Believe me when I say Olive Young is THE black hole for all skincare enthusiasts. A quick search on TikTok and its algorithm will generate endless videos of content creators flaunting their clear, glass-like skin that are seemingly poreless and leaves the rest of us in awe. If you are a jealous individual like myself who wishes upon any star in the sky in hopes of achieving the famed glazed look, you have landed on the right page. Olive Young, however, is just one of the many beauty havens in the land of spicy kimchi stew and exceptional films.
Whether you are just starting out or a dyed-in-the-wool K-Beauty fan, there seems to be an invisible magnet that just pulls you right into its embrace, and not one soul will leave their premises empty handed. It can, however, be extremely overwhelming with its unending rows of products that are usually packed with eagle-eyed and fast-handed customers that move at lightning speed to secure their goods.
If you are on a recent retreat to the hotbed of innovation in the beauty industry, here are some must-have items you should pick up both in and outside of Olive Young. Otherwise, they are also available for purchase with just a few taps, right from your pocket.
When you are overseas, part of the experience is to eat and live like a local. Skincare is no exception. It is all serious business and no play when it comes to sun care in South Korea. Emerging as the top sunscreen for six times straight, this SPF50, PA++++ chemical sunscreen by Round Lab boasts hydrating properties while still being completely lightweight with zero white cast due to its formula drying clear upon application. It is infused with its (not so) secret ingredient, birch juice, which helps to calm redness, reduce inflammation, and replenish moisture. Even better, niacinamide and adenosine are laced within this fragrance-free formula that is perfect for anti-ageing and is gentle even on sensitive skins.
If you are one who digs the dewy foundation finish, slip this baby under your base and bask in the glow-from-within look! With hyaluronic acid as another hydrating ingredient, this sunscreen also doubles as a moisturiser for oily skin types – what’s not to love?!
If you are a fan of cleansing balms, you will absolutely fall in love with this formula. The Ma:nyo cleansing oil is non-comedogenic; rather, the 14 types of beneficial oils such as jojoba and argan oils help to deep cleanse from within pores, bringing with it excess sebum, dirt and city pollution while protecting the moisture barrier. Seoul, especially, suffers the effect from fine dust that can take a heavy toll on your skin (think: eczema, premature ageing, and clogged pores).
This genie in a bottle not only helps to remove 99% of said pollutants, but also works effectively by gently melting away waterproof makeup the first time without having to go in with another round of micellar water. It leaves skin supple, smooth, and well-hydrated, without the stripping feeling. Did we also mention it also helps to remove blackheads? Sold out almost everywhere, this full-sized cleansing oil is currently only available as a special set that is inclusive of travel sizes as well, but for an absolute steal (300mL +55mL+25mL). Grab yours now before those disappear too!
This naturally occurring sky blue potion, as candy-like as it seems, works magic on one’s skin. Torriden’s Dive In Serum has been a top favourite for many now, due to its ultra-hydrating properties. When we think of serums and moisturisers, hyaluronic acid often comes to mind. In the case of this super ingredient, size does matter. Hyaluronic acids with a lower molecular weight would mean hydration in deeper levels of the skin due to their small size to help with plumping, whereas a higher molecular weight hyaluronic acid works more towards the surface of the skin to improve textured skin and retaining moisture in the epidermis. Torriden boasts 5 different types of hyaluronic acids with varying molecular weights to fully quench the thirst of your skin from the inside out; truly a deep diver!
Sworn to be one of the best toners out there, the Anua heartleaf toner is suitable for all skin types and is known to be especially useful for sensitive and acne-prone skin. With visible results aplenty amongst buzzing beauty enthusiasts, this toner helps with smoothing out textured skin while still being incredibly hydrating, and its high percentage of heartleaf (77%) helps with reducing redness and inflamed or irritated skin. Also available in 350ml on Olive Young for USD$41 (S$54), although it is temporarily out of stock.
Mediheal is a renowned home-grown brand in Korea recognised by many that always delivers, with the locals’ latest obsession with their madecassoside blemish pad. Do not, however, be intimidated by its name. Madecassoside is extracted from a plant called Centella asiatica (cica) or Tiger Grass, which is ladened with medicinal properties and is widely used in skincare to heal acne, soothe inflammation, improve hydration, and reduce free radicals that can cause premature ageing. It is no wonder that this blemish pad is all the rage right now, with its ability to improve skin texture with a refreshing, non-sticky and lightweight formula suited for sensitive skin. Wiped off the shelves in Olive Young, these best-sellers are now available in a double pack as a value bundle, until sold out.
Trust that you’ll be in safe hands with this serum! Notably one of the leading and most reputable pharmaceuticals in South Korea, Dong-a pharmaceuticals launched Fation as their dermocosmetic brand with formulas of top tier quality that has undergone tons of research and testing. Their best seller, Nosca 9 Trouble Serum, is especially useful in hot and humid conditions where skin irritation is commonly caused by sun and heat. The carefully concocted fast-absorbing formula is said to calm troubled skin and to heal the skin barrier while providing much-needed hydration. It is also especially useful in terms of sebum control and keeps your complexion plump.
Spotted by hawk-eyed fans of the hit Netflix series Singles Inferno Season 2, this moisturiser shot to fame when it was left in an inconspicuous position on a side table where cast member Seul-Ki lay next to, but for good reason. Encapsulated in tiny capsules filled with ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids to mimic our skin’s lipid-like structure, this interesting formula melts immediately into the skin upon application to deliver utmost hydration that lasts up to a whopping 100 hours! This moisturising 365 cream also has a blend of squalane, allantoin and glycerin which further helps with skin elasticity and smooth, supple, baby-like skin while nourishing and repairing skin barrier!
Recently the talk of the town, this vitamin C dark spot care serum sent locals in a frenzy scouring the internet and retail outlets to grab a bottle due to its immense popularity that caused it to sell out everywhere. Infused with 70% green tangerine harvested directly from Jeju that only is in season 4 weeks a year, this vitamin c filled ingredient and antioxidant powerhouse promises to fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation, as well as improve skin texture over time. It also boasts brightening of dull skin and aids in reducing blemishes.
All you need is 5 minutes to get glowing, well-hydrated under eyes. Sounds too good to be true? Well, the Vita C eye patch gel from Goodal is one such product. Like its other best seller, the Dark Spot Serum, this eye patch uses the same wondrous formula but in a gel adhesive form to instantly brighten dark eye circles and moisturise the skin for tired and dull-looking eyes, helping to reduce dark eye circles!
Loved by brand ambassador Rosé from Blackpink, the idol has mentioned this serum as one of her skincare favourites. Undoubtedly, Sulwhasoo is loved by many for its infusion of an ingredient carved deep in Korea’s rich heritage – the ginseng. The First Care Activating Serum VI flaunts its superb ability to help one achieve radiant, glowing skin, and is the first step to unlocking your skin’s potential by repairing the moisture barrier. It is also a fighter against signs of ageing including dryness and tautness, wrinkles, as well as large pores, while giving a lifted effect with increased firmness to turn back time. Now you can get flawless skin like Rosé too!