It wasn’t that long ago that you couldn’t really find a good selection of Korean retinol products because Korean skincare products focused more on hydrating, calming, and other replenishing benefits of their skincare products.
Instead of retinol, Korean brands focused on gentle, natural ingredients like green tea, snail mucin, and Centella asiatica to benefit the skin.
But, the K-Beauty world has leaned into retinol more recently, and I’ve seen quite a few retinol products pop up from recognizable Korean beauty brands.
So I purchased and tested several Korean retinol products and will share seven of the best Korean retinol products in this post.
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The Best Korean Retinol Products
Retinol is a form of vitamin A that stimulates cell turnover and collagen production, which can improve the texture and tone of your skin.
It’s an all-star over-the-counter anti-aging ingredient, yet retinol can be irritating and drying to some skin types, so it’s important to choose a product that is formulated with the right concentration for your skin.
The good news is that many Korean retinol products contain lower amounts of retinol, which make them geared toward the beginner or someone with sensitive skin like me.
Regardless of the retinol strength you choose, be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher while using retinol products and for a week after since they can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
1. Mizon 0.1% Retinol Youth Serum
Mizon 0.1% Retinol Youth Serum is formulated with 0.1% retinol to improve skin turnover and boost collagen production for firmer, more radiant skin.
The retinol serum contains bakuchiol, a natural plant-based retinol alternative that is gentler than retinol but provides similar anti-aging benefits while being more suitable for sensitive skin.
The serum also contains niacinamide to further smooth, brighten, and even out skin tone, as well as peptides to improve skin firmness.
Hyaluronic acid hydrates, while ceramide moisturizes and replenishes the skin barrier. Aloe vera extract and panthenol offer soothing and calming benefits.
The packaging of this serum is attractive on its own, but inside is an airless 5-layer pouch that allows you to discharge the retinol without air entering the airless pouch. Air is the enemy of retinol, so this packaging optimizes its shelf-life.
The serum is lightweight, fast-absorbing, and suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
I think this is an excellent serum for retinol beginners, as it is a very low starter retinol concentration that is boosted by bakuchiol, peptides, and niacinamide, some of my favorite anti-aging ingredients.
2. Some By Mi Retinol Intense Reactivating Serum
Some By Mi Retinol Intense Reactivating Serum is a gentle retinol serum that contains multiple retinoids to boost skin elasticity, reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines, and improve skin texture and tone.
The serum contains the following retinoids:
- 0.1% retinol
- 1 ppm retinal (0.0001%)
- 5,000 ppm bakuchiol (0.5%)
We’ve already discussed how retinol is an all-star over-the-counter anti-ager. Retinol must be converted to retinaldehyde, then retinoic acid to be effective.
Retinal (retinaldehyde) is the intermediate step of this conversion and is a more potent form of retinol than either retinol or bakuchiol.
Bakuchiol is an antioxidant-rich plant extract shown to have many of the same anti-aging benefits of retinol without the irritation.
This mild Korean serum for sensitive skin utilizes patented Elastic-Liposome technology to deliver active ingredients into the deep skin layer.
Additional active ingredients include brightening niacinamide and firming peptide palmitoyl tripeptide-1.
Panthenol, Centella asiatica extract, Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice) root extract, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, beta-glucan, and madecassoside offer additional soothing and calming benefits.
3. Heimish Marine Care Retinol Eye Serum
Heimish Marine Care Retinol Eye Serum combines 0.1% retinol with 5% niacinamide plus 58% Miracle Marine Water to reduce wrinkles, brighten dark circles, and improve skin texture.
Retinol smooths wrinkles and fine lines and improves skin texture, while niacinamide brightens, evens skin tone, and reduces the look of hyperpigmentation and discoloration.
Miracle Seawater extracted from sea algae provides extended hydration, which helps offset retinol’s drying effects.
Shea butter nourishes the skin, while panthenol soothes irritation.
This vegan retinol eye serum is non-sticky and absorbs easily.
I love the combination of retinol and niacinamide in face serums and creams, which also extends to this eye serum. Two of my favorite active ingredients!
Please note there is a small amount of fragrance in this eye cream.
Fragrance in an eye cream is usually a deal breaker for me, but fragrance is the last ingredient, which means it is the lowest concentrated ingredient in the eye serum. It’s very light and doesn’t bother my eyes at all.
4. Some By Mi Retinol Intense Advanced Triple Action Eye Cream
Some By Mi Retinol Intense Advanced Triple Action Eye Cream contains retinol and several other active ingredients that smooth fine lines and reduce the look of dark circles.
