10 Korean Skin Whitening Products that Actually Work

If there was a place considered the mecca of effective skin whitening products, it would have to be Korea. And when it comes to Korean skin whitening products, we're not talking about simply going a shade or two lighter in skin tone.

No, what the Koreans are after is not just lighter skin but their ideal of beautiful skin: pearly, dewy, spotless and luminous.  

No wonder they have such a diversified market offering some of the best whitening products for face and body.  Entire sections of our stores are now dedicated to all things K-beauty, but it gets hard to distinguish which products deserve space on your already crowded bathroom shelves.

Wondering how you can choose the best Korean fairness creams that really work? Interested in safe skin lightening creams?

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

K-beauty explained: Why Use Korean Skin Lightening Products?

Equally cool-sounding, but much more effective than homemade skin whitening creams, Korean products, and beauty routine tips have quickly won over Western women pursuing clear, radiant skin.

In the past years, the stamp of approval from milky-skinned Korean gals has been enough for a product to skyrocket to a holy grail status. They know their trade. Elaborate and meticulous 10-step skincare regimens, BB, CC and DD creams, sheet masks and a heap of products we hadn’t even heard of before in the West: they have it all and use it deftly.

The ultimate goal for Koreans is a flawless, almost transparent finish to their skin. So when Korean skin whitening products claim to whiten, expect overall lightening besides just evening out darker pesky sunspots and the like.

Moreover, if you’re strictly looking for skin whitening creams without side effects, K-beauty cosmetics are a good place to dig. With such elaborate skincare regimens and strong social pressure to maintain flawless skin, the stakes are high for Korean buyers. No suspicious or dangerous whitening agents. They’ve really invested in an industry offering high-quality products you can trust. And, most importantly, these are accessible quality products that -- unlike in the West -- come without a hefty price tag.

A word of caution though:

The best whitening creams for Asians don’t necessarily have to work for Western buyers too.

This has less to do with skin genetics or diet than it relates to skincare routines in general.

You must have heard of the 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine. Originally introduced in the US by Soko Glam curator Charlotte Cho, this concept is by now nothing short of revered among Western women. And in case you haven’t heard of it yet -- yes, it really does involve 10 different types of products meant to be used in succession or every once in a while.

So, surely a night sheet mask has its place in there, but if you just used it randomly on its own once, it might not give you the same results. The same goes for creams for fairness and glowing skin. Make sure you can combine skin whitening creams well with other products before you buy them or discard them as ineffective.

Avoid Comparing Yourself

If you’re reading this then chances are it’s no secret to you that Koreans have the clearest, fairest complexion of all Asians and probably or all other people in the world. It’s easy to get caught up in this whole K-beauty business in the “I want to have Korean-like skin” way. Watch out there.

Korean women might have got a head start over those of us living in different climates and social contexts.

Weather conditions play a decisive role in how our skin looks. We all know people living in countries closer to the equatorial line tend to have darker skin tone as opposed to those up north (or way down south). The Korean moderate climate without strong sun is perfect for light skin.

Then there’s diet. Whether we like to admit it or not, Koreans have a much healthier traditional diet than most Westerners. The Korean fish and soy-rich diet gives them plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and it’s naturally filled with low glycemic index foods. (Not to mention the kimchi!) Quality diet translates into overall inner and outer health that shines through the skin.

While we can’t do anything about the weather, we can always improve the way we eat. And we should. But that’s not the point. It’s more important to understand that K-beauty works because it offers diversity and quality in skincare whitening cosmetics that we don’t really have. Take what you like and use it well for your own skin. Don’t get caught up in the dream for porcelain doll skin. It will only create negative feelings towards what you’ve got on your face and that’s never cool. Instead, focus on improving the health, smoothness, and appearance of your own skin, whatever its tone and natural imperfections.

The K-beauty Way: Best Whitening Creams for Face and Body

Smaller Korean websites tend to have less information about their products in English, which is understandable. Some of the best skincare gems hide exactly on such producers’ websites though.

Despite this, we luckily don’t need to be Korean to benefit from quality products existing out there. Korean skin lightening creams have by now completely penetrated Western markets too. Many are probably available in a store near you.

In fact, the problem now becomes how to choose the right ones. To make things worse, many industry giants have jumped on the K-beauty bandwagon by now and released their own versions of K-beauty products! Korean has become something of a cosmetics type.

There isn’t much to say when it comes to general advice on choosing a product to try. However, you need to know what exactly it is that you’re after. Are you trying to eliminate dark spots and even out skin tone? Are you looking for skin whitening or lightening? Or are you simply dreaming of a more lively, radiant skin?

