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8 Best Korean Products To Treat Acne Scars

8 Best Korean Products To Treat Acne Scars

Say goodbye to those acne scars thanks to these K-beauty products!

Introduction

Breaking out is probably one of the most frustrating things that happens. After all, your once clear and smooth skin riddled with acne isn’t exactly something that boosts your self-confidence.

When the acne finally disappears, you sigh in relief as you think that that was the end of your tortuous journey. To your horror, it was a fleeting moment of respite as you’re now left with a face full of acne scars.

If you’ve ever had acne, then you may have experience scarring one way or another. If your acne scars are pitted(icepick/box scars) or raised (keloids), unfortunately, the best solution is to go to your dermatologist for laser treatment. However, if all you are experiencing is red or brown spots that take months or years to heal( Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) or Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)), you can use topical products to treat those acne scars.

Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a thorough list of the best Korean products that can specifically help you get rid of those annoying PIH/PIE scars.

Name of Product Key ingredient Type Sebum Control Hydrating Brightening Anti-inflammatory Price
COSRX Centella Blemish Ampoule 84% Centella asiatica leaf water Ampoule Yes Yes Yes Yes Buy now
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence 96% Snail Mucin Essence Not stated Yes Not stated Yes Buy Now
SKINFOOD Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence Propolis Essence Not stated Yes Not stated Yes Buy Now
COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid AHA: Glycolic Acid; Niacinamide Exfoliant Yes Yes Yes Yes Buy Now
ISNTREE Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence AHA: 4%Glycolic Acid & 4%Lactic acid; niacinamide Exfoliant Yes Yes Yes Yes Buy Now
Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream 92% Snail Mucin Moisturizer Not stated Yes Not stated Not stated Buy Now
PURITO Centella Unscented Serum Centella asiatica & niacinamide Serum Yes Yes Not stated Yes Buy Now
Sidmool Good Spot Cream 45% Centella asiatica spot treatment Yes Yes Yes Yes Buy Now

1. COSRX Centella Blemish Ampoule

A bottle of COSRX Centella Blemish Ampule (From: amazon.com).

Key Features:

  • Key Ingredient: 84% Centella Asiatica Leaf Water
  • Type: Ampoule
  • Cruelty Free: ✓
  • Vegan: ✓
  • Designed to control sebum production
  • Continuously provides hydration
  • Relieves stress from outer skin

With 84.84% Centella Asiatica leaf water being its main key ingredient, the COSRX Centella Blemish Ampoule boasts the ability to soothe and hydrate your skin while giving you a smooth skin texture.

This ampoule can be used to replace your serums and is suitable for daily use. After using your toner, gently spread a few drops of the ampoule onto your face and pat it in until completely absorbed. Apply your usual moisturizer after to reap the maximum benefits of hydration.

Prevents further breakouts

As it directly affects the sebum production on your face, the product prevents further breakouts from happening. The product’s Centella Asiatica extract and Butylene Glycol’s moisturizing properties hinders the sebaceous gland from secreting excess sebum that causes acne.

Antioxidant properties

Thanks to its active compounds that serve as antioxidants, this product has potent antioxidant properties while being an abundant source of amino acids for the skin.

These active compounds include asiatic acid, asiaticoside, madecassic acid, and madecassoside.

Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals that help protect your skin from free radicals (molecules that damage your skin; air pollution, smog, cigarette smoke, etc.) while also brightening, and calming irritated skin.

Strengthens the skin barrier

Evidence shows that Centella Asiatica is not only well known for its ability to hydrate and soothe damaged or compromised skin, but also for its ability to revitalize the skin’s protective barrier. This makes your skin stronger and helps mitigate the visible effects of sun damage over time. This means we can regain our youthful appearance once more.

A bottle of COSRX Centella Blemish Ampoule (From: amazon.com).

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Drawbacks

The most common complaint from users is that the ampoule had no effects on their skin and a select few complained of redness after using the product. These complaints may simply be due to the incompatibility of the user’s skin type with the product especially if the user has oily skin.

If you want to know what type of skin you have, feel free to check out our easy guide that’ll show you how.

