Intelligent Beauty

K-LOSSARY: A Glossary of K-Beauty Buzz-words

Baffled by ‘essences’? Scared of snail slime? Our comprehensive glossary demystifies the world of K-Beauty…

{Chaga Mushroom}

A key ingredient in South Korean skin care, chaga mushrooms have long been lauded for their potent, restorative properties. Packed with polysaccharides, these bind to the receptors on immune cells which increases skin’s resistance to bacterial infection, while warding against everyday environmental stress. Found in Blithe’s {Pressed Serum – Tundra Chaga}, this innovative treatment-meets-moisturiser is brilliant for bolstering your skin’s defences.

{Cushion Compact}

Sponges saturated with a skin-perfecting liquid base, Cushion Compacts are the future of foundation (and blush, and lip colour…). They distribute just the right amount of product to achieve a flawless finish with minimal waste – and they’re perfectly portable. We’re besotted with Clio’s {Kill Cover Founwear Cushion}, which comes in three shades for an airbrushed effect.


Many South Korean products contain egg – specifically white and eggshell membrane – which are potent sources of skin-strengthening, pore-refining and anti-inflammatory amino acids, nutrients and growth factors, proven to restore skin to its super-smooth and flawless best. Jam-packed with egg white extract to help combat congestion, Mizon’s {Egg White Bubble Cleanser} leaves skin practically poreless.


“One of the biggest buzz-words trending in beauty now is ‘essences’. In a nutshell – essence is the latest take on serum. It’s generally thought of as more lightweight because the terminology was created in Korea and the texture of many Korean and Asian treatments tend to be more ‘watery’ which helps with faster absorption of products and easier layering for your skin care routine.” – {Sarah Lee & Christine Chang}, Cult Beauty’s Korean Beauty Experts

{Jeju Island}

Hailed as the Hawaii of Korea, Jeju Island has a particularly unspoiled landscape and a fertile, mineral-rich terrain which produces plant-life packed with skin-essential nutrients. South Korean’s flock there in their droves to breathe the unpolluted air and revel in the beauty and botanical diversity, while product developers harvest the antioxidant-rich oils and actives to intensity their skin-perfecting formulations. {Blossom Jeju} boasts the island’s super-charged camellia extracts, to ward against free radical attack.


Otherwise known as ‘Capsule Beauty’, the latest wave of K-Beauty skin care comes in individual pods or vials, to protect the integrity of the active ingredients (and also make your ritual more interesting…). J.One’s {Hana Cream} comes in cute white ‘beads’ with juuuust the right amount of product for your face and neck, while Yoon Dermaline’s targeted {Marine Complex Exfoliator} is a quick, one-and-done skin peel.


‘Packs’ (or masks) are rich and reparative treatments, formulated to infuse your skin with moisture and create a barrier between complexion and the dehydrating atmosphere. Use J.One’s {Jelly Pack} pre-make up to create a plumped and dewy canvas for foundation (it lessens visibility of lines), then slather Mizon’s {Sleeping Pack} all over face and neck at night-time for an intense moisture boost.


Born out of concern over high levels of skin-harmful pollutants in the atmosphere – particularly in Seoul; a city at the cutting-edge of industry – ‘polluaging’ is used to describe the DNA-damaging effects of daily exposure to toxins. Following SoKo’s lead, the beauty world is witnessing a swathe of ‘anti-polluaging’ products, which act as a ‘force field’ between skin and the everday environmental onslaught.

{Sheet Mask}

They might make you look terrifying in the short term, but sheet masks are fast gaining popularity because of their immediate effects. Cotton sheets infused with brightening, soothing or blemish-battling ingredients, they maximise absorption of the actives and help lock in precious moisture for a plumped and dewy finish.


Naturally rich in hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes and copper peptides, snail extract (or snail mucin) is both protective and reparative – battling bacteria and simulating synthesis of skin-essential collagen to delay signs of ageing. You’ll find it laced through Mizon’s marvellous ‘snail’ range…

{Sparkling Water}

The ‘fizzy water facial’ is a K-Beauty sensation, in which carbonated water – often infused with brightening or clarifying vitamins or minerals – is used to deep clean pores, gently eliminate dead skin cells and boost oxygenation for super-soft, luminous skin.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...