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Just 16 Korean And Japanese Beauty Products I Swear By After Years Of Testing

Keep reading if you want ridiculously soft, hydrated, and healthy-looking skin.

We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

1. Etude House makes some of my favorite lipsticks in the K-beauty world, and Etude House Dear Darling Get Lip Tints rank the highest for ease of wear and that coveted blotted lip lewk. And when I say ease of wear, I mean all day gorgeousness that even fades beautifully, henny.

Sarah Han, Soko Glam

These gel lip tints feel barely there on the lips, last all day, are legit transfer-proof once they dry down (aka I can chow down on my food with reckless abandon!!) — and even if they fade a bit, given the nature of the watery formula, it still looks amazing and actually pretty intentional.

My favorite way to apply them is to brush off some of the excess (i.e. my favorite shade, RD302 — which is what I'm wearing in the photo — is v pigmented), fill in my lips **almost** all the way to the outer edges, and then blot away the lines with my finger — note: the color will stain your fingers a bit, so if you'd rather not deal with that, I suggest using a tissue. It's kinda like a popsicle-stain look and looks slightly more natural (although it would look far more natural with lighter, pinky shades) while still packing a pretty punch of color. Loooove.

Get them from Soko Glam for $3.50 (originally $5; available in eight shades) or Amazon for $5.83+ (available in 12 shades).

Matte-wise, I love the Matte Chic Lip Lacquers — and not only because they collaborated with my favorite K-pop girl group Red Velvet on them, but a big reason why. (the linked song isn't my favorite, but they're wearing the lipsticks in it).

2. Bioré Aqua Rich Watery Essence is my ride-or-die sunscreen and I've written about it a few times already, recommended it to countless friends, and it's one of the few products I use up on the reg (as documented in the "Empties!" highlight on my IG for proof).

Sarah Han

The biggest selling point of this essence-like sunscreen is that it doesn't have the texture of a traditional sunscreen (aka, greasiness, tackiness, etc.), and it really does feel more like essence than sunscreen and if you know me, I looooove my essences. Mere seconds after rubbing this into my skin, my skin doesn't look or feel any different than its pre-sunscreen state — and it's prepped for makeup! I've also become a believer in chemical sunscreens (which convert UV rays into heat, which is then released from the skin) as a whole because of their thinner textures and lack of white cast. They might not be the best bet for super sensitive skin or skin with a damaged moisture barrier, so do a patch test to make sure it's alright for you! My skin is prone to some sensitivity, but I haven't had any problems. I never leave home without this.

Get it from Amazon for $16.91+. (I've read that new/slightly different formulations are very common, but I've cycled through all of the 2017–2019 versions and haven't noticed a difference.)

3. Glow Recipe Watermelon Moisturizer is a treat for your skin in many senses: your face will soften and plump up, and your nose will love the sweet watermelon scent — my combination skin immediately drinks it up as the last step of my morning skincare routine types, and it's undetectable underneath makeup.

Sarah Han

(For dry skin types, it works as a lovely serum that you'd follow up with a heavier moisturizer.)

What makes something truly game-changing for me is how often I use it — aka, if I consciously (and subconsciously) reach for it after I wash my face. Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Juice Moisturizer is one of those products, and its gel-like formula is the definition of lightweight, quick-absorbing, and cooling. It's the PERFECT daytime moisturizer for those reasons — it's undetectable post-application and foundation or BB cream applies so smoothly on top of it.

Most importantly, it makes my face feel hella soft, visibly hydrated (it doesn’t just disappear), and just the slightest bit bouncier. I can't trust any moisturizer without hyaluronic acid as one of its main ingredients. And watermelon has major soothing properties, which is clutch whenever my face decides to flare up with redness after a particularly thorough cleansing sesh. Never stop making this, Glow Recipe!

Get it from Sephora or Glow Recipe for $21+ (available in mini and standard sizes).

4. Clio Kill Black Waterproof Pen Liner makes it super easy to draw and flick out a ~killer~ and super pigmented cat eye that stays put all day — important since I unconsciously rub my eyes/temples when I get stressed, lol.

@clio_official / Via instagram.com

One of my favorite liquid eyeliners ever. The tip is precise, not too thick or thin, and also not so harsh that it feels like I'm dragging a sharp edge across my eyelid (trust me, I've felt this before). It's super pigmented and doesn't end up in splotches by the end of the day, so it checks off all of the boxes. Plus, it's called 'Kill Black,' which makes me feel badass as hell.