Pros

  • Prevents further breakouts through sebum control
  • Continually soothes and hydrates your skin
  • An abundant source of amino acids
  • Revitalize and strengthen the skin barrier
  • Water-based and very light on the skin
  • Antioxidant properties

Cons

  • Slight chance of having no effect at all
  • May cause negative effects such as redness or dryness for oily skin
  • Expensive for its size and daily use

2. COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

A bottle of COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence (From: amazon.com).

Key Features:

  • Key Ingredient: 96% Snail Mucin
  • Type: Essence
  • Cruelty Free: ✓
  • Vegan: ✗
  • Formulated to protect the skin from losing moisture
  • Repairs and revitalizes irritated skin
  • Lightweight yet moisturizing texture

The COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, formulated with 96% snail secretion filtrate, provides you with proper hydration while revitalizing your skin to help against dry patches and acne scars.

This product isn’t meant to replace your current moisturizers, rather it works best in tandem with them. After cleansing and toning, use about 2-3 pumps of the essence on your face and pat it all over with your fingertips until completely absorbed. For best results, use your choice of moisturizer right after. This essence is suitable for all skin types.

Supplements your moisturizers

Thanks to butylene glycol, a chemical compound that helps other active ingredients penetrate your skin more effectively, using moisturizer after applying this product will boost its overall effectiveness while actively retaining more moisture in the skin.

Soothes and repairs irritated skin

The healing properties of Snail Mucin provide intense moisture to your face while triggering the repair of damaged skin via the growth of new skin cells and collagen. In addition, this process of moisturization and repair will lessen the presence of surface lines and wrinkles.

Gentle enough for all skin types

Whether you have oily, dry, or sensitive skin, Snail Mucin is suitable for all skin types.

A bottle of COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence (From: cosrx.com).

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Drawbacks

One of the most common complaints from users is about the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence that they received being “fake”. However, this perception may be due to the manufacturer changing the outer package and labeling of the product while also not being as effective for some users.

The manufacturers made some changes to their packaging of the product back in 2019 which may have caused some users to believe that they received a knockoff/cheaper substitute product.

Additionally, some people find the texture of the product to be overly slimy and uncomfortable. Although this is mostly a matter of personal preference, it is still something worth taking note of.

Pros

  • Supplements the use of other moisturizers
  • Protects your skin from losing moisture
  • Soothes and repairs old and irritated skin
  • Aids in the growth of new and healthy skin
  • Lightweight texture that is easy on the face
  • Suitable for all skin types

Cons

  • Slight chance of receiving a product that has no effect on your skin
  • Some people might find the “slimy” texture uncomfortable

3. SKINFOOD Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence

A bottle of SKINFOOD Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence (From: amazon.com).

Key Features:

  • Key Ingredient: 63% Black Bee Propolis
  • Type: Essence
  • Cruelty Free: ✓
  • Vegan: ✗
  • Strengthens and softens skin
  • Formulated to strengthen skin immunity
  • Purified water replaced with matured honey

Besides containing 63% black bee propolis extract, the SKINFOOD Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence also contains other nutritious ingredients like royal jelly and black honey extract that help moisten and firm damaged skin.

The antibacterial properties of propolis helps get rid of acne-causing bacteria on your skin, while the royal jelly extract contains nutrients (such as nucleic and decanoic acid) that supports skin renewal and collagen production. Having these two ingredients together form a very effective skin strengthening synergy.

This product has been upgraded to contain 13% more propolis extract and an additional 10% royal jelly extract than its previous version.

After applying toner, use the dropper to apply the product across your face in a circular motion. With your fingertips, pat the essence until it has been completely absorbed and apply your choice of moisturizer or serum afterwards.

Compatible with many skin types

Because of the moisturizing and revitalizing effects of propolis, this product is recommended for people with dry, sensitive, and rough skin. It’s also great for women who experience hormonal imbalances (due to menopause or seasonal changes) that affect the general health of their skin.

This can be attributed to the antioxidant properties of propolis and royal jelly being an effective hormonal tonic.

