I’d never experienced dry skin before coming to Korea, no joke. Hideously dehydrated, dull, pimply skin? Yes. But dry, cracked, and even peeling? No. That was a nice little surprise during my first winter here in 2014, when my face felt like it was falling off and my nose was so crusty with all dryyyyyy. I had to go into action pretty quick to transform my skincare routine and learn how to deal with it. Every winter since then I’ve been fully prepared, and this year I’ve been testing some of the best products I’ve tried yet, that are perfect for my normal/combination skin in the sub zero temperatures. I’m here to share both my approach to my skincare in winter, and the products I swear by.
Most of the products discussed here were provided as PR samples, or gifts. I will individually disclose each product. I am in no way obliged to include any of these products in this list- they’re here because I genuinely love them out of the huge variety of PR samples/gifts I receive and products I buy.
I have normal-combination skin that is prone to redness and dehydration. In the climate of Korea, it tends to get oily in summer and dry in winter.
Much the same as I how I dress in winter, my skincare at this time of year is about quality layers and layers, plus a few heavier products here and there.
I get a bit sloppy in the summer using higher pH cleansers, but now I need gentle, low pH, non-stripping cleansers. This usually follows with loads of hydrating toners/mists and a serum/ampoule. Next is a cream suitable for day time but with a little more weight than my rest-of-the-year day creams, plus a heavier cream applied on particularly dry patches. Then, of course, a sunscreen. I also use a ton of treatments and sheetmasks to complement my routines.
I use a lot of my products year round (like the Cosrx Snail Essence, Core Flex Cream from 107, or Olivarrier Squalane Fluid Oil), so I’m not really talking about those today. I’m specifically talking about products I’ve been gravitating towards because of the current dry state of my skin. I’ve tried linking most products on their names (links in black text, all are non-affiliate) so you can learn more about ingredients etc if you’re interested. Some are super new products and therefore aren’t available internationally yet (but are if you’re based here in Korea) and therefore aren’t linked, but keep your eyes peeled.
Tried and Tested
First I’m going to talk about products I’ve fully tested, and then the next section will be products I’ve been playing with but are not fully tested. Just so you where my opinions are coming from!
Now I’m not gonna lie, this is quite a high-end price point, at $40. But it’s a huge tube (250ml) and honestly the creamiest, least drying cleanser I’ve ever tried. It’s kind of unusual in that it leaves my skin actually feeling moisturized after use? I wouldn’t say there’s residue as such, because that would annoy me, but it doesn’t feel like I just washed my face, despite my face being perfectly clean! I’m using it more in the mornings, and I’m loving it for a soft, cleansed but moisture-full feel to my skin after cleansing.
Hydrating Toners & Mists (all gifted)– I’m piling these into one little list because there’s so many I adore. Also, despite what I said above, I do use these year round. I’m just finding them particularly beneficial now to layer up.
SkinRX Lab MadeCera Essence Toner; Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner; Leegeeham Hyal B5 Toner, Eleven Huesday Toner (I don’t like the scent but it performs very nicely); Troiareuke H+ Cocktail Moisturizing Ampoule Spray; 107 Rose Vinegar Water; 107 Core Flex Liquid.
Literally nothing but good things to say about all of the above. They’re my favourites and I apply them very liberally every morning and night. For someone who usually has dehydrated skin, but also can get oily from overloading products, they’re perfect.
Gifted by Eleven Huesday
This is the first ever serum I’ve been able to fully incorporate into a daytime routine. Usually serums are just that bit too sticky and take too long to dry down for my impatient morning self. But this is so smooth and takes less than five minutes. It adds a superb extra layer of hydration.
Gifted by Cosrx
This is a great night time boost to skin. Propolis is the one baby! And this ampoule contains 80% of the good stuff. It really helps the elasticity of my skin and I wake up with a gorgeous glow when I’ve included it.
Ughhhhh I’ve fallen head over heels for this entire line. This is definitely a night-time ampoule, like the Cosrx, but it’s such a great addition to help moisturize the super dry areas around my nose and chin. I’ve been using it in those areas more specifically than all over my face. It does feel quite sticky for a while after application, but I just pile cream over the top and the stickiness disappears.
Tiam Face Guard Cream (brand new release and is not yet sold by international Tiam sellers)
Gifted by Tiam
This is a gorgeous gel/cream hybrid and an absolutely perfect day cream for this time of year. It contains 75% centella asiatica extract, which helps relieve and repair skin damage. This is perfect for me and the peeling I experience during winter. It feels very soothing and comfortable on application, and feels like it would be good for all skintypes. The scent is a little too sweet for me, but that’s the only downside IMO.
Gifted by EOpenMarket
This is more of a gel cream but it’s weightier than most gel creams I’ve tried, yet no oiliness or greasiness after application. The main claim is brightening but personally I’m just loving this for the deep hydration and soothing texture. All the ingredients are EWG Green Level Safety Grade, and it’s such a high quality product at a bargain price. Only downside is no preservatives, so you need to use it up quite quickly. It’s great for day and night with my skin. Plus it’s only $10 on EOpenmarket..!
Courtesy JSM Beauty
This ‘cream’ has a really unique texture- it’s a milky runny liquid, and magically kinda transforms into a cream on skin. It’s incredibly moisturizing, and was actually way too much for my combo skin when I originally received it. A small amount is working well for me now, particularly under makeup because it’s keeping my skin dewy, when otherwise it tends to flake during the day at this time of year. It definitely leaves a shine to skin, so if you’re an oily skintype it might not be for you. Would I pay the $45? Probably not considering I can only use the product in winter, but if I had dry skin I think it’s a gorgeous cream in a weighty, luxurious, and hygenic bottle.
This is much heavier than I originally thought, but it’s great for a winter night cream. Again the texture is kind of a creamy gel, and yet again (there’s a trend here), it has a calming, soothing effect on my skin. It really feels great, although stays tacky for quite a while, so I’d only recommend it if you don’t mind that! It also has a really long ingredients list, so check if you’re sensitive to ingredients. I haven’t mentioned the scent of this Hyal B5 line by the way- it’s freakin gorgeous. It’s herbal spiciness and ah-mazing.
Not Fully Tested
These are products I’ve been playing with and really loving so far, but haven’t used for long enough to form firm conclusions. Definitely working so far and feeling perfect for winter time though.
SKINRx Lab Marine Moisture Mineral Mist (gifted by SKINRx Lab)– a very light but wonderfully hydrating mist. Large bottle of 150ml, and a simple ingredients list.
Hyggee Balance One Step Facial Essence (gifted at Seoul Blogger Brunch)– seriously SO moisturizing, I couldn’t believe it. I want to try the Fresh version too, as I think that would be better for my skin type year round, but this is definitely great for these cold months. And I know my fellow K-Beauty skincare bloggers loooove this!
SKINRx Lab Marine Moisture Rich Cream (gifted by SKINRx Lab)– this is a serioussssly rich gel base cream. It felt amazing on my skin, but 100% a night time cream for me. It’s to comfort and hydrate “super thirsty skin” and also help protect the skin moisture barrier. I can believe it!
Those are my current winter go-tos but I actually have a ton waiting to open too…not sure how I’m gonna get them all tested in one winter ha. What are your cold weather skincare essentials? Let me know please!