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9 Korean Skincare Ingredients Everyone Needs In Their Beauty Routines

Credits to Anthony Tran
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The Western world seems to be experiencing a craze for K-beauty skincare products, which is no surprise considering their formulations’ affordability and ingredient-centric approach. The innovative formulas and exotic actives in K-beauty have become a staple of many people’s routines simply because they truly deliver. Keep reading to learn more about the best Korean skincare ingredients and find out which one suits your skin the most.

Snail mucin

The snail mucin is exactly what it sounds like, a secretion that snails produce to moisturize and protect their bodies. Sounds a bit yucky, doesn’t it? However, we believe you’ll change your mind once you know the benefits. Due to its naturally rich composition, snail mucin is often used for its moisturizing, regenerative, brightening, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Packed with nutrients like allantoin, glycolic acid, proteins, peptides, and antioxidants, this truly versatile ingredient is suitable for all skin types and concerns.[1]

Related: 6 Snail Mucin Products To Nourish and Hydrate Your Skin

Centella asiatica

Centella asiatica, also known as cica, Gotu Kola, or tiger grass, is a traditional Asian medicine used for centuries to prevent and treat scars, wounds, and burns. Along with snail mucin, cica is one of the most famous K-beauty ingredients, appearing in almost every type of product, from cleansers to moisturizers and face masks.

It has a long list of skin-boosting benefits, including stimulating the production of collagen, calming redness, soothing inflammation, and itching, as well as reducing the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy. The key active ingredients in Centella asiatica are madecassoside, asiatic acid, and asiaticoside, antioxidants that accelerate healing and provide photoprotection while helping to balance oily and acne-prone skin without clogging pores.[2]

Related: 15 Best Centella Asiatica Products for Healthy Skin

Propolis

If you like stocking up on nutritional supplements, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of propolis for your immune system. However, did you know that it also doubles as a skincare ingredient that can improve various concerns due to its antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties? Propolis, also known as bee glue, is a natural compound produced by the combination of tree sap and beeswax that bees use to create their nests. Research has proven that propolis and its extracts can target several skin concerns, including the treatment of acne-prone skin, blemishes, and skin rashes.[3]

Galactomyces ferment filtrate

Also called Pitera, galactomyces ferment filtrate is a type of fungus belonging to the yeast family and a byproduct of fermented Japanese sake. Because it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals, galactomyces serve as the main selling pitch in many Korean skincare products, possessing moisturizing, brightening, and protecting benefits that make it attractive for all skin types. If you have a dehydrated complexion, you’ll be glad to find out galactomyces boost hyaluronic acid production, so it increases water levels in the skin. Also, galactomyces can fortify the skin’s defense against envirormental aggressors and works great for uneven tone and dark spots since it inhibits melanin.

Ginseng

Although it’s usually associated with refreshing drinks and rich flavors, the true potential of ginseng goes much further than that. Just like the other beloved Korean skincare ingredients, ginseng has also made its way into skincare and beauty products thanks to its active compounds (ginsenosides, oils, phytosterol, amino acids, and peptides) that have the potential to act as a cure-all skin remedy. Studies have proven that this super plant can boost the circulation of your skin’s smallest blood vessels which, in the end, stimulates the production of collagen.[4] People who have hyperpigmentation and wrinkles will especially appreciate ginseng’s properties as it protects the skin from environmental aggressors. Also, consider it your go-to ingredient for skin brightening because ginseng can reduce pigment content.[5]

Bee venom

If you’ve been following industry innovation closely, you’ve probably noticed that bee venom is increasingly appearing as the main active ingredient in lots of face masks. While many believe this trend is slowly killing the bee population, we are here to dispel this myth. The venom is collected safely, with no bees being harmed — although the process can be a little uncomfortable as a very mild electric current passes near the hive. Furthermore, bee venom consists of melittin, apamin, MCD peptide, histamine, hyaluronidase, and phospholipase-A2. Put simply, it contains a multitude of amino acids, peptides, and enzymes.[6]

Have you ever been stung by a bee before? The feeling is quite unpleasant and painful. However, that shouldn’t put you off this Korean ingredient, as the bee venom you usually find in skincare products is formulated at a safe concentration and won’t cause any dramatic reactions. As a matter of fact, the reaction is actually the whole point. Creams, masks, and serums containing bee venom stimulate collagen production and blood circulation, targeting different skin concerns. This is exactly why it’s ideal for reducing the appearance of enlarged pores as an aid in treating skin aging.[7]

Pearl powder

Pearl powder is one of the most popular Korean skincare ingredients of today. It’s produced by cooking and grinding pearls into a fine powder with a starch-like texture. This powder contains about 14 amino acids, 8 of which cannot be synthesized by the human body, plus about 30 trace minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and iron.[8] Honestly, it’s no wonder many call it the star ingredient because its active components can restore collagen, stimulate cell regeneration, strengthen the barrier, reduce the appearance of pore size, and improve overall skin texture.[9]

Green tea

For most of us, green tea is a morning quick pick-me-up, while for some, it’s a true skin savior. Green tea does wonders for the skin because it’s abundant in antioxidants, including flavonoids, vitamins, active polyphenols (EGCG), tannins, and caffeine. Studies suggest it can protect the skin from environmental stressors like UV radiation and pollution, as well as support healing.[10] In addition, this radiance-enhancing ingredient is rich in anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which in turn help alleviate breakouts.[11] If that isn’t enough, green tea can also regulate sebum production and increase skin hydration.

