K-Beauty Spotlight

The 21 Best K-Beauty Products Worth The Hype

Overnight sheet masks, deliciously bouncy creams, and more.

Written by Sarah Y. Wu
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Where there’s K-pop, there’s K-beauty — which is blowing up on TikTok... again. With every scroll, tiny toner pads and lush lip tints float across your feed, accompanied by glowing reviews and before-and-afters you need to see to believe. It’s “yet another resurgence,” says Charlotte Cho, K-beauty expert and co-founder of Then I Met You and Soko Glam. “My take is that these trends, rituals, textures, and delivery systems that are uniquely Korean will always find a way back into the skin care world because they aren’t just gimmicks; they actually work.”

One notable difference in the new wave of Korean beauty products: It’s not just skin care in the spotlight this time. “Makeup brands are definitely having their viral moments for juicy lip coverage,” says Cho. And other categories aren’t far behind. “It’s inspiring to see how K-beauty is steadily expanding in additional areas, including personal wellness, hair care, or sleep care,” says Liah Yoo, founder of KraveBeauty.

So what’s worth stocking up on right now? Overnight sheet masks, scalp-reviving shampoos, super-smooth glitters, and more. Read on for the very best of K-beauty to try immediately.

Cho loves these essence pads from cult-classic brand Hanyul to instantly calm and cocoon your skin in deep hydration. Flip the double-sided rounds to gently exfoliate with the textured surface, then soothe with the smooth side. Cho says the “bite-sized, snackable” format makes them extra fun to use. “Unlike traditional sheet masks that make you look like you’re drowning in an ill-fitted Hannibal Lecter mask, these pads are multitaskers and customizers, letting you focus on the areas that need the extra hydration boost,” she says. Infused with the brand’s potent Artemisia Cica, these pads work instantly to reduce redness, nourish, and give you a glass-skin finish.

Both Cho and I are avid fans of this overnight mask from Biodance. “We’re finding a lot of crossing of categories happening in K-beauty, like these sheet masks that sit on your skin overnight — a cross between a sheet mask and a sleeping mask!” Cho says. The biocellulose material clings comfortably to your face, so it won’t slip around while you sleep, and hardens to a clear shell when it’s time to remove. You don’t have to keep it on all night for maximum effect; the brand actually designed it to be worn for two to three hours to infuse its combination of oligo-hyaluronic acid, collagen, and probiotics into your skin. I’m obsessed with the extreme levels of (non-greasy) glow this delivers; it’s basically a full facial enjoyed from the comfort of my couch.

Dewy and deliciously bouncy, this barrier cream is a genius new innovation from Cho that I already predict is going to be big on TikTok. “Barrier creams are traditionally thick, creamy, and sit on the top of your skin,” she says. “I was inspired to make a barrier cream that’s lightweight and gel-like in texture.” For this “barrier cream 2.0,” Cho used hallabong, a citrus fruit grown in Jeju, South Korea, that’s rich in natural vitamin C. “It has a thick peel because the fruit is grown during the winter months and must protect its precious juicy cargo throughout the cold season,” she says. Transformed into a golden-hued moisturizer, it also protects your skin and keeps it plump and dewy through any seasonal changes.

If you haven’t heard of PDRN yet, add it to your beauty dictionary immediately. “PDRN is trending because it’s part of a salmon-egg cosmetic treatment that Koreans will inject into their skin during lunch to give their skin more life and elasticity,” Cho says. Get it in topical form with the most popular serum on Soko Glam. “It's a very similar vegan form that boasts similar results as the cosmetic procedure,” says Cho. To create this superpowered serum, Iope combined its Bio-PDRN with probiotics, niacinamide, and a high dose of caffeine to regenerate and plump skin. The result: lifting and contouring in a single step, no derm visit needed.

Waterproof mascara and full-coverage foundation are no match for Korea’s No. 1 cleansing oil, which has racked up countless awards and more than 10 million sales since its launch. One pump and you’ll know why. Argan-kernel oil and 14 other plant-derived oils make up the lightweight formula, which doesn’t feel greasy on skin and rinses off without a trace of residue. I’ve gone through multiple bottles since first trying it, and it remains unparalleled for the first step of my daily double cleanse. The gentle ingredients never sting my eyes or cause breakouts, and it dissolves everything in a flash, even my most stubborn makeup.