Effective skin barrier strengthening

The product boasts a more effective skin barrier strengthening effect in comparison to other essences in the market due to the penetrative properties of matured black bee propolis. This allows the skin to be moisturized more effectively while also improving its defenses thanks to the essence’s antiseptic properties.

Delivers concentrated natural effects

Most essences and skin-care products make use of purified water as one of its main ingredients because it is generally a part of cosmetics production. This dilutes and lessens the overall effectiveness of other ingredients.

The SKINFOOD Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence, on the other hand, aims to deliver the full concentrated natural effects of black bee propolis to your skin by replacing the purified water with matured honey.

A bottle of SKINFOOD Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence (From: amazon.com).

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Drawbacks

The biggest complaint that most users have when it comes to this product is the packaging. Due to the dropper nozzle, which makes it so that the bottle can’t be sealed, the product comes unsealed and many people experience leakage when their package arrives. If not handled carefully during the delivery process, there is a high chance of spillage occuring.

Although the product has good moisturizing capabilities, some users complain that it doesn’t do anything else other than that.

Pros

  • Contains more propolis than other essences
  • Provides reliable moisture to the skin
  • Antiseptic properties help improve skin’s barrier
  • Replaces purified water with mature honey
  • Dries quickly despite its honey-like texture
  • Suitable for most skin types

Cons

  • High chance of leaking during delivery due to product packaging
  • Slight chance of no other positive effects other than moisturizing skin

4. COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid

A bottle of COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid (From: amazon.com)

Key Features:

  • Key Ingredient: 7% AHA: Glycolic Acid; Niacinamide
  • Type: Exfoliant
  • Cruelty Free: ✓
  • Vegan: ✓
  • Formulated to resurface new skin
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Hypoallergenic and dermatologically tested

The COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid promises to clean up your skin while renewing your complexion. It exfoliates without causing irritation thanks to its natural ingredients like apple fruit water.

After cleansing, soak a cotton ball or pad with the product and apply a thin layer of the liquid on your face while making sure to avoid your eye and mouth area. When using the product during the daytime, follow it up with sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). AHA works by thinning the surface layer of your skin which promotes new cell growth and even pigmentation. However, this also leaves your skin sensitive to the sun.

Initial use of the product may give you a stinging sensation, however it is perfectly normal and should go away after continual usage as advised by the manufacturer. If it’s your first time using the product, use it only once a week.

However, if you have sensitive skin and are uncomfortable with the burning sensation, simply rinse your face with warm water after several minutes and continue with your skin care routine.

After your skin has adapted to the product with no irritant or allergic reactions, increase the usage up to 2 to 3 times a week.

Gentle yet effective cleansing

The product only contains a 7% concentration of glycolic acid (AHA) which is on the lower end of recommended strengths in most skin care products. As such, it provides you with a gentle and mild exfoliation experience that not only effectively cleans your skin, but doing so without causing any irritation.

Get brighter and clearer skin

Because of the glycolic acid (AHA) concentration in the product, it whitens skin by encouraging faster cell turnover and lifts dead skin cells found on the outer layer of your skin. In addition, AHAs also improve blood flow to your face, thus reducing the appearance of wrinkles and surface lines.

Hydrate while you exfoliate

The mildness of the product removes the worry of over-exfoliation or drying out your skin. It effectively hydrates your face while you exfoliate thanks to the hyaluronic acid found within the product.

A bottle of COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid (From: cosrx.com)

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Drawbacks

Despite having “whitehead” in its product title, some users have complaints towards this product’s inability to get rid of whiteheads on their face.

Although the product has no added artificial fragrance, some users complain about the distinct smell from the product, which is most likely due to the combination of its unique ingredients.

Pros

  • Renews skin by gently lifting dead skin cells
  • Provides hydration during exfoliation
  • Achieve brighter and clearer skin
  • Uses apple fruit water in place of plain mineral water
  • Gentle yet effective on the skin
  • Helps reveal a radiant-toned complexion

Cons

  • May be unable to get rid of your whiteheads
  • The product might not smell pleasant

5. ISNTREE Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence

A bottle of ISNTREE Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence (From: isntree.com).

