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7 natural ingredients used in Korean skincare products

Active organic components, innovative formulae and exotic ingredients — this is why the world is turning to Korean skincare products, and we cannot ignore this beauty wave. 

Korean beauty brands and cosmetics are available for various skin types and are curated to suit their requirements. From treating irritated skin, improving blood circulation to removing dead cells and other skin concerns, using K-products in a daily skincare routine can help yield the best results. 

Natural extracts from plants and animals, like snail mucin, have dominated the Korean beauty market space for a long time. While these ingredients maximise the effects of products that result in younger and radiant skin, curious takers are willing to go to lengths for perfectly healthy skin. 

However, it is advisable to use the products on a small patch of skin to test if you are allergic to the ingredients or consult a dermatologist.

Worried about procuring authentic K-beauty ingredients to start your own Korean skincare routine?

Here are some of the natural Korean beauty ingredients you may consider


Korean skincare ingredients- proposil
Image: Courtesy User: Abalg/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

A natural and one of the most commonly used Korean skincare ingredients, Propolis is found in the walls and sealings of beehives. With a resin-like texture, the gummy substance has many benefits and efficient uses in the skincare arena.

Its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties make it a choice ingredient to treat acne-prone skin, blemishes and skin rashes. Abundant in antioxidants, propolis also helps to calm skin irritations.

According to K-beauty expert and owner of beauty brand Glow Recipe, Sarah Lee, Propolis is a multifaceted ingredient, which leaves a subtle glow on your skin. Regularly applying it can help bring the youthful look back by removing dead skin cells.

Birch Juice/Sap

Korean skincare ingredients- birch juice
Image: Courtesy R adept/ Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike4.0 International/ Wikimedia Commons

The extracted sap of birch trees has nutrients and enzymes that are good for sensitive skin and help soothe skin irritations and leave a natural dewy effect.

Founder of beauty range Soko Glam, Korean beauty expert and author of The Little Book of Jeong, Charlotte Cho considers birch extract as a vital ingredient in skincare products. She  even believes it to be an extremely efficient natural ingredient next to “coconut water because of its richness in proteins and antioxidants.”

Birch juice also has copious amounts of minerals, enzymes, proteins and vitamins. An extremely nourishing hydrating agent, applying birch juice during fall and winter on dry skin prevents it from further becoming rough.

Centella Asiatica

Korean skincare ingredients- centella Asiatica
Image: Courtesy Shahidul Hasan Roman/ Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International/ Wikimedia Commons

An age-old and commonly used herb in traditional medicine from China, the Centella Asiatica plant is actively used for its healing and soothing properties, making it ideal for sensitive skin. 

Though it has other common names like ‘tiger grass’, ‘Asiatic pennywort’ or ‘gotu kola,’ the herb popularly goes by its scientific name itself.

The key active element that makes Centella Asiatica a sought-after ingredient in the Korean skincare products is madecassoside — an antioxidant that helps in slowing signs of skin ageing, repairs skin cells and heals acne and blemishes.

Trust the amino acids present in the herb to hydrate and deeply nourish your skin. The anti-inflammatory elements also make it suitable to treat certain skin concerns like eczema and psoriasis.

Snail mucin

Korean skincare ingredient- snail mucin
Image: Courtesy József Szabó/ @nil_foto/ Unsplash

It might sound weird at first, but you will be amazed to learn about its qualities and skincare effects. Snail mucin, or snail secretion filtrate (SSF), is one of the most commonly used skincare ingredients in Korean beauty routines.

SSF is secreted when the snail moves, leaving behind a slimy, watery sludge, which is harvested and used in an array of skincare products — from sheet masks to serums and moisturisers. 

Its hydrating agents help in moisturising the skin, healing irritations and promoting new skin growth. Snail mucin also acts as a skin barrier and locks natural moisture, as well as promotes collagen production.

Abundant in zinc, antioxidants like vitamin A and E and other skin essential nutrients, including hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein, proteoglycans, microbial and copper peptides, regular application can help get ‘dolphin skin’.


Korean skincare ingredients- Yuza
Image: Courtesy Nikita/ Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic/ Wikimedia Commons

Another favourite Korean skincare ingredient, Yuza, also known as Yuja is a vitamin C-rich citrus fruit typically found in the Jeju island in South Korea.

Vitamin C is a staple in Korean daily skincare routines, as it helps in deep nourishment and protects the skin from harmful free radicals such as UV rays. Instrumental in increasing cell repair, collagen production and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, vitamin C and products enriched with this nutrient help in firming the skin and giving a healthy ‘glass skin’ look.

Beauty expert Cho is also particularly in favour of adding Yuza to beauty regimes, as it is almost three times richer in vitamin C than lemons and helps in lightening skin pigmentation and removing dark spots.


Korean skincare ingredient- bamboo
Image: Courtesy Eleonora Albasi/ @eleonoralbasi/ Unsplash

For centuries, bamboo extract and its powdered form have been used in traditional Asian medicine for treating irritated and dull skin. This skincare ingredient has great anti-ageing properties and promotes collagen production, which depletes with age.

According to Ginger King, owner of product development brand Grace Kingdom Beauty and founder of lip care brand fanlovebeauty.com, Bamboo powder acts as a good exfoliator too. The gel-like consistency of bamboo extract helps in under-eye care and is also useful in healing acne.

The bamboo extract has excellent hydrating elements that strengthen the skin, locks moisture and reduces fine lines.


Korean skincare ingredient- pearl
Image: Courtesy Marin Tulard/ @mtulard/ Unsplash

Pearls have long served as one of the essential Korean beauty products and the K-skincare market is quite obsessed with it.

King says the healing properties of pearls help in tackling acne and blemishes as well as minimising enlarged pores. “The minerals and active properties in pearls keep the skin acidic, which slows the ageing process while still keeping skin hydrated and firm.”

Pearl extract-based masks and peel-offs are becoming increasingly popular as they give a naturally radiant look.

Hero and featured image credit: Engin Akyurt/ @enginakyurt/ Unsplash

7 natural ingredients used in Korean skincare products

Trinetra is an ardent foodie and bibliophile who writes about films, travel, food and lifestyle. As a writer and literature student, slam poetry and storytelling are her go to jam. When not working, Trinetra is busy looking for her next place to visit or binge-watching Instagram videos for travel inspiration.


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