Japanese Beauty & Skincare

5 K-Beauty Brands I Tried in 2020

Last Updated on 2021-04-18 by Teni

I’m counting down to the new year and looking forward to looking to new business ventures. (Including being able to get my beauty company off the ground). In the meantime, here’s a look at 5 K-Beauty brands I tried in 2020.

My new career as a beauty brand consultant has taken an interesting turn where I work with Korean brands expanding into the Japanese market. Last year, I got to work with Lagom. And this year, I’ve tried a few more Korean skincare brands that were on my radar. I guess I’ll have to make a sequel to my post, Why I Switched From K-Beauty To J-Beauty.

This post contains affiliate links. All products reviewed here are PR samples, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

5 K-Beauty Brands I Tried in 2020


Aplin products are heavy on vitamins and naturally-derived ingredients to calm, nourish, moisturize and repair the skin. Most notable are its Spot All Kill Essence and Spot All Kill Cream (which is actually a bright yellow gel due to the presence of lemon oil).

They both use a concentrated blend of 10 different vitamins (Vitamin C, E, B5, F, H, A, B6, B9, B1, B12), hyaluronic acid, collagen and aloe vera leaf extract. ⁣However, I didn’t feel too impressed by the products. (When it comes to a vitamin serum, I’m all about Melano CC!)

I am partial, however, to the Bifida EGF Essence. It’s a highly concentrated essence that uses bifida, EGF and arbutin to soothe, nourish, moisturize & brighten the skin.⁣ I like this as an “aging care” product and use it twice daily, 1-2 times a week.

Now, onto the MVP of this Aplin set!

Aplin is known widely in Korea primarily for its “tone-up” cream, Baekseolgi Moisturizing Cream. This is actually a whitening product that delivers when it comes to results. However, it doesn’t work in the way that you’d expect a whitening cream to work.

It’s a rich moisturizing dual-action day/night cream that leaves a noticeable white finish on the skin. In fact, I had to laugh when I first applied it, because I had applied too much! The results were too drastic in my case.

However, when applied sparingly (in the case of my skin tone),  this product works as a fantastic primer. Those of you wanting that “bihaku” look without messing around with chemicals would love the results, I’m sure!

Aplin Baekseolgi Cream has a faint, sweet rice smell (“Baekseolgi” are a kind of Korean sticky rice cake). It uses niacinamide and adenosine to improve the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin tone and texture. ⁣There’s also aloe

Since this product provides absolutely zero UV protection, I first apply a milky sunscreen (like Rafra). Then, I dab a few (keyword: FEW) spots on my face. The result is perfectly flawless “glass skin.”

Aplin Spot All Kill Cream — Amazon | Amazon Japan

Aplin Baekseolgi Moisturizing Cream — Amazon Japan


Did someone say “vegan skincare?” Yes, PLEASE!

I love sheet masks, which is why I was intrigued by The Clean Vegan sheet masks. The sheet masks use a 100% vegan formula that’s been certified by Eve Vegan, the official certification body for vegan products.

There are ten varieties in all, each using a blend of natural ingredients to target a specific skin concern.


2. Aloe

3. Cica

4. Green Tea

5. Hyaluron

6. Olive

7. Peptide

8. Shea Butter

9. Tea Tree

10. Vitamin C

I have oily skin, get hormonal acne flare ups from time to time, and am concerned about my fine lines. My favorites were AHA/BHA, Cica, and Tea Tree. But, Lululun has come out with their own line of organic sheet masks, so I’ll likely alternate between the two brands.

Barulab The Clean Vegan Sheet Masks — Amazon | Amazon Japan


One skincare ingredient that’s been making waves in the fight against maskne is cica (Centella Asiatica). It’s an herb that’s been in Korean skincare products for a few years due to its soothing, hydrating, antioxidant properties.

The Cicapair series from the innovative skincare brand Dr. Jart extensively uses cica to repair and refresh irritated, sensitive skin. Dr.Jart Cicapair Toner Tonique is a watery, alcohol-free toner that comes in an unconventional nozzle bottle. One bottle lasted me almost 2 months when used twice daily. It was my first introduction to cica and did wonders in my against maskne and hormonal acne!

Dr. Jart Cicapair Toner Tonique — Amazon | Amazon Japan


I have absolutely fallen in love with Keep Cool. Not only do I love their products, I genuinely appreciate their commitment to being a sustainable skincare brand.

The philosophy behind Keep Cool is “Sophistication in Simplicity,” and its products are based on a traditional formula consisting of 3 key natural ingredients: Chinese Skullcap (Scutellaria Baicalensis), honeysuckle flower (Flos Lonicerae) and Forsythia fruit (Forsythia suspensa).

Together, these ingredients cool down the skin in order to prevent dryness, inflammation and other heat-inflicted ailments.⁣

Keep Cool has three skincare lines: Ocean (to moisturize dry skin); Shine (to brighten dull skin) and Soothe (to calm sensitive skin)

My favorite Keep Cool products that I’ve tried so far would have to be in the soothe series, starting with the sheet masks. True to its name, the masks have a very intense cooling effect and pair very well with a cold jade roller!

I’m still working my way through its Soothe series, including the full-sized Soothe Toner and minis (Soothe Serum, Soothe Lotion and Soothe Bamboo Sun Essence).

I have been using them in the mornings for a simple yet hydrating skincare routine to fight winter dryness.  In the new year I’ll be back with a full Keep Cool brand review.

Soothe Series:

Sheet Masks — Amazon | Amazon Japan

Toner — Amazon | Amazon Japan

Serum — Amazon | Amazon Japan

Lotion (milky moisturizer) — Amazon

Bamboo Sun Essence — Amazon


VT Cosmetics is known for its innovative formulas and collaboration products (like with BTS!) Not only did I get to try VT Cosmetics, I got to try their adorable Line Friends collection (called the LINE FRIENDS VT Cica Mask Set⁣) which contains:

1. Pro-Cica Sheet Mask⁣

2. Capsule Mask⁣

3. Sleeping Mask⁣

Aside from the packaging, there’s no difference between the Line Friends collection and the green box products. (Though I suspect there may be a difference in the product available in each box.)

K-beauty is known for its 10+ skincare routine, but when it comes to sensitive, irritated skin, you really don’t want to be doing too much to the skin.

The VT Cica Mask Set was absolutely wonderful in treating a bout of PMS hormonal acne that I had with a maskne flare up.

After cleansing my skin, I applied Dr. Jar Cicapair Toner, applied a sheet mask, then applied the sleeping mask. Twice a week I’d apply the capsule mask, which is a textured paste that you leave on the skin for 10-15 min then rinse off.

I tried to rank my favorite VT Cosmetics products, but they work together very harmoniously. Ever since I started cataloging my “empties” on my secondary skincare account I’ve been wary of extra packaging.

However, when it comes to treating inflamed/sensitive skin, you certainly want to avoid cross-contamination. Single-use packaging really helps in this regard — plus you can also share the cica goodness with your friends.

Pro-Cica Sleeping Mask — Amazon | Amazon Japan

Cica Mask — Amazon | Amazon Japan

Cica Capsule Mask — Amazon | Amazon Japan

5 K-Beauty Brands I Tried in 2020

5 K-Beauty Brands I Tried in 2020 is my last beauty post of 2020!

Thank you all for reading my posts here on The Wagamama Diaries. Thanks for the shares, the likes, and thanks for the affiliate purchases. Most of all, thank you for your support in my new career!

I’m looking forward to sharing more unbiased J-Beauty and K-Beauty content as well as getting my J-beauty company off the ground.

See you in 2021!

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