Related: 13 Green Tea Skincare Products You Need To Try Out

Bamboo extract

The bamboo extract is one of the most sought-after Korean skincare ingredients, being praised for its moisturizing, softening, protecting, and firming benefits. This plant extract is chocked full of nutrients, bioactive compounds, and antioxidants, including phenols, flavonoids, vitamins C and E, amino acids, and glycosides, which together provide photoprotection, support collagen production, improve skin elasticity and soften rough patches.[12] Bamboo extract also has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and a kind of antibiotic properties, so it may as well stop acne from wreaking havoc on your skin’s outermost layer.

Read next: 12 Best Innisfree Products for Any K-Beauty Lover


Sources

Women’s Concepts uses reliable sources, including dermatologists’ insights, clinical trials, and scientific journals, to find accurate information and support all the facts shared in our articles. All statements and claims have clear and legit references. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our sources of information, our process of researching and fact-checking the content, and how our team strives to keep all articles updated, completed, and trustworthy.

References
  1. Yongeun Kim, Woo-Jin Sim, Jeong-Seok Lee, Tae-Gyu Lim, Snail mucin is a functional food ingredient for skin, Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 92, May 2022.
  2. Wiesława Bylka, Paulina Znajdek-Awiżeń, Elżbieta Studzińska-Sroka, Aleksandra Dańczak-Pazdrowska, and Małgorzata Brzezińska: Centella asiatica in Dermatology: An Overview, Phytotherapy research, 28: 1117–1124 (2014).
  3. Vijay D. Wagh, Propolis: A Wonder Bees Product and Its Pharmacological Potentials, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, Volume 2013.
  4. Hyun-Sun Lee, Mi-Ryung Kim, Yooheon Park, Hyo Jung Park, Un Jae Chang, Sun Young Kim, Hyung Joo Suh, Fermenting Red Ginseng Enhances Its Safety and Efficacy as a Novel Skin Care Anti-Aging Ingredient: In Vitro and Animal Study, Journal of medicinal food, 15 (11) 2012.
  5. Kwangmi Kim, Effect of ginseng and ginsenosides on melanogenesis and their mechanism of action, J Ginseng Res. 2015 Jan; 39(1): 1–6, 2014 Nov 24.
  6. Abd El-Wahed et al., 2019, A.A.A. Abd El-Wahed, S.A.M Khalifa, B.Y. Sheikh, M.A. Farag, A. Saeed, F.A. Larik, U. Koca-Caliskan, M.F. AlAjmi, M. Hassan, H.A. Wahabi, M.E.F. Hegazy: Bee venom composition: From chemistry to biological activity, Studies in Natural Products Chemistry (2019).
  7. Sang Mi Han, In Phyo Hong, Soon Ok Woo, Sung Nam Chun, Kwan Kyu Park, Young Mee Nicholls, and Sok Cheon Pak: The beneficial effects of honeybee-venom serum on facial wrinkles in humans.
  8. Tanaka Shozo, Hatano Hiroyuki, Itasaka Osamu: Biochemical Studies on Pearl. IX. Amino Acid Composition of Conchiolin in Pearl and Shell, Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan, 1960.
  9. Hui-Fang Chiu, Su-Chun Hsiao, Yan-Ying Luc, Yi-Chun Han, You-Cheng Shend, Kamesh Venkatakrishnan, Chin-Kun Wang: Efficacy of protein rich pearl powder on antioxidant status in a randomized placebo-controlled trial, Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, Volume 26, Issue 1, January 2018.
  10. Patricia Oyetakin White, Heather Tribout, and Elma Baron: Protective Mechanisms of Green Tea Polyphenols in Skin, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, Volume 2012, Article ID 560682.
  11. Suzana Saric, Manisha Notay, and Raja K. Sivamani: Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris, 2016, 29 Dec.
  12. Harshada Vasave, Deepak Wasule and Rujuta Bobade: Bamboo’s Extract for Rejuvenating Skin, International Journal of Scientific Development and Research (IJSDR), July 2019.
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Women's Concepts relies on the latest scientific research to provide accurate, complete, and fact-based information in skincare, on which we're willing to stake our reputation. Our team includes skincare experts who are highly regarded in their fields and committed to upholding the best standards of research. We spend quality time vetting every single product we recommend and double-checking all the facts shared on Women's Concepts. We always stand on the side of inclusivity, and our mission is to help everyone fix their skin issues as they arise and leverage the products they buy to achieve their goals. You can view our expert review board and everything about our editorial guidelines here.
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