Korean beauty products have become a huge staple category in the American beauty industry. From Barney’s to Target, stores are stocking up on various Korean skincare lines that are flying off the shelves. After a year in Seoul, numerous skincare hauls, and even irritated skin, I have become a loyal consumer of all things Innisfree. Their products are made with all natural ingredients from Jeju Island, an island off the South Korean peninsula, that contain numerous benefits to your skin. They are best known for their volcanic and green tea products. Innisfree is also very eco-friendly as they create easily recyclable containers (which makes me feel better since I should probably do more to help the Earth… don’t judge me.) Lastly, their price points are reasonable and can even rival drugstore brands.
However, if you aren’t able to hop over to South Korea just to try out some new face masks and cleansers, I’ve compiled a list of my top must-haves as well as some products I think are unnecessary.
About my skin: I have combination-oily skin which means I have an oily T-zone but my lower cheeks and jawline occasionally get dry patches. I also have incredibly sensitive skin and in the past was only able to use brands like Simple and Cetaphil. No tea no shade, but literally had my skin melted off by Neutrogena and Clean and Clear. I’m allergic to salicylic acid but don’t find myself needing intense products since I have been blessed with fairly clear skin. I only experience a few zits or uneven skin texture on occasion.
*BTW: All the links are to the International Online Store that ships to the US. The names are slightly different if you buy these products in Korea. If a product is not available on the US site, I have linked the Asia International Site for reference and calculated their price from Malaysian Ringgit.
My Personal Favorite:
I have tried four cleansers from Innisfree and this one is my favorite. It is incredibly moisturizing and has a nice scent that isn’t overpowering. While I do have oily skin, this cleanser doesn’t maximize my oils. It simply makes my skin feel smooth and nourished. Even if I’ve been lazy and slept with my makeup on (we’re all guilty of it), just one use of this product and my skin’s texture goes back to normal.
For Acne/Trouble Skin:
If your skin is more problematic, I recommend this this Bija Seed Cleansing Foam. It heartily cleanses your skin and makes it feel fresh without being drying. Innisfree’s Bija line is targeted towards “trouble skin.” I usually use this if I feel myself breaking out and need a stronger wash.
My sister used to have extremely bad acne consisting of red bumps and pimples for a year. She said the Innisfree sea salt line worked the best for her when treating her acne. The salt component was notably beneficial to her skin and she felt that the other Innisfree cleansers were too mild to fight her flare ups.
The exfoliating scrub I use is the Jeju Volcanic Pore Scrub. It successfully removes dead skin and makes your skin feel remarkably soft. I don’t exfoliate every day since I feel the volcanic clusters can be harsh on my skin if used too frequently. I try to use it about once or twice a week at most. I also like that the formula consists of volcanic clusters that dissolves in water instead of those environmentally harmful microbeads.
This Green Persimmon Pore Refining Toner smells so amazing and does a fine job with cleansing. Its main purpose is to tighten your pores while the Jeju Volcanic Pore Toner is supposed to pull impurities out of your pores. I don’t feel that either are necessarily strong enough or show substantial improvement. However, if I had to choose one, the Green Persimmon is more effective. I also literally want to chug it because it smells so great.
With my oily skin, I don’t like to use heavy face lotions during the day as they build up my natural oils and can make me look greasy and make my makeup look sloppy. This balancing lotion is almost like a liquid rather than a creamy lotion but I love its lightweight feel. It also moisturizes just as well as other US products I’ve tried but doesn’t clog my pores.
I’ve tried, but finding any lotion with ample SPF that isn’t oily is impossible. It just doesn’t exist. I use this Innisfree one that is made for oily skin, BUT it still creates a sheen to my skin. I’m honestly okay with it. SPF is incredibly important (Koreans probably wear it to sleep) that I don’t mind touching up my face with an oil blottingpowder. Also, the sunscreen scent isn’t too strong even though it is SPF 50+ and long lasting.
Innisfree has numerous face creams but I use the Green Tea Seed Cream at night. I like that it isn’t overly thick and stiff, which I have found some face creams to be. It always makes my skin feel well-nourished and refreshed in the morning. It applies nicely and has a wonderful, fresh smell.