Get it from Amazon for $15 (available in black and brown).

5. Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream is one of my faves for outstanding coverage with a slightly more matte finish — I swear it does a better job at covering everything than some of the foundations I've used.

Sarah Han

When I saw that there were 1000+ Amazon reviews for this ~bb~, I knew it had to be good — and I was right! First of all, I love the bottom pump format because it keeps things easy and clean. My shade looks a little gray out of the tube, but it oxidizes to a perfect color match after a few minutes. You can definitely ~feel~ this formula — meaning, it's slightly on the thicker side, so it takes a little more time and effort than, say, a tinted moisturizer to completely blend out, but it's totally worth it for the end results — and it also means one pump is enough for my whole face! I pretty much look airbrushed after just one layer!

Get it from Amazon for $7.80 (I wear No. 23 Natural Beige, but it's available in six shades for varying prices).

I also reviewed other BB creams, but Missha wins in terms of affordability.

6. Tatcha The Essence is called a ~skin softener~ and that it truly is!! It's made up of 98.7 percent hadasei-3 — a concentrate of green tea, rice, and algae — which basically doubles the moisture levels in your skin, so you end up looking like your best self, aka a plump cherub.

@tatcha / Via instagram.com

Ok, I know the price tag is super steep on this one, but if I could only own one skincare item, it'd be this. Because it's so lightweight, I can layer up as needed and I sometimes forgo moisturizer as a result, especially when I'm running late in the mornings. Nothing feels as luxurious as patting this into my skin, and my skin drinks it up — I really believe it's helped clear up my skin and keeps it feeling extra soft. I wear it all year, no matter what the weather (and you **bet** it helps my skin heal during the colder months).

Get it from Sephora for $95.

7. Peach & Lily Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser leaves my face feeling clean, crazy soft, and smooth, even after I work an oil-based cleanser through a full face of makeup — that's what I call A True Feat, ladies and gents.

Sarah Han / BuzzFeed, @peachandlily / Via instagram.com

I'm not perfect at it but I try my darndest to double cleanse every night, so I'm always searching for a gentle water-based cleanser that doesn't leave my skin feeling tight *after* a thorough oil cleanser.

I love the entire Peach & Lily line (literally every single product, including the Glass Skin Serum and Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream), but I think I love the Power Calm Cleanser **the most**. By the end of the day my skin is usually feeling pretty rough, but this cleanser leaves my skin feeling buttery soft and unclogged — which, I repeat, is incredible *after* I've already gone in, like a solid minute of massaging, with a heavy-duty oil cleanser.

It comes out like a clear gel but foams up a little as you rub in into your face — foaming isn't absolutely required, but I just love how it emulsifies and feels on my face. #satisfying And it really does "power calm" my face, since they are lots of soothing ingredients like camellia, chamomile, and centella asiatica extracts — apparently, there were over 1,000 iterations of this cleanser before they landed on the final version, so you know this is GOOD for your skin and well-researched. I tend to hop around from cleanser to cleanser, but this one's absolutely a keeper and I'll be using it to the very last drop. And then buying another.

Get it from Ulta or Peach & Lily for $28.

8. Make P:rem Blue Ray Sun Gel is another fave — like the Bioré, it's a chemical sunscreen, which I prefer to physical ones because they disappear into my skin and don't leave any signs of residue or white cast. Plus, this one actually counteracts any overheating you experience from hot infrared waves and radiation! Science!!

@makeprem / Via instagram.com

We haven't reached hot weather in NYC quite yet, but I do feel a slight cooling effect when I wear Make P:rem Blue Ray Sun Gel (which is very, very often). I learned from Gothamista that for every one degree increase in your skin, it produces 10% more sebum — umm, no thanks!! I already have combo skin and I'm not trying to make my T-zone even more of a problem.

This sunscreen also leaves a slightly dewy finish, which is my kind of jam. Because it's also hydrating and contains some of my favorite soothing ingredients like niacinamide, centella asiastica, and chia seed, it's a sunscreen that blends in with and feels 100% just as important as my other skincare steps. I lovelove the milky-ish formula, and one pump is all I need for my whole face.

Get it from Amazon or Glow Recipe for $32.

9. Laneige Berry Lip Sleeping Mask helps my perpetually chapped lips feel loads softer and hydrated come morning by locking in moisture overnight (via Vitamin C and antioxidants) while I snooze — and it smells divine, so yes I will readily slather my pout in this.