Its triple action formula is designed to:
- Reduce wrinkles
- Firm the skin
Retinol, a powerful anti-aging ingredient, works by stimulating collagen production, which helps to minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves skin cell turnover, providing a smoother, more even-toned complexion.
In addition to retinol, this Korean eye cream also contains niacinamide (vitamin B3). This multi-tasking vitamin boosts the skin’s natural barrier function, helping to retain moisture and improve overall texture.
Niacinamide also works to reduce the looks of dark circles, uneven skin tone, and discoloration for brighter skin tone around the eyes.
Hyaluronic acid attracts and retains water, plumping the skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Peptides stimulate collagen and elastin production, contributing to a firmer and more youthful-looking eye area.
Panthenol and Centella asiatica extract, also known as cica or tiger grass, offer soothing and healing properties. They help to calm inflammation and redness.
The nice thing about this eye cream is that in addition to your eye area, you can use it on other areas of your face with wrinkles, fine lines, or sagging skin, like on your forehead, the skin around your lips, and even on your neck.
5. COSRX The Retinol 0.1 Cream
Excellent for beginners, COSRX The Retinol 0.1 Cream contains 0.1% retinol to reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines, firm your skin, and improve skin texture.
The cream is formulated with good-for-your-skin ingredients, including adenosine, which helps improve skin elasticity and fine lines.
Vitamin E and other antioxidants protect and nourish your skin. Shea butter and plant extracts leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, and hydrated.
Pure vitamin C and a vitamin C derivative brighten your complexion and improve skin tone.
Hyaluronic acid helps to boost hydration and draw moisture to your skin. Panthenol and allantoin soothe your skin.
This cream works great for beginners because it has a low concentration of retinol, which is gentler on your skin. It’s great for acne-prone skin and enlarged pores, too.
This lightweight Korean cream is non-greasy and absorbs quickly. It’s a nice option for those who want to dip their toes in the retinol pool with minimal irritation.
6. Elizavecca Milky Piggy EGF Elastic Retinol Cream
Elizavecca Milky Piggy EGF Elastic Retinol Cream contains 69.9% swiftlet nest extract plus retinol to nourish your skin.
You may have never heard of swiftlet nest extract before. I know I didn’t before trying this retinol cream!
Swiftlet nest extract replenishes your skin’s oil-moisture balance, making it an excellent choice for dehydrated, oily skin.
Retinol improves elasticity and the look of wrinkles and fine lines, while EGF (SH-Oligopeptide-1) offers skin renewal benefits.
Niacinamide offers multiple skin benefits: it brightens your complexion, reduces the appearance of pores, and helps improve skin texture. Allantoin soothes the skin.
This cream is light and slightly sticky. It’s perfect for those looking to combat aging skin while also keeping their skin hydrated.
7. COSRX Retinol 0.5 Oil
COSRX Retinol 0.5 Oil is a lightweight retinol oil formulated with pure retinol to reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines and improve skin cell turnover for smoother, more radiant skin.
The cream contains 0.5% retinol, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while improving skin texture and tone. Retinol also boosts collagen production, which helps to improve skin firmness.
The oil has a squalane base, which helps to hydrate and nourish your skin without feeling greasy.
This Korean skincare product also contains a blend of plant oils, including jojoba oil and sunflower seed oil, which help improve skin elasticity and reduce inflammation.
Super Vitamin E protects your skin from environmental stressors.
You can apply the retinol oil directly to your face for a more targeted treatment or mix a few drops into your moisturizer for added hydration and anti-aging benefits.
This Korean oil is easily absorbed into your skin and leaves no greasy residue.
Related Post: Best COSRX Products for Oily & Acne-Prone Skin
Best Korean Retinol Products: The Bottom Line
Retinol is a game-changer when it comes to improving your skin’s texture and appearance. Korean skincare brands have perfected the art of incorporating this powerful ingredient into their products, creating a range of effective and affordable options for everyone to try.
Whether you’re looking to address fine lines and wrinkles or simply improve the overall health of your skin, the seven products we’ve discussed are all excellent choices to incorporate into your skincare routine.
Remember, when using retinol products, it’s essential to start slow and build up gradually. And don’t forget to wear sunscreen daily, as retinol can increase sun sensitivity.
With consistent use and a bit of patience, you’ll soon see the incredible results that retinol can deliver.
Thanks for reading, and until next time, here’s to your good skin health!