Key Features:

  • Key Ingredient: 8% AHA: 4% Glycolic Acid and 4% Lactic Acid
  • Type: Exfoliant
  • Cruelty Free: ✓
  • Vegan: ✓
  • Exfoliation without washing or rinsing
  • Contains no skin-irritating ingredients
  • High concentration of AHA

The ISNTREE Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence is a mild keratin exfoliant that promises to improve overall skin texture by gently removing keratin on your face without the need for rinsing. The product is meant to be absorbed by the skin rather than washed off, which allows for deeper pore cleansing.

After applying a basic toner on your skin, take a moderate amount of the product and spread it across your face while making sure to avoid the eye and mouth areas. Wait for the product to be fully absorbed before applying your moisturizers or creams. If you’re planning to use the product during the day, it is highly advised to use UV blocking sunscreen in order to protect yourself.

If this is your first time using a high-content AHA product, then it is recommended that you use the product at night to avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun.

Effective keratin removal

The product has glycolic acid, one of the many types of AHAs that have fast dermal penetration due to their inherently small molecular size. This makes it the most effective ingredient in removing keratin from your skin.

In addition, because it is combined with lactic acid, an AHA with a slightly bigger molecular structure than glycolic acid, it removes keratin more mildly. The two ingredients work together to provide deep cleansing and the proper moisturizing effect while also avoiding over-exfoliation.

From rough and tough to light and bright

The exfoliation process naturally removes keratin and the outer layer of skin from your face, this basically tidies up the skin and improves its texture from being rough and dark to soft, smooth and light. This product also increases the absorption rate of other helpful ingredients found in the moisturizers and beauty products in the next step of your skin care routine.

Makes irritated skin comfortable

Morus alba bark in combination with centella asiatica extract found in the product helps improve your skin’s complexion while also hydrating and giving off a soothing sensation for a more comfortable feeling. This is most useful especially after exfoliation when your skin is at its most sensitive.

A bottle of ISNTREE Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence (From: sokoglam.com).

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Drawbacks

The only major complaint about the product is that some users with dry and sensitive skin experience a harsh burning sensation and breakouts. Other users experience little to no effects on their skin other than the slight burning sensation of the exfoliation process.

Pros

  • Gentle cleansing through effective exfoliation
  • No-wash and no-rinse solution
  • Higher concentration of AHAs
  • Contains no skin-irritating ingredients
  • Improves overall skin texture

Cons

  • Users with dry and sensitive skin may experience breakouts
  • May have little to no effect on your skin

6. Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream

A container of Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream (From: amazon.com).

Key Features:

  • Key Ingredient: 92% Snail Mucin
  • Type: Moisturizer
  • Cruelty Free: ✓
  • Vegan: ✗
  • Provides skin regeneration and recovery
  • Free from harmful ingredients
  • Lightweight texture with fast absorption

The Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream is an all-purpose cream that promises to provide you with intense skin repair and recovery by addressing most skin concerns like dryness, wrinkles, acne, and more.

After using cleanser and toner, apply an appropriate amount of the cream on your face. Use your fingers to evenly incorporate the product across your skin.

As advised by the manufacturers, in order to reap the most benefits of the product such as fading acne scars and blemishes, continuous daily usage is highly recommended.

Moisturizes and rejuvenates skin

Due to the high concentration of snail mucin found within the product, it effectively keeps moisture locked in the skin. Not only does this deliver proper hydration to the skin, but in combination with centella asiatica, it also soothes and rejuvenates.

Repairs and improves skin health

Snail mucin also contains growth factors that proliferate the growth of new skin cells, thus repairing and restoring the damaged outer layer of your skin while improving its overall health. The copper peptides found in the product also help with the healing and wrinkle repair.

Anti-aging properties for younger skin

Its anti-aging properties help lessen the appearance of surface lines, wrinkles, and acne scars by creating skin that is well-hydrated, elastic, bright, and healthy. This product is ideal for people with dry and sensitive skin as they can reap the most benefit from its skin moisturizing effects.

A container of Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream (From: amazon.com).

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Drawbacks

There are some very rare cases that users with dry and sensitive skin, despite being the main target audience of this product, experience breakouts after applying the cream to their face. Few people pointed out issues with the cream actually drying out their skin rather than providing moisture and hydration.