@laneige_us / Via instagram.com, Sarah Han

Since I love liquid lipsticks and they're typically very drying (even creamy lipsticks are drying when you wear them every day), I use this Laneige lip mask as a compromise of sorts. The strawberry-banana smoothie smell alone was enough to sell me. 🍓🍌 I look forward to getting a good whiff of this stuff right before I go to sleep. It comes with the tiniest, most adorable pink spatula to fetch the product with, since it's quite thick.

The container might appear small, but you only need a TINY bit (trust me, it spreads well and fast). As soon as it touches my lips, I feel like I'm doing something really good because it's *that rich* in moisture. I only use it two to three times a week (though come winter, maybe every night), but every time I do, I wake up with pillow-soft lips devoid of all cracks, and that's all I can ask for. I love any overnight products that do heavy lifting, and my lipstick also applies more smoothly than usual the next morning. 🙌

Get it from Sephora for $20 (available in two scents).

I'm also a fan of their newly-released Glowy Lip Balms, which are basically daytime versions of the sleeping mask.

10. Missha Super Aqua Ultra Waterfull Clear Cream looks like an oceanic work of art and infuses an intense but feels-like-nothing dose of cooling hydration that melts into my skin as soon as it's applied.

Sarah Han

Over the years I've started to appreciate moisturizers muuuch more (Can you believe I used to think they were boring??), and that appreciation started with Missha's Ultra Waterfull Clear Cream. I'm OBSESSED with the texture. You see that wave-like suspension through the bottle? Shake it all you want and it doesn't move, but when you go in to grab some, it instantly slips and slides on your fingers. So fun!

The best part, though? It takes what feels like seconds to absorb. It just melts right in, gives my skin a serious ~plump bump~, and it's so satisfying to apply. And because you can barely feel it once it's on, it's one of the few moisturizers I actually *enjoy* wearing under my makeup. Is it really there? Yes, but it doesn't feel like it. My skin is a flip-floppy combination mess and this "cream" (that's more like a gel) deeply hydrates without clogging my pores or generally upsetting it.

It's also slightly cooling, which makes my skin feel extra soothed and pampered, and you only need a small amount of it to cover the entire landscape of your face. It has baobab tree extracts and glacial water to enhance moisture retention and white birch and Camellia flower extract for extra conditioning. So. Good.

Get it from Amazon for $23.

11. Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser is my go-to when my face is feelin' ~congested~ and I can feel a breakout or two about to pop up, since betaine salicylate and tea tree leaf oil are super helpful in combating those.

Sarah Han

I've used this low pH cleanser on and off for almost two years now (not the same bottle, of course!) and it still holds up. Even though it's a gel, it does foam up! Which I love! I like to rub it in my hands before applying it on my face. It's super light and easier to work in and go to town with a lil' massage than, say, a creamy cleanser. Yes, it smells kinda medicinal, but I stopped caring after the first few washes — and trust me, I've given up on a few products in the past because of super strong smells.

One bottle lasts you forever since you just need a lil' pinch of product. And at just over $10, that's a steal. The betaine salicylate and tea tree leaf oil help keep my pores clear in check and prevent breakouts from popping up. Plus, I swear my other skincare products and foundation apply more smoothly.

Get it from Amazon for $9.50. And I haven't tried it yet (stay tuned tho!), but the newer Low pH First Cleansing Milk Gel seems promising too — love ~milky~ textures.

12. Blithe Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum acts as a serum and moisturizer hybrid, smoothing and soothing skin with a heavy dose of chaga mushrooms and fermented oils — plus, it stays cool for over 36 hours to preserve ingredient efficacy.

@glowrecipe / Via instagram.com

I first discovered this Blithe pressed serum a year ago and I'm still OBSESSED with the texture. I don't know how, and I'm not sure why, but this serum has legit been a game-changer for my skin — and I don't say that lightly. Ever since I incorporated this into my routine, my blemishes are basically invisible and I feel comfortable going out without foundation on! And I'm a *diehard* foundation user. I love the balm-to-liquid consistency as I work it into my skin, and I like that it can do double-duty on days I don't feel like I need an extra moisturizer.

Get it from Jet for $36.76 (originally $48.99) or Sephora for $49.

13. British M Organics Annatto Hair Oil seriously helps tame my *always* frizzy, bleach- and color-damaged strands after each wash — no matter what hair mask I use in the shower, I always follow up with this on my ends or cover my entire bottom half with a light layer.

