Prepare to simplify your skin-care routine, stat. This new millennial trend out of Korea is all about multitasking products.

By By Jaime Osnato
November 26, 2018
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Photo: JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images

No other beauty routine has inspired more social media intrigue than Korean skin care. With funny bubble masks straight out of sci-fi and exotic ingredients like bee venom, snail mucus, and donkey's milk, K-beauty is practically Instagram legend.

Beyond its cool factor, Korean skin care is as serious as a heart attack-its strict 10-step regimens test the patience of even the most committed beauty enthusiast. One thing's for sure-whether you're a diehard K-junkie or not, the extreme multistep process isn't always practical (like when you're stumbling home after a few too many glasses of keto-friendly wine).

If rolling out of bed and splashing water on your face sound more your speed, you might want to give Korean skip care a go. Emerging from the streets of Seoul, the new millennial skin-care trend rejects rigorous regimens in favor of simple, low maintenance skin-care strategies. The antithesis of the double-digit K-beauty routine, the skip-care craze seems to be in response to the larger "escape the corset" movement exploding in South Korea where women are rebelling against unrealistic beauty standards sapping their time, energy, and money.

"Skip care is a skin-care method that allows you to identify the essential ingredients for your skin and avoid the use of unnecessary products for a simpler, yet proper, skin-care routine," Korean brand AmorePacific told Byrdie. The idea is to use fewer products to achieve the same results. How? Opt for ones that provide multiple benefits, so you can skip the steps without sacrificing quality.

Below, we've rounded up the dermatologist-approved, K-beauty skin-care essentials that contain powerful, multitasking ingredients.

1. Neogen Dermalogy Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser

Made of fermented green tea leaves, this natural foaming cleanser from the beloved Korean skin-care brand does it all-cleanses, exfoliates, brightens, and hydrates, while also packing anti-aging perks. "Green tea polyphenols have multiple anti-aging benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as collagen-protective properties, which may reduce the appearance of wrinkles," says Y. Claire Chang, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City.

2. Dr. JART+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30

On the surface, this treatment helps color-correct for blemishes, uneven skin tone, and redness, while also providing protection from the sun and pollution. But this all-in-one product does so much more. "The hero of this product is tiger grass (centella asiatica, or "cica" for short) which has traditionally been used in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Chinese medicine," says Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology. This centuries-old ingredient heals stressed skin, reduces inflammation, and enhances collagen production, adds Dr. Chang. It also boosts the skin's moisture barrier to help skin stay hydrated longer. In other words, if you deal with any of these skin issues, it's a definite don't skip. (For more: These Cica Creams Are Perfect for Soothing Dry, Sensitive Skin)

3. Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner

A big emphasis in K-beauty is balancing your skin's pH levels, so it's no surprise that when this cleansing toner launched in the U.S. on K-beauty site Soko Glam last year, it became an instant best-seller and amassed a huge waitlist. It pulls double duty as a brightener and calming agent thanks to powerhouse ingredients. Peony extract and licorice water improve skin pigmentation while green tea extract soothes redness, says Dr. Kanchanapoomi Levin.

4. Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream

Snail mucus steals the show in this super-hydrating K-beauty cream, and for good reason. Research shows that snail secretions contain "multiple dermatologic benefits ranging from rejuvenation to antimicrobial effects," according to Dr. Kanchanapoomi Levin. Topical snail mucus is particularly effective for revitalizing photodamaged skin, adds Dr. Chang, noting a study in which participants saw marked improvement in fine lines, wrinkles, skin texture, and elasticity.

5. NEOGEN Real Ferment Micro Essence

Another pick from the Korean skin-care brand, this essence packs a powerful hydrating punch with tried-and-true moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and sodium hyaluronate. Rounding out the dream team of hydrators is birch juice. "Birch bark has a long history in traditional Eastern and Scandinavian medicine for wound healing and has recently become more popular for its potential moisturizing properties," says Dr. Kanchanapoomi Levin. What's more? According to Dr. Chang, this product brightens skin and fights wrinkles, too, thanks to the potent antioxidant niacinamide.

6. Son & Park Beauty Water

Created by two of Korea's top makeup artists, this bestselling multitasking beauty water will shave minutes off your routine. It's a cleanser water (so you can use it at night to remove dirt, oil, and makeup) but also a pre-makeup toner that exfoliates and hydrates skin for an even, glowing base. Dr. Chang recommends this product for calming ingredients such as tree leaf extract, green tea extract, witch hazel, and papaya extract, which not only soothe but also protect skin against free radicals.

7. Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb

This cream is truly the bomb. With an arsenal of hydrating ingredients like glycerin, dimethicone, triglycerides, ceramide 3, shea butter, squalene, and hydrogenated lecithin, it's like a drink of water for dry, thirsty skin. But the cream's real secret weapon is lady's mantle, an antioxidant herb. "The active extracts of lady's mantle contain flavonoids and salicylic acid whose exfoliating properties can improve pore size and skin tone," says Dr. Kanchanapoomi Levin.