Best Korean Whitening Cream

Woman applying whiteninng cream to her face

If you’re currently on the hunt for a Korean whitening cream, you might want to hold off your horses first and make sure to consider the following important ingredients to make sure you get the results you want: niacinamide, lemon, kojic acid, and glutathione. With these key ingredients in mind, I reviewed and summarized below the best Korean whitening creams. If that caught your attention, go on and read!

In Asian culture, generally, and in Korean culture, specifically, pale and fair skin is considered the standard of beauty and skin whitening has become common practice. And as an Asian myself, I also grew up in a society that prioritizes a much fairer skin compared to what I naturally have.

Though Asian society today has been more inclined to praise darker and tanned skin tones and some even prefer them (including myself!), many Asian and Koreans alike still prefer to have fairer skin tones. This has pushed many Korean cosmetic and skincare brands to cater to such preferences, thus producing skin whitening and brightening products.

Skin whitening goes way beyond wanting to achieve fairer and paler skin, rather, they’re popular among its users who would want to achieve glowing and brighter skin. Korean whitening products also target to minimize the appearance of dark spots, uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, and scars, to name a few.

Koreans, as I’ve mentioned, have a general preference for fair skin tones, thus Korean brands are known to produce some of the best whitening creams out in the market, not just locally but also internationally.

Our Top Picks for the Best Korean Whitening Cream

Product ImageProduct NamePrice
Best OverallSOME BY MI 30 Days Miracle CreamSOME BY MI 30 Days Miracle CreamCheck Price
Secret Key Snow White CreamSecret Key Snow White CreamCheck Price
Cosrx Advanced Snail All in One CreamCosrx Advanced Snail All in One CreamCheck Price
Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Tone Up CreamInnisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Tone Up CreamCheck Price
TONYMOLY Panda's Dream White Magic CreamTONYMOLY Panda’s Dream White Magic CreamCheck Price

The Best Korean Whitening Creams

1. SOME BY MI 30 Days Miracle Cream – Best Overall!

SOME BY MI 30 Days Miracle Cream

Our number one pick for the best Korean whitening cream is the SOME BY MI 30 Days Miracle Cream! SOME BY MI is a Korean brand that prioritizes the use of natural and organic ingredients in its skincare products to answer to its consumers’ specific skin concerns. The brand has been a favorite not only in Korea but also in the international scene in its lead in beauty and skincare. The 30 Days Miracle Cream has the whitening ingredient Niacinamide, a mild skin whitening ingredient that has been certified by Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety ensuring the safety of its use.

That’s not the only main ingredient that makes it the best among our list, though! The Miracle Cream also contains Centella Asiatica Extract and Tea Tree Leaf Water that helps solve acne prone problems and helps your damaged skin bounce back to being healthy. It also has pore and sebum care properties to control excess oil production that could further worsen acne.

The Miracle Cream has a multipurpose formula that is extremely moisturizing and is great for breakouts and eliminating acne scars. The Centella and Tea Tree components are great for treating acne. It’s also lightweight, making it a great choice for those with oily skin as it doesn’t feel heavy at all. Its minty and not too strong of a scent is also a great feature for those who prefer their skincare products with little or no scent at all.

The only downside users have reported after long term usage is that the cream could feel a little heavy for those who already have oily skin and could feel more oil than usual when applying this cream. Some might also notice a sticky feeling after application. But if these downsides won’t bother you at all or too much, consider SOME BY MI 30 Days Miracle Cream and its multipurpose formula!

Pros:

  • Acne care
  • Pores and sebum care
  • Brightens acne scars
  • Moisturizing
  • Multipurpose formula
  • Lightweight
  • Mint and subtle scent

Cons:

  • Might be heavy for some
  • Might cause a sticky feeling after application

2. Secret Key Snow White Cream

Secret Key Snow White Cream

Discover Snow White’s secret for her fair skin with the Secret Key Snow White Cream which has an instant tone-up system that could brighten your dull skin right away after application. Secret Key is a Korean skincare and cosmetics brand whose line of products aim to offer its consumers solutions to specific skin concerns.Their Snow White line aims to address skin whitening and brightening concerns.

Its main ingredient is the mild skin whitening component Niacinamide and also has moisturizing properties that leave your skin hydrated and radiant. Not only does it brighten and whiten your skin in the long term, it also instantly brightens and evens out your skin tone upon application making it a great choice for a makeup base in place of your usual base of moisturizer or BB cream.

Some downsides to this that have been put out include that it could leave a white cast when not properly blended and could be obvious when used as a makeup base. The scent of baby powder has also been pointed out, especially for those with sensitivities to strong scents. Although this cream has instant brightening effects, long term effects work gradually and may come slower for some people. But don’t worry, with a little patience just like with many skincare products, it has amazing effects in the long run, such as whitening of acne scars and dark spots.

