Deciphering K-Beauty Ingredients… What Do We Really Need

Many skincare products make huge promises, but what truly works and delivers bonafide results are what consumers want. To help decipher the mainstays of truly effective K-beauty skincare, Jude Chao, a K-beauty expert and blogger from Fifty Shades of Snail reveals her list of the most power-packed ingredients out there.

Hyaluronic Acid

An ingredient that Western beauty brands sometimes market as a premium addition to products, this is found in just about everything in K-beauty and is a humectant. Hydration is critical to plump, glowing skin, so look for hyaluronic acid in your toners, essences, and serums.


Hyaluronic acid holds many times its own weight in water and allows that water to enter the skin rather than evaporate into the air, making it a vital component in this hydrating skincare product.

Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Extract

Often marketed towards sensitive or acne-prone skin, Centella Asiatica is a powerful antiinflammatory ingredient that works to calm irritation and heal a damaged skin barrier. You will find it listed simply as Centella Asiatica extract, but compounds derived from it, including madecassoside and asiaticoside, are also sometimes found in ingredients lists.


Centella Asiatica, like most other botanical extracts found in K-beauty, helps provide antioxidant protection against celldamaging free radicals.

Ginseng Extract

Used in traditional herbal medicine across much of Asia, Ginseng extract is a powerhouse ingredient in an intensive anti-aging skincare routine.


In addition to being anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, studies have shown that topically applied skincare containing Ginseng can promote collagen production and reduce hyperpigmentation, leading to firmer, brighter, and more resilient skin.

Saccharomyces, Galatomyces, or Bifida Ferment Filtrate

Luxury Japanese brand SK-II kicked off a frenzy when their Facial Treatment Essence hit the market, but rice and yeast ferment ingredients have found a home in Korean skincare at every price point. Fermentation in general has great potential for skincare. The fermentation process breaks compounds down into smaller components that can be more readily absorbed and used by the skin.


Ferments have been demonstrated to improve healing (which has beneficial applications for aging skin), balance skin’s moisture levels, and lighten hyperpigmentation.

Snail Secretion Filtrate/Snail Mucin

This list wouldn’t be complete without snail, which continues to appear in K-beauty long after the snail craze first began. Snail mucin is highly protective, forming an emollient barrier on skin that helps to hold moisture in.


It has been shown to speed wound healing and has calming properties that are especially helpful for acne. Snail mucin may also help heal UV damage.

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