Sure, you can call Korean beauty whacky or out-there—we’re looking at you, snail sludge serums—but one thing you’ll never label it is boring. It seems that whenever a crazy-cool K-beauty trend begins, American copycats aren’t far behind. As in: sheet masks, which are now even available in the most mainstream U.S. drugstores.
“Korean beauty trends start getting caught up really quickly in American brands,” says Charlotte Cho, aesthetician and founder of the online K-beauty shop Soko Glam. “Not only is that because of all the innovation, but also because many American products are made in Korea now.”
To honor the best-of-the-best in K-beauty this year, Cho and her skincare-obsessed colleagues pored through hundreds of products to dub 10 winners for their 2017 Soko Glam Beauty Awards. The champs—which last year included things like a hydrocolloid pimple patch and a 3-in-1 beauty water that functions a toner, cleanser, and exfoliator—are chosen through editor testing as well as customer reviews, so you know they work.
As for the haul this year? My jaw continued to drop as Cho explained each of the 2017 winners during a recent visit to the Well+Good office. A serum spray? A hair essence? Do tell more.
Keep reading for 4 of the most creative innovations in K-beauty.
The silky, glow-inducing serums that you’ve always applied with a dropper or a pump can now be spritzed on like a bottle of fancy French facial water (try saying that three times fast). Lightweight serum sprays “make it super quick and easy” to apply nourishing ingredients like niacinamide and centella asiatica (AKA gotu kola) extract directly to your face, Cho says.
UV isn’t just public enemy number one when it comes to your skin, it can also purportedly make your strands drier and more brittle. “When I got my hair done in Korea, they could tell I”m from California,” admits Cho. “It’s because my hair texture feels very different than someone in an area that’s humid or has lots of snow.” Cho says an oil like this one, which contains organic annatto and other seed oils, can help provide some protection against UV rays.
The totally clear, bouncy, gel-like texture of this moisturizer allows every application to feel like a tiny explosion of water on your skin (somehow, sans stickiness). Cho suggests that since it’s a water-based moisturizer (and doesn’t contain any oil) it’s good option for oily and acne-prone skin types. “You can get clogged pores and blackheads if your moisturizer is too thick and has too much oil content,” she explains.
Crafty formulation resulted in a lip product that really stays put. “The pigment is suspended in a gel, so it applies very evenly and doesn’t go anywhere,” Cho says. In other words: Since it won’t budge, anyone using a gel tint should make sure they really like it before slicking it on.
You can make your beauty routine even more worldly—this is how Australian Miranda Kerr maintains glowy skin while traveling and these are the 3 beauty rituals that Japanese women rely on.