I think everyone knows about the Beauty of Joseon sunscreen. If you don’t, it’s super popular right now because it’s so light and comfortable, while still being protective and really budget friendly.
But Beauty of Joseon have a lot of other fantastic budget friendly skincare products, some of which are really underrated. I’m going to tell you about some of the best ones today.
The video is here, keep scrolling for the text version….
Beauty of Joseon Revive Eye Serum: Ginseng and Retinal
I’m going to start with possibly the second most hyped up BoJ product – the Revive Eye Serum. (Although I still think this is less popular than it should be!)
This is an eye product that I use all over my face. The main drawcard here is retinal, which is considered the most effective form of vitamin A in cosmetic skincare products, since it’s only one step away from tretinoin (one step closer than retinol).
Korean products tend not to use a lot of vitamin A, but it is starting to increase. I think this is still the only Korean product I’ve seen that has retinal, and it’s one of the (if not THE) most budget-friendly retinal products available.
This has 0.02% retinal encapsulated in liposomes, which release the retinal slowly onto skin and helps make it very gentle. The liposomes also help keep it stable.
There are also some soothing ingredients like niacinamide, ginseng, vitamin E and adenosine to reduce irritation (the ginseng is also meant to have some antiwrinkle benefits).
This is one of the gentler retinal/retinol products I’ve tried, but some people have still gotten irritation from it. So if you’re new to “stronger” retinoids, or if you know that your skin finds them a bit spicy, I’d recommend introducing it really slowly (see my post on how to start on retinoids).
But I’ve found that I can use this serum everyday if I’m a little bit careful with it, and don’t use way too much (which is how you’re meant to use retinoids – you only really need about a pea sized amount for your whole face).
This serum is also fragrance-free, as are most Beauty of Joseon products. A lot of people whose skin can’t handle fragrance have issues finding K-beauty products – if that’s you, Beauty of Joseon should be on your radar! And that leads me onto…
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Beauty of Joseon Radiance Cleansing Balm
I’m a huge fan of cleansing balms. I really enjoy how they melt off make-up and sunscreen effortlessly – it’s really relaxing to massage them into my face at the end of the day, and it’s become my favourite skincare step. It’s like the face equivalent of kicking off your shoes.
A lot of people have asked me about fragrance-free cleansing balms with nice textures that rinse off nicely – this is one of the very few out there! And unlike a lot of other fragrance-free cleansing products, this barely smells like anything.
It still has that really lightweight melty texture that a lot of other Korean cleansing balms have, minus the fragrance, so this is a really good fragrance-free option that doesn’t really compromise on much else.
The tub has a handy flip top (much nicer than a screw top when your hands are slippery). There’s a spatula if you like spatulas, but I find it really satisfying to gouge my finger into cleansing balms.
All in all, a solid and relatively unique product.
On the topic of cleansing…
Beauty of Joseon Green Plum Refreshing Cleanser
This is a really lovely inoffensive cleanser. Inoffensive is what you want from a cleanser – it should clean well without messing up your skin, so it’s nicely prepared for your other skincare products.
This cleanser also foams really well, but doesn’t dry out your skin. I’d say this is actually one of the most hydrating cleansers I’ve used! There was zero tightness on my skin after using this.
It also has a bunch of antioxidants in it which can potentially help reduce cleansing irritation, and it’s slightly acidic to match skin’s usual pH.
Related post: Are You Washing Your Face Wrong? Busting Cleanser Myths
With a lot of foaming Korean cleansers you’ll get a really amazing fluffy, dense foam, but they usually have a really high pH, and tend to strip your skin and irritate it, especially if your skin is prone to dehydration (which mine very much is).
It does take a bit more effort to get a fluffy lather with this compared to those more drying cleanser formulas, but I think it’s really worth it.
I really appreciate hydrating cleansers because you don’t need to use as many hydrating products after cleansing. If your skin is too stripped, it feels like you have to load up your skin again with hydrating toners and serums just to get your skin back to baseline before applying your other skincare products.
This cleanser is also fragrance-free, so it’s another really good option if your skin doesn’t like fragrance.
Relief Sun: Rice + Probiotics SPF50+ PA++++
I feel like I’ve already raved about the sunscreen so many times but I’m going to quickly run through it again for those of you who are new to Beauty of Joseon.
Related post: Top Sunscreen Recommendations 2022
This is possibly the most raved about sunscreen online at the moment, and it’s my favourite sunscreen so far. It is a Korean sunscreen (not approved in any other countries as far as I know). It’s made by one of Korea’s top sunscreen manufacturers.
It’s pretty lightweight but on the more moisturising side which I’ve found really good. My skin is normal-oily, but it has been drying out a bit as I’ve been using more retinoids, and due to some hormonal changes thanks to dealing with endometriosis.
The texture is beautifully smooth and buttery. There is a tiny bit of white cast when I first apply it, but it goes away once I leave it for about 10 minutes. (Speaking of which, you shouldn’t rub it in the whole time since that can actually drop the protection of the sunscreen. Just let it sit and a lot of the white cast should go away.)
Related post: Answering (Almost) Every Sunscreen Question
The downside of this: Because it’s so popular, there’s been quite a few fakes floating around, like on Amazon. So if you buy it, I highly recommend buying it from an official retailer (like StyleKorean).
Related Post: Top Korean Sunscreens
Apricot Blossom Peeling Gel
Is it just me or is everyone sleeping on peeling gels? I feel like I don’t see any other skincare creators talk about them, but maybe I just haven’t seen them.
I’ve been using a peeling gel 2 or 3 times a week for the past decade. They’re are one of my top underrated products that I really feel like need more love.
