10 Korean Skin Whitening Products that Actually Work

If there was a place considered the mecca for skin whitening products, it has to be Korea. And when it comes to Korean skin whitening products, we're not just talking about getting a shade or two lighter.

No, what the Koreans love is not just lightened skin, but their ideal concept of perfect skin: pearly, dewy, spot-less and luminous. 

So when Korean skin whitening products claim to whiten, expect overall lightening as well as an evening out of darker splotches and pesky cases of sun spots and the like. The ultimate goal for Koreans is a flawless almost transparent finish to their skin.

In the past few years, the stamp of approval from milky-skinned Korean gals have been enough for a product to skyrocket to holy grail status. Entire sections of Sephora are now dedicated to all things K-beauty, but how does one discern which products deserve space in our already crowded bathroom shelves?

Read on below for some tried and tested korean products that live up to the promise of brighter, lighter, and more luminous skin.

Secretkey Snow White Cream

korean skin whitening

Aside from providing superb moisture, this cream has a moisturizing effect that gives an instant glow. It’s perfect to use under makeup, since it doubles as a BB cream too. Active ingredients include Niacinamide, a Vitamin B derivative known for its ability to even out splotchy skin tones through inhibiting melanin from transferring to the epidermis.

Aside from the whitening effect, Niacinamide is also effective against acne and to plump out skin that’s looking tired and dry. Glutathione is also present in the formulation, which is the main ingredient that gives it its skin whitening boost.

Aside from the slew of active ingredients, it also comes at a very attractive price point which is why it’s popular amongst skincare aficionados. Users also praise the lightweight feel and it’s multipurpose effect as both a skincare product and a makeup base.


korean skin whitening

As one of the younger hipper brands in the Korean market, don’t be deceived by the brand’s cutesy packaging. Under that colorful exterior lies a skincare powerhouse. This panda-themed magic cream is meant to be used all over the face and neck to brighten skin and even out the complexion.

The initial texture is a bit on the thicker, pastier side, but applying the cream in firm tapping motions makes the skin absorb it more quickly.

It contains niacinamide and haloxyl as it’s active ingredients, and it’s notably formulated without parabens so you can be sure that it’s safe for your skin. Due to its thicker texture, a lot of users use this product as a primer for eye makeup too. As an added bonus, it smells great. Koreans sure know how to make us love a product!


korean skin whitening

Options are important when it comes to beauty, lest your skin gets too used to a product and becomes immune to it’s ingredients. It’s always best to switch things up every once in a while. Enter this 16 piece mask pack from Korea.

Each mask boasts of different effects, from plumping to moisturizing, to whitening. Active ingredients such as pearl powder and Tocopheryl acetate are present to live up to this product’s skin-brightening promise.


korean skin whitening

When it comes to premium, it’s hard to beat Sulwhasoo in Korea. But part of the hefty price you pay for the product is the assurance that you have something that will definitely make an impact on your Skin.

The popular Snowise Brightening mask marries convenience with effectivity. It comes as a single-use sheet mask and its pumped full of Suwhasoo’s trademarked Tri-White complex complemented by a carefully selected mix of Korean herbs.

As part of the process, each mask is fermented in white ginseng for two weeks to maximize the brightening effect, Expect an instant brightening effect right after you put it on, and faded hyper pigmentation and age spots over continued use.


korean skin whitening

Skin works fastest to repair itself while we sleep, so it makes sense that a skincare product meant to be used while one is in dreamland is lauded for it’s superb effects.

Coming from one of the most popular skincare brands in Korea, this innovative product is packed with Niacinamide to help whiten skin as you doze. As mentioned previously, Niacinamide works by blocking the melanin absorption of your skin to promote a lighter skin color. This product also has Mulberry extract that works on evening skin tone.

According to reviews, this product works best to lighten blemishes more than over all skin tone. It also has added benefits of plumping up skin and erasing signs of blackheads. If you need any more convincing, this product comes in a relaxing lavender scent that’s perfect to send you straight to sleep.


korean skin whitening

This best selling skin whitening set comes from a mid-range brand that is known to provide value for money in Korea. This toner, serum and cream combination brightens skin through its potent mix of botanical, skin lightening ingredients such as arbutin, mushrooms, and green tea extract.

While arbutin is already a popular whitening ingredient, the addition of antioxidant green tea also helps in rejuvenating skin and protecting it from environmental factors. This product does not transform skin several shades lighter, but it works more effectively to provide the pearlesence and luminous radiance the rest of the world envies from Korean skin.


korean skin whitening

Moving on to the pricier side of the spectrum, Laneige is a renowned brand that has made its mark amongst Koreans, and the White Plus Renew line is no exception.

It provides the user with two methods to whiten skin. First it contains a refining exfoliator that sloughs away dead skin cells while improving skin’s ability to keep itself moisturized. It also contains amino-acids that also work to peel off dead skin cells, which give skin an immediate boost in brightness.

The kicker in the entire formulation is the Swiss White Lupine ingredient that works to keep skin supple while lightening it enough to achieve the coveted luminous glow of Korean skin. Since this is a Korean product, they also improved the experience of using it by giving it a great smell, a non-sticky texture and making it safe enough even for those with sensitive skin. 

To achieve the best effects, you can use the rest of the products from this range to speed up the whitening process.


korean skin whitening

This product relies on the benefits of Arbutin to penetrate the layers of skin to improve dark spots and lighten the complexion. It also contains Hyaluronic acid and squalene to amp up the moisture in skin and help it absorb more of the whitening active ingredients to speed up the process. 


korean skin whitening

A clever Korean brand, Etude House, knows that whitening doesn’t just stop with the face, there are other areas of the body that need to lighten up to achieve an even complexion. Enter their Spot Whitening Cream.

It effectively whitens “secret areas” including armpits, bikini line, elbows and knees. It contains Meadowsweet Flower that works to whiten skin coupled with the soothing effects of Swiss alpine herbs.

This yummy scented lotion can also be used as often as you want for faster effects. A tip when using this though, it’s better to exfoliate before you rub this on, as it the effects may not be as potent on dry scaly skin.