My Favorite K-Beauty Subscription Box Product Discoveries
I have always been curious about trying new beauty products and trends, so I jumped at the chance to start reviewing K-Beauty subscription boxes when I first joined the MSA team years ago. Having tested and reviewed hundreds of products, sifting through the best beauty boxes out there, I’ve filtered through my past reviews to round up which products make the cut to be considered among my favorite K-Beauty discoveries thanks to subscription boxes. Let’s take a walk through some memories and dive in, shall we?
The Product: Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask
The Cost: $34.00
How I Found It: Bomibox – January 2020
This is a product I don’t use consistently in my routine right now, but I keep it on standby should my rosacea begin to flare up. It’s a thick, moisturizing sleeping mask (the texture is nothing like the famous Laneige Water Sleeping Mask), made with fermented yeast extract, shea butter, and three different derivatives of Cica (also known as Centella Asiatica). I’d noticed visible improvements in the redness in my cheeks when I used this each evening, and it was hydrating to my skin all night (if that sounds like a nightmare, you may be more of a fan of the water sleeping mask I was talking about earlier). I’ve completely emptied one full-size jar as well as multiple samples, and I have another full-size jar waiting in the wings for when my skin needs it. If you have oily skin, you probably won’t love this, but if you have inflamed sensitive skin that leans dry, this my top recommendation in the night cream category.
The Product: Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence
The Cost: $27.00
How I Found It: Soko Glam Glowing Away Travel Set – November 2019
Did you know that when I first started reviewing for MSA, I actually wasn’t a consistent sunscreen wearer? Boy, have times changed a lot, and I have no less than six open bottles of sunscreen open at any given time. If sunscreen is hard for you to wear because you hate the texture or white cast it leaves, then this may be the one for you. It has the word “essence” in the name for a reason; this is a super lightweight sunscreen that absorbs into my skin with ease (no five minutes of rubbing necessary with this one- it has SPF 50 as well as protection from UVA and UVB rays, and it’s formulated with aloe vera and lotus extract to be calming to your skin). I emptied this entire tube pretty fast (don’t forget to apply the proper amount of sunscreen! Check out this post for more details on the method I use), and it worked really well for me under makeup as well as on its own. Because of how much sunscreen I go through, I really don’t have the budget to be falling in love with sunscreens that cost fifty or even seventy-five dollars (Dermalogica, I’m looking at you). This one is under $30.00, which is still more expensive than what you’ll find at your local drug store, but I think the quality is absolutely worth it.
The Product: 2Sol Elixir Propolis Serum
The Cost: $26.49
How I Found It: Akoco Flawless Klean Starter Kit – October 2019
This serum can be a little tough to find, and I have no idea why it isn’t widely available and loved by the masses- I am that crazy about it. The formula contains 10% propolis extract, peptides, oat kernel extract, Centella Asiatica and its derivative, madecassoside, beta-glucan (a hydrating, free radical fighting, and soothing superstar), and hyaluronic acid. It’s alcohol-free, amazing on my sensitive skin, and adds hydration and a boost of nourishment without being heavy. It layers without piling, it helps to keep the redness in my cheeks at bay, and really just does it all. Out of all of the products on this list, I would classify this as the true hidden gem, and I am on my second bottle (that may not sound like a lot, but I review a lot of skincare through both my Instagram and subscription boxes, so it’s already impressive if I empty a bottle, let alone re-purchase).
The Product: Mediheal Warming Eye Mask
The Cost: $2.89
The Matchmaker: Pink Seoul – March 2020
That March Pink Seoul box actually wasn’t the *very* first time I’ve tried the Mediheal Warming Eye Masks, but it’s the only time I can actually remember what box it came from. The first time I tried these also happened to be the first time I’ve ever tried any type of warming eye mask. That was years ago, and while they have become a touch more widely available now, I am still loyal to this one. There are three potential variations- one is unscented, one smells like lavender, and one smells like grapefruit. My favorite is the lavender scent, but I love that they have an unscented version for those who are sensitive to scents- especially because these are a major gamechanger when I have a headache or migrane. The warming sensation feels so incredibly relaxing to my eye area, and wearing this really forces me to lay down and relax without any technology straining my eyes. Even if I don’t have a headache, I like to reach for these if I am having trouble falling asleep. On more than a handful of occasions, I slipped one of these on when I wasn’t able to sleep, and that’s the last thing I remember before waking up the next morning. By now, I have purchased at least thirty of these masks (I went back through my emails to check the receipts and confirm), and I don’t ever want to be without them. If you carry tension in your face, if you stare at a screen all day, if you get headaches, or if you just want to relax… I strongly recommend these.
The Cost: $33.00 at time of publication (when I received this in a subscription box, the price was $45.00 marked down from $71.00)
How I Found It: TONYMOLY Monthly Bundle – October 2019
It is really hard to find this eyeshadow palette available for sale anywhere; it was a limited edition project collaboration with Moschino, and I can testify that it was fantastic. I have at least 10 eyeshadow palettes in my drawer (probably more scattered around my apartment too), but this is one I will be clinging to until it is absolutely empty. The quality of these shadows are superb; in my initial review I said that these may be on the level of Natasha Denona or Pat McGrath, and now after using it for a few years I stand by this assertion. All of the colors have shimmer, the colors are pigmented, buildable, and blendable, and there is a good mix of pinks and neutrals that make this palette stand out a bit compared to the average palette you can find at Ulta or Sephora. My favorite shade is still that golden peach shimmer (the first shadow on the top row), and it looks amazing blended with other colors or worn on its own. If anyone can think of a dupe for this beautiful color, let me know in the comments- this is one of my favorite eyeshadow shades of all time.
The Product: Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping Face Mask
The Cost: $49.00 for 70 ml (on sale for $24.50 at the time of publication)
How I Found It: Birchbox: The Masking Made Easy Kit
I know Glow Recipe is a pretty mainstream brand now, but they are still a K-Beauty brand too (perhaps the most well-known of them all?). Even though I am only 26, I still like to have a gentle retinol in my routine to help with my acne and to allow me to age gracefully (I really prefer that term compared to something that talks about fighting signs of aging). I don’t need prescription strength retinol, but I still want to have it. This night cream from Glow Recipe is just about perfect. I have dry, sensitive skin, and retinol is a drying ingredient that can be harsh on sensitive skin in certain forms. Here, the retinol used is the gentle encapsulated retinol (which means the retinol is slowly time-released), and it’s paired with our favorite superfood, avocado, for nourishment and a boost of antioxidants. I have emptied a mini jar of this (and a full-size jar of their Avocado Retinol Eye Cream), and I am working my way through another full-size jar too. I have never felt like this sleeping mask irritated my skin, and consistent retinol use definitely makes a difference in the amount of acne I get. I like to top this off with a hydrating face oil, but on those nights I was too sleepy to bother, this still didn’t dry me out the way many other retinol products would. The only thing that makes me concerned about this product is the fact that it is currently sold out on the Glow Recipe website (and all other retailers). I’m not saying I would cry if this was permanently discontinued, but I’m not saying I wouldn’t, either.
The Product: Then I Met You Calming Tide Gel Cream
The Cost: $42.00
How I Found It: Ipsy Glam Plus – April 2021
This product came in my personal Ipsy subscription, and boy am I thankful it did. I have been really curious about trying TIMY for a while- they’re pretty popular on Instagram, and their cleansing balm looks like a real treat. I never actually paid much attention to this cream until it arrived on my doorstep, but it was honestly love at first use. To start, the texture of this is