I recently ranked the top products mentioned in the /r/SkincareAddiction subreddit, and a lot of people asked me to rank the top products from the /r/AsianBeauty subreddit too.
I thought this would be interesting because the list is very different in vibe. AsianBeauty is also very text-based, so there’s still a big focus on what works (no one likes to buy products that don’t work).
The products are still quite budget friendly (from a 2017 survey, 80% said that affordability influenced their purchasing) – but about two-thirds said they also wanted to experiment with new and trendy products. So I think the products are a bit more interesting this time!
Again, these are going to be pretty subjective rankings, because I don’t think it’s possible to rank things without some subjectivity. But I’ll explain my ranks, so you can compare that against your own skincare needs and wants.
The usual disclaimer: my skin is not your skin, don’t stop using a product because I didn’t like it for a reason that’s not relevant to you!
The video is here, keep scrolling for the text version.
We’re going to go from number 20 this time for extra suspense.
20. Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV
- One of two sunscreens in the top 20 – interesting because sunscreens are one of the most popular categories of Asian skincare products, but there are a lot of very popular Asian sunscreens so that might’ve diluted the mentions
- This is a Japanese sunscreen – /r/AsianBeauty almost only covers Japanese and Korean products, the entire top 20 is just Japanese and Korean
- High SPF 50+ and PA++++, combo sunscreen with a mix of old and new chemical filters and physical filters (octinoxate, DHHB, ZnO, TiO2, BEMT)
- Used to have a really fantastic formula: lightweight, low white cast
- It was in my top sunscreen recommendations for a long time
Related post: Top Sunscreen Recommendations 2022
- It went through a bunch of changes – new packaging with old formula, then a new formula, and it seems like the new version does have white cast, but old stock is still sold in some places.
- Japanese sunscreens tend to reformulate and not change their packaging, and most of the information on Japanese sunscreens is in Japanese which makes it really difficult to work out what’s going on
- So I think this is the top mentioned sunscreen because people are confused – Looria just collects mentions, it doesn’t distinguish good or bad
- If it was the old version it would go straight up to HG, but for the new version, it’s meh or bad… compared to Western sunscreens it’s probably still pretty good, but compared to Asian sunscreens I would say it’s bad. And the confusion around it does annoy me a lot, because people did buy this off my recommendation and got a completely different product, and I always feel really bad when people end up with bad purchases because of me (that’s why it takes me so damn long to come out with review videos, I spend weeks trying products and days prepping for the video)
- I’m putting it in bad because there are so many other great Asian sunscreens that are less stressful to buy
Ingredients: Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (Aka Octinoxate), Butylene Glycol, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate (Aka Uvinal A Plus), Zinc Oxide, Methylheptyl Ester Of Lauric Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Dimethicone, Bis Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine (Aka Tinosorb S), Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Sodium Hydroxyethyl Acrylate / Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer Disostearyl Malate, Hydroxide Al, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Polyglyceryl-3 PolydimethylsiloxiethylDimethicone, Polyhydroxystearyl Acid, Jojoba Ester, Xanthan Gum, Arginine, Hyaluronic Acid, Alpha-Glucan, Phytic Acid, Saxifraga Sarmentosa Extract, Glucosylceramide, Cherry Leaf Extract, Job’s Tears Seed Extract, Morus Alba Root Extract, Onethera Biennis Seed Extract, Silver Oxide, Queen Of The Meadow Flower Extract, Bilberry Leaf Extract, Artichoke Leaf Extract
Ranking: NOT FOR ANYONE
19. Round Lab Dokdo Cleanser
- Round Lab is quite popular in Korea, products have won lots of awards from Korean retailer
- Their Birch Juice sunscreen is really popular too
- Cute little seal on tube (not sure if this is older or newer packaging?)
- Lots of dense foam but low pH (brand claims it’s pH 5.0-6.0)
- Cleansers with dense, luxurious foam are very popular in Asia (well, everywhere really), but many of them are high pH and based on soap surfactants, which can be an issue if your skin is acne-prone or dehydration-prone or easily irritated, which mine is.
- I’ve been constantly disappointed by Asian cleansers with lovely foam, and then after I use them for a few weeks my skin ends up dry and irritated.
