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Emulsions — a lightweight, almost fluid type of moisturizer — are a fantastic alternative to rich, thick creams and greasy lotions. They’re particularly popular in Korean beauty routines, where they’re used to deliver an extra dose of hydration between the serum and moisturizer steps, though certain skin types can get away with using an emulsion in lieu of face cream, too. Naturally, the best Korean emulsion for you will depend on your skin type, like all beauty products, really. All emulsions are inherently moisturizing, but some of them harness more targeted ingredients to address specific skin concerns, whether that’s congested pores, a loss of elasticity, or run-of-the-mill dullness.
You can use your emulsion any way you want, and with any combination of skin care products. But if you have oily, shine-prone skin, you may want to consider using an emulsion instead of moisturizer during the day, if most face creams make your skin feel greasy. (At nighttime, when shiny skin becomes less of a concern, you may still want to slather on a richer cream.) And whether your skin leans oily or dry, it can also be nice to swap out your moisturizer for an emulsion during the summer, when wearing a cream-type moisturizer becomes unpleasant (still, don’t forget the SPF!).
However you plan on incorporating your emulsion into your routine, you’ll find five great options to choose from, ahead.
1. Best For Combination Skin
Rich in hydrating aloe vera and soothing green tea sourced from the Korean island of Jeju, ISNTREE’s Green Tea Fresh Emulsion is a foolproof choice for just about any skin type: oily, acne-prone, dehydrated, dry... even sensitive, since the formula is so gentle. That said, it’s especially ideal for combination skin, since it works to simultaneously moisturize and balance excess oil production while also providing a smoothing and softening effect. The lotion-like emulsion doesn’t leave behind any stickiness or greasiness, but instead, has a fluid, refreshing feel. Bonus points for the fact that it comes in a pump-top bottle, which keeps the formula fresh and makes it easy to apply.
2. Best For Oily Skin
Formulated with oily, congested skin in mind, SKINFOOD’s popular Peach Sake Emulsion uses sake extract to tighten the appearance of enlarged, clogged pores. Also harnessing the powers of nutrient-rich peaches and moisturizing glycerin, this water-based emulsion helps keep oily skin balanced without adding any extra weight. While it doesn’t come in a pump-top bottle, it does have a pleasant, peachy scent, as a nice added bonus.
3. Best For Dehydrated Skin
AHC’s Aqualuronic Emulsion uses three different types of hyaluronic acid to quench thirsty skin, while ceramides and French seawater provide further moisturizing and strengthening benefits. This emulsion has a refreshing gel texture (it feels even more amazing when stored in the fridge) and layers nicely underneath other products. And while it’s *ideal* for dry, dehydrated skin, anyone who’s looking for a boost of lightweight, non-greasy moisture should be able to use this with success.
4. Best For Dull Skin
THANKYOU FARMER is an under-the-radar Korean beauty brand that deserves way more attention than it gets. This water-based, gel-type emulsion contains a blend of potent ingredients that work to make your skin smooth, clear, and strong, including antioxidant-rich niacinamide and licorice root, which help promote a bright, even-looking complexion. Therefore, if your skin has been looking tired or dull lately, this should be able to help perk it up. Also in the formula are barrier-bolstering ceramides and adenosine, the latter of which has soothing, smoothing, and firming benefits.
5. Best For Firmer, Plumper Skin
If your main skin care goal is firmer, plumper skin, a collagen emulsion, like this one from NEOGEN, may be the best choice for you. It’s made with two superstar plumping ingredients — collagen and peptides — which can help boost your skin’s elasticity, as well as hyaluronic acid, panthenol, and ceramides to promote strong, supple, hydrated skin. This emulsion has the consistency of a gel and works particularly well alongside the brand’s Collagen Lifting Cream, though it’s certainly moisturizing enough to be worn on its own, if you prefer.