I Traveled to Korea and Here Are the Most Surprising Beauty Products I Discovered…

Originally published on Medium on January 1, 2018.

Last fall I backpacked solo for 2 weeks in South Korea. After exploring the stunning country side and temples I decided to spend some time perusing the beauty innovation landscape in Seoul to become a K-Beauty “expert”. Here's what I discovered:
 

Unexpected ingredients


Bee Venom

It is used for improving skin appearance. Bee venom and its major component, melittin, have been used in Asia as an anti-inflammatory medicine for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.

 Bee Venom Emulsion from Nature Republic

Bee Venom Emulsion from Nature Republic

Bird’s Nest

Edible bird’s nest are made of solidified saliva of Asian swiftlets. I heard about bird’s nest soup being a delicacy in Chinese cuisine for its function to improve health specifically for the skin. Several studies have found that it may enhance cell proliferation and differentiation. I was not too surprised to find it as a beauty product!

 My Beauty Diary® Bird’s Nest Mask

My Beauty Diary® Bird’s Nest Mask

Snail

It’s no big news that snail is now a big thing in skincare. Snail secretion has been used for centuries to treat various skin conditions and the mechanism of action is being investigated. It was also shown to help to reduce wrinkles on photo damaged skin.

I think what surprised me the most is that the jewelry brand Agatha I used to shop at in Paris as a teenager has become a skincare line in Korea!

 AGATHA Fonctionnel Escargot Mask

AGATHA Fonctionnel Escargot Mask

Eggs

These products contains apparently an enzyme like albumin isolated from the egg that could help fighting pores… However I could not find more information about it besides that egg will form a thin tight film on your skin surface.

 Too Cool For School Egg-ssential fluid and Egg-zyme Whipped Foam

Too Cool For School Egg-ssential fluid and Egg-zyme Whipped Foam

 SKINFOOD, Egg White Pack, Peel-Off Pack and Cool Meringue Pack

SKINFOOD, Egg White Pack, Peel-Off Pack and Cool Meringue Pack

Dragon blood

Yes you heard me, Dragon blood mask and it was not even Halloween! Well actually it is from a Peruvian tree named Dragon Blood that has a bright red resin.

 Too cool for school, Fresh Gore Sleeping Pack

Too cool for school, Fresh Gore Sleeping Pack

 Too cool for school, Fresh Gore Sleeping Pack

Too cool for school, Fresh Gore Sleeping Pack

Surprising product designs


Hair wipes

I had no idea this existed. It is made to refresh the hair. I tried to use it as a dry shampoo but it did not really work for me… I should learn how to use it properly!

 Nature Republic Mint Solution Hair Fresh Dry Tissue

Nature Republic Mint Solution Hair Fresh Dry Tissue

 Nature Republic Mint Solution Hair Fresh Dry Tissue

Nature Republic Mint Solution Hair Fresh Dry Tissue

Sauna Mask

A mask instead of a sauna session for the skin! The concept definitely seems interesting as regular sauna use has a protective effect on skin physiology and hydration capacity.

 Make p:rem Wrapping me Sauna Mask

Make p:rem Wrapping me Sauna Mask

 Make p:rem Wrapping Me Sauna Mask

Make p:rem Wrapping Me Sauna Mask

Blackhead silicon remover

I am a big fan of devices which help to maintain a proper skin health as they require no ingredients for application and just a gentle mechanical action. Also these finger tips are super cute!

 Innisfree Blackhead Goodbye Finger Tip Silicon

Innisfree Blackhead Goodbye Finger Tip Silicon

Blackhead swab and patch removers

They also sell many peeling swab kits. Frankly, anti-acne and blackhead goods are a really big market in Korea according to the number of products they sell in this category.

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Anti-aging smile line mask

We are all familiar with under eye patches and facial masks but now you can even target your smile area. :)

 MISSHA Speedy Solution Smile Zone Patch

MISSHA Speedy Solution Smile Zone Patch

 MISSHA Speedy Solution Smile Zone Patch

MISSHA Speedy Solution Smile Zone Patch

Rubber Mask

This type of mask is suppose to stimulate the delivery of actives into the skin with a cooling effect. It is even sold by Dr. Jart+ in a smoothie container for the preparation!

 Dr. JART, Flagship Store, Seoul

Dr. JART, Flagship Store, Seoul

 Dr. Jart + Dermask Shaking Rubber Hydro Shot

Dr. Jart + Dermask Shaking Rubber Hydro Shot

Less plastic!

I was glad that Innisfree took the initiative to promote sustainable solutions with this SPF cream. “Less plastic it’s fantastic!”

 Innisfree Daily UV protection cream

Innisfree Daily UV protection cream

As a strong advocate for minimalist and sustainable skincare routine, it was difficult for me to consider trying most of these innovations; but I enjoyed them very much on display and in beautiful stores ;) Very curious to see what 2018 will bring!

Written by Elsa Jungman, Ph.D.