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 REAL K-Beauty Product Recommendations: Face Makeup Edition

One of the key phrases people associate with K-beauty is ‘glass skin’. Flawless, translucent, glowing skin that doesn’t look thick or crusty. Of course, spending a lot of time and effort on skincare is a huge contributing factor, and a lot of Koreans do so. But that isn’t the sole component when it comes to making your skin look naturally amazing. The face makeup products (cushion, foundation, concealer) K-beauty offers can enable coverage without thickness, a glow that seems to be radiating from the inside, or a perfect matte look without looking dry. So today, I will recommend the best face makeup products that us Koreans actually use and always rank highly in our cosmetic awards. I hope this article helps you on your makeup journey!

Cushion Foundation (There are more recommendations in this section than other sections – after all, you can’t talk K-beauty without one of the best innovations it has created)

Matte Type (for people with oily skin or a preference for a matte look)

1.      Black Cushion by Hera

The Black Cushion is many people’s holy grail, including me! This bestseller has won 7 awards from Glowpick (top Korean cosmetics rating app) alone, and more from Hwahae (another commonly used cosmetics rating app) and PowderRoom (top Korean beauty community). It is also the most-featured cushion foundation item in the videos of Korean beauty youtubers (according to Leferi Data Lab). It has great coverage (a small amount will cover all your blemishes), can go on thick or thin depending on how much you apply, and stays on all day beautifully without settling into creases. The best thing about this product, in my opinion, is how it doesn’t melt away and reveal your blemishes/acne that you covered up, even after a long day. I’ve seen many products be like this and make your skin look worse, with foundation cracking on your blemishes and the redness peeking through. But this doesn’t happen with the Black Cushion and has led me to finish three of them. The only downside would be that they felt somewhat dry in the colder seasons for me, since I prefer a glowy look in winter, but I’ll be switching back to the Black Cushion the instant summer comes!

2.      Neo Cushion by Laneige

The Neo Cushion is a product that was released during the pandemic, in response to the demand of consumers that  needed a cushion foundation that doesn’t transfer to masks. This cushion has won Glowpick and PowderRoom awards and ranked 99% satisfaction from the Allure cosmetics board, all in its first month of release. I would say that the most defining factor of this product is how it is super matte and how it goes on super thin. Imagine a thin sticker film of foundation on your face, and that would be how the Neo Cushion is. Thus, it achieves the difficult goal of making your skin look naturally good and soft while being matte, and almost does not transfer at all, even without powder or setting spray! However, since it applies so thinly, the coverage is medium. And you have to be careful during application since the strong adherence of the product to the skin does not allow for multiple pats of product over and over—it may start to look cakey—so one or two touches would produce the best result. Nonetheless, its ability to create a matte yet natural look is insurmountable by other products, so recommendations to anyone who would love this kind of finish!


Glow Type (for people with dry skin or a preference for a glowing look)

1.      BeGlow Cushion by Espoir

The BeGlow Cushion, since its release, has always been one of the top favorites of dewy foundation lovers. This cushion has been a bestseller at OliveYoung (the Sephora of Korea), been the Editor’s Pick in Allure, and has ranked first in OliveYoung Awards and PowderRoom Awards. It provides a lovely, dewy shine that makes your skin look like it’s naturally luminous, and that is the reason why so many people who prefer the no-makeup makeup look reach for this. It also has a cooling effect on your skin, goes on thin, and boasts of great staying power. However, although how this product expresses itself on skin is amazing, it does have less coverage than other products. So if your skin has a lot of blemishes or acne scars, I would recommend  other products from this list.

2.      Kill Cover Glow Cushion by Clio

The Kill Cover Glow Cushion has been a cult favorite of people who would like a moist look but cannot give up on coverage. This product has received the OliveYoung Awards as well as one of the most-used products by K-beauty youtubers, and is called a must-have for people with a combination of oily and dry skin types. This product has less of a glow than BeGlow, but that has acted as a plus factor for people who prefer a more subtle sheen and for people with combination skin types, since too much of a glow would produce sebum and oil. Also, it has great coverage for a dewy product, and great staying power. I would recommend this to people who have both dry and oily areas, and also to people with oily skin types who still want a glowy look, or people with dry skin types who want a slightly matte product; this product will be a great compromise.


