Having a fair complexion is one of the most important parts of the typical Korean beauty standard. Thus, Korean skin care is designed to ultimately achieve this goal.
Of course, this is not to say darker skin tone is less beautiful in any way. It’s simply a cultural preference caused by generational differences. And besides, we’re all in control of what we want for ourselves anyway.
If you’re into lightening dark spots and hyperpigmentation, then you need a reliable Korean whitening cream in your boudoir. This article lists my top favorites to help you find yours.
10 Best Korean Whitening Creams
The name Snow White in itself proves this to be an effective whitening agent. This Secret Key whitening cream not only whitens but also moisturizes the skin, giving a healthy glow.
You can see the effect immediately after application because it has a slight tint that instantly whitens your face. It also works like a primer, so it’s good to use under makeup. As if that’s not good enough, it also has titanium dioxide, which acts as sunscreen!
The main whitening ingredient of this Korean product is Niacinamide, which is known for its brightening effects. If you’re tired of dull-looking skin, this is the whitening cream for you.
It also works well for those with oily skin because it provides enough moisture to control sebum overproduction. This is made possible through the Betaine content, a plant-derived amino acid that aids in hydration.
The cream is contained in a plastic jar with a spatula. Just apply a small amount onto your face and massage it gently until it is fully absorbed.
And don’t worry. It absorbs easily, so this step wouldn’t take long.
My only concern about this Korean whitening cream is it doesn’t work best for those with dry skin. It may be moisturizing, but not moisturizing enough to hydrate extremely dry skin. So if you have this skin type, you should pair the cream with a powerful moisturizer.
- Acts as primer and moisturizer
- Lessens dullness
- Controls extra oil
- Great for sensitive skin
- Can be too drying for those with extra dry skin
- Has a very strong scent
Best for Sun Damage
If you haven’t found the perfect non-greasy sunscreen yet, try this sun cream out. You’ll thank me later.
With an SPF of 50, it’s sure to cover you even on the worst summer day. Of course, it also has skin whitening properties so that it brightens as it protects.
The cream goes on sheer so it works well for any skin tone.
You’ll feel its moisturizing effect and creamy texture once you put it on. However, after it has fully absorbed into your skin, it feels dry and matte — the perfect effect we’re looking for those very humid days.
But while this Korean whitening cream has a lot of potential, it does not work well for all skin types. It contains Cyclopentasiloxane, which can cause breakouts.
- Contains SPF 50
- Has a non-greasy texture
- Does not become chalky on skin
- Does not work with sensitive skin types
- Contains silicone
Best for Uneven Skin Tone
Korean whitening creams do more than just give you fairer complexion. They also lighten hyperpigmentation to even out skin tone.
This Laneige Tone-Up Cream is on another level. This whitening cream contains patented Saururus Chinensis extract that improves dark spots. To increase the effect, it also has phyto sugar water that moisturizes and brightens skin.
You can definitely use this as a primer because it effectively covers up any redness. You can go through your day with no makeup on as long as you use this product because it also works as a low-key concealer.
If you have dull or yellow skin, this will immediately tone it out upon application. Apply the cream on areas that need whitening, and don’t forget the neck!
The product comes in a frosted blue container that looks really elegant.
I have to note, however, it may result to a white cast. It’s good to warm the cream up with your hands first before applying it.
- Evens out skin tone
- Lightens dark spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation
- Can leave uneven residue if not applied properly
- Does not offer enough moisture for colder months
This Korean product effectively tones up the skin because of its whitening and brightening effects. It contains fermented natural ingredients such as the Bifida Ferment Filtrate which helps keep the skin moisturized and elastic.
Elasticity is a huge factor when it comes to achieving toned skin. The fermented ingredients in this product make that possible while also gently whitening it.
Because it is clinically tested to be hypoallergenic, you can be sure it works well even for those with sensitive skin. You don’t have to worry about irritation or breakouts because this product passed the skin irritation test.
I really love the elegant white packaging although I’m not a big fan of the font used for the brand name. Nevertheless, I’m sure you will love the pearl effect this Korean cream will bring you.
- Contains fermented natural ingredients
- Contains alcohol
Korean skin care may emphasize on the prevention of skin problems, but it also provides fixes for those already existing. While you would not normally expect whitening products to be good for skin rejuvenation, this cream does it well.
The main brightening ingredient is green tea. In effect, this cream gives you long-lasting hydration. If you have acne-prone skin, this product also contains licorice extract to help fight breakouts.
So aside from skin whitening, this cream does a lot more for your skin.
Apply this as the last step of your routine. It helps your skin retain more moisture during the day.
- Hydrates the skin properly while rejuvenating it
- Good for acne-prone skin
- Texture may not be that pleasing for those with oily skin
When it comes to skincare, Korea is known to love organic ingredients. This is exactly what this Korean product offers.
With 97.5 percent Snail Mucin, this product is not only great at skin whitening. It also works like a protective mask against everyday aggressors.
The Shea butter, Jojoba oil, and Aloe, along with the Snail Mucin makes this the most moisturizing product in this list.
- Contains snail mucin to restore the skin’s barriers
- Highly hydrating
- Made with natural and organic ingredients
- Not recommended for overly sensitive skin
This is not a sheet mask, but it’s definitely a mask you would want to use before going to bed. Packed with Niacinamide and Hyaluronic acid, as the main skin whitening ingredients, this product is designed to give you brighter and more moisturized skin.
This mask effectively lightens acne scars so if you have acne-prone skin, this will be worth considering.
It also has botanical extracts that help the skin recover from pollutants. Using this mask will leave your skin glowing the next morning.
- Lightens acne scars
- Calms the skin
- Not for sensitive skin
When it comes to skin care, Korea is fond of cute packaging for their products. The lemon-like container of this whitening product just screams gwiyeobda!
