As someone who’s recently got interested in skincare, and all things K-beauty, I’m always baffled by the unique ingredients that pop up in Korean skincare. Centella? Propolis? Just by the sound of it, these seem like magic spells or tongue-twisters. But if they find their way into so many of my (and the skincare world’s) favourite products, there must be something worth looking into.
So I took one for the team and did a deep dive to know more about what these ingredients are, why they’re so popular, and what they actually do for our skin. You’re welcome.
From being used as a medicine for diabetes to being touted as a potent aphrodisiac, Korean ginseng is the game-changing Asian ingredient that wears many hats. In beauty, the medicinal herb’s roots are known for their anti-ageing, anti-oxidation, and skin protection properties. It is the secret to maintaining the skin’s elasticity, refreshing your skin, and moderating oil production. Sounds too good to be true? Time to try it for yourself!
Our pick: Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream, ₹17000
Wonder what’s the secret behind the glass skin of your favourite K-pop idols? This ingredient might have something to do with it. Centella Asiatica, more commonly known as Cica in the skincare community, is celebrated for its soothing properties. Strengthening your skin barrier? Yes. Healing wounds and acne scars? You got it. Firming your skin for that youthful glow? Centella is the right ingredient for the job.
Our pick: ONE THING Centella Asiatica Extract, ₹1050
While the thought of slathering your face with snail mucin doesn’t sound appealing to most, Koreans who swear by this miracle ingredient will disagree. Simply put, snail mucin is the excretion from a snail and is a moisturising multi-tasker. It intensely hydrates the skin and gives collagen production a boost. If you have a damaged skin barrier or are suffering from dry, dull, and dehydrated skin, you now know which ingredient to reach out for.
Our pick: COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, ₹1450
Though propolis is a newer entrant to the list compared to the others, its amazing qualities are not to be underestimated. What is propolis, you ask? We have bees to thank for this resin-like substance, which is a mighty combo of tree sap and beeswax that is an all-rounder—it smoothens, softens, and moisturises all at once. Since it is also packed with antioxidants, propolis also helps to fight free radicals. BRB, we are adding it to our skincare wishlist right now!
Our pick: Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum: Propolis + Niacinamide, ₹1350
Fermented rice water is the favourite buzzword among Korean skincare enthusiasts, and for good reason. Its most popular quality is brightening skin and giving it a radiant complexion, something that those with a dull and uneven skin tone will love. But that’s not all—it also soothes skin, controls pores and protects from sunburns. Fermented rice water is also just as good for your mane, it softens hair strands and promotes growth thanks to the various vitamins it has. Rad, no?
Our pick: Thank You Farmer Rice Pure Essential Toner, ₹2499
Who knew a humble weed would wield magical powers for your skin? Not us for sure. But that’s exactly what mugwort does, and its plethora of skincare benefits has taken the beauty world by storm. In Korea, the herb is used for its many healing properties and is even sipped by women who swear by it. The weed reduces redness and soothes irritated skin. In fact, mugwort is packed with antioxidants and is one of the few ingredients that suit even those with the most sensitive and acne-prone skin.
Our pick: I’m from Mugwort Mask, ₹2450