Best Korean Skin Care for Acne: 2018 Product Reviews

Updated 6 years ago

Pesky zits, angry cystic pimples which leaves behind redness and scarring are some of the worst things that individuals with acne feel troubled about. The appearance of these unwelcome visitors are often due to improper cleansing which results in a buildup of acne-causing pore cloggers that ultimately erupt into those large, unsightly cysts on your cheeks, forehead, nose and jawline.

Why Korean Skin Care is Your Best Bet for Acne

The most important thing when it comes to treating acne and preventing future breakouts is to use products that contain potent acne-fighting ingredients while being gentle enough to avoid sensitizing troubled skin and causing further inflammation. This is why Korean skincare products have gained increasing popularity over recent years when it comes to fighting acne as their products are often formulated with ingredients that are highly effective in clearing up acne, fading leftover pigmentation, while still being mild enough to soothe irritated skin. Moreover, the Koreans have also imparted certain beauty tricks like double cleansing which has seen positive results by users as they felt that the two-step cleansing method dramatically decreased bacteria and dirt buildup, leaving them with a fully-cleansed face which is also the first step towards eliminating acne.

Therefore, to help you find the best acne-busting products that is suitable for troubled skin types, we have rounded up a list of highly-raved products, ranging from cleansers to masks to pimple patches, that have proven results for treating breakouts effectively.

Top Korean Skin Care Products to Combat Acne

The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil

The buildup of dirt, bacteria and leftover makeup residues are often the causes of clogged pores which ultimately result in unwanted zits and pimples. This is why cleansing oils have garnered top priority in Korean women’s cleansing regime as the oils in these cleansers bind to impurities in the pores to pull out all the gunk effortlessly, leaving you with freshly-cleansed skin. Users loved this cleansing oil for giving them soft, thoroughly-cleansed skin without leaving them with a tight feeling that most alkaline cleansers do. Moreover, this product contains Rice Bran Oil and Jojoba Seed Oil, both of which scores 0 on the Comedogenicity Index, meaning that they do not clog pores. Hence, this is the perfect cleansing oil for acne-prone skin as evident from its highly positive reviews on Amazon.

Neogen Dermalogy Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser

This foam cleanser is uniquely packaged to contain real green tea leaves at the bottom of the bottle which are separated by a filter to prevent them from mixing with the liquid portion. What makes this great for acne-prone skin is its Fermented Green Tea Extract that has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which makes it a superstar ingredient in eliminating acne-causing bacteria and helping to soothe irritated skin. Users who tried this cleanser vouched for its effectiveness as they observed reduced frequency and severity of acne breakouts, as well as helping to even out scarring caused by previous blemishes.

MediCube Red Foam Cleanser

The brand’s Red Line specifically targets acne-prone, sensitive skin types. This foam cleanser contains the well-known acne-fighting Salicylic acid as it removes pore-clogging impurities to prevent the formation of pimples. The low concentration of Salicylic Acid (0.5%) also makes it gentle enough for everyday use without drying out your skin. Reviewers saw their acne clearing up and scars fading after consistent use with this cleanser.

COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad

These pads are pre-soaked in Betaine Salicylate and Willow Bark Water which are gentle yet powerful beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) that effectively penetrates the skin layer to remove dead skin cells and other debris, hence cleaning up clogged pores and is great for acne prevention. Besides acting as a chemical exfoliant, these pads can also double up as a manual exfoliator. One side of the pad has a quilted texture to gently exfoliate your skin while the other smooth side picks up any leftover residue. Fans of this product reported clearer skin and lesser breakouts. They also claimed that the pads helped in soothing and calming down irritated skin. Use this right after cleansing and before your toner for best results.

Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner

Besides containing acne-fighting Salicylic Acid, this toner is also infused with other hydrating and soothing ingredients like Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Snail Mucin and Sodium Hyaluronate which makes it ideal for sensitive, troubled skin. Users observed that this toner helped to balance their skin’s moisture levels while enabling other skincare products be absorbed more readily, thus increasing their efficacy. In fact, the toner goes one step further by fading leftover blemishes and scars for a brighter, clearer complexion.

Skin&Lab Red Serum

If you are on the hunt for a skincare product that can fade acne scars and other hyperpigmentation issues, Skin&Lab’s Red Serum is what you are looking for. This intensely concentrated serum is enriched with Betaine to lessen skin irritation and increase moisture levels, Witch Hazel Extract to reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process of blemishes, and Niacinamide to reduce redness and blotchiness while brightening your complexion. With a powerhouse of skin-boosting ingredients, users reported vast improvement in reducing acne scars and other discolorations.  

LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence

This calming essence is formulated with 90% Tea Tree Extract which has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties to combat acne-causing bacteria while its anti-inflammatory nature helps to diminish redness and soothe troubled skin. Besides this key ingredient, the lightweight essence also contains Centella Asiatica Extract, another super ingredient that stimulates the skin’s collagen production to quicken the wound healing process, making it ideal for those looking to bounce back from acne fast.

Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream

This moisturizer is uniquely blue in color due to its key ingredient called Guaiazulene which is extracted from Camomile Oil. Guaiazulene is naturally violet in colour, and this is what turns the cream a calming blue color during the production process. It is a super ingredient for fighting acne due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-allergic properties which makes it ideal for sensitive, troubled skin. This cream also has added Centella Asiatica Extract to aid in skin regeneration which speeds up the healing process to fade acne scars while preventing future breakouts. As such, reviewers with acne-prone skin has made this cream a must-have in their daily routine to effectively combat acne while keeping skin moisturized and soft.