Without further ado, here’s the list of our picks of effective skin whitening products from Korea:

korean skin whitening

Aside from providing superb moisture, this effective whitening face cream also takes care of moisturizing which gives your skin 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 tone through inhibiting melanin from transferring to the epidermis.

Aside from the whitening effect, niacinamide is good against acne too. It also plumps 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 its 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.

Per its website, Dermal is an established cosmetics producer based in Seoul that specializes in masks, cleansers and coconut oil. With its products sold in the largest department stores across Japan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Europe and the US, Dermal presents itself as a brand you can trust.  


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 effectiveness. It comes as a single-use sheet mask. It’s pumped full of Sulwhasoo’s trademarked Tri-White complex complemented by a carefully selected mix of Korean traditional herbal medicine ingredients.

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 hyperpigmentation and age spots over continued use.

Korean Sulwhasoo is a fairly unique company -- it promotes and believes in a holistic approach to beauty and health, “embodying Asian wisdom”. The famous cosmetics producer has been in operation since 1966 and stands for maintaining harmony with nature.

Sul-Wha in Korean stands for the words flower-snow. Their motto is “seeking the exquisite allure of a plum blossom springing forth through snow”. Now isn’t that a whole new level of top-notch subtle marketing right there?


korean skin whitening

Skin works the fastest to repair itself while we sleep. A little boost on our part can only aid it. It thus makes sense that a skincare product meant to be used while you’re sleeping will end up lauded for its 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 overall skin tone. It also has the added benefits of plumping up the 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.

Now Mizon isn’t the best choice for vegans. The company is credited for its products based on snail slime. It’s one of the main culprits for why we now have this new cosmetic miracle widely spread on the market.

Still, the company’s famed for its research and development and its several successful products which successfully combine makeup with skincare. This mask isn’t one of them, but it’s definitely worth a try.


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 tone several shades lighter. It definitely doesn’t promise to whiten skin overnight. Instead, it works more actively and deeply to eventually give you the luminous radiance the rest of the world envies Korean skin for.


korean skin whitening

Moving on to the pricier side of the spectrum, Laneige is a renowned brand with 20 years experience that has made its mark amongst Koreans. Its 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 that works to keep skin supple while lightening it enough to achieve the coveted luminous glow of Korean skin. Considering this is a fully 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.

This experienced producer makes bold claims about their range of products. Their website boasts “innovative, yet uncomplicated” products to help you achieve a natural glow. Judging by user review it seems their claims are indeed backed up.

The company’s trademarked Water Science is hydro ionized water used in all of their cosmetics. The Mineral Water improves the moisturizing properties of their products by enabling the active ingredients’ quicker and deeper absorption. The Mint Water takes care of the pores, helping reduce excessive sebum.

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

Here’s a leading beauty brand devoted to using natural ingredients only. Tosowoong focuses on the therapeutic potency of natural ingredients. And they seem to be doing it right, judging by user ratings and popularity in Asia and beyond.

The Crystal Intensive Whitening Cream relies on the benefits of arbutin to penetrate the skin layers to improve dark spots and lighten the skin complexion.

Additionally, this product contains Hyaluronic acid and squalene to amp up the moisture in the skin and help it absorb more of the whitening active ingredients to speed up the process.

The company started modestly with the development of their highly effective Osory Oil Emulsion packing collagen for some real-deal age-defying work. Since then they have released more than 200 different products! They seem to be a bit more revered for their anti-aging solutions than the


korean skin whitening

A clever Korean brand that predominantly caters to young women. Etude House has shops in more than ten countries across Asia. The folks behind this cosmetic brand know that whitening doesn’t just stop at the face, but there are other areas of the body that need to lighten up to achieve an even complexion.

Meet their Spot Whitening Cream.

This is a rather different whitening product. The news is that it effectively whitens “secret areas” including armpits bleaching, bikini line, elbows and knees and the “dirty” job of whitening the sensitive genital area. It contains Meadowsweet Flower that works to whiten skin coupled with the soothing effects of Swiss alpine herbs.

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

A clever Korean brand that predominantly caters to young women. Etude House has shops in more than ten countries across Asia. The folks behind this cosmetic brand know that whitening doesn’t just stop at the face, but there are other areas of the body that need to lighten up to achieve an even complexion.

Meet their Spot Whitening Cream.

This is a rather different whitening product. The news is that it effectively whitens “secret areas” including armpits bleaching, bikini line, elbows and knees and the “dirty” job of whitening the sensitive genital area. It contains Meadowsweet Flower that works to whiten skin coupled with the soothing effects of Swiss alpine herbs.

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

Leave a Reply