- This uses isethionate and taurate surfactants that tend to give a nice dense foam, but don’t need to be formulated at higher pH
- Having a mix of surfactants makes mixed micelles, which is gentler on skin – I talked about it in my post on cleansing myths
Related Post: Are You Washing Your Face Wrong? Busting Cleanser Myths
- The brand labels “natural surfactants” on their ingredient list. I don’t know if I’d call these surfactants “natural” but according to a lot of “natural” certification bodies they are, there’s a list of very arbitrary chemical reactions that are counted as “natural” whereas others are considered “synthetic” – I think it’s really just that if they stuck to truly “natural” ingredients they’d have nothing left.
- Pseudoscientific marketing concepts like “clean”, the EWG, “natural” are increasingly popular in Korean beauty unfortunately – there’s this assumption that Korean skincare is really innovative and science-based but just like everywhere else, people fall for cognitive biases
- There’s also hydrating ingredients (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, allantoin, panthenol, ceramides) to compensate for cleansing (cleansing is one of the more harmful steps in a routine because skin components wash away
- Overall a really nice cleanser
Ingredients: Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Coco-Betaine, Potassium Cocoyl Glycinate, Potassium Benzoate, Sodium Chloride, Polyquaternium-67, Potassium Cocoate, Citric Acid, Fructooligosaccharides, Saccharide Hydrolysate, Disodium EDTA, Pullulan, 1,2-Hexanediol, Allantoin, Panthenol, Sea Water Sodium Acetate, Butylene Glycol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Beta-Glucan, Phosphatidylcholine, Hyaluronic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ceramide NP Glycine, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Glutamic Acid Serine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lysine, Alanine, Arginine, Threonine, Proline
Ranking: HOLY GRAIL
18. Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
- Like many Korean products, this uses betaine salicylate because of regulations around salicylic acid.
- But it really just turns into salicylic acid and betaine in the product once there’s water around (the ions split up, the amount of salicylic acid vs salicylate depends on the pH the product is adjusted to)
Related: Free Exfoliation Guide
- Also has willow bark water – willow bark is a natural source of salicin, which gets converted into salicylic acid if you eat it (traditional remedy for headaches), but not if you put it on your skin
- I think it might be popular because it was one of the few salicylic acid products from an Asian brand for a really long time – chemical exfoliants like AHAs and BHA aren’t popular in Asian skincare
- Cosrx is also a really popular Korean beauty brand amongst US consumers – from a 2017 survey about 50% of subreddit users are from the US
- Has niacinamide, which is a trendy ingredient that started off getting popular in Asian skincare products
- I personally didn’t see much difference when I used this – probably because I use so much PC 2% BHA Liquid
Related Post: Paula’s Choice Skincare: Best Products
- I would recommend getting chemical exfoliants from Western skincare brands instead – it’s one of the categories that’s really lacking in Asian skincare
Ingredients: Willow Bark Water, Butylene Glycol, Betaine Salicylate, Niacinamide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Arginine, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol
17. Kose Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil
- Double cleansing is popular in Asia
- This is where you use a cleansing oil or balm first, then follow up with cleanser
- It’s a pretty gentle and effective way to get waterproof makeup and sunscreen off your face
- This cleansing oil is really good value and effective, also fragrance-free but smells neutral so it’s suitable for a wide range of people
- Removes eyeliner well, no eye sting or blurriness for me
- Good pump
- No fragrance, has a mild neutral “oil” scent
- My personal gripe with cleansing oils is getting them onto my skin without dripping on the floor, which my partner gets really annoyed about, and oils require a bit more effort to clean up than water based products on the floor – I prefer cleansing balms
Related post: How Do Cleansing Balms Work? The Science!
- No other downsides really, just a solid recommendation
Ingredients: Mineral Oil, PEG-8 Isostearate, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate Cyclomethicone, Water, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Sesamum Indium (Sesame) Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil. Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Dicaprylate/ Dicaprate, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Isopropyl Myristate, Phenoxvethanol
Ranking: HOLY GRAIL
16. Kikumasamune High Moist Lotion
- The only body product in this list
- Half litre bottle, very good value
- Asian “lotion” – very liquidy toner consistency, more liquid than Laneige Cream Skin
- Lots of interesting ingredients, focus on pigment-targeting, brightening ingredients – sake extract which contains kojic acid (made by a sake company), arbutin, glycyrrhizate, also hydration ingredients e.g. ceramides and glycerin
- Smells like fresh apple cider, then turns into old apple cider – I found that the scent went away quickly (10 sec), but I can imagine it would bother some people
- Very hydrating, quite sticky
- Pump can be tricky (some people decant it into a bottle or a spray which should be pretty safe given the ingredients)
- I use this on my body for hydration and dark marks, much easier than rubbing in lotion, may not be enough if you live somewhere very dry
- I think it would be incredible value if it works on your face as well, some people do say it breaks them out (might be purging?)
