5 Best Korean moisturizers of 2020

Choosing the right moisturizer ain’t easy even though you are narrowing down your search in K-Beauty brands. There are just SO MANY options out there! I believe though the wide variety is the beauty of K-beauty.

The most important standard in choosing the best Korean moisturizer should be… 

  • Whether it is suitable for your skin type/concern; the one that can improve your skin type/concern
  • How moisturizing it is; the one that actually increases the moisture after use  
  • How long the moisture retains 

Based on the customer reviews, the product detail pages, and the experts’ content, I picked the below products for each skin type. 

Best for sensitive skin: Real Barrier Extreme Cream

Real Barrier Extreme Cream has three soothing ingredients – Panthenol, Madecassoside, and Allantoin – that will not irritate your already sensitive skin. By its exclusive technology to imitate the real skin barrier structure, the product was proven to help rebuild the skin barrier within 2 weeks. The clinical test proved the hydration resists for 72 hours. Available at StyleVana.

Reviews Say…

  • Pros: hydrating, well absorbing (albeit its rich texture)
  • Cons: jar package (hard to apply with fingers since it’s quite thick, not hygienic)

Best for dry skin: Dr.Jart Ceramidin Cream

Straight forward from its name, Ceramidin Cream is a powerhouse of ceramidin with 5 different ceramidins combined with hyaluronic acid. It is clinically proven to compatible with sensitive skin and last the hydration in low, dry wintery condition. It also helps improve skin redness and hydration loss. Available at StyleVana.            

Reviews Say…

  • Pros: hydrating, rich texture but well absorbing, tube type (not jar), soothing
  • Cons: can be oily and might cause troubles for oily/acne-prone skin

Best for oily skin: Round Lab Birch Tree Water Cream

Round Lab’s Birch Tree Water Cream completed the clinical testing that shows a reduction in sebum, oil, blackheads, and whiteheads. The cream consists of the collagen capsules full of birch juice and vita-hyaluronic acid that help to provide hydration. It is proven to keep the hydration to 48 hours. Available at Round Lab.

Reviews Say…

  • Pros: light texture, soothing, cooling
  • Cons: jar package (the brand recently launched the tube type recently), can be too light and might require double layering

Best for acne prone skin: Dr.G Red Blemish Clear Soothing Cream

As a 2018 Hwahae Award winner in the cream/gel category, Red Blemish Clear Soothing Cream is still positioned top in the ranking as of now. It is a non-comedogenic product that completed the acne compatibility test. It is also proven to be appropriate for sensitive skin with 5 Cica complex – Madecassoside, Madecassic Acid, Asiaticoside, Asiatic Acid, and Centella Asiatica Extract – for the ultimate soothing effect. Available at StyleVana.

Reviews Say…

  • Pros: great for sensitive, acne/troubled skin, moisturizing, cooling
  • Cons: can be too light for fall/winter, package- jar type is not optimal for hygiene

Best for combination skin: Sidmool Madagascar Real Moisture Cream

Sidmool is an interesting brand that gives you this feeling of being authentic. No offense but its website and packages are far from being aesthetical but that’s what makes this brand authentic and attractive! 80% of the cream consists of Centella Asiatica Extract, an antioxidant-rich extract that is a source of amino acids and has soothing properties. It is also developed as a polysaccharide (sugar-based) product which is considered safe for hypersensitive skin. Available at Amazon.

Reviews Say…

  • Pros: Soothing, well absorbing, tube packaging
  • Cons: Feels like drying out (too light)

Best with SPF: Hygee Relief Sun Moisturizer (SPF 50+, PA++++)

61% of the product consists of Chamaecyparis Obtusa Water, which was used in place of distilled water. It is full of phytoncide that has a soothing and hydrating effect. It recently renewed its formula to exclude all the essential oils and is clinically proven to be non-irritating. It is also free of the ingredients that can disrupt coral reproduction – Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3)and octinoxate (ethylhexylmethoxycinnamate). Available at Yesstyle.

Reviews say…

  • Pros: hydrating, non-irritating, no white cast
  • Cons: no tone up. Fragrance (smells like soil)

In general, Korean customers separate the steps of moisturization and sunscreen. Therefore, if you are looking for a Korean moisturizer that has SPF function, you should use the keyword of “sunscreen” or “sun cream” rather than moisturizer with SPF. See what other sunscreens are popular now here.


Is PH level important in choosing a moisturizer?

When your skin is healthy, you won’t have to be too picky regarding the PH level of a skincare product since the skin naturally equalizes to its normal pH even when it is mildly disrupted. However, if your skin is vulnerable and sensitive, highly acidic (pH 2.5 or lower) or alkaline (pH 8 or greater) products can cause more significant disruption and worsen your skin condition. Especially, moisturizer is a type of product that you put on your face for long hours. So choosing a low PH level moisturizer similar to the human skin’s PH level is critical. The human skin’s PH level is known to be around 4.7 ~ 5.5.

Surprisingly, the PH level is not available in the product detail pages in general. I could not find the info from any of the official product pages of the above products. However, I came across a YouTube video that a dermatologist runs the PH test for some of the above moisturizers. Extreme Cream turned out to be around 4.40~4.44 in PH level, and Cerimidin Cream to be 5.10~5.12 which are both in a safe range – lower than 5.5. 

Are the above moisturizers popular in Korea?

One way to check whether a product is beloved in Korea would be to see Hwahae ranking. Check this post to learn more about the app and how the ranking works. You can also find the up-to-date weekly Hwahae ranking by category here. The above products are positioned within the top 10 of the “Cream (moisturizer)” category as of June 2020.

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