The Story Behind What Makes Korean Cosmetics So Special


Korea has a deep history with cosmetics. Starting from back in ancient times, Korean women were inadvertently leading innovation in beauty. They were making their own sanitizers, beauty water (micellar water), and most importantly — cosmetics. This included everything from powder and blush to eyebrow paint. For them, maintaining themselves clean and tidy was not only a sign of outer beauty but also inner beauty. Clear skin was highly valued and they considered it virtuous to wear clean clothes.


Learn more about the Korean cosmetic culture at the “Coreana Cosmetics Museum

- 827, Eonju-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea


This long history resulted in one of the biggest advantages of Korean cosmetics—diversified ingredients. Even today, studies continue to be carried out to improve the effectiveness of Korean products through the combination of ingredients from traditional Korean beauty products and European herbs. These studies have helped the Korean cosmetics industry offer a variety of products for wrinkle repair, whitening, and regeneration. Such research on the ingredients used in cosmetics has led to great products that will satisfy the needs of even the most niche of customers.

Up next: Find out more about the natural ingredients that make Korean cosmetics special.



Centella Asiatica (Tiger Grass)

자연 정원에서 녹색 센텔라 아시아 티카 잎 - 로열티 프리 병풀 스톡 사진

Centella Asiatica, also known as Cica or Tiger Grass, got its name from an old tale where an injured tiger laid in a patch of grass to nurse and heal his wounds. Later, it gained its fame in Korea for being the key ingredient for “skin regeneration” in wound ointments Madecassol and Fucidin. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, it is often used in cosmetics such as toners, creams, and ampoules for regeneration purposes.




Wormwood, Herb, Plant, Leaves, Macro, Water, Drops

Mugwort extract and its uniquely scented oil, “cineol” have a long history, often making appearances in Korean Dangun mythology. Excellent at suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria and detoxifying the immune system, Mugwort is often used in Korean cosmetics because it has antioxidant components, making it effective in preventing signs of aging by promoting brighter and more elastic skin.




Rice extract contains a variety of minerals, including protein, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, dietary fiber, and other nutrients that help energize the skin and hair. It provides moisture to the skin giving it a softer and more refined look. Its use as a beauty treatment in Korea began in ancient times, leading to the popularity of the expression, “if you don’t throw out the leftover rice water and wash your face with it instead, then your face will become as clear as Jade.”




Ginseng is known for containing bioactive compounds that improve circulation resulting in a brighter and glowing complexion. Its blend of B vitamins and nourishing minerals act as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant for both the body and skin. This treasured Korean ingredient has had people singing its praises for all the ways it can improve any skincare routine.




소나무 - 로열티 프리 사이프러스 스톡 사진

Cypress extract has one of the highest amounts of phytoncide among plant extracts. It works as a natural antibacterial substance, emitted by plants to protect themselves from germs and pests. The refreshing forest smell we’re all familiar with comes from the powerful antibacterial, deodorizing, and air purification functions of phytoncide. Terpene, the main ingredient of phytoncide, strengthens the immune system, soothes skin diseases such as atopy and allergies, and can even help relieve stress.



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