Pros

  • Effective skin regeneration and repair
  • Soothes and rejuvenates skin while moisturizing
  • Lessens the appearance of wrinkles
  • High concentration of snail mucin
  • Ideal for people with dry and sensitive skin
  • Anti-aging effects

Cons

  • Slight chance for breaking out
  • May dry out your skin rather than moisturize it

7. PURITO Centella Unscented Serum

A bottle of PURITO Centella Unscented Serum (From: amazon.com).

Key Features:

  • Key Ingredient: 49% Centella Asiatica Extract and Niacinamide
  • Type: Serum
  • Cruelty Free: ✓
  • Vegan: ✓
  • Strengthen and repair skin barrier
  • No essential oils & no fragrance
  • Anti-inflammatory effects

The PURITO Centella Unscented Serum promises to repair damaged skin while soothing acne scars. It does this through the synthesis of new collagen on your skin while regenerating it.

After using a pH balanced cleanser, sse about 1-2 pumps of the serum and apply it on the face. Once it has been properly absorbed, continue with the next steps of your skin care routine.

For best results, use more than once a day. Preferably in the morning and at night.

Helps recover your skin

Thanks to the highly-concentrated centella extract, this product boasts the ability to provide effective skin regeneration and recovery. The niacinamide in the product also helps by not only soothing damaged skin, but also improving your skin tone, keeping it radiant.

Safe for all skin types

Whether you have damaged, dry, or sensitive skin, this product is safe to use without fear of itching or redness. The removal of essential oils in this version of the product also removes the possibility of an allergic or irritant reaction from your skin.

Improves skin barrier

The ceramide, centella extract, and sodium hyaluronate found within the product helps in strengthening your skin barrier. It does this by directly penetrating the skin and strengthening the intercellular lipids that are key in keeping the outer skin healthy. This product is especially beneficial for those with sensitive and moisture-insufficient type skin.

A bottle of PURITO Centella Unscented Serum (From: amazon.com).

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Drawbacks

The only real complaint from users is about the texture of the product with it having a sticky consistency that takes the skin longer than usual to fully absorb.

Pros

  • Improves skin barrier and health
  • Continually soothes damaged skin
  • Lessens acne scars, dark spots, and uneven skin tone
  • No essential oils or added fragrance
  • Repair and regenerates skin while forming new skin cells

Cons

  • Due to sticky consistency, it may take longer than usual to fully absorb

8. Sidmool Good Spot Cream

A container of Sidmool Good Spot Cream (From: amazon.com).

Key Features:

  • Key Ingredient: 45% Centella Asiatica Extract
  • Type: Spot Treatment
  • Cruelty Free: ✓
  • Vegan: Not Stated
  • Non-sticky texture
  • Smooths out wrinkles
  • Improve skin conditions

The Sidmool Good Spot Cream is a spot correcting cream that has been specifically formulated with centella asiatica extract and madecassoside in order to effectively soothe and improve your skin health without the sticky and uncomfortable texture.

Use this product at night after cleansing and applying toner.

Fade dark spots

Thanks to the combination of centella asiatica extract and niacinamide, a multifunctional skin care ingredient with a lot of other benefits, this cream helps fade dark spots while providing proper hydration to the skin.

Helps your skin absorb more

Not only does this product help in the removal of spots and acne scars on your face, the butylene glycol found in the product also helps other ingredients penetrate into the skin more effectively.

Butylene glycol also gives the cream the smooth sensation on your skin which allows it to spread nicely across your face while moisturizing the skin.

Anti-aging properties

The niacinamide in the product allows for the general improvement of your skin while helping alleviate skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis. The moisturizing effects also lessens the overall prominence of surface lines and wrinkles, thus giving it anti-aging properties.

A container of Sidmool Good Spot Cream (From: amazon.com).

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Drawbacks

As of writing, there have been no complaints with the product so far.

Pros

  • Effectively fades dark spots and gets rid of acne
  • Improves penetration of other helpful ingredients
  • Lessens wrinkles and acne scars
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Moisturizes the skin

Cons

  • None so far

How to Pick the Best Korean Products For Acne Scars

With the vast amount of K-beauty products out there, it may be overwhelming to pick out the right one for you. That’s why we’ve listed some of the more important things you should keep in mind when choosing a product.