As the packaging suggests, this cream is rich in citric acid that whitens and brightens dull skin. It diminishes dark spots, freckles, and evens out skin tone.
Use this cream as a sleeping mask so you’ll wake up with tighter and well-hydrated skin.
- Lightens and removes hyperpigmentation through citric acid
- Tightens and hydrates skin
- Cute packaging
- Has a heavy texture and feels sticky
There aren’t many whitening products that also take care of your under-eye circles. You usually need a separate product for that. But this Tony Moly whitening cream saves the day since it specializes in dark circles.
The Niacinamide and bamboo sap contained in this product makes it brightening, thus taking care of dull skin while treating redness.
However, the white residue it leaves is hard to spread and quite visible on people with dark skin. It isn’t recommended for day use if your skin does not match the fairness of the cream.
If that’s the case for you, then you can use this as a kind of sleeping mask instead of a day moisturizer.
- Lightens under-eye circles
- Niacinamide and bamboo sap content brightens the skin
- Heavy texture
- Hard to spread
- Not recommended for those with dark skin
Getting age spots is not fun for anyone. As we grow older, we’ll appreciate the importance of skincare products more.
This lightening cream from Gold Mountain is packed with collagen that increases skin elasticity and lessens the appearance of age spots.
It has an ultra-hydrating formula to give you that plumper glow and is made 100 percent cruelty-free. However, it tends to make the skin more sensitive to UV rays so make sure to use sunscreen.
- Lightens age and sun spots
- Makes the skin more sensitive to the sun
The Korean Beauty Standard
If you’re from the West, you may not understand why Koreans prefer a whiter and lighter complexion instead of the much-loved healthy tan. But many Southeast Asian countries prefer fairer skin to the point that beauty brands almost always include some sort of whitening ingredient in every product they produce.
Koreans, in particular, use every measure they can to protect themselves from getting tanned. This is why skin care in Korea gives importance to sun protection, and their products are formulated to achieve this purpose. You’ll see this in many of their best sunscreen products.
It’s not uncommon for people to use parasols in the summer, which are basically just any ordinary umbrella they can also use during rainy days.
However, Koreans don’t just settle for whiter skin. The skin also needs to be more luminous, dewy, and healthy. It’s not easy to achieve that Korean glow because it would require you to have a fair complexion and little to no hyperpigmentation.
How Does A Whitening Cream Work?
Whitening creams work by inhibiting enzymes called Tyrosinase. These enzymes are responsible for the production of melanin, the substance that gives the skin color.
When the Tyrosinase is inhibited, melanin is not produced as often This lightens hyperpigmentation and could prevent it completely. Skin lightening products target certain areas such as age spots and concentrate on those areas to improve them.
Are Whitening Creams Safe?
First of all, we need to distinguish between lightening and bleaching. Although they are similar, the latter can damage the skin so much that it becomes unsafe. Lightening, on the other hand, is a milder process, which concentrates on fading out unwanted blemishes while making the complexion appear fairer.
The goal of bleaching is to make the skin appear whiter than it naturally is, often through the use of harmful chemicals such as Mercury and Hydroquinone.
Bleaching products are much harsher than lightening ones. Although whitening creams are named as they are, these products don’t actually bleach the skin. They just help improve the skin by making it lighter and healthier-looking.
Medically speaking, there is no health benefit to whitening or lightening your skin. Melanin is actually an important substance in order to protect the skin from the sun’s UV rays.
However, since lighter skin is considered more attractive in certain parts of the world, we can understand why people would want to use whitening creams. As long as you are careful about the products you buy and consider the long-term effect of the creams, you’ll enjoy seeing your complexion get lighter as the days go by.
Things to Note in Choosing the Best Korean Whitening Cream
There are whitening ingredients that do more harm than good such as Mercury and Hydroquinone. Mercury is toxic to humans, and Hydroquinone can lead to conditions such as Ochronosis.
So it is very important to check the label first before buying whitening cream.
Luckily, it’s not hard to look for the best Korean whitening cream since Korean brands have high regard for skin safety and use only safe and natural ingredients as much as possible.
Ingredients to Look For
When searching for the Korean whitening cream that’s best for your skin, you should look at specific ingredients that can benefit your skin type the most.
Kojic acid is produced through fermentation. It helps effectively even out skin tone and is one of the best ingredients for this purpose.
Niacinamide is one of the most common and most well-known skin brightening ingredients. When you see this on the ingredients list, you can be sure the manufacturers intended for the product to brighten the skin.
It also increases hydration, which makes the skin smoother and less prone to irritation.
This ingredient is always linked to skin whitening and is one of the most popular ingredients for whitening products out there. Glutathione is a naturally occurring antioxidant in the body. It helps generate vitamins C and E, as well as break down free radicals.
As a whitening agent, it deactivates Tyrosinase, which makes the skin appear lighter.
Citric acid is one of nature’s best whitening agents. This substance is found in abundance in lemons, which is why Baviphat made use of this in their whitening cream.
Citric acid, however, can sting badly. So make sure to moisturize afterwards when using products with this ingredient.
Choosing good whitening products for your beauty routine is not easy. You’ll have to consider your skin type, sensitivity, and overall effectiveness of the product. It’s a good thing Korean brands have made it easier.
I love the Secret Key Snow White Cream because aside from controlling excess oil, it also acts as a good primer and moisturizer. Thus, it shaves off a few extra steps from your morning routine.
The Myconos Mild Perfect Sun Cream is perfect for those like me who love to be under the sun but hate getting burned. Its non-greasy formula is a plus especially for those humid summers.
If you’re looking for something stronger that can target discoloration better, then you should opt for a chemical peel. Check out our Best At-Home Chemical Peels for Hyperpigmentation for good options.