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The K-Beauty Glossary

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one that finds K-Beauty overwhelming. Innovative product types and unusual ingredients mean it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to Korean beauty imports. So, from snail mucin to pore strips, here’s our fuss-free guide to decoding it.


A Korean favourite ingredient thanks to its ability to counteract the effects of decreasing collagen and elastin levels as you age. Adenosine is already naturally present in your body, making it a fantastic smoothing and anti-ageing ingredient that’s proven to reduce wrinkles.

Aloe Vera

Packed full of natural antioxidants that firm the skin, this deeply nourishing plant is a great addition to your skincare stash. Not only does aloe vera replenish moisture but it also has healing properties and acts as an anti-inflammatory – great for soothing your skin.

Black Sesame

Black sesame seeds make an appearance in a lot of Korean skincare as their benefits seem almost endless. Not only are they rich in antioxidants, which protect your skin from pollution, but they’re high in vitamins B and E which both brighten and detoxify. Try it yourself with Oh K!’s Black Sesame Hydrogel Mask.

Bubble Sheet Mask

These masks use ingredients that react with oxygen to create a foaming delight on your face. But they don’t just make for hilarious selfies! The oxygen bubbles increase circulation, remove dirt and even clean out your pores. Give it a go with Oh K!’s Bubble Sheet Mask.


Cica, or Centella Asiatica, has been used for centuries to soothe and repair wounds. Packed full of vitamins and amino acids, we can see why it’s so popular. It’ll reduce redness, calm inflammation and stimulate collagen production.


The protein found in egg white is key for gently exfoliating the skin, removing sebum and tightening pores – who knew? The yolk is a powerhouse too as it’s packed full of proteins, vitamins and fatty acids which are great for retaining moisture and protecting the skin’s barrier. Our favourite is Oh K!’s Egg White Sheet Mask.


Essences originated in Korea and often contain higher doses of active ingredients. They’re basically the lovechild of a toner and a serum – lightweight, moisturising and full of goodness.

Hydrogel Mask

Korea is the home of sheet masks so, of course, we had to pop one on the list. Hydrogel masks don’t just sit on the face better (no slippage here!) but they’re made of a skin-loving gel that holds more liquid than your typical sheet masks. This will really give you the moisture hit you need. We love Oh K!’s Gold Dust Hydrogel Mask.

Milk Proteins

If Cleopatra was known for bathing in milk, we don’t mind being known for smearing it on our faces. If you’re looking to brighten dull skin and deeply hydrate, track down a Korean milk mask. The protein extract is chock-full of vitamins, potassium and acids that combine to exfoliate, strengthen and create new healthy cells.

Pearl Extract

Sensitive skin? Pearl extract might be your new skincare favourite. Loaded with minerals, amino acids and calcium, it’ll soothe your skin whilst also moisturising and brightening. Sign us up!

Pore Strip

A gentle yet effective way to remove oil and dirt from your pores. Simply pop a strip on your nose and afterwards your skin will feel softer and pores will appear smoother. The Birchbox team are big fans of Oh K!’s Nose Pore Strips.

Snail Mucin

AKA Snail Secretion Filtrate… Yum. Don’t let the name put you off, snail extract actually contains hyaluronic and glycolic acid which your skin will thank you for. As well as intensely moisturising and plumping your complexion, the mucin will increase collagen production which is great for anti-ageing. Brave enough? Try Oh K!’s Snail Sheet Mask.

Sparkling water

Not just a food shop essential but a skincare one too. Carbonated water deeply cleanses pores and remove impurities whilst being kind to skin due to the pH (5.5 – exactly the same as your skin).

Shop the full Oh K! collection at The Birchbox Shop.

– Ashleigh Kybert