'Korean skincare transformed my dull, acne-prone skin. Here are the affordable products I swear by.'

Ever since I could remember, I was never the girl with clear skin — no, not even as a child when having a blemish-free face was the norm. 

I had dark circles under my eyes (thanks to my stellar genes), uneven skin tone and because I hated moisturising, my skin was chronically dry. 

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I distinctly remember looking around in class admiring all of my classmates for how smooth their skin looked, and questioning why mine wasn't. Beauty standards, hey? They really screw you up.

As I've gotten older though, one thing I take pride in is my skincare routine. I've worked in the beauty industry for some time now, so while I know quite a bit about what works and what doesn't, I've also made plenty of painful mistakes along the way.

Like the time I completely destroyed my skin barrier by layering retinol and vitamin C or when I had laser resurfacing done and walked out without SPF.

And while some mistakes were completely preventable, I've also come to realise that products that work well on fair skin aren't always going to work on me. 


I need skincare that helps eliminate pigmentation because getting rid of scarring from my brown skin is no easy feat. But I also need products that boost radiance and hydration, because every South Asian woman knows the struggle of ashy, grey skin.

After experimenting and testing out pretty much every product available on the market today, nothing, and I mean nothing, has worked better than Korean skincare. That's not to say I never use Western skincare, but Korean products deliver results and don't break the bank.

The world of K Beauty is overwhelming and vast, but once you figure out what products are suitable for your skin, I can guarantee that you won't look back.

So, to help get you started, I'm going to walk you through my skincare routine, with nothing costing over $50.

For reference, I have dehydrated, acne-prone skin, so while it feels very dry to touch, it does get oily throughout the day (yay for me!).

Step 1: Cleanser.

AXIS-Y Quinoa One Step Balanced Gel Cleanser, $31.50.

Image: Lila Beauty.


There are quite a few people who believe that cleanser is the least important step in your routine because you essentially wash it all off. However, I disagree. 

A good cleanser builds the foundation for the rest of your skincare to do its job, and the AXIS-Y Quinoa One Step Balanced Gel Cleanser does just that. It's nothing fancy, but it removes all the dirt and debris from my skin without stripping it of its natural oils.

Step 2: Essence.

Anua Heartleaf 77% Soothing Toner, $35.

Image: Nudie Glow.


I recently purchased the Anua Heartleaf Soothing Toner after TikTok kept recommending it to me, so consider me influenced. Although, it ended up working out because now, I can't imagine going without it. 

The number one thing to note about essences is to always apply them on damp skin (I use the same rule for serums and moisturisers too). I take out a few drops in the palms of my hands and gently pat the product all over my face and neck, and I've found that this has greatly improved the texture of my skin.

Step 3: Snail Mucin.

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, $38.

Image: Adore Beauty.


Hear me out before you go, "Snail Mucin!? Ew". I felt the same way, but now I'm about 15 bottles down and showing no signs of stopping. 

Snail mucin is a relatively new skincare ingredient that contains antioxidants to help reduce the signs of aging. I started using the COSRX Snail Mucin (I rotate between the essence and the cream depending on how much hydration I need) and I've noticed a massive improvement in my complexion.

Not only does it get rid of redness and irritation because of its soothing properties, but it restores hydration and eliminates any fine lines.

Step 4: Moisturiser.

Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream, $35.

Image: Nudie Glow.


As a kid, I despised moisturising, so much so that my mum is still traumatised from running after me to put a dot of Nivea on my face. As an adult, however, I can't walk out of the house without it. 

At 28, I look for ingredients like ceramides and squalane to help strengthen my moisture barrier, and the Dynasty Cream from Beauty of Joseon contains all that and more. Again, I apply this to a damp face to help lock in the hydration.

Step 5: Lip Balm.

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, $31.

Image: Sephora.


This is one product that you've most definitely heard of, even if you've never used it. The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask is the only lip balm that actually soothes my extremely dry lips, and doesn't make it even more irritated and flakey. 

While it is recommended to use this right before bed, I use it all day, every day as my regular lip treatment and my lips love me for it.

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Feature Image: Supplied.