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After much research and experimentation, you’ve finally found your perfect version of the full Korean beauty 10-step routine. Your skin is so glowy and perfect that people stop you on the street to ask what you do to it. You feel that somehow, despite life’s ups and downs, you’ve finally managed to master one small aspect of it.
And then you have to go on a trip and the whole thing falls apart–because packing ten (or more) full-sized bottles is an insane person’s mission.
There are a few solutions to this problem floating around the K-beauty community. Decanting, or making a bunch of travel-sized samples, is one of them. Amazon offers a few options for sets of small bottles that will fit the bill. That said, not everyone is going to want to go this route. It’s time-consuming and not ideal if you’re in a hurry to get out the door.
Some people also opt to save the samples so often given away with Korean beauty purchases and just toss a bunch of those in their travel kits. I personally do not recommend using those as your skin will already be exposed to a change in conditions by going to a new place, so further stressing it by using a bevy of new products is not ideal.
For me, I’ve found the most success in a combination of decanting and seeking out travel sizes of my favorite products to have on hand when its time for my trip. That said, there are some travel sizes that seem to please a wider range of skin types than others. These are the most flexible, so you’ll find them in my recommended products list below. But before we get to that, let’s address some more of the details of keeping your on-the-go routine as consistent with your home routine as possible.
How to travel with the Korean beauty 10-step routine
1) Pack your own cleanser.
With the exception of the Banila Clean It Zero! travel size balms, there is very little out there in the low pH cleanser world (more on why that matters here) that comes in a size small enough for your carry on. I’ve forgotten to pack one a few times and tried to buy stuff on the go, and let me tell you, it’s not a good situation. This is doubly true if you go somewhere cold with low humidity, as I discovered on a recent trip to Colorado. You might be able to get away with a middling cleanser in a humid place, but try it elsewhere and your skin is going to feel like it’s about to crack.
The best way I’ve found to do it is to decant my cleanser of choice into an airless pump bottle, which will protect the integrity of the product and keep it from leaking in your luggage. If you do the double cleanse routine, just grab a second bottle for your oil cleanser and you’re good to go (or scroll down and check out the one I recommend).
2) Choose multi-tasking products.
The heroes of the K-beauty world are the products that knock out several steps in one. If you aren’t aware of these gems, we’re about to change your life. The re:p Nutrinature All-In-One Multiitem is an easy fave, packing your toner, essence, and emulsion steps into one single product.
3) Pack an oil for cold climates.
Facial oils are your friend year-round, but never so more so than in winter when you travel to freezing locales. We have a full guide on how to choose the best one for your skin type, and if you get lucky, some of these can be found in small sizes thanks to sites like Tester Korea (also a great resource for travel sizes of a vast variety of other brands, too!)
4) ALL the sheet masks!
Sheet masks are the ideal travel item: they weigh close to nothing, pack flat, and take up little room. I always stuff my travel bag with them and make time to do one every night when I travel. And if you need recs for the best masks, we have a comprehensive guide to our top picks!
Our favorite Korean products beauty for travel
Etude House’s products are aimed at a younger customer, but the Moistfull line is a nice exception to that rule. The line is packed with collagen, which plumps the skin and helps retain a youthful appearance. This was one of the first Korean beauty lines I ever used, and I’m always happy to go back to it in a pinch. With this set, you’ll get the toner, emulsion, cream, and essence, which will cover most of your needs on the road (save for cleanser, eye cream, and SPF).
Price on Amazon: $14.64
While this set of balm cleansers was likely created so people could try all four varieties of the superstar product, it also makes for an incredible travel buddy. This set contains miniature versions of Original, Purity, Radiance, and Resveratrol, which are formulated for normal, oily, aging and dry skin respectively. It is worth mentioning that this set features the brand’s old packaging. The names have since changed to Purifying, Revitalizing and Nourishing, but the formulas are the same classics.
Price on Amazon: $14.25
I’m technically cheating by including DHC Deep Cleaning Oil on this list as its Japanese rather than Korean, but this liquid gold simply could not be left off a travel skincare best-of list. It’s rich, viscous, and feels absolutely soothing while melting all your makeup off. It’s also terrific to use for a facial massage, which I do as a part of my own routine and highly recommend for lymphatic drainage. And if you forgot to pack a cuticle oil, you can use it for that too.
Price on Amazon: $14.79 for a 3-pack
Toss one of these cute mini-masks into your bag and you’ll be perfectly prepared next time your evening routine happens in a hotel room. This set comes with the Exfoliating Galactic Black Peel-Off Mask, the Hydrating Holographic Peel-Off Mask, and the Illuminating Diamond Peel-Off Mask. As you may have gathered from their names, these masks have a pretty fun appearance. It’s “skintertainment” for sure, but it’s fun, too.
Price on Amazon: $19 ($15 with coupon)
If Sulwhasoo’s price point is too high for you to use its products on the regular, you can indulge in them on special occasions like vacation. The company makes travel kits of just about all its different lines. This one comes with Balancing Water, Emulsion, Eye Cream, Serum and Moisturizer. While Sulwhasoo’s signature herbal fragrance is not for everyone, it’s a treat for those who are fans of hanbang.
Price on Amazon: $22.90
No matter what season it is, sunscreen is a must in your routine. This set from 11 Village Factory comes with a gel, a cream, and a tone-up sunscreen so you can swap out whatever you feel in the mood for that day. The tone-up option also acts as a brightening makeup base, so that’s especially handy if you’re looking to shorten your routine so you can get out and enjoy your time off sooner rather than later.
Price on Amazon: $19.98
Missha is perhaps best known for its Time Revolution First Treatment Essence, but the brand offers a lot more than that. This set offers sample sizes of three other bestsellers, including the Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule and the Super Aqua Snail Cream and Cleansing Foam. If you already use any of these products, this is great to have on hand for travel. If not, it might be a great way to discover them (but buy the full sizes and save these for the next time you go on vacay!). It is worth noting, however, that the cleansing foam has a pH between 7-8, so proceed with caution.
Price on Amazon: $15
MORE K-BEAUTY DEALS:
- The best Korean beauty products for $10 or less
- This ingredient is the new skincare powerhouse you’ve never heard of
- 5 Korean sunscreens that are safer than your drugstore brand
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Colette Bennett is a writer/editor who specializes in web culture, skincare, and all things geek. Her work has appeared on CNN, HLN, Engadget, Kotaku, Colourlovers, and Continue Magazine. She also writes horror and sci-fi fiction for Corona Books and is at work on her second novel.