Peeling gels are essentially really gentle physical exfoliants. The reason everyone hates on physical exfoliants is mostly just that a lot of people tend to overuse them, which is especially a problem if they have harsh scrubbing particles (apricot seed, ground pumice, salt etc.).
A lot of people start overusing harsh scrubs when they start on skincare products and irritate the crap out of their skin, and along with overused cleansing brushes, this has given physical exfoliants a really bad name.
Related: Exfoliation Guide (Free Download)
But physical exfoliation isn’t all bad! It’s actually fantastic for smoothing the surface of your skin when used in moderation, and it can be combined with chemical exfoliation without being overly stripping (depending on your skin of course).
Peeling gels contain cellulose fibres as their scrubbing particles. These are the same sort of fibres that you see in wet tissues when they’re falling apart. These really soft fibres aren’t going to scratch your face no matter how hard you press. Oil from your skin makes these fibres bunch up, and turns them into larger soft scrubbing particles.
There are some products that say they are dead skin, but it’s not – if it was, it wouldn’t be a gentle product! And even though they’re soft, they’re really thorough. I find that they’re more thorough at getting dead skin off my skin than scrubs that feel a lot harsher, especially in the area around my nose.
Related Post: Do peeling gels really peel off my skin?
If you press too hard you can still end up irritating your skin, because you just have too much friction. But you have to try a lot harder to overuse these. They’ve made such a big difference to my skin!
One little use case I love for peeling gels is when I have dry flakes on my nose, like when I’ve had a cold or allergies. Any foundation I put on gets caught around the flakes and makes them look really obvious.
Very very gently buffing a peeling gel in little circles over the flakes before putting on makeup stops this from happening! It breaks off the flakes really close to the skin. And while exfoliating irritated skin is not exactly best practice, it’s a lot better than the alternative: me plucking off foundation-coloured flakes with a pair of tweezers, which rips off skin that’s still attached and leaves exposed raw skin. If you’re also someone who does this, please do yourself a favour and use a peeling gel instead!
This is one of my favourite peeling gels. My test for peeling gels is whether or not it produces enough scrubbing fibres in the shower, with lots of extra water around. A lot of peeling gels turn really sad and watery, some of them go weird and sticky (maybe that’s why people don’t love peeling gels, those ones are giving them a bad name!). The Beauty of Joseon peeling gel passes with flying colours
This is another Beauty of Joseon product which is fragrance-free and has minimal smell, which is rare for peeling gels.
Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water
What’s actually best practice for peeling skin? Hydration.
The Ginseng Essence Water is a hydrating toner. This sort of product is really popular in Asian skincare for adding a layer of lightweight hydration without adding anything that sits noticeably on the skin.
It doesn’t leave any residue on your face, so there’s a lot less chance of product balling up on your skin. It’s perfect under sunscreen or makeup, or as one of the earlier steps in your evening routine (I’d apply it right after cleansing, before other actives or serums).
It’s also really handy when your skin is really dehydrated, and your regular moisturiser isn’t quite doing enough. You can just add a few layers of this sort of hydrating toner underneath, instead of trying to find a whole new moisturiser.
I’ve found this really useful for applying to my skin right after cleansing, as it stops my skin from drying out if I wait too long before my other steps.
It’s very hydrating, probably from the glycerin as well as the hyaluronic acid. It leaves a plump, hydrated feeling on my skin that’s just shy of tacky, which is such a hard balance to get in a product (although I can’t guarantee it’ll hit that mark for the humidity where you are and your skin, but it does do it for me at least). And there’s no extra oil in this either – so again, less stuff on your face.
It has a bunch of different types of ginseng extracts, which have lots of antioxidants, and niacinamide, making this a good way of adding niacinamide and antioxidants to your routine without adding much weight or stickiness.
The lack of oil is also awesome for when you need something in summer to hydrate and soothe your skin, but you can’t handle any extra oil on your face. I use this as my summer moisturising product at night a lot, and skip moisturiser. Again it’s fragrance-free, and to me it smells like nothing.
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Glow Serum: Propolis + Niacinamide
Beauty of Joseon have a bunch of serums – out of them, my favorite so far is the Glow Serum, which has propolis and niacinamide.
It took me a long time to get into propolis because I just always assumed it was meant to be like bee venom. It just seemed an irritating ingredient that was meant to be good for acne, and I had already fallen into that trap when I was a teenager. But it turns out that propolis is really non-irritating.
After seeing Kelly Driscoll rave about propolis a whole bunch of times, I decided to look more into it and try it out – and it turns out my skin loves it. This is actually one of Kelly’s top serums, which is why I tried it in the first place (Kelly is excellent for K-beauty reviews – I end up loving a lot of the products she recommends).
Propolis comes from beehives. It’s “bee glue”, made from plant sap, and is really nice and soothing. It’s great for breakouts, thanks in part to all the plant antioxidants concentrated to make it. It’s also really hydrating and humectant with a sticky texture.
There’s also 2% niacinamide and 0.5% salicylic acid – both are great for evening out skin tone, which is one of the components of “glow”. Some day I might do a proper video breaking down what “glowing skin” actually is, but basically this serum ticks off a whole bunch of boxes for it – even skin tone, smoother skin, hydration.
This is just a really lovely product for when I want my skin to look smooth and even the next day, without risking any irritation. It’s one of the few products I can use when my skin’s irritated without worrying about making it worse.
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The products here were provided by StyleKorean for a sponsored video, although this post isn’t sponsored. This post contains affiliate links – if you decide to click through and support Lab Muffin financially (at no extra cost to you), thank you! For more information, see Disclosure Policy.