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, BG, Rice Fermented Liquid, Glutamic Acid, Arginine, Leucine, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 I, Placenta Extract, Arbutin, Glycyrrhizinic Acid 2K, Soy Protein, Maltitol, Methyl Gluceth-10, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxy Ethyl Cellulose, (Styrene / Alkyl Acrylate) Copolymer Na, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl Paraben. Perfume
Ranking: SOLID CHOICE
14. Cosrx Low pH Cleanser
- Low pH is a selling point in Korean skincare because a lot of cleansers were high pH for a long time (and still are)
- Despite low pH (~5.3), this is still somewhat drying
- Might be due to minimal number of surfactants and lack of humectants and other moisturisers in the formula to replenish what gets washed away
Related post: All About Cleansing & How to Choose a Gentle Cleanser
- Probably popular because Cosrx are really easy to buy in the US (AsianBeauty subreddit is about 50% US), really inexpensive (~$12)
- But I think it’s worth it to pay a bit more get a less drying cleanser if your skin is easily dehydrated, makes a big difference to my oil production – plus you’d save on hydrating products
- I would recommend the Round Lab cleanser over this, another inexpensive option is Heimish Green Foam, Hada Labo Hyaluronic Foam
Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Polysorbate 20, Styrax Japonicus Branch/Fruit/Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Saccharomyces Ferment, Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Leaf Extract, Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Allantoin, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Betaine Salicylate, Citric Acid, Ethyl Hexanediol, 1.2-Hexanediol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA
13. Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence
- Japanese sunscreen with high SPF and PA, some water resistance
- Many people’s first Asian sunscreen – gateway sunscreen
- Shows up a lot on my top sunscreen recommendations
- Has a lot of the features Asian sunscreens are known for – lightweight and feels refreshing to apply (stark contrast from Western sunscreens), works well under makeup, contains newer filters
- Has alcohol, but moisturising ingredients compensate for it for most people
- Mild floral scent
- Easily available, inexpensive
- Watch out for fakes on Amazon and eBay
- Hesitant to put it into HGs because of frequent reformulations, but all formulations so far that I’ved tried (about 3 or 4?) have been great
Ingredients: Water, Ethanol, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Isopropyl Palmitate, (Lauryl Methacrylate / Na Methacrylate) Crosspolymer, Diethylaminohydroxybenzoylhexylbenzoate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Bisethylhexyl Oxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Palmitic Acid Dextrin, BG, Xylitol, (Acrylate / Alkyl Acrylate (C10-30)) Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Alkyl Benzoate (C12-15), Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Propanediol, Glyceryl Behenate, (Vinyl Dimethicone / Methicone Silsesquioxane) Crosspolymer, Cetanol, Agar, Sorbitan Distearate, Isoceteth-20, Polyvinyl Alcohol, (Dimethicone / Vinyl Dimethicone) Suporima, Stearoyl Glutamate, Arginine, Hydroxide K, Hydroxide Na, Royal Jelly Extract, Hyaluronic Acid Na, Phenoxyethanol. EDTA-2Na. BHT. Perfume
Ranking: HOLY GRAIL
12. Etude House Soon Jung Emulsion
- I haven’t tried this, but I do want to try this – there’s another product from this line coming up
Ranking: NO OPINION
11. Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner
- Toner based on green tea and some other plant extracts, antioxidant benefits
Related post: Antioxidants in Skincare: What Do They Do?
- Tried it for about a week, which isn’t really long enough to give a thorough review, but I’ve had toners that do more for my skin in that amount of time
- Very lightly hydrating, does have some colour (from the tea), a few people have said it stains their skin
- There are reviews from people who’ve said it helps reduce oil over time
- I’ve personally found green tea quite an underwhelming ingredient overall
- I think I’m just not much of a toner person, I’m a bit of a minimalist with my routine so toners that don’t moisturise much are one of the first products to go
- It is affordable though!