Below are some of the key factors you should take into consideration in order for you to get the most out of your product. We’ve also compiled a few questions that you can ask yourself so that you can make a well-informed choice:

  • Does it promise intense hydration?
  • What are the product’s key ingredients? What do they do?
  • Is the product alcohol-free?
  • Is the product actively anti-inflammatory? How can I tell if I’m sensitive to it?
  • Is the product ethically made?

Intense Hydration

If there’s anything to look out for in a Korean product to reduce acne scars, it’s the ability to provide intense hydration to your skin. Hydration is a key factor as it helps improve your skin’s elasticity which reduces acne scars by keeping it firm and moisturized.

Products that hydrate and lock in moisture help repair your skin by preventing it from drying out again. It also protects your skin from the environment by strengthening the skin’s barrier. This prevents the outside elements from causing dryness or irritation and dehydration.

Using a product that keeps your skin well-hydrated and elastic not only helps eliminate acne scars, but it also gradually decreases the appearances of wrinkles over time.

Key Ingredients

There are many kinds of Korean products and each have their own unique mix of ingredients. However, there are certain key ingredients that are worth taking note of as they play an important role in fading acne scars and have different purposes.

Below is a table explaining what are some of the key ingredients found in Korean products and their main purpose in getting rid of acne scars.

Key Ingredient What is it? What does it do?
Propolis A resin-like substance which is a mixture of beeswax and tree sap that is used by bees to seal unwanted open spaces in their hive. It has antioxidants and antibacterial properties that can fight acne-causing bacteria on your skin. It is also used as a moisturizer that helps keep the skin smooth and hydrated.
Snail Mucin The excretions from a snail. Also known as “snail slime” or labeled as “snail secretion filtrate” on ingredient labels. It is a combination of glycolic acids and proteins. It has moisturizing agents that lock in moisture in the skin while repairing it. Contains growth factors that trigger the growth of new skin cells and new collagen that lessens the amount of wrinkles on your face while making your skin look younger.
Centella Asiatica A perennial plant that is native to the wetlands in asian countries such as China, Japan, India and Indonesia. It is also known as “gotu kola”. Primarily known for its culinary and medicinal uses, but found its way as a key ingredient in skin care products. It provides good hydration while soothing upset or damaged skin. It also contains active compounds such as “madecassoside” which gives it antioxidant properties that effectively gives proper amino acids to your skin. This reduces inflammation and helps build collagen.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) A group of acids that come from different plants and animals. There are different types of AHAs, but glycolic and lactic acids are found to be the most effective and least likely to cause skin irritation. It is primarily used for exfoliation or shedding of the surface of the skin. It also helps improve blood flow to the skin and reduces surface lines/wrinkles. It minimizes and helps prevent skin discoloration due to acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation by promoting the production of new skin cells.
Niacinamide Also known as nicotinamide, it is a form of vitamin B3 and serves as an antioxidant. It is naturally present in our body and can be found in most meats, fish, and green vegetables. It aids in the rebuilding of healthy skin cells while also providing protection from ultraviolet rays from the sun. It also helps keep your skin firm and healthy by building a protein called keratin. Whitens dark spots, fades acne scars and treats hyperpigmentation of the skin.

Alcohol-free

A lot of Korean skin care products contain different kinds of alcohol such as ethanol or denatured alcohol. Because of this, it is easy to believe that alcohol plays an important part in repairing your skin and getting rid of all your acne problems. In reality, any beauty product with alcohol as its main ingredient can have negative effects on your skin.

There are two main reasons as to why alcohol is commonly found in skin care products:

  • Gives the product a quick-drying sensation that makes it feel lighter on the skin.
  • Allows other helpful ingredients (like vitamin C) to penetrate the skin, albeit in an intrusive and harmful manner.

That’s why it’s best to avoid products that contain alcohol, especially if you have dehydrated/dry skin or are acne-prone. This is because alcohol damages, dehydrates, and irritates your skin. As such, using products with alcohol in them tend to enlarge your pores, increase the appearance of wrinkles, and make your face produce more oil, thus worsening the situation.

