People have increasingly started looking to the Far East for make-up and skincare, both for the innovative products and unusual ingredients. They generally tend to rely on more natural ingredients too, meaning they’re gentler on the complexion and kinder to those with sensitive skin.
Korea has become well known for its BB creams, but other products such as exfoliators, lip glosses and foot masks have started to become more popular. Many brands have built a cult following worldwide thanks to their high quality, but still budget-friendly products.
For this article, we’ve picked out the best of what’s currently available in the UK, testing for optimum results and interesting products.
1. Oh K! Peeling Foot Gel Mask: £7 for 1 pair, Oh K!
We found this exfoliating foot mask, which is designed to slough off dead skin for baby soft feet, particularly satisfying to use. After washing and drying your feet, place them into the essence-soaked socks and leave on for about an hour. Your feet should start to peel within four to six days, leaving them feeling amazingly soft and smooth. We’d recommend scrubbing skin regularly once the peeling starts.
2. Skinfood Black Sugar Honey Mask Wash Off, 100g: £13, Boots
Containing ingredients such as nourishing black sugar and moisturising honey, as well as macadamia oil and papaya fruit extract, this mask smells good enough to eat. To use, apply to damp skin, massage gently over your face and rinse off. We love how this exfoliator leaves your skin feeling noticeably softer and brighter without the use of micro beads, which are not only harmful for the environment but can also irritate the skin. Use once a week for glowing skin.
3. 3 Concept Eyes Stylenada Back To Baby BB Cream SPF35, 30ml: £17.96, YesStyle
This BB cream can be applied with fingers or a foundation brush. Gliding easily over the skin and blending effortlessly into your complexion, it moisturises while providing good coverage, and the high SPF is an added bonus. With a gentle and luxurious formula made of crystal water, diamond powder and pearl powder, it acts as a great make-up base to be applied in the morning after your moisturiser.
4. TONYMOLY Petite Bunny Gloss Bar, 2g: £7.50, Cult Beauty
We loved these adorable lip glosses, which come in a variety of fun shades and fruity flavours: strawberry, cherry and peach. They’re compact and travel well, and we loved the product as it’s just as moisturising as a balm, keeping lips feeling hydrated rather than sticky, while the colour lasts as long as a lip stain. They would make a great gift or stocking filler later in the year.
5. Caolion Pore Blackhead O2 Sparkling Purifying Soap, 25g: £4, Boots
While a lot of blackhead-fighting products can leave the skin feeling dry, we loved how this soap effectively exfoliates and cleanses pores without stripping away moisture. Charcoal powder, cocoa extract and sparkling bubbles work to eliminate blackheads and control sebum levels, while other skin-loving ingredients such as lavender oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil and shea butter soothe the skin and help tighten the pores. We’d particularly recommend this product for those with blemish-prone oily or combination skin.
6. Oh K! Hand Cream Cherry Blossom, 18ml: £6.50, Feel Unique
With a delicate cherry blossom scent and adorable panda packaging, this hand cream gets top marks for novelty. It’s also great for the skin, leaving hands feeling silky and hydrated, and is travel-friendly, so it’s convenient for keeping in your handbag to apply on the go.
7. It’s Skin Macaron Lip Balm, 9g: £6.50, Asos
This cute macaron-shaped lip balm makes a fun addition to any make-up bag and is handy for on-the-go touch-ups. It’s available in grape, pineapple, apple or strawberry flavours, and contains nourishing, skin-loving ingredients such as shea butter and cocoa butter, as well as vitamins A, C and E. It’s also free from some of the big chemical nasties often found in make-up products: parabens, sulphates and phthalates.
8. Kocostar Long Hair Pack: £8, Asos
We love this innovative product from the mask expert Kocostar. Designed to treat long hair, this intensely hydrating mask nourishes and relaxes dry and damaged hair, leaving it feeling and looking rejuvenated. To use, place the cap on freshly washed, damp hair, and massage for five to 10 minutes before leaving to rest for 20 minutes. Then just remove the cap and rinse hair with warm water. Our tester loved how it made her hair feel as soft and silky as a trip to the hairdressers’ for just a fraction of the price, and the whole process is quite therapeutic so it’s a great way to get some valuable self-care in too.
9. TONYMOLY Timeless Ferment Snail Toner, 140ml: £46, House of Fraser
If you’re looking to switch up your skincare routine with some more unusual ingredients, look no further than this toner made with fermented snail secretion filtrate. This supposedly works to improve the skin’s elasticity, boasting anti-wrinkle effects for a glowing, youthful complexion. The toner is suitable for all skin types and can be used after washing your face just before moisturising. Our tester found this toner easy to apply and left the skin feeling beautifully hydrated.
10. iN.gredients Coconut Water Cream Mask: £3 for 1, iN.gredients
This coconut water cream mask feels just as rejuvenating as a facial without the hefty price tag. The formula is made using coconut water, shea water and sugar cane extract, and works to remove excess oil, moisturise the skin and even minimise pores. For best results, apply the mask over damp, freshly cleaned skin, leave on for about 20 minutes and rinse off with warm water. Thanks to the reasonable price, you could even make this a weekly skincare ritual.
We love the innovative nature of the Kocostar Long Hair Pack, while the panda-shaped hand cream from Oh K! and It’s Skin’s macaron lip balm get top marks for cute packaging. However, our absolute favourite is the Oh K! Peeling Foot Mask, both for its novelty and incredibly satisfying results.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.