- I’m putting it in Meh for now, but I’m open to being convinced – let me know in the comments how you found this if you’ve tried it
Ingredients: Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Water, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Beta-Glucan, Disodium EDTA, Hydroxyacetophenone
10. I’m From Rice Toner
Buy: I’m From Rice Toner
- I’m From range has a bunch of star ingredients that are trending in Asian skincare, this is from their rice range
- Also has niacinamide and adenosine, a combo that a lot of Korean skincare products have in them that allows them to be marketed as anti-aging functional cosmetics
- This is nice and light, I found that it did have some brightening effect on me, but I prefer the I’m From Rice Cream, which has a really lovely light texture that works well under makeup – again, I’m not much of a toner person
- On the pricier end for a toner
- Some people have issues with rice extract
Ingredients: Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract (77.78%), Methylpropanediol, Triethylhexanoin, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin), Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol, Portulaca Oleracea (Green Purslane) Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract. Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Amaranthus Caudatus (Love Lies Bleeding) Seed Extract, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Water, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Butylene Glycol, Adenosine. Cellulose Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1.2-Hexanediol
Ranking: SOLID CHOICE
9. Etude Soon Jung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream
- Line is formulated with panthenol and madecassoside (same combo as in Cicaplast Baume B5, one of my favourites)
Related post: Barrier Repair, Rosacea, Sensitive Skin: Products & Tips
- People seem to have mixed experiences with this – some love it and swear by it, some it doesn’t work well for
- For me, it didn’t work as well as Cicaplast with tretinoin peeling and irritation
- Feels like it sits on my skin, doesn’t hydrate as well as I’d like
- Interesting twist lock dispenser (flip open, then twist to allow product to come out of Mercedes-Benz symbol) but makes it difficult to dispense a small amount, tube is quite small – went through it much faster than Cicaplast Baume B5
- Some people with dry skin have said it isn’t as moisturising as they hoped
- Seems to work really well for easily irritated skin
- Lots of other products in the line: Emulsion or Hydro Barrier Cream might be better for skin that needs hydration (e.g. mine), they also have a balm that seems to be much heavier but better for targeted recovery
Related post: Skincare Ingredient Spotlight: Centella Asiatica
- I apologise to the people who love it – for people in general, I’d put it in “meh” because I think there are moisturisers with higher satisfaction rates, but if you think this might work for you, I’d definitely recommend trying out a sample because you might be one of the lucky ones
If it does work for you, let me know in the comments with your skin type, climate, other moisturisers you like, so maybe we can narrow down
Ingredients: Water, Propanediol, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Butyrospermum Parkil (Shea) Butter, Cetearyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Madecassoside, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Potassium Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA
8. I’m From Mugwort Essence
- Haven’t tried this
- 100% Artemisia Princeps (Mugwort) Extract
- Mugwort is a herb that’s getting more popular in Korean skincare, kind of like the new centella
- Good for redness, breakouts
- A bit on the pricey side
Ranking: NO OPINION
7. Hada Labo Premium Lotion
- Classic, super hydrating hyaluronic acid toner or essence
- “Lotion” in Asian skincare isn’t necessarily “lotion” in Western skincare (but it’s starting to change)
- Lots of different forms of hyaluronic acid – I find this gives more well-rounded hydration at different depths of upper skin, longer lasting hydration
- Has been a staple for a really long time on Reddit skincare communities, from when I first started there in 2013/4
- Comes in a large bottle
- I tried to buy a bottle once during a stopover but it exceeded the liquid limit – terrorists are ruining our way of life
Ingredients: Water, BG, Hydroxyethylurea, Pentylene Glycol, PPG-10 Methyl Glucose, PG, Diglycerin, Hyaluronic Acid Na, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Acetyl Hyaluronic Acid Na, Hyaluronic Acid Hydroxypropyltrimonium, Hyaluronic Acid Crosspolymer Na, Lactococcus/Hyaluronic Acid Fermentation Broth, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid Na, Suisendinori Polysaccharide, Hydrolyzed Hydrogenated Starch, Glycosyl Trehalose, Sorbitol, Triethyl Citrate, PEG-32, Carbomer, PEG-75, Succinic Acid 2Na, Propanediol, Diethoxyethyl Succinate, K Hydroxide, Succinic Acid, EDTA-2Na, Polyquaternium-51, Capryl Hydroxamic Acid, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Xanthan Gum. Phenoxyethanol
Ranking: SOLID CHOICE
6. Cosrx Propolis Toner
Buy: Cosrx Propolis Toner
- Propolis is really popular in Korean skincare
- “Bee glue” made from plant sap
- Has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects
- Investigated for wound healing
- My impression was that it was mostly targeted at acne-prone skin, so I didn’t try it for a long time but I’ve been converted – really nice for smoothing out skin
- I have pollen allergies so I’ve been a bit hesitant about bee products, but all the ones I’ve tried have been really soothing (apart from bee venom in Western skincare)
- Propolis is generally a sticky ingredient, toner is lighter than other propolis products e.g. Skinfood Enrich Essence
Related post: Reviewing Top Korean Skincare Part 2
- Nice and lightly hydrating, do need to use more product than Skinfood but very budget friendly
- Has honey, glycerin, betaine, hyaluronic acid as well for hydration; panthenol for soothing
- Solid Choice for now, but could move up to Holy Grail once I use it more
Ingredients:Propolis Extract, Honey Extract, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Glycerin, Betaine, Cassia Obtusifolia Seed Extract, Panthenol, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
Ranking: SOLID CHOICE
5. Laneige Cream Skin Refiner
- Really lovely moisturiser in liquid form, relatively unique product
- One of Hannah’s selections for favourite products for irritated skin – she has dry skin
- Also comes as a convenient mist – same ingredient list, not sure if it’s slightly watered down?