Pros:

  • Instantly brightens, whitens, and evens skin tones
  • Can be used as makeup base
  • Moisturizing
  • Long term effects include whitening acne scars, dark spots, blemishes, and even skin tone

Cons:

  • May leave a white cast
  • Scent may not be for everyone
  • Some people may need more time and patience to see long term effects

3. Cosrx Advanced Snail All in One Cream

Cosrx Advanced Snail All in One Cream

Cosrx is a Korean beauty brand that has won not only Korean awards and recognition for its top notch skincare products, but also international recognition and has garnered a cult-following. The brand aims to help individuals find solutions for their skin concerns. And that is exactly what the Cosrx Advanced Snail All in One Cream does for skin whitening and brightening concerns.

Its main ingredient is snail mucin – which helps in repairing and soothing damaged and sensitive skin, helping repair skin from breakouts and at the same time lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Snail mucin also has effective brightening effects especially for acne scars that have been living on your face rent free! It is highly recommended for those with dry, dehydrated, and combination skin as it moisturizes well.

Although its thick and creamy consistency makes it a great moisturizer, it could make the cream difficult to absorb and could take a few minutes. Its thick consistency could also throw some people off and would need some time of getting used to. But if that’s something you think won’t bother you much, you might want to consider the Cosrx Advanced Snail All in One Cream.

Pros:

  • Extremely hydrating
  • Works well for acne scar care
  • Addresses fine lines and wrinkles

Cons:

  • Its thick would need some getting used to
  • It absorbs rather slowly because of its consistency

4. Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Tone Up Cream

Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Tone Up Cream

Innisfree is one the more globally-famous Korean skincare brands since its launch in 2000. They prioritize naturalism and make it a point to use mostly, if not only, natural and organic ingredients in its many lines of skincare products. The Jeju Cherry Blossom Tone Up Cream is no exception to this. This Tone Up Cream is infused with both Jeju Cherry Blossom and the whitening ingredient Niacinamide to help boost skin radiance. It’s also deeply moisturizing and hydrating, making it a great choice of whitening cream for those with dry skin. Its scent is light and refreshing. It is lightweight and absorbs quickly, making it a great choice for a makeup base.

Some downsides to using this cream is that it tends to leave a white cast for some people, making it a bit obvious especially when worn under makeup. The scent may also put people off, especially if you’re sensitive to scent and would prefer a product that doesn’t have one.

Pros:

  • Hydrating and moisturizing
  • Effects include brightening and skin radiance
  • Refreshing and light scent
  • Great for dry skin
  • Great as makeup base

Cons:

  • Could leave a white cast
  • Scent may be off putting to some

5. TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream White Magic Cream

TONYMOLY Panda's Dream White Magic Cream

TONYMOLY has been a consistent leader in bringing K-beauty products and trends worldwide. They’re also famous for manufacturing products in such fun packaging but never letting their products’ effectiveness be compromised. The TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream White Magic Cream is a true testament to this. Part of the brand’s Panda’s Dream line, it comes in an adorable Panda storage. But don’t be fooled by its cute presentation because it truly goes way beyond that.

Aside from its cute Panda packaging, this White Magic Cream gives you an instant glow upon application and evens out your skin tone making it a great option for makeup base in place of what you usually use. It also brightens dark spots and blemishes in the long run. Some users were initially disappointed at the size of the actual storage but afterwards pleasantly surprised at how much product there was and how long one jar lasted.

It is important to also note that this Magic Cream could have the tendency to leave a white cast when not blended and absorbed fully and its smell could be a bit too strong for some and therefore be a bit uncomfortable.

Pros:

  • Instant glow and evens out skin tone
  • Can be used as makeup base
  • Brightens darks spots and blemishes
  • The small jar actually has a lot of product in it

Cons:

  • Could leave a white cast on application
  • Scent may be too strong for some

The Korean Beauty Standard

Everyone, no matter where they’re from, has some sort of beauty standard they follow and it differs for each person. Koreans, however, have very specific beauty standards they deem beautiful. Not that it’s the only way to consider someone beautiful (obviously everyone is beautiful and amazing in their own ways), rather it’s just a set of standards most aspire to achieve for themselves. So, what is the Korean Beauty Standard that is slowly and steadily gaining attention from the rest of the world?

Korean beauty standards prioritize fair and pale skin, slim figures, small and v-shaped faces, straight eyebrows, and large eyes with double eyelids. Other than being fair-skinned, Koreans more so prioritize having a healthy, dewy, radiant, and glass-like skin. Because of this, Korean skincare and cosmetic brands produce almost all of their products with some sort of whitening or sun protection component. Korean companies also greatly promote products that would give its users the famous dewy and glass-like skin.

