It’s official: Korean beauty has swept the world, and in the States, three K-beauty e-tailers reign supreme. Here, we ask the fabulous Korean American women behind the beauty stores —Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam (top left), Alicia Yoon of Peach & Lily (top right), and Christine Chang and Sarah Lee of Glow Recipe (bottom right) — to pick their best beauty products and to tell us why in their own words. (And wouldn’t you know it — all of them picked a mask in their selections!)
The queens: Christine Chang and Sarah Lee, glowrecipe.com
Their credentials: 20+ years of combined beauty experience at L’Oreal in both Korea and the U.S.
Crowning achievement: A Shark Tank deal with tech entrepreneur Robert Herjavec for almost half a million.
Their royal jewels:
Blithe Citrus & Honey Patting Splash Mask, $48
Splash masks are a concentrated liquid treatment with a blend of skin re-texturizing lactic acid and soothing, hydrating botanicals. It’s inspired by a longtime bathhouse tradition of women using botanical steeped waters to splash on the face to help tone and brighten skin. These masks only need 15 seconds to provide the same benefits as a 20-minute sheet mask. Pour a capful of this liquid treatment into palms in the shower, and splash and pat onto the face for an instant boost in radiance.
Earth’s Recipe Moisture Bound Cream, $50
Moisture-binding products that help to youthfully plump and thus, “anti-deflate” the face is the latest obsession of Korean women. Volumizing the face was a trend a couple of years ago, but what women want now is not volume per se but youthful, plump, hydration-filled skin, called “taeng taeng” or “zzon zzon” in Korean. This cream plumps the skin with Tremella mushroom, which can hold up to 500 times its water weight; it’s one of the few ingredients in nature that have this capacity.
Primary Raw DoYou Soy Milk Ferment Cleanse Toner, $35
Multi-taskers are a huge trend for the demanding Korean customer, and this cleanse toner can be used as a hydrating balancer after cleansing, and also as a morning cleanser as it effectively wipes off residue. Powered by skin nourishing fermented soy extract, witch hazel and black bean extract to prep skin without dryness or irritation, this water-free cleanse toner comes in a bottle designed to be upcycled after use as a vase, as with most of Primary Raw’s packaging.
The queen: Charlotte Cho, sokoglam.com
Her credentials: A licensed esthetician, Cho founded Soko Glam with her Columbia Business School grad husband Dave in 2012.
Crowning achievement: Her new book from William Morrow, The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin.
Her royal jewels:
Neogen Real Flower Cleansing Water—Calendula, $22
Multi-tasking products are growing in popularity in Korea, like this micellar water that works as a post-cleansing toner or even as a stand-alone cleanser when you don’t have time for a double cleanse. Real calendula petals are suspended in the water, and its calming, balancing formula is perfect for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.
Banila Co It Radiant Lace Hydrogel Eye Patch, $5
Sheet masks are the heart of the Korean skin care routine. I love how this lacy white eye mask intensely brightens the delicate eye area with green tea extract and reduces fine lines with collagen extract.
Son & Park Plumping & Shaping Pencil Duo, $19
In Korea, it’s all about highlighting the under-eye area to make the eyes appear more plump and youthful. This double-ended stick makeup has a contouring pencil on one side to create depth and a highlighter on the other to make eyes bright.
The queen: Alicia Yoon, peachandlily.com
Her credentials: Skin care expertise from beauty school in Korea (which also helped Yoon manage her eczema), while an MBA at Harvard gives her serious business chops.
Crowning achievement: The first Peach & Lily brick-and-mortar store launched at Macy’s in New York this past November.
Her royal jewels:
Cremorlab Snow Falls Whipping Cleanser, $24
Too many cleansers leave the skin feeling tight and dehydrated; though your skin may be “clean,” the stripping that’s done is quite damaging to the skin’s moisture barrier. This cleanser, which comes in a unique can format, doesn’t sacrifice your skin to produce a clean, refreshed result, and the texture is unlike any other — the creamy, marshmallow-like foam clings to impurities while keeping your skin nourished and soft.
Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream, $22
This eye cream truly does it all. Packed with 80% snail mucin, it’s hydrating yet fast absorbing with a very lightweight texture. It helps firm the delicate under-eye area and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Snail mucin can also help combat hyperpigmentation to help with under-eye circles and uneven skin tone.
Shangpree Charcoal Hydrogel Mask, $17
Sheet masks come in a variety of materials that include the classic cotton fabric, a form-fitting biocellulose, and the innovative cooling and hydrating hydrogel, which this mask is made of. Charcoal is known to be purifying, but it’s less widely known that charcoal has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties as well. This allows the mask to deeply cleanse and soothe, resulting in minimized pores, hydrated skin and a healthy glow.
Impact photos courtesy of the companies.