Sweep away blackheads, breakouts, and dark spots with this exfoliating toner, a wildly popular bestseller on Amazon that’s racked up more than 7.4 million sales and thousands of five-star reviews. The formula contains three acids and papaya extract to clear dead skin cells, as well as clarifying witch hazel and tea-tree-water extract. Despite the intensity of the ingredients list, I still find it surprisingly gentle and nondrying on my skin. I like to concentrate this on my T-zone to target pores and sebum without causing irritation. It also calms and clears up my body acne in just a few days. For smooth, even skin, start your routine with a splash of this.

“Watery oil serum” sounds like three words that don’t belong together, but Yoo makes it work so well with this lightweight formulation, which she calls a “game-changer” for anyone dealing with breakouts or excess oil. It’s formulated with linoleic-acid-rich oils and calming peptides to balance your skin’s sebum production, reduce redness, and give you a clear complexion. Yoo recommends it as a great choice for taking down breakouts “without being harsh or stripping skin.” It’s a popular pick thanks to its gentle-yet-effective formula and quick results.

Yoo calls this the tinted balm that’s “taking Korea by storm.” With a super nourishing finish that melts right into your lips, it imparts a wash of color that looks as hydrating as it feels. The shade range mixes pretty neutrals with brighter hues, so there’s truly a shade for every mood. Yoo also loves that the tint is subtle, yet buildable. The formula is truly so moisturizing that you can skip your regular lip balm and swipe this right on without any fear of flakes or chapped lips.

Before I tried this barrier-boosting cream, I was under the (incorrect) assumption that intensely reparative moisturizers had to be at least a little thick. I was wrong. Both Yoo and I are obsessed with this powerhouse, which has reached almost-ubiquitous status in Korea. The fragrance-free formula is packed with several types of ceramides, some of which are encapsulated into tiny beads that immediately melt as you apply, no rubbing needed. It’s gentle enough for sensitive skin and skin conditions like eczema, and it instantly softens the rough patches of skin that tend to pop up around my nose and cheeks. Try this once, and you’ll never go back to heavier creams.

If you’re used to your SPF feeling sticky and greasy, it’s time to toss them. Korean sunscreens are elite, and this formula from Round Lab is a bestseller for a reason. While plenty of formulas claim to feel lightweight, this truly feels just like a moisturizer and dries down so beautifully, you’ll forget you’re wearing it at all. It’s infused with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid for a double punch of hydration and brightening, giving you the glowy finish of your favorite serum. It also layers well under makeup whether you’re applying powders, creams, liquids, or cushion foundations on top. And of course, there’s no chalky white cast or residue left behind.

There’s no way to venture anywhere near K-beautyTok and miss this sunscreen from Beauty of Joseon, which pops up so often that you may start seeing it in your sleep. The gentle formula is packed with probiotics and rice-ferment filtrate to soothe and boost your barrier. Reviewers rave about the hydrating (but never greasy) finish, which is especially ideal for dry and combination skin. Smooth it on, and it’ll sink in to leave a healthy, dewy finish that wears equally well alone or under your favorite makeup.

Is this the most overachieving device that will ever touch your face? Possibly. Medicube’s Age-R Booster H device went viral for its skin care enhancing abilities when Hailey Bieber used it in a GRWM. But the brand went on to drop something even more impressive with this six-in-one device. Turn it on, toggle through the modes, and you get the electroporation of the Booster H along with microcurrent, EMS, electric microneedling, LED, and sonic vibration — all packed into a single sleek wand. That means you no longer need to clutter your shelves with multiple tools and only need to throw one thing in your suitcase when you travel. I’ve tested every single mode on the Booster Pro extensively, so trust me when I say this is the only thing you need to get bouncy, even, lifted skin at home.

This little pink tub is so iconic, I could pick it out of a lineup from afar. Laneige’s intensely moisturizing lip mask is an easy favorite thanks to its ability to smooth and hydrate even the most chapped, peeling lips. It comes in multiple flavors, but the original pale pink will forever reign supreme. Made with a berry fruit complex, murumuru seed and shea butters, coconut oil, and vitamin C, it’s the most nourishing formula to ever touch my lips. While it’s made for overnight wear, I (and all of TikTok) love it as a daytime balm, too.

