When it comes to beauty, it’s no secret that products from Asia reign supreme. We have Korea to thank for sheet masks, China to thank for jade rollers, and Japan to thank for the pure gold that is SK-II. These products have become so beloved in our beauty routines that it’s hard to believe they were only introduced to American markets within the last few years. Here’s the thing, though: We haven’t even seen the half of it, ladies. This year, I spent four months traveling through Asia where I tested every beauty product I could get my hands on. As a self-proclaimed product hoarder, visiting drugstores throughout Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia was a dream come true. I spent hours sorting through masks made of everything from jellyfish slime to bee venom to snake skin. After slathering and lathering my way through dozens of different cleansers, toners, moisturizers, and masks, all of which came in adorable packaging btw, I decided on my top seven and bought what I hoped would be a lifetime supply. Trust me, they’re that good.
Japanese facial razors
If you told me a year ago that I would be telling the worldwide web that I shave my face, I would have called you crazy. But these single-blade razors (which come in a pack of three) are made specifically for removing facial hair without irritation—and they work. They get rid of everything from peach fuzz to full-blown ‘staches and hormonal hairs while also exfoliating your skin in the process. I will never suffer through a painful wax again.
Whether it’s a greasy scalp or an oily T-Zone, this sebum powder will soak up whatever is causing that slick-ick. It’s made with a sugar polymer from plankton that helps to breakdown excess oil and waxy sebum. All you have to do is blot it on with a powder puff and let it go to work. Helpful tip: You can also apply it before your makeup as a primer to keep your look in place all day.
A regular pro pedicure comes at a price. So, if the skin on the bottom of your feet is rough, callused, or just needs a little extra care, instead of dropping another $50 on a professional treatment, try one of these at-home exfoliating masks instead. Simply sit with one on each foot for 20-some minutes, or the entire length of a Friends rerun. Over the next week, your feet will start to shed like a snake (which is strangely satisfying) to reveal an insanely-smooth new layer of skin.
This is one of those situations where you really have to ask yourself, “How far am I willing to go for flawless skin?” The idea of rubbing snail slime on your face may sound gross—it did to me at first, too—but this stuff seriously works. Snail Mucin is a common ingredient in a lot of Asian beauty products—from serums and moisturizers to masks— and it works to hydrate, firm, and clear the skin.
Considering this is how Emma Stone gets ready for the Oscars, I knew before I even put my lips to a jelly mask that I was absolutely going to love it. It feels suuuuuper weird, but after a single use, the mask made my lips feel deeply moisturized in a way they never have before (sorry, Chapstick) and helped bring out their natural color. Plus, they make for great selfies.
Not only are Tony Moly’s products straight-up adorable (have you seen that Panda lotion everyone is so obsessed with?), but they are also transformative. The Egg Pore Blackhead Steam Balm contains charcoal and heats up when you apply it to your face to remove impurities and clear out clogged pores. The process feels like actual sorcery—in the best way possible.
If you aren’t willing to go as far as Gwyneth Paltrow and let actual bees sting your face for the sake of plumper skin (insert eye roll), this not-at-all-painful sheet mask is a great option. Infused with bee venom, it’s an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory wonder that helps hydrate and instantly plump up skin.