Whenever I feel like my skin needs a pick-me-up, I’ll do an Innisfree face mask before bed. There numerous kinds, each of has a different effect on your skin. To be honest, I don’t notice my skin being “brighter” after the Strawberry one or think that my skin is more “supple” after the Pomegranate one. However, I think that it’s fun to have a variety to pick from when you want to cater to a certain skincare need. I prefer the thicker formulas like the Blackberry and Acai Berry masks. For a lighter day, I’ll do a Rose mask while the Bija and Tea Tree masks are more suitable for when you have break-outs.
This is a total market favorite. What I like about this product is that a little goes a long way. The clay spreads out smoothly and doesn’t have that gross, muddy scent. If you’re going to be using this only on occasion, it’s not necessary to buy a huge container. This mask dries pretty fast and you can see your pores appear across your face as it goes to work. For me, the mask can be fairly drying, but I think that’s kind of the point; to pull impurities out of your skin, oils included. It leaves your face feeling soft and a sheet mask afterwards feels great.
In Seoul, I was addicted to this lip balm. To some, it might feel a bit greasy but I like the texture and how it glides on. It also doesn’t have any color or scent. It’s just a clean and simple lip treatment stick. There are two downsides, however. One, there isn’t much product in the tube and if you’re like me, you’ll run out fast. Two, if it’s in your purse or pocket on a hot day, it’ll melt quite a bit as it is a softer formula.
Summers in Seoul are brutal. Imagine turning on an oven, letting it heat up, opening it, and just standing there. The humidity is borderline unbearable. My co-worker and I bought this mist on a whim and decided to share it at our work desks. We literally had to buy another one a week later. The thick metal can keeps the spray cool and the nozzle expels the product lightly and evenly. It seriously is a little piece of heaven in the hell that is August in Seoul.
My sister ordered various products from the Orchid Collection for my mother. The line states that it “addresses early signs of aging to help strengthen, firm, smooth, nourish and brighten the look of skin.” I’ve use a few items and really loved them. If you’re looking for skincare that targets anti-aging or wrinkles, you should strongly consider trying the Orchid Collection. The lotions aren’t stiff or overly perfumed like other “youth-enriched” products. I also have had friends my age use the lotions and I’ve only heard positive things.
I might get some death threats from ahjummas (older Korean women) for saying this, but I just don’t get the hype. This is an absolute Korean beauty cult favorite and is Innisfree’s all-time best seller. I don’t do a full 10 step skincare process (believe me, I’ve tried). I honestly think that some of the steps are unnecessary and excessive, especially since I don’t have trouble-skin. While I tried both essence and serum, neither of them seemed to make any substantial difference in the quality of my skin so I stopped using them. For me, using the Green Tea Moisture Cream and an occasional face mask was enough.
*I have heard that this product works wonders on extremely dry skin. If that’s a problem area for you, I would give this product a try.
There is nothing wrong with these products and they probably work great for some individuals. In my experience, the Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam does a nice job washing your face, but I really don’t think it does enough as a “pore cleanser.” Again, the Green Tea Cleansing Foam feels and smells nice, but it’s supposed to “hydrate” your skin. If your skin truly needs hydration and moisture, the Olive Oil Cleanser is a better choice. I feel that both cleansers are too mild to execute their intended purposes.
This toner is supposed to pull out impurities from your skin. However, I never saw a significant improvement in my pores and felt that my skin felt better and cleaner after using different, possibly stronger, toners.
Cleansing oils are fairly popular in South Korea but I personally think that it is an extra, unnecessary step for someone without problem skin. This would be great for someone who uses a mild makeup remover as it would give you an extra cleanse. I also don’t like how it leaves my face and hands with an oily coating that seems stagnant on my skin.
Like every other product on this Maybe-Nots list, this mist isn’t bad, it just isn’t anything special or worth your money. It has a great spritz but it doesn’t do enough to create noticeable hydration to your skin. Half the reason I use face mists is for a nice refreshing spray, but I feel that this one doesn’t even have that cooling effect.
I hope these reviews are helpful and you’re able to order some for yourself!
*If you have a specific question about another Innisfree product, just ask me! My sister bought almost every product so I’ve probably tried it or have it somewhere in my house.
Comment your favorite Korean skincare brands or products! I’m always down to try more.