You know a product is wildly popular when one tub sells every three seconds in Korea. Banila Co has now sold more than 80 million jars of this cleansing balm worldwide, and after trying it once, I’ll definitely be stocking up on more. The soft, scoopable formula melts into skin to dissolve every trace of makeup, including your most budgeproof mascaras. Formulated with all skin types in mind, it leaves my face feeling soft, smooth, and perfectly prepped for my second cleanse.

This little cloud cream of a moisturizer combines two of my favorite skin care ingredients: soothing centella and firming peptides (actually, make that a complex of five peptides). Haruharu Wonder’s latest launch is getting buzz for its nourishing formula that makes all skin types glow. Along with centalla and peptides, you’ll also find pea and soy proteins in the formula, plus caffeine, squalene, and adenosine. Combined, they smooth skin, lock in moisture, and give my face the type of bounce I’d typically get from a really refreshing spa day.

I never knew I could feel so passionately about a shampoo until I tried this scalp-focused formula from Korea’s leading premium hair care brand. It’s formulated with biotin and encapsulated prebiotics that burst as you lather, designed to balance your scalp microbiome, hydrate, clear buildup, and take down redness. All of this comes with the clinicals to prove it, but what sold me was the instant result. It only took one wash to leave my scalp feeling refreshed and my hair looking bouncy and ridiculously smooth. I rarely say this about a shampoo, but the light citrusy-floral scent smells so good, I wish they’d bottle it into a perfume.

Cushion foundations are taking over, and this one has gone viral multiple times for its unbelievable coverage. One pass of the puff, and acne, dark circles, and hyperpigmentation vanish like magic. Despite this, it feels incredibly lightweight on my skin and doesn’t cake or crease throughout the day. I also love the finish: a little matte, a little glowy, and surprisingly natural. Tirtir’s signature red cushion originally launched with only three shades, which it has since expanded to nine as it’s rapidly grown in popularity. Good news for everyone else that wants to try it: The shade range is set to expand to 30 options this summer, so set your alerts now.

If you thought peptide serums had to be wildly expensive to be effective, you need to add this one to your cart. CosRx, maker of everyone’s favorite pimple patches and snail essences, is behind this blend of six peptides that work together to improve elasticity, fine lines, pores, and glow. It has an incredibly lightweight texture that feels like a cross between a serum and an essence, and it sinks in immediately. I love a pump of this both morning and night to boost the rest of my routine and get me one step closer to the bouncy skin of my dreams.

You’ll never touch another glitter eyeshadow after trying Unleashia’s palettes. The vegan, cruelty-free formula glides on as smooth as icing and delivers a hit of megawatt sparkle that still manages to look delicate. As someone who’s tested an excessive amount of glitter formulas over a decade, I’ve never tried one quite as beautiful as this. The nine-pan Glitterpedia palettes come in a ton of options, but if you’re new to the brand, start with No. 1 All of Glitter. True to its name, it contains nine pans of brilliant shine, and I love every single one. Whether you blend these with other eyeshadows, dab them on as an inner corner highlight, or paint them on like eyeliner, the result will always be mesmerizing. One swipe, and you’ll see why these remain the brand’s most popular launch.

There are plenty of vitamin C serums on the market, but none do it quite like Dr. Althea. This TikTok-loved formula has quickly become my holy grail for fading dark spots and boosting brightness with zero irritation. It’s formulated with Hippophae rhamnoides extract as the star ingredient, a fruit containing more than 3.2 times as much vitamin C as lemons. The formula also houses a blend of nine other vitamins and eight types of hyaluronic acid to leave your skin glowy and hydrated. It smells faintly citrusy and has the most comfortable texture of any vitamin C I’ve tried: watery, nonsticky, and fast-absorbing. Yes, you definitely need to add this to your routine.

If a lip gloss is good enough to be loved by Blackpink’s Jennie, you know you need to buy it in every shade immediately. Cho says that many K-beauty brands are winning “viral moments for their juicy lip coverage,” from melting balms, to water tints, to high-shine glosses. This one tops the list with its super shiny, nonsticky formula. I admit I wondered if it could really live up to the hype, but one swipe was all it took to win me over. Lightly minty and a little tingly, it glides on to leave my lips looking smoother and fuller for hours. It comes in four shades, and I’d like to tell you to buy them all, but if you can only get one, go with Speechless, the shade Jennie wore in the campaign. The rosy caramel-beige is incredibly flattering and goes with literally any makeup look you want to wear.