Not all moisturizers are created equal—and despite the leaps and bounds made in beauty within the last five years, Korean skincare still seems to take the lead in mastering innovation. Even with new (or simply more effective) technology in tow, the philosophy remains steadfast: skincare isn’t so much about “more is more is more” (a common misconception with the commodification of the 10-step K-beauty routine), but instead, centers around hard-working formulations that prioritize achieving—and maintaining—skin’s natural balance. Acids and actives will always have a place in your routine, but more often than not, a return to nourishing hydration is exactly what your skin craves in a moisturizer.
What sets most Korean moisturizers apart from the rest is their ability to provide a happy medium between hydration (water content) and moisturization (through emollients, for example) while strengthening your skin’s protective barrier. The Korean approach to all skincare is multi-faceted, meaning each product contains a combination of restorative replenishment via unique Western ingredients (ever heard of snail mucin?). This is a game-changer for skin: tone, texture, and overall dewiness are revived, and that’s even before you go through the rest of your routine. The only legwork left to do is finding the formulation that best suits your skin type.
The options are endless, but these are some of the top K-beauty face creams and moisturizers on our editors’ forever-repurchase list.