The Best K-Beauty Products for Acne


Skin-stripping, oil-zapping ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids are the usual suspects when combating pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. Sure, they help clear things up, but usually at the expense of something else (hydration, bounciness, radiance). Your days of making skin trade-offs are over, because there’s a way to banish breakouts without turning into a flaky mess. Here, eight K-beauty acne-fighters that blend gentle anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory botanicals with tons of lightweight moisture to help stop acne in its tracks and prevent future breakouts. All while making skin glow.

Leegeehaam (LJH) Tea Tree Pure Cleansing Water ($28)


Treating acne can be complex, but your cleansing step doesn’t have to be. Something as simple as cleansing water can provide a quick, deep cleanse without irritating angry blemishes. Leegeehaam’s Tea Tree Pure Cleansing Water easily dissolves dirt and oil (no rubbing here!) while depositing a healthy dose of tea tree extract, a well-known natural acne fighter that purifies pores. For best results, douse a cotton pad with the formula, let it sit on skin for 15 to 20 seconds before sweeping away impurities. Skin feels instantly soothed, refreshed, and ready for your next skincare step. Follow it up at night with a foam or gel cleanser to remove all traces of dirt, makeup, and oil.

Whamisa By Glow Recipe Green Tea Foaming Cleansing Gel ($20)


Double cleansing is a must when it comes to any K-beauty routine, especially if you’re trying to keep acne at bay. The Whamisa by Glow Recipe Green Tea Foaming Cleansing Gel is a great solution for problem skin since it’s an SLS-free clarifier that gently sweeps away every speck of dirt, oil, sweat, and makeup that’s hiding in your pores without stripping. A base of steeped green tea and fermented tea leaves deliver high-powered antioxidants to soothe, refresh, and balance, while hyaluronic acid and superfoods like broccoli, kale, and spinach boost moisture and brighten over time.

Blithe Green Tea Splash Mask ($45)

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Got inflamed skin with active breakouts? Steer clear of physical exfoliants, which can do more harm than good in the form of irritation or micro-tears. Instead, choose a gentle chemical exfoliator with alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, or the newest iteration, poly hydroxy acids.

Harnessing the power of lactic acid (an AHA), Blithe’s ingenious ‘splash masks’ introduce a new way to gently exfoliate in just a few seconds. Seriously, decongesting clogged pores has never been easier. Inspired by a centuries-old Korean bathhouse tradition in which milk was used to retexturize skin at Korean bathhouses (aka jjimjilbangs), these formulas deliver spa-grade results in the comfort of your own home.

For acne sufferers, we recommend the green tea version with its soothing and redness-reducing blend of green tea extract and lavender oil, along with acne defenders such as tea tree oil and a small amount of salicylic acid. How to use: Pour a capful into your palms, splash onto your face, wait 15-30 seconds, then rinse. You’ll see instantly brighter, calmer, softer skin that glows! Use it two to three times a week to ward off breakouts for good.

Leegeehaam (LJH) Hope 5a Control Emulsion ($32)


To break the blemish cycle, look for a hydrating—not astringent—toner (yes, even if you have oily skin) that boosts moisture and balances out both your pH and oil levels. Using a toner that’s drying will actually strip skin of moisture and cause it to overcompensate and pump out more breakout-causing oil.

One of our favorite hydrating picks is the Leegeehaam Hope 5a Control Emulsion—a toner-serum hybrid that has a deliciously milky consistency and mattifying finish. Utilizing a special oil-absorbing complex called Sepicontrol A5, the Hope 5a Control Emulsion zaps excess sebum, while injecting skin with a hefty dose of moisture via healing Lingzhi mushroom and fermented soybean extracts. Anti-inflammatory ingredients like cinnamon and witch hazel further soothe irritation and keep skin clear thanks to their pore-clearing properties.

All you need is a pea-sized amount of the Leegeehaam Hope 5a Control Emulsion to quench and balance troubled skin. For drier skin types with acne, feel free to add another layer. Just be careful not to overdo it.

Leegeehaam (LJH) Hope 5a Control Cream ($34)


Just like its hydrating, pore-refining sister, the Leegeehaam Hope 5a Control Cream has you covered when it comes to fighting acne. It has a lightweight, watery gel-cream consistency that balances out your oil level and leaves skin just a touch matte. The secret is all in the specialized Sepicontrol A5 complex, hyaluronic acid and aloe vera, which work together to dial down shine without drying you out where you need it most. To get the most out of your acne clearing routine, pat it on right after your serum step.

The Hope 5a Control Cream also contains antimicrobial ingredients like cinnamon, witch hazel, and ginseng extract to minimize acne-causing bacteria naturally. If you happen to have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or scarring from previous breakouts, this Control Cream is the answer. A special brightening complex of vitamin C and healing centella asiatica helps even out your complexion. Cloudless skin days, here you come!

Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer ($39)


If you’re looking for an oil-free moisturizer that’s not completely matte, the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer is for you. Formulated with a whopping 90 percent watermelon extract, this antioxidant-rich gel emulsion provides weightless hydration and radiance. In addition to juicy watermelon, this cooling formula is also packed with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, soothing botanicals like jasmine and peony extract, and dark spot-lightening licorice, making it perfect for anyone with oily or combination skin.

If you’re on the drier side with breakouts, use it as a serum instead. It sinks in like a dream, so you can layer on your go-to moisturizer right afterwards.

Make P:rem Safe Relief Mist ($23)


Between weather changes, pollution, and free radicals floating around, it can be difficult to maintain moisture throughout the day. Keep your #skingoals on track with a multifunctional hydrating spray like Make P:rem’s Safe Relief Mist.

It instantly refreshes thirsty skin with an ultra light and pH-balanced formula that’s meant to hydrate and soothe. Sage leaf water, marine algae, glycerin, and a blend of calming botanicals seal in hydration with a simple spritz—anytime, anywhere.

Common Labs Ggultamin B, C, and E Real Jel Masks ($4 each)


No K-beauty routine is complete—even one for acne—without a sheet mask situation. It’s just a matter of finding the right kind, and these luxurious ones from Common Labs soaked in supercharged essences are it! All three serve up double-duty benefits with an AHA and BHA peeling pad that gently unclogs pores first. Step two is where they differ slightly: the Ggultamin Vitamin B mask nourishes, Ggultamin C is for brightening, and Ggultamin E helps soothe irritation—all solid options for acne-prone skin. They’re made with silky smooth cupro cotton and drenched in nutrient-rich serum to deliver a noticeably smoother, softer, and more hydrated mug in just 15 minutes. Pro tip: Don’t waste any of the skin-perfecting goodness; after applying the mask, pat any extra essence on top. Once you’ve removed it, pat any excess serum into your skin until it’s fully absorbed.

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