Although the light and pleasant feeling you get after using an alcohol-based skin care product is very appealing, it isn’t worth the long-term damage you’re doing to your skin.

Bottom line: Avoid skin care products with alcohol. Why should you settle for something that can potentially harm your skin when there are several skin-friendly alternatives available?

Anti-inflammatory / Sensitivities

If you’re someone with skin sensitivities, skin conditions (such as rosacea and eczema), or just want to prevent the possibility of an allergic reaction, then it might be a good idea to choose Korean products made from certain ingredients that have active anti-inflammatory properties.

Regardless if a product is anti-inflammatory or not, you should always patch test your skin care products before incorporating them to your routine or using it on your entire face.

A patch test is when you test out a new product in order to determine if it works well with your skin. This is a great way to find out which products you’re incompatible with.

Here’s how to do a simple patch test:

  1. Apply a small amount of the product to a sensitive part of your face such as your cheek or chin. These areas are the most prone to breakouts due to the higher concentration of oil glands.
  2. Continue to apply the product to the same area for a couple of days. Irritation usually occurs after about a day. On the other hand, breakouts would usually occur after about a week if your skin isn’t compatible with the product.
  3. Determine if your skin has any allergic reactions.

It is important that you are able to differentiate an irritant from an allergic reaction.

An irritant reaction (mild itch, redness, stinging sensation) may occur when you are using a product for the first time but it often goes away after continued usage. An allergic reaction, however, involves other factors and usually concerns how your immune system reacts to certain ingredients found in your skin care products.

Although the symptoms of irritant and allergic reactions are similar (redness, itching, etc.), the former usually shows up almost immediately after putting on the product and eventually disappears over time, while the latter usually has a delayed onset and worsens after each consecutive use.

One ingredient that has the potential to irritate your skin is essential oils, which are common in many K-beauty products. Essential oils that are old or have not been stored properly are more likely to cause irritation to your skin because of all the oxidized limonene and pinene that are found within them.

The topic of using beauty products with essential oils is highly debatable, with many people claiming that it is safe to use when diluted properly and other sources saying that it is bad for your skin regardless.

When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution, especially if you’re wary of these ingredients affecting your skin.

Ethical Concerns

This particular factor boils down to your own personal beliefs on whether the way a product is manufactured affects your decision to buy it.

There are different labels that can affect what products you choose as a consumer. However, when it comes to beauty and skin care products, the main ones to look out for are the cruelty-free and vegan labels.

PETA's Cruelty-Free Label (From: peta.org).

A cruelty-free Korean skin care product basically means that no animals were used for testing or manufacturing in the entirety of its development process. This means the products were tested on humans or through other alternate methods.

Cruelty-free products can still contain ingredients derived from animals such as milk, honey, excretions, etc.

Even though South Korea has outlawed animal testing since 2018, companies that sell in China are required to do animal testing. However K-beauty companies that sell to the Chinese market via Hong Kong do not require additional animal-testing to be conducted.

Vegan products are quite similar to cruelty-free products in a way that they do not involve harming any animals when making them. More importantly, they do not contain any animal/animal-derived ingredients or by-products.

Warning: Most popular Korean products will contain common non-vegan ingredients like:

  • Bee products (propolis, beeswax, honey)
  • Collagen
  • Snail mucin

Conclusion

Now that you’ve been given the proper knowledge in what to look out for in Korean products to treat your acne scars, you should be more than capable of choosing one that fits your needs. Remember to always do a patch test! One user’s holy grail may be another’s poison. Most importantly, the product should be able to adhere to your current skin care routine without causing any irritation or allergic reactions.

The products we’ve listed in this article are a great place to start your K-beauty journey to having vibrant, young, and healthy skin free from acne scars. Even if you’re still unsure of making the leap and expanding your routine, at least you can use the information you learned here to be a more discerning consumer in the future.

Are you happy with the choice of products we’ve showcased? What was your favorite one? Please feel free to comment down below! Perhaps you want to discuss a secret product or solution to treat acne scars? Share it with us!


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