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Article: De-coding Common K-beauty Skincare Ingredients (Part 1)

De-coding Common K-beauty Skincare Ingredients (Part 1) - K-Beauty Arabia

De-coding Common K-beauty Skincare Ingredients (Part 1)

The beauty world’s growing obsession with Korean skincare products and routines can be attributed to two things — their high-quality and effective formulations as well as an ingredient-centered approach.

While some of the ingredients found in Korean skincare products are well-known and regularly used in the beauty industry, others are unique to the Korean beauty scene. We take a look at these ingredients and how they help address certain skin concerns.

Vitamin C


Also known as: Ascorbic acid.
What Purpose Does Vitamin C Serve in the Body? 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports the healthy growth and functioning of the body’s cells. It plays a prominent role in maintaining blood vessels, muscle, and skin health.

How Vitamin C Benefits the Skin:

Vitamin C is a research-backed, dermatologist-favorite ingredient that helps to combat sun damage, slow premature skin aging, and improve the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, scars, and post- acne scars. It’s a popular ingredient among those with normal or oily skin due to its over-all skin health benefits.

Vitamin E

Also known as: Tocopherol or alpha-tocopherol
What Purpose Does Vitamin E Serve in the Body?

Much like Vitamin C, Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant that helps protect the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals. It boosts the body’s immune system while keeping hair and skin healthy.

How Vitamin E Benefits the Skin:

Vitamin E is an essential ingredient in Korean cosmetic products. When applied topically, it helps nourish and protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals while acting as a natural barrier against the sun’s rays. Given its moisturizing properties, Vitamin E is widely recognized as potentially being able to offer temporary relief from itching caused by dry skin. In fact, due to its incredible ability to lock in moisture, Vitamin E is a favourite  ingredient among those with sensitive or dry skin.

Vitamin B5

Also Known as: Panthenol.
What Purpose Does Vitamin B5 Serve in the Body?

Vitamin B5 plays a role in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates for energy. It also helps the body to produce red blood cells, as well as other various hormones that are vital to the proper functioning of the body.

How Vitamin B5 Benefits the Skin:

Frequently found in serums, moisturizers, and hair care products in its alcohol form (Panthenol), Vitamin B5 helps the skin to attract and retain moisture while providing protection and enhancing its natural repair processes. Pro-Vitamin B5 helps to keep skin smooth, soft, and healthy. It also has an anti-inflammatory and deeply hydrating effect, making it the ideal ingredient for those with dry or combination skin.



Also Known as: Vitamin B3.
What Purpose Does Niacinamide Serve in the Body?

Niacinamide helps to build and maintain keratin, the very protein that your hair is made from.

How Niacinamide Benefits the Skin:

Niacinamide is well-known for its pore-minimizing abilities – and not only in appearance. Niacinamide has also been shown to naturally reduce pore size over time. Niacinamide also combats inflammation, which may help ease redness and irritation from eczema, acne, and other skin conditions, while keeping skin smooth and moisturized. It also naturally boosts collagen production for younger and healthier looking skin. Niacinamide is a recommended ingredient for people with dry, sensitive, aging, or acne-prone skin.

AHA/BHA/PHA (Alpha Hydroxy/Beta Hydroxy/Polyhydroxy Acids)

Also Known as: N/A.
What Purpose Do AHA/BHA/PHAs Serve in the Body?

These acids are lab made and not found naturally in the body. 

How AHA/BHA/PHA Benefits the Skin:

These gentle acids can appear in cosmetic ingredient lists separately or in any combination of the three. As you would have guessed, these serve as chemical exfoliants to help remove dead or flaky skin cells. They are suitable for all skin types but those with sensitive skin may want to steer clear. 

Hyaluronic Acid


Also Known as: Hyaluronan or hyaluronate.
What Purpose Does Hyaluronic Acid Serve in the Body?

Hyaluronic acid is found throughout the body. However, around half of the body’s hyaluronic acid is present in your skin, where it binds to water to help retain moisture. Hyaluronic acid also plays an important role in skin healing while naturally reducing the appearance of scarring.

How Hyaluronic Acid Benefits the Skin:

Hyaluronic acid helps skin stretch and flex while reducing appearance of  fine lines and wrinkles. It also soothes rough, tight, and irritated skin thanks to hyaluronic acid’s ability to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water – which make it ideal for mature, dry and sensitive skin types.


Also Known as: N/A.
What Purpose Does Allantoin Serve in the Body?

Allantoin is not found in the body and is instead extracted from plants.

How Allantoin Benefits the Skin:

Allantoin is a naturally occurring anti-irritant that helps reduce inflammation and acne. It also has protective benefits for the skin as well as exfoliating properties to help skin slough off dead skin cells. Based on its properties, allantoin is recommended for mature and dry skin as well as those with acne scarring.


Also Known as: N/A.
What Purpose Does Squalene Serve in the Body?

Squalene is a natural substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. It’s an oil that moisturizes and hydrates the skin.

How Squalene Benefits the Skin:

Squalane mimics your skin’s natural oils, making it a great organic emollient for the skin. It’s also a natural antioxidant. Despite being an oil, it’s a great lightweight alternative if other oils are too greasy or heavy for your skin. This makes it a perfect moisturizing ingredient for those with oily or combination skin. 


Also Known as: N/A.
What Purpose Do Ceramides Serve in the Body?

Ceramides are a natural component of the skin, which holds cells firmly together in the uppermost skin layer. This allows skin to retain its moisture and protects it from allergens and external toxins.

How Ceramides Benefit the Skin:

Ceramides are important not only for a healthy appearance but also for healthy functioning skin and have proven anti-aging properties. In addition, they make the skin firmer by holding cells tightly together, thereby effectively protecting it from environmental stressors.
As a natural component of the skin, ceramides are ideal for all skin types—even the most sensitive, breakout-prone, or oily skin. They’re also safe to use around the eyes, as long as the product is fragrance and irritant-free.


Also Known as: N/A.
What Purpose Does Adenosine Serve in the Body?

Research shows adenosine plays a role in the  body’s natural immune system and inflammatory response, helping it tackle external stressors and pollutants.

How Adenosine Benefits the Skin:

Adenosine is a skin-soothing and rejuvenating  ingredient that’s relatively rare despite its many benefits and compatibility with all skin types. The miracle-working compound decreases the appearance of wrinkles by energizing the skin’s surface. It has also been shown that skincare containing adenosine leads to improvements in skin evenness and smoothness, decreases the appearance of crow’s feet, and reduces the depth of brow wrinkles. The result of using adenosine is often a smoother, more youthful complexion.

Now that you have learned more about some common ingredients found in K-Beauty products, you can use your new found knowledge to shop for skincare products best suited to your needs. Happy Shopping!

Don’t forget to read Part 2 to get the lowdown on other common skincare ingredients and their benefits.

1 comment

“I’ve been struggling with acne, and your blog has been a lifesaver. Your tips have really improved my skin.”

Plush Tan

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