Top Trends from K-Beauty to Try in 2021

January 20, 2021

If you’re interested in skincare you have no doubt come across k-beauty before. In Korea, taking care of your skin isn’t just something to do on a Sunday night when you’re feeling boujee, it’s just part of a daily routine. Now, if a 10-step skincare routine doesn’t sound like your thing, there is still a lot that you can learn from k-beauty.

Korea is often at the forefront of skincare trends in terms of products and ingredients, and it can take months or sometimes even years for western countries to catch up. If this year you are looking to take better care of your skin, or simply try something new, here are the top K-beauty trends to try, as compiled with the help of Skinsider, your one-stop shop for all the K-beauty must-haves.

Vegan-friendly skincare

With the rise of veganism and the increased awareness of animal-derived ingredients, more people are turning to cruelty-free and vegan-friendly products for their skincare routine. Note that a cruelty-free product does not mean it is vegan and vice versa: vegan usually refers to the ingredients while cruelty-free will state that the product and its ingredients are not tested on animals.

Choosing vegan-friendly products doesn’t mean you have a limited choice! Nowadays many brands will offer vegan products and sometimes entire lines. Top k-beauty brands include Klairs, Benton, Cosrx and By Wishtrend.


Talking about sunscreen in the middle winter can seem odd, but in Korea sunscreen is a must. Not only is it essential to help prevent conditions like skin cancer, applying sunscreen is the best way you can prevent signs of ageing. If you are a skincare junkie, you will know that sunscreen should be worn as soon as you go outside no matter the weather.

Korean sunscreens are very different from what western countries are used to. Made specifically for the face, they offer lighter textures, don’t feel greasy and don’t leave a white cast on your skin, making it easier to apply it religiously.

Hanbang skincare

Hanbang ingredients refer to herbs used in traditional holistic Korean medicine, which are incorporated into skincare lines to help us take care of our complexions and benefit from the powerful effects of those natural remedies.

Popular ingredients include ginseng, ginger root, lotus, mugwort and Centella Asiatica. The botanical extracts used in Korean skincare can help with a variety of concerns, including sensitivity, dryness and signs of ageing.

Acid exfoliating

Exfoliating with acids (also called acid toners) is becoming increasingly popular as skincare addicts are moving away from harsh scrubs (we see you, St Yves) and looking for other ways to keep skin smooth and glowy.

K-beauty focuses on non-abrasive skin rituals and acids are no exception. Despite what the name may suggest, Korean acids rely on gentle exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and impurities, improving skin texture with regular use. Most brands will either use one acid or a combination of AHAs, BHAs or PHAs alongside more hydrating ingredients to prevent skin sensitivity and dryness.

Skin Barrier

This last trend is somewhat related to what we have just mentioned – if you have ever overdone it with exfoliation, you will know all about sensitivity & inflammation of the skin. Acids are one of the many factors that can lead to a disrupted skin barrier, leading to the skin being more sensitive, red and inflamed.

Korean skincare offers a multitude of products that are targeted towards keeping the skin hydrated, smooth and protected, strengthening this barrier to prevent irritation and making sure the skin is as healthy as it can be. Something all skin types can benefit from.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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