Sarah Han

My hair's been bleached for almost three years at this point and this is one of the products I still have around. Yes, I know the price tag is pretty hefty, but as in any review for a slightly pricer but amazing product, a little goes a long way. You saw that coming, didn't you? Seriously, I just need two pumps of British M's Organic Annatto Hair Oil for my usually long hair — or I use just one pump if I'm only applying to my ends — and voilà, my hair is smoothed out and looking much less frayed. It absorbs quickly, doesn't feel heavy, and doesn't make my hair look limp and greasy after the fact. (And this is coming from someone who has a slight phobia of oil-based products that *stay* in my hair or skin.)

So the proof that this hair oil ~werks~ lies in the day after. I've always hated the way my hair looks and feels the day it's washed — it's kinda poofy and unruly. I've tried a few leave-in conditioners and mists, but they haven't done much. But after using this oil, my hair is SO DANG SOFT. I can't stop touching my hair because it's feathery light, smooth as silk, and — *drumroll please* — there are no knots! The formula's organic pumpkin seed and argan oil also help give my hair an extra boost of shine, plus added protection from the sun (a main culprit behind faded, dull color). Say it with me, it's possible to have healthy-looking bleached hair!

Get it from Costco for $42.99 or Soko Glam for $67.

If you're looking for a cheaper option (totally gotchu), I use Mise En Scene and it's great as well.

14. Then I Met You Cleansing Balm is the best way to unwind and massage the day's makeup and grime (hello, city life!) away — it's effective at getting *everything* off but feels super gentle and leaves my skin feeling nourished after it's washed off.

@thenimetyou / Via instagram.com

Soko Glam was my first introduction into K-beauty when I moved to NYC some 3.5 years ago, so it's no surprise that Then I Met You, which is Soko Glam co-founder Charlotte Cho's newest foray, would make my favorite cleansing balm to date. I find myself taking more time to thoroughly massage/work it in because it just feels so delightful. But! It also gets **everything** off, so it's not just for treating my senses. It really works.

The oils are super gentle and don't leave my skin feeling stripped or even the least bit tight. Scent isn't super important to me (most balms I've tried don't really have one) but since my skin *isn't* hyper-sensitive, let me tell you — this smells so good, but not in an overwhelming way at all. It's also totally natural, and I think it's due to the persimmon extract, rosemary, and grapefruit in it. It's also free of parabens and artificial coloring (the color comes from the seaberry/sea buckthorn oils). What's not to love?

Get it from Soko Glam for $38.

15. Heroine Make Speedy Mascara Remover is a lil' tube of clear liquid that easily and quickly takes off your toughest mascara in 30 seconds with no mess or bullshit.

Sarah Han

Even with some of the best cleansers in the biz, I still sometimes emerge from furiously splashing my face with water and peer into the mirror to see that, YEP, some of that super tough, waterproof mascara is STILL THERE T___T. Yes, I know it creates an extra step that you normally wouldn't even think of, but this lil' mascara remover makes all the difference. It works just like a normal mascara wand, so you just go to town and coat your lashes with the clear formula, and then it somehow breaks down your most stubborn, clumpiest, waterproof formulas. I wait about 30 seconds to a minute before very gently swiping the remover off with a cotton pad, and then follow up with my usual double cleanse. DONE.

Get it from Amazon for $10.99 (note: my photos are old and the product has since been repackaged!).

16. I love eye gels far more than creams, since they absorb more quickly, but this Innisfree Green Tea Seed Intensive Hydrating Eye Roll-On takes the cake because it comes with a cooling roller applicator for an extra soothing and de-puffing effect!

Sarah Han

Is there anything more satisfying than rolling your face? I think not. I love my dedicated facial rollers but I love multitaskers even more, and this Innisfree green tea eye roller comes with soothing green tea serum sooo...safe to say it's a winner in my book. My eyes frequently look puffy from lack of sleep and this roller diminishes the appearance of that "Hello, I'm a walking zombie" look, coupled with its star ingredient, hydrating green tea seed oil (which also has 16 amino acids, wowww). It's the wake-up call I need and I also keep it handy for mid-day rolling breaks, tbh.

Get it from Sephora for $20.

IU demonstrating how I feel about my super soft and bouncy skin after discovering these products:

BaramiBunda Inc / SBS

Need more for your skin? Check out Korean skincare products you need to know, drugstore products that actually fight acne, products to help deal with dry skin, or check out all of our beauty content for even more great stuff for your hair, skin, and more.

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