Liquid Foundation

Matte Type (for people with oily skin or a preference for a matte look)

1.      Double Lasting Foundation by Etude House

The Double Lasting Foundation was released in 2016 and has kept up being the first place in the foundation section of K-beauty. It has sold more than 1.2 million bottles, ranks top on Glowpick and Unpa (another rating app), and is the topmost used foundation by K-beauty youtubers. It has gotten a renewal this year and has come back in even better quality, even being called a dupe for Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Foundation with a much affordable price. I would say that the best thing about this product is that it doesn’t have strong drawbacks. It’s semi-matte, so it could satisfy most skin types, has pretty good coverage, stays on 24 hours without being stuffy, and has an unusually large color range for a K-beauty base product. This foundation has truly been a staple in the makeup pouches of Koreans, and I would say this is a safe product to recommend to anyone.

2.      Ink Lasting Foundation by FMGT (its former name was the Face Shop)

The Ink Lasting Foundation has also been famous for many years and has been called the affordable dupe for Lancome’s Teint Idole Foundation. This product has been ranked best face makeup product of Korea in 2018 and 2019 from the Korean Consumer Awards and has won many other awards from Glowpick, PowderRoom, and Hwahae. My friends love this foundation because it traps the oil but keeps hydration on their skin, so definite recommendations to someone whose skin keeps producing oil but still feels dry somehow. The staying power goes without saying, and the color range leans more toward the lighter side. I would say it is more matte and stronger against sweat and water than Double Lasting Foundation but can feel tighter and stuffier, so there are people who prefer this to the Double Lasting Foundation. I would say both are good products, but choose depending on what feature your skin needs more.

Glow Type (for people with dry skin or a preference for a glowing look)

1.      Glow Lasting Foundation by Hera

The Glow Lasting Foundation is hands down one of the best glowy liquid foundations of K-beauty. Although it was released not very long ago, it has landed the best rookie award from Glowpick and quickly became the most frequently used dewy foundation in K-beauty Youtube videos. It is best known for its ability to blur out pores and its smooth wrapping around the skin, like a porcelain china. It also makes the skin look very translucent and has an amazing sheen. This product is more on the pricier side and the coverage isn’t very high, as it is a glowy product and goes on thin, but the staying power is pretty good. A lot of people love this product mainly for the way this foundation makes your complexion look like a glass vase, very clear and transparent, so if you were looking for such a product, I would highly recommend!



1.      Longlasting Tip Concealer by Luna

The Longlasting Tip Concealer is the best selling concealer in OliveYoung, always fighting for the top tier with Wakemake, the product mentioned below. It has been awarded best concealer from CMN, a well-known Korean cosmetics journal, Korea Youtuber’s Awards 2020, and more. It is famous for its fixing power, not budging from where it was initially applied, and for adhering to the skin as if it is part of it. Of course, coverage is awesome, the most important factor when it comes to concealers. It does tend to be more on the drier side to enable the staying and fixing power, but layering the product over an already applied section surprisingly does not seem to cause cracks, so a lot of people like to put several layers on a blemish for perfect coverage.

2.      Defining Cover Liquid Concealer by Wakemake

The Defining Cover Liquid Concealer is another bestseller at OliveYoung, and has received awards  from Korea Youtuber’s Awards 2019, Allure, Glowpick, and Hwahae. This concealer is really nice in that it is less dry than the Luna concealer and yet has better coverage. The staying power is also great, and it fixes well. However, all of the shades this product offers are more yellowish than the shades Luna offers, and you have more difficulty layering the product, so some people are not a fan. But people with a reddish tint in their skin or people who flush a lot seem to like how the yellowness covers up the carmine colors, so if your skin is the same, try out the Wakemake concealer.


Makeup Base

1.      Glow On Base by Etude House

I originally planned to only write about cushions, foundations, and concealers but this product is so nice that I HAD to mention it. The Glow On Base has never shifted from its first place ranking in the makeup base section of Glowpick and Hwahae and has an unusually large number of reviews. If you wanted to –or were using—the L'or Radiance Base from Guerlain, you have to try this product. It is a perfect dupe; and depending on how you use the base, some people have even preferred this over the Guerlain base. Many people use this before applying a matte foundation so that your skin can have a smooth surface with a hydrated inside, and people with dry skin say they can’t live without this product. I would not recommend this to oily skin types though unless the weather is very cold and dry.

This is the ultimate list of K-beauty face makeup products I’d recommend from our unending ocean of products. I hope you find yourself a perfect match among this list of recommendations, or maybe a fitting holiday gift for your friends and family! 


Cathryn Kim

Williams '24

Hi! My name is Cathryn and I’m from Seoul, South Korea. I am a junior at Williams College, majoring in Economics and Sociology. I love fashion, cosmetics, photography, and traveling!
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