If skincare in Canada is living in 2021, Korean skincare is in 2050. The beauty world has often looked to K-beauty brands for their innovative products that put the North American AHA-loving, microbiome maniacs to shame.
Once difficult to find, K-beauty is now more accessible than ever to beauty lovers all across Canada. If you’re looking to get your fix, here are the best Korean skincare brands and the products we love from each that Canadians can now blissfully get their hands on.
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An important philosophy in Korean skincare is that in order for the skin to function at its best and maintain a youthful glow, it needs to be well hydrated. Enter Belif: the ‘undisputed authority in hydration’ that blends herbal remedies with modern skincare science (and has one of the best-selling Korean beauty products in their The True Cream). Find Belif at Sephora or The Face Shop.
Our top pick:Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb, $50 This cult-fave product claims to provide up to 26 hours of hydration so get ready for all-day moisture (without re-applying!). The refreshing gel-like formula absorbs quickly and “floods” the skin with weightless hydration that lasts and lasts.
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You shouldn't be surprised to find out that one of the most popular new skincare brands that you can find at Sephora is actually a Korean import (why else would you click this list?). The brand is known for fruit-forward lines from their bestselling watermelon skincare line to a banana souffle moisturizer (yum!) and blueberry facial cleanser.
Our top pick:Glow Recipe Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask, $59 This overnight sleeping mask is packed with hyaluronic acids and AHAs for fresh, dewy skin but TBH we love it just as much for the good-enough-to-eat scent and cute packaging.
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If dewy skin is what you’re after, Laneige may already be at the top of your list. From their Water Pocket Sheet Mask to a Bright Dew Emulsion, their products scream "hydrate me!" and are perfect for tackling even the scaliest of Canadian winter skin. Bonus: Laneige is one of the most easily accessible brands, available everywhere from Sephora to your local Asian beauty stores to Walmart.
Our top pick:Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream, $50 If you want some serious hydration without that sticky never-going-to-dry-down feeling, run — don’t walk — to get this cream. It will make your skin feel plump in the best way possible, and yet the gel formula still feels light. Korean skincare magic.
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My initial attraction to the Dr. Jart+ mask was the packaging of their Shake & Shot Rubber Masks — they are so wildly eye-catching (disturbing? Cute? We’ll let you decide). But behind the bright colours and wacky packaging is skincare based in science that’s been a longstanding staple in the beauty scene. Check out department stores like Winners for great prices on their skincare, or head to Walmart, Sephora or any Asian beauty retailer.
Our top pick:Dr. Jart+ Shake & Shot Rubber Mask, $16 These “rubber masks” (a technique found in high-end Korean spas) are just so much fun and cover a variety of skin concerns. Get them for a spa night with your friends and throw on the Academy Award-winning Parasite (or for a lower brow evening, Hello My Twenties, the best K drama on Netflix, don’t @ me).
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Sheet masks, which originated in South Korea (gasp! Another innovation!) have taken the beauty industry by storm in recent years. We love A’pieu for their cute masks that cover a variety of skin concerns (but we won’t judge you if you pick them based on your favourite colour). These sheet masks can be found at Walmart, drug stores or Asian markets like Miniso and Sukoshi Mart.
Our top pick:A’Pieu Cleansing Mask in Banana Milk, $22 These moisturizing masks are great for a quick soothing and hydrating treatment for stressed out skin. Pop them in the fridge before applying for an extra refreshing beauty fix.
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A hot newcomer on the beauty scene, Saturday Skin is like your cute girly friend urging you to “Just treat yourself!” The focus here is on ageless skin that glows, and their brightening products are great for doing just that. Bonus: their products are vegan, cruelty-free and have the Clean at Sephora stamp of approval (tldr: products that don't have any of the 50 most unwanted ingredients in beauty).
Our top pick:Saturday Skin Pore Clarifying Toner 10 Glycolic Acid Pore Control Complex, $40 Whew! This product may be a mouthful to pronounce, but that’s just because it’s chock-full of products to naturally exfoliate and leave you looking like a poreless dream.
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Tonymoly is well known for their K-beauty products, but they also have some great Korean skincare products that you’ll want to get your hands on. From the most adorable hand creams, to a plethora of face masks, this Korean brand really lives up to their name (which translates to “putting style into packaging”). For those in the GTA, Tonymoly has a store in Toronto’s north end, but their products are also available at Walmart and Winners.
Our top pick:Tonymoly Strawberry Seeds 3-Step Nose Pack, $7 I’m screaming. You’re screaming. We’re all screaming. Not from the pain of removing these blackhead strips (which is a slight cringe at best on the scale of painful things we do for beauty), but because Tonymoly products are the cutest thing since Baby Yoda. And also they’ll clear up the pores of your nose.
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This popular Korean skincare brand has recently made its way to Canada, opening three brick and mortar stores across Ontario. Innisfree uses natural ingredients originating from the Jeju Islands in Korea, from organic tree in their best-selling serums to Jeju volcanic clusters used in their pore-shrinking clay masks.
Our top pick:Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Serum with Green Tea Seed, $35 Formulated with a green tea and green tea seed oil, this best-selling serum is lightweight enough for oily or acne-prone skin (even the oiliest of skin needs hydration, people!). Pop this serum on before your moisturizer for fast-absorbing, lasting hydration.
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How do we know that Korean beauty has officially infiltrated the North American market? It’s available at Walmart. Yes, it’s true. If you’re looking to combat breakout-prone skin, COSRX is a go-to brand and now you don’t have to look farther than your local strip mall to find it.
Our top pick:COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch, $17 Pop these bad boys on any pesky breakouts and get ready for your life to change. This super-speedy beauty routine mimics the look of skin to blur your breakouts while actively treating them and reduce further spreading. Sign us up.