College Beauty Awards: The 8 Best Intro Products to Korean Beauty

If you’re just getting into Korean beauty, it’s fair to expect the results to be a little unpredictable (what is this snail mucin going to do to my skin exactly?). But as it turns out, K-beauty products are great, so great in fact that they’re kind of changing the entire beauty industry. 

With all the other beauty discoveries that happen during your college years, we couldn’t pass on this opportunity slip in K-beauty teaching with the rest of these awards. Chances are some of the big players in Seoul are already on your radar, like Innisfree and Tony Moly, to name a few. These product lines have aesthetically pleasing packaging, as you would expect, but they’ve mainly gained fame because the formulas are so innovative and gentle. We also want to call out that the affordable price point of these products helps too, especially while shopping on a college budget.

If you’re in pursuit of glass skin, look no further. Below you’ll find South Korean beauty science at its best, and we hope you spot your new holy-grails down there too.

  1. 1. My Real Squeeze Mask - Rice

    Innisfree, innisfree.com, $2; shop now

    Korean sheet masks operate on a whole other level, and they push boundaries in terms of ingredients you thought you could put on your face. While all the Innisfree masks work wonders for targeting various skin concerns, the rice formula specifically helps achieve translucent-looking skin (a paramount in K-beauty). It's creamy, cooling, and has a faintly sweet smell. 

  2. 2. Master Lab Hyaluronic Acid Mask Sheet

    Tony Moly, ulta.com, $4; shop now

    We talk a lot about hyaluronic acid in the College Beauty Awards because it really is a miracle ingredient — so you can image just how potent a sheet mask saturdated in the stuff can feel. This is the most hydrating mask you can get your skincare-obsessed hands on. It's so good, we don't even have a metaphor for it. 

  3. 3. Citrus Honey Aqua Glow

    Peach Slices, cvs.com, $12; shop now

    This product combines all the best things about moisturizer and serum into one adorable little bottle. It feels wet and gel-like when you tap it onto your face, and the plumping effect is immediate. Glass skin, who? 

  4. 4. Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum

    Klairs, sokoglam.com, $23; shop now

    How to do the most: vitamin C edition. You wouldn't know from looking at the conservative packaging that this serum fades brown spots, evens out complexion, and keeps skin firm all at once. This product was a win for us because it's very gentle, and even if you've been sensitive to irritation in the past, this serum will feel like a relief. 

  5. 5. Sugar Kitten Hydrating Holographic Peel-Off Mask

    I Dew Care, ulta.com, $23; shop now

    This mask is all kinds of genuine fun, from the branding to the holographic cast it gives your skin when applied. The whimsy comes from ruby and pearl powder, which actually brightens dullness, it's not just for aesthetic. As soon as you peel the mask off your complexion will be bright like a legit post-facial glow. 

  6. 6. Rose Water Toner

    Mamonde, ulta.com, $23; shop now

    I think we've probably said it a thousand times by now, but we've got to reiterate once more: Korean skincare is so gentle. While using this toner, multiple college women mentioned that their skin didn't just look better, it felt better — like, healthier. That's because toner is a must for cleansing and minimizing pores, but the rose water ingredient is what makes the product soothing too. 

  7. 7. Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

    Cosrx, ulta.com, $21; shop now

    We've been practically rubbing our hands in glee wating for this moment. Here's the deal with this essence: It contains snail mucin, which you can think of as a super concentrated multivitamin to nourish all aspects of your skin, from elasticity to moisture. Not gonna lie and say we haven't been squeezing out a few pumps more of this stuff then we should, but it's just that good. 

  8. 8. Calming Hydro Sleeping Mask

    Mamonde, ulta.com, $25; shop now

    Slather this on before you go to sleep and wake up dewy. If you read the list of ingredients, it's pretty clear this overnight mask is a powerhouse for moisturizing and replenishing skin. However, the reason this mask made our awards is for its ability to neutralize redness and irritation, particularly during a bad flare up. We're thrilled to give five stars for hydration and the mask's incredibly calming properties. 

The Her Campus National Editors write about products we love and think you'll love too. Her Campus has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.