From that French girl je ne sais quoi to the intricacies of the multi-step Korean skincare routine, the international cosmetic and aesthetic industries are as vast as they are unique. But, thanks to globalization, niche trends now have universal appeal. In this series, The AEDITION explores geographical markers of beauty and how they influence today's global patient and consumer.
If you’ve ever taken a trip to Asia, we’re sure you came home with at least one new skincare find that you now covet. Asians are known for their poreless complexions, but different cultures take different approaches to getting there. Japanese women, for example, rely on nourishing, natural ingredients that stand the test of time, while Korean women create a meticulous (and often lengthy) routine made up of the latest technological advances. To complement our guide to European beauty buys, we took a virtual trip to explore face and body care offerings. Here are our favorite skincare brands and product recommendations from Asia.
SK-II was developed by Japanese scientists in the 1970s who were interested in the efficacy of naturally derived ingredients. They noticed that, after years of working with fermented yeast, elderly workers at a local sake brewery had hands that were much younger looking than their faces.
Product Pick: The most iconic product is the Facial Treatment Essence that features a 90 percent pitera — the ingredient from the sake brewing process credited with preserving youth — formula. Gently press a few drops of the liquid into your face, neck, and decolletage after cleansing to help even skin tone and texture and enhance radiance. $99, dermstore.com
South Korea: AmorePacific
The Korean skincare juggernaut has gained global appeal for its potent formulas that marry science and nature. AmorePacific founder Sung-Hwan Suh discovered Jeju Island in 1979 and began growing and harvesting the brand’s now famed green tea, which contains the antioxidant-rich catechin EGCG and moisture-boosting amino acids.
Product Pick: While the entire line is infused with green tea, we’re partial to the Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ — a skincare-makeup hybrid that protects and perfects. The portable cushion comes in five shades, offers buildable coverage, and provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. $60, sephora.com
Singapore: Purposeful Skincare by Allies
In 2016, Nicolas Travis founded Allies of Skin to deliver “supercharged,” ingredient-driven skincare that could effectively treat everything from acne to wrinkles. Four years later, he’s back with a more budget- and gen-Z-friendly collection called Purposeful Skincare by Allies (PSA) that similarly relies on high concentrations of high-quality actives.
Product Pick: The Midnight Courage Oil treats premature signs of aging and nourishes the skin thanks to a potent combination of a two percent retinoid alongside gentle botanical extracts like backuchoil (a natural retinol alternative) and rosehip, baobab, pomegranate, and sunflower oils. $38, psaskin.com
Japan: Keana Nadeshiko
All hail Amazon for making Keana Nadeshiko available worldwide. Created in 2007, the brand gained fame in Japan for its Baking Soda Scrub Wash. Since then, it has introduced many skincare, makeup, and oral care products (including a men’s line!).
Product Pick: From the packaging to the product, their Rice Mask is a quintessential Japanese skincare product. This sheet mask is made of Japanese rice and nourishing essences. The sheets are pretty saturated, so be sure to use the left-over formula on your neck, chest, and hands. $9 for 10 masks, amazon.com
South Korea: Belif
This K-beauty brand entered Sephora doors across the U.S. in 2015 and has had a cult following ever since. Inspired by apothecary techniques, Belif keeps herbs like oat seed and calendula at the forefront of its ultra-hydrating products.
Product Pick: The Moisturizing Eye Bomb is a game changer for tired peepers. The lightweight, bouncy texture revitalizes the eye area and offers 26 hours of moisture. $48, sephora.com
Founded in 1972, the Japanese beauty brand is based on the concept of wabi-sabi, which teaches that beauty is “perfectly imperfect.” DHC (short for Daigaku Honyaku Center) skincare and cosmetic products leverage the nourishing and antioxidant-packed benefits of organic olives and other botanicals.
Product Pick: When it comes to the art of the double cleanse, nothing beats the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, which melts away makeup and draws out toxins with its blend of organic olive oil, rosemary leaf oil, and vitamin E. $28, ulta.com
South Korea: Mediheal
As Korea’s best-selling sheet mask brand, Mediheal sells five sheet masks per second. It has been on the cutting-edge of sheet mask technology thanks to its innovative ingredients, delivery systems, and packaging since its inception in 2014. Mediheal made its way to the U.S. in 2019.
Product Pick: Try the N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Sheet Mask. The essence is made up of hyaluronic acid, amino acids, and sugars to hydrate, while willow bark and witch hazel gently exfoliate and tone. Leave it on for 15 minutes and pat the excess formula into your face, neck, and decollete. $10 for 5 masks, sokoglam.com
In 1872, the first Western-inspired pharmacy opened in the Ginza district of Tokyo. By 1930, it shifted its focus from pharmaceuticals to cosmetics and the rest is history. Today, Shiseido makeup and skincare is sold in some 88 countries worldwide.
Product Pick: The brand is known for its high-tech formulations, and its Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen is one such example. The invisible formula becomes more effective (yes, you read that correctly) when exposed to water and heat, making it an ideal choice for active lifestyles. $49, shiseido.com
South Korea: Laneige
Laneige, the younger sister of AmorePacific, offers “advanced water science technology” to its now global consumer. The brand is known for its affordable yet effective moisturizing products for day and night.
Product Pick: You can’t beat the Water Sleeping Mask. When your skin is dry, fine lines and wrinkles take center stage. Try using this overnight mask — formulated with hydro lionized mineral water twice per week — to rejuvenate and hydrate your skin as you sleep. Don’t worry, it absorbs quickly and won’t make a mess of your pillowcase. $25, sephora.com
A Japanese drugstore staple, this line of facial cleansers is one of the secrets to a poreless complexion. Suisai is based on the idea that thoroughly cleaning the skin today will lead to better skin tomorrow, which means you never have an excuse to not wash your face before bed again.
Product Pick: The Clear Powder is great for travel thanks to its packaging. The mini pods turn into foam when you add water and work to a lather. Formulated with amino acids and enzymes, it helps unclog pores and smooth skin texture. $21, amazon.com
All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.
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