Looking for anti-aging products but not sure where to start? Keep reading to find out which ingredients and K-beauty products are best for preventing and treating signs of aging.
Retinol (and its various forms) is the most potent anti-aging skin care ingredient around, but you may have noticed its absence on the ingredient labels of K-beauty products. Korean skin care brands have historically prioritized gentle, hydrating ingredients over aggressive ones like retinol. But that’s not to say that K-beauty products aren’t effective at targeting fine lines, wrinkles, and the rest of what comes with skin aging.
There are plenty of powerful anti-aging ingredients that can be found in K-beauty products. Below, we highlight nine of them, plus throw you a few product recommendations while we’re at it.
One of K-Beauty’s favorite anti-aging ingredients is vitamin B3, or niacinamide. Its most noted benefit is its ability to beef up the skin’s barrier, which helps your skin retain moisture more efficiently. Niacinamide also brightens and evens out your complexion and, like retinol (which isn’t commonly found in K-beauty since it can be irritating), it has demonstrated an ability to boost collagen production. Niacinamide can be found in the Nacific Fresh Herb Origin Eye Cream and the very popular Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule.
Peptides are another superstar ingredient commonly found in K-beauty products that help assist in anti-aging efforts. To make a long story short, peptides are fragments of protein chains, with the most commonly known proteins being collagen, keratin, and elastin. When you apply peptides to your skin, they penetrate through the barrier to repair damage and signal your skin to boost collagen and elastin production. You can learn more about peptides here, and a great product to try is the Swanicoco Fermentation Peptine Eye Care Cream.
Your skin is made up of three primary substances: water, proteins (like the ones we mentioned above), and lipids. Ceramides fall into the lattermost category and can be likened to the frosting between layers of cake, or the mortar between bricks. It holds the skin’s proteins together, plumps your skin, and creates a more youthful appearance. Ceramides also bolster your skin’s barrier function, locking in moisture and shielding your skin from damage. We’re big fans of The Plant Base’s Quesera Ceramide, and Dr. Jart+ has an entire line of ceramide products to choose from, as well.
This roundup wouldn’t be complete without mention of snail slime, or snail mucin. If you can get past that initial ick factor, this ingredient can be a real game-changer for your skin care regimen. The slimy stuff is rich in naturally occurring peptides to help boost collagen production, as well as hydrating hyaluronic acid and refining glycolic acid. You’ll notice the plumping and softening effects immediately after applying Benton Snail Bee Ultimate Serum.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea is popular in Korea not just as an antioxidant-rich beverage, but also as a topical skin care ingredient. We essentially wrote a love letter to the ingredient which you can read here, but we’ll summarize the benefits for you. First, green tea is super rich in antioxidants, which helps to repair and ward off free radical damage. It’s also a soothing anti-inflammatory that helps skin look nourished, calm, and rejuvenated, and the caffeine content can quickly de-puff skin. Try the Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner and the Neogen Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick.
Vitamin C is a commonly used skin care ingredient across the board, and it’s especially popular in K-beauty regimens. Its primary benefits include brightening the skin, evening out your complexion, and serving as a powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage. You can use it anytime, but it’s best used in conjunction with your favorite SPF; it’s been scientifically proven to boost the benefits of both when they’re used together. Try the award-winning Good (Skin) Days C’s the Day Serum, which boasts a 20.5% concentration of pure vitamin C.
RELATED:Five Alternatives to Retinol
Licorice Root Extract
Another K-beauty favorite known for its brightening abilities is licorice root extract. This natural ingredient contains glabridin and liquirtin, which are two chemicals that seriously combat hyperpigmentation, including age spots, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne, sun damage, and even melasma. Like green tea, its antioxidant properties help repair and protect your skin from free radical damage caused by the sun and pollution. Try Acwell’s Licorice pH Balancing Advance Serum.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Also popular across the skin care board is the family of AHAs, which includes glycolic, lactic, and malic acids. Depending on the formulation, these products can be used on a daily, bi-daily, or weekly basis to help gently exfoliate the skin to reveal a brighter, clearer, and smoother complexion. The Some By Mi AHA-BHA-PHA 30Days Miracle Serum contains a blend of acids along with plant oils to moisturize.
Finally, let’s talk a bit about ginseng as a skin care ingredient. It has a long history in both Korean medicine and Korean beauty, and it’s made a bit of a comeback in recent years. The ingredient is rich in vitamins B1, B2, and B12, and also contains skin-nourishing minerals. When applied topically, ginseng helps firm the skin and smooth wrinkles while also de-puffing and concealing dark circles. Learn more about the ingredient here, and try Danahan’s Ginseng Seed Secret Essence and Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream.