wash your face with it on.

The patch protects the blemish from further assault by bacteria and debris - and by those fingers that can't stop touching, picking at, or popping pimples. It also keeps the area moist to facilitate healing and lessen the occurrence of acne scars.

Before applying a patch, wash and dry the target area. Do not use toner, lotion, cream, etc. Press the patch onto the blemish. Keep it on until it turns white, indicating that it has pulled all the gunk from deep inside your skin.

Oh, and you'll have plenty of patches per package for all your pimple needs. Each package contains 24 patches: 9 large, 5 medium, and 10 small.


Dr. Jart Dermask Micro Jet Clearing Solution Mask Sheet

best face mask for acne

Dr. Jart Clearing Solution Sheet Mask, $17

Sheet masks have been the rage in South Korea for the last decade. They are quickly becoming as popular in the U.S. We know that because celebrities are tweeting selfies in their mask sheets: Chrissy Teigen, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga - anyone who's anyone. Such a strange fad. Selfies, not the masks.

The Dr. Jart Mask Sheet is a thin, super silky microfiber that gently clings to your skin to ensure that the solution is thoroughly and evenly absorbed into your skin. This is wonderful news 'cause the solution that's saturating the sheet mask is brilliant for battling acne.

It's comprised of a clever combination of acne fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and tea tree oil as well as acne scar-preventing ingredients like panthenol, a form of Vitamin B5, that stimulates the skin's healing processes and keeps your skin hydrated and glutathione, a potent antioxidant, visibly evens out and brightens skin tone and improves the appearance of the dark spots left by acne.

To use the mask, wash and tone your face. Apply the mask, adjusting it around your eyes and mouth. It's a really pleasant feel - cool and refreshing. Leave the mask on for 10 to 20 minutes. When you remove it, pat the serum that remains on your skin until it is fully absorbed. Your face will be noticeably clearer and perfectly hydrated.

The Dr. Jart mask, as thin as it is, is a tad thicker than similar products, which makes it more durable and easier to fit onto your face. It also stays in place better and is saturated with more solution.


Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask

korean acne products
best korean acne products

Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask, $13

This is the former Innisfree Volcanic Pore Clay Mask now “super-sized” with twice the amount of the volcanic ash. The mask treats acne by exfoliating dead skin cells and absorbing impurities and sebum deeply embedded within your pores. It also minimizes the appearance of pore and improves skin tone. And there's a nice bonus - the cool, refreshing tingle when you apply it and again when you wash it off.

The ash comes from solidified lava on Jeju Island, South Korea, left there by a volcanic eruption 5,000 years ago. It contains high levels of sulfur, the acne-fighting, acne-soothing ingredient which helps the skin resist and destroy bacteria. Bentonite clay, formed as volcanic ash decomposes, clears oil from clogged pores and reduces the appearance of pores. Microscopic capsules in the ash buff away dead skin cells.

To use: Wash your face. It's optional, but advised, that you press a warm damp towel to your face to soften the oil inside your pores. Scoop the clay out of the jar with a small wooden spoon or spatula to avoid contamination. Apply a moderate amount of the clay onto your face, avoiding your eye and lip areas. After it dries completely (10 minutes more or less), wash it off with lukewarm water and follow with a moisturizer.


Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream

korean acne products
best korean acne products

Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream, $17

No list of Korean acne products is complete without some snail mucilage! In case you're wondering, “High content” isn't marketing hype. Ninety percent of this moisturizer is snail mucin and bee venom. The process of injecting steam as the ingredients are mixed together maximizes the properties of individual ingredients and results in a synergistic formula. The steam also gives the cream a light and silky consistency that penetrates deeply into your skin. This product will heal acne and fade acne scars while keeping your skin hydrated all day.

If the thought of snail mucin makes you a bit squeamish, let me assure you that it's been used at least as far back as Ancient Greece for its powerful antioxidants, proteins, elastin, and glycolic acids - just what you need to heal acne and prevent acne scars from forming. It encourages cell regeneration, fights bacteria, and replenishes moisture.

Bee venom “tricks” your skin into thinking you’ve been stung. In response, collagen steps up production and rushes to your skin to renew and repair the acne-damaged skin cells. Bee venom also thins the skin cell's outer membrane so that other ingredients penetrate the cell more easily.

Benton cream also contains willow bark extract (salicylic acid ) that is a natural acne fighter; niacinamide that treats hyperpigmentation and brightens the skin tone; and glycerin that keeps the skin hydrated.

This cream leaves a matte finish, which makes it a great base for your makeup.


Holika Holika Pore Clearing Petit BB

best korean acne products
best korean acne products

Holika Holika Pore Clearing Petit BB, $7

When it comes to Korean acne products, you can't leave out the infamous BB cream. BB (beauty or blemish balm) creams are where the Korean cosmetics “invasion” began. In 2011, the first BB creams landed on our shores and generated an immense interest in K-beauty products. BB cream is a “one stop shop” for skin care: moisturizer, primer, sunscreen, skin treatment, concealer, and foundation in one product. That's a lot of time and money saved.

Holika Holika BB heals and hides acne and its scars and gives you fresh, soft skin. The primary ingredients are tea tree oil and oil-absorbent powder. Tea tree oil is one of nature's most effective and versatile healers. It works against acne, blackheads, and other skin infestations and infections. The Sebum Control Powder absorbs oil, reduces shine, and leaves your skin fresh and soft. The BB also contains titanium dioxide to protect your skin from the sun with an SPF 30.

Like other BB creams, you can build up the coverage without worrying that it will cake, if you wait five minutes for it to set after each application. You can concentrate the build up on the trouble spots by patting the BB on gently with your finger.


If you're still unconvinced about Korean acne products - here are a few parting notes: Korean women are known for their flawless complexions and they won't tolerate blemishes long. They demand the best in skin care products. The competition in the cosmetics industry in Korea is fierce, which fuels constant research and development to get there first with new ingredients, new formulas and new applications, all while keeping the products affordable.

The result? Some of the most effective, innovative beauty acne products you've never tried...yet.

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