The rise in popularity of these Korean beauty standards not just in Korea but also internationally is partly due to the rising popularity of Korean media as well. The already admired Korean idol groups, dramas, movies, and variety shows have experienced more rise in popularity, thus opening opportunities for Korean skincare routines and products to gain traction as well.

How does a whitening cream work?

Skin whitening and brightening creams are products used to lighten one’s skin whether to address certain skin concerns such as scars, dark spots, and uneven skin tone, or to simply lighten and brighten overall natural complexion.

Now, how does a whitening cream work? Skin whitening and brightening creams work by reducing the amount of melanin, a pigment produced by your skin cells to determine how light or dark your complexion, will be produced. Lessening the production of melanin would target to brighten overall complexion or lighten certain problem areas and hyperpigmentation.

Is skin whitening bad?

Skin lightening isn’t bad, what’s considered dangerous is skin bleaching. And it’s important to put a fine line between skin lightening and skin bleaching.

Skin lightening is a mild process of getting rid of dark spots, blemishes, discoloration, and hyperpigmentation, by fading them out gradually, and at the same time brightening overall complexion and giving your skin a healthy glow.

Skin bleaching, on the other hand, is the more aggressive and dangerous process. Bleaching products often contain mercury and hydroquinone to reduce melanin production. Both of which coils have dangerous and risky effects.

Skin whitening creams have amazing effects for your skin as it minimizes dark spots and blemishes, reduces the appearance of acne scars from prior breakouts, and evens out unflattering uneven skin tone.

Fair skin isn’t the only standard of beauty there is. It differs from across the world what people would consider beautiful. But for those who’d want to achieve fairer skin, there’s no judgement, as long as we’re careful with what products we use for our skin and we don’t step on anyone’s toes, we’re good to go.

What to look for in choosing the best Korean whitening cream for you

When keeping an eye out for the best Korean whitening cream for your skin’s needs, it’s of most importance to closely look at and inspect the ingredients contained in the product. Stay away as much as possible from products that contain mercury and hydroquinone as these tend to be harsh ingredients and could bring about dangerous effects.

Niacinamide

Niacinamide is a mild and effective brightening ingredient that has been certified by Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety ensuring the safety of its use. Many, if not all, of Korea’s whitening cream products have this as one of their main ingredients.

Lemon

Lemon is one of nature’s powerful whitening agents, and having this ingredient in a whitening cream would definitely ensure it’s natural and whitening. Citric acids, however, could sting sensitive skin so make sure you keep that in mind and moisturize when using a whitening cream with lemon and other citric acids.

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid prevents the formation of Tyrosine, the amino acid that is needed to produce melanin. It’s also a very effective ingredient in evening out skin tone.

Glutathione

Glutathione is a naturally-occurring antioxidant produced by human cells. It’s an ingredient always associated with skin whitening and helps in reducing the amount of melanin our skin cells produce.

We should always be in the lookout for the ingredients in the products we use, and whitening creams are no exception. In fact, it’s very important to cross-check the ingredients to whitening creams we use because we don’t want any adverse effects. Luckily, Korean skincare and cosmetic products prioritize the safety of use of their products and make it a point to use only safe and natural ingredients.

Conclusion

Skin whitening shouldn’t be frowned upon at all. In fact, skin whitening products such as creams have amazing effects for your skin and your skin concerns. They get rid of dark spots, blemishes, acne scars, evens out skin tone, and brightens your overall complexion. It’s not just about wanting fairer and paler skin to fit a certain beauty standard, rather, it is an attempt to have a healthy and radiant looking skin while getting rid of unwanted spots and uneven skin tone.

We’ve selected the SOME BY MI 30 Days Miracle Cream as our top pick for the best Korean whitening cream for its multipurpose formula that targets all sorts of skin concerns such as pore and sebum care and dealing with acne and acne scars, as well. The Secret Key Snow White Cream is a great option for instant brightening and glow and it can be used as a makeup base. The Cosrx Advanced Snail All in One Cream is great as moisturizer and also addresses fine lines and wrinkles on top of working on brightening acne scars. Another whitening cream that’s great as a makeup base and is hydrating and moisturizing is the Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Tone Up Cream. And lastly, the TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream White Magic Cream gives off an instant glow which makes it a great alternative for your usual base or BB cream and in the long run could brighten blemishes and dark spots.

We hope our list of the best Korean whitening creams out in the market could help you, even just a little bit, in deciding on the whitening cream that best fits your skin’s needs and concerns.