- There is also a copycat product from Heimish but it has niacinamide and isn’t fragrance-free
Related post: My Favourite Heimish Products
- Solid choice especially if you have dry skin, or want pretty much a moisturiser you can spray onto your face over makeup
Ingredients: Water / Aqua / Eau, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Propanediol, Disodium EDTA, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Tocopherol.
Ranking: SOLID CHOICE
4. Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner
- Reviewed it recently
- Included in Gothamista’s fave products a few years back
- Really inexpensive product, but not a one-step toner, not that hydrating, based on plant extracts, could be a nice hydrating toner in summer
- Hovering between Solid Choice and Meh for this – I think it’s a Solid Choice if you do like lots of layers of toner, “7 skins” method, lightweight toner
- Whoever designed this ranking system needed to have more granularity
Ingredients: Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract. 1,2-Hexanediol, Butylene Glycol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Carbomer, Arginine
Ranking: SOLID CHOICE
3. Illiyoon Ceramide Ato Concentrate Cream
- This has two of my product icks:
- 7 free right on the front of the tube.
- If you’ve been here long enough, you’ll know how much I hate “free from”, clean beauty marketing because it’s based on pseudoscience, and chances are you want me to skip over and move on.
- But here’s why I keep mentioning it – brands putting that there is clearly a calculated move, they figure that it brings in more customers than it puts off. If people like me aren’t vocal about the fact it’s off-putting, more brands will keep doing it because there’s no downside.
- But the problem is that less educated consumers will come across brands doing this and assume it’s a legitimate benefit – the presence of this label acts as consumer education. They’ll ask brands who don’t have this if they’re “7 free”, and more and more brands will be pressured into doing this without any pushback. So I feel a responsibility to be the pushback and try to reduce this seemingly benign information.
Related post: Clean Beauty Is Wrong and Won’t Give Us Safer Products
- Little bursting beads – They give the illusion of being concentrated, having active ingredients (and in a few products they are actually used to keep ingredients stable), but I’m always worried that they won’t mash up properly and I’ll be walking around with dots on my face
- These do seem to blend in reasonably easily, and I use it at night anyway so it’s largely OK
- This was reformulated at the end of 2021 – might be highly mentioned because of that?
- Mixed reviews on whether the old or new is better, and if there’s any difference at all – beads were larger in old version, old version also seemed to be a bit lumpier and less thick
- To me, moisturising properties are quite similar to the Etude House Soon Jung Barrier Cream (but no panthenol or madecassoside, not as targeted to barrier repair)
- Doesn’t really do enough to hydrate skin, not much occlusive or humectant (despite glycerin near the top), need hydrating products underneath (which could make sense since most Asian skincare routines would have that)
- But is really bland and does sink into skin nicely, could be good for irritation
- Does also seem to lack occlusiveness – could be that petrolatum and mineral oil aren’t that common in Asian moisturisers? I see those much more on free-from lists than in ingredient lists, lots of Korean brands seem to really pride themselves on only using ingredients rated “green” by the EWG, but they’re really good occlusives, difficult to make a long-lasting overnight moisturiser without them
- I considered putting this in Solid Choice because it is a really large tube, but I decided to be petty about the “7-free” and stick it in Meh
Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Stearic Acid, Cyclopentasiloxane, Palmitic Acid, Behenyl Alcohol, Hydroxypropyl Bispalmitamide Mea, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Magnolia Biondii Flower Extract, Cholesterol, Perilla Ocymoides Seed Extract Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, C14-22 Alcohols, Glyceryl Caprylate, Dimethiconol, Mannitol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Silica, Arachidy| Glucoside, Arachidyl Alcohol, Acrylates/ Ammonium Methacrylate Copolymer, Ethylhexylalycerin, Polysorbate 20, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Propanediol
2. Cosrx Snail Mucin Essence
- This was also number 15, if Looria combined them it looks like it would end up as number 1
- This is the one product that was in both the SkincareAddiction and AsianBeauty top 20 (it was number 10 on the SCA list, the next Asian skincare product in the SCA list is at number 27)