Benton Snail Bee High Content Sheet Mask

On days where you feel like your skin feels rough to the touch and requires extra TLC, you can consider using this sheet mask from Benton which is drenched in Snail Mucin and Bee Venom. As we all know, Snail Mucin has intense skin-soothing ability as it deeply hydrates skin and reduces inflammation. The exotic-sounding Bee Venom has a potent blend of enzymes, peptides and amino acids that promotes collagen production and cell regeneration, making it an excellent ingredient for repairing damaged skin. This mask is so effective in healing troubled skin that one user observed her acne being mostly cleared up within three weeks as well as diminished scarring and hyperpigmentation.

MEDIHEAL Vita Lightbeam Essential Mask

This is another essential mask for acne-prone skin as it is enriched with Vitamin C, Morus Alba Bark Extract and Niacinamide, all of which are key ingredients that help to improve uneven texture and brighten the skin complexion. This cellulose mask sheet comes equipped with a silky touch fitting for better adherence to your skin so that it can easily soak up all the goodness of the mask’s essence. Reviewers loved this sheet mask for delivering what it claims as they saw positive effects in fading acne scars while giving them a glowing complexion after extended usage.

Skinfood Rice Wash Off Mask

To keep your pore unclogged and clarified, use this gentle exfoliating wash-off mask that has Rice Bran Water to help brighten your skin complexion. Rice Water is rich in linoleic acids which makes it ideal for acne-prone skin as troubled skin individuals are usually deficient in this fatty acid type. It is due to this deficiency that causes clogged pores and acne breakouts. Besides that, linoleic acids also help to reduce inflammation and support cell regeneration to restore impaired skin to its original healthy state. Reviewers of this product loved how mild the mask is as an exfoliant so that it does not further sensitize irritated skin, and leaves their skin feeling silky-smooth after application.

Earth’s Recipe Waterful Sun Gel SPF50+/PA+++

This sunscreen is specially formulated with Harrogate Sparkling Water whose carbonation aids in unclogging pores and preventing acne formation, making it ideal for troubled skin types. The sheer texture goes on light and spreads easily without leaving any white cast at all. With fast absorption and a non-sticky finish, it is perfect for using under your makeup so that you can enjoy maximum sun protection all day. Use a pea-sized amount as a little goes a long way with this product.

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Re.Pair Serum

This potent acne-fighting herbal serum is part of the brand’s Cicapair™ Collection which is based on a key ingredient, Centella Asiatica. Besides containing Centella Asiatica Complex to reduce redness and aid in wound healing, the serum also has Minerals Solution Botanic Complex to soothe irritated skin, and Herbs Complex to strengthen and maintain a healthy skin barrier. Users raved about its fast-acting ability in helping to significantly diminish pimples and discolourations while keeping the skin calm and balanced. Its lightweight, hydrating and non-greasy texture makes it suitable for skin types that are battling with acne and blemishes.

Innisfree Bija Trouble Spot Essence

Infused with a blend of skin-soothing botanical ingredients like Torreya Seed Oil and Green Tea Extract, this spot essence aims to calm troubled skin and resolve acne. The star ingredient in this spot treatment, Torreya Seed Oil, is well-known for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects against acne-inducing bacteria. As such, this product is highly effective in combating acne as seen from users’ positive reviews of how it has prevent pimples from fully emerging, and aiding in healing inflammation and previous blemishes quickly. Keep this as a staple in your vanity for acne emergencies.

COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch

One of the brand’s best-sellers, this acne-busting product is a thin and clear hydrocolloid patch that adheres to the skin perfectly so that it stays on securely, even during a shower. This product provides impressive results in hastening acne recovery as it seals up the wound to prevent external contamination (i.e. those itchy fingers), while it creates the perfect moist environment on the inside to suck out all the gunk and bacteria from pesky whiteheads, blackheads and zits. Another great feature about this patch is that it comes in three sizes to cater to different needs. The transparency of the patch also means that you can easily pop one of these beauties underneath your makeup and go about your day while it works its magic.


This comprehensive list of acne-treating products is designed to cover all the bases from cleansing to moisturizing to spot treatment so that you are well-equipped to tackle acne at every step of your skincare routine.

Ingredient Spotlight: Best for Acne-prone Skin

While reading the above mentioned Korean beauty products targeted for troubled skin, you might have noticed certain ingredients that were popping out more often than usual when listed as having acne-busting properties. These are the ingredients that you should be using regularly to help clear up acne effectively while reducing scarring and redness. With the help of dermatologists and scientifically-proven research, we detail out the skincare benefits of these ingredients:

  • BHAs: beta hydroxy acids like Salicylic Acid are a godsend for acne-prone skin as this oil-loving acid effortlessly penetrates the skin’s lipid barriers and into your pores. It then work its exfoliating magic by pulling out dirt, excess sebum and dead skin cells to ensure pores are clog-free, thereby preventing pimples from forming. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help to soothe skin irritations.
  • AHAs: alpha hydroxy acids like Glycolic Acid differ from BHAs as the former is focused on exfoliating the exterior skin layer. This makes it great for fading pigmentation and acne scars to reveal a smoother and brighter complexion.
  • Centella Asiatica: this herbal ingredient has traditionally been used for wound healing to great effect which makes it a staple for restoring damaged, troubled skin by stimulating new cell growth and collagen production.
  • Snail Mucin: rich in skin-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes and peptides, snail mucin intensely hydrates and soothes inflammation which makes it a great choice for calming down irritated skin and red patches.

So the next time you are looking for a product to help cure your acne, make sure to check its ingredient list to see if it contains any of these acne-eliminating ingredients. Acne is not a lifelong skin condition that one has to put up with. More often than not, the right mix of acne-fighting products complimented with positive lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and sufficient sleep will most likely aid in healing the blemishes and keeping them away.