Related post: Ranking Reddit’s Top Skincare Products
- I’ve talked about this a lot recently, there are lots of reasons I think it’s mentioned so much:
- Snail slime is exotic and plays into the idea of “mystical Asian skincare secrets”
- The stringy texture also looks fun, and looks good in videos (it trended on TikTok)
- Cosrx are very budget friendly and easy to find
- It packs a huge hydrating punch, which is great for a glowy “glass skin” look
- I really love it, it’s super hydrating and even though it seems gimmicky it’s been a staple in lots of people’s skincare routines for a long time (although it does break some people out with closed comedones)
Ingredients: Snail Secretion Filtrate, Betaine, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Arginine, Allantoin, Ethyl Hexanediol. Sodium Polyacrylate, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol
Ranking: HOLY GRAIL
1. Melano CC Essence
Buy: Melano CC Essence
- Vitamin C product with ascorbic acid
- Housed in a really clever airtight dispenser that limits oxidation really effectively – need to squeeze really hard for the product to come out
- I have a tube that was opened around January 2021, two years later there’s dried up brown stuff on the thread but the dispensed product is still colourless
- Marketed as an anti-acne product in Japan, with potassium glycyrrhizate (glycer-RISE-ate) (active ingredient in licorice extract, antiinflammatory) and isopropylmethyl phenol (antibacterial)
- Has a delivery system that help ingredients penetrate deeper
- Glycol based, draggy oil-like texture, sinks in pretty quick
- Low irritation, very light scent
- Worked really well to even out skin tone from shallow pigment for me, which is what I use vitamin C for
- This is a really cool and unique product, fantastic for people who don’t use vitamin C that much and need something that will last a decade (yes I’m planning to keep this tube for a decade, ask me in 2031 what it looks like)
Active Ingredients: Ascorbic Acid (Active Vitamin C), Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E Derivative), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate, Isopropylmethylphenol
Other Ingredients: Vitamin C Tetraisopalmitate, ethoxydiglycol, Alpinia red sea bream seed extract (Alpinia white), BG, edetate, viscosity modifier, fragrance
Ranking: HOLY GRAIL
These products are a lot more diverse than the ones we saw from /r/SkincareAddiction. They had lots of fragrance-free products, lots of simple cleansers and moisturizers, and a handful of single-ingredient products.
The products from /r/AsianBeauty have a lot more different active ingredients, and more controversial products that have mixed opinions on them. I think that’s because /r/AsianBeauty tends to have a bit more discussion. There are more advanced skincare users there, and people who just want to explore new skincare products.
In terms of my rankings, there were a lot more “Solid Choice” products in the SkincareAddiction version because everything was just pretty inoffensive. But there were a lot more in the mid-tier here, for reasons that are quite unique to me.
There are 13 products from Korea and 6 from Japan (and one repeat from Korea). /r/AsianBeauty in general only covers products from these two countries – there are a lot more people in China, Indonesia and India, but their beauty brands tend to mostly focus on marketing to their own countries (maybe because they already have such a huge domestic customer base).
The Japanese products are all older, “legacy” products that started being popular a long time ago. The newest one is from around 2015.
At the moment, Korean products are a lot more popular. There are a lot of newer Korean products along with classic favourites.
I think the Korean dominance is because their products tend to be cheaper, and there’s a lot of support from the Korean government for beauty brands to export their products (“soft diplomacy” via cultural export). The Korean government is actually sponsoring beauty stores to export products, which is kind of mind-blowing to me – I cannot imagine the Australian government doing that.
So it’s a lot easier for Western redditors to buy Korean products, plus there is a lot more information in English compared to for Japanese products.
Let me know what you thought of my rankings, or if you know any info about these products that might change my mind on them!
This post is not sponsored, but many of the products mentioned were provided as PR samples for editorial consideration; however, these are still my honest opinions of the products. This post also contains affiliate links – if you decide to click through and purchase any product, you’ll be supporting Lab Muffin financially (at no extra cost to you), thank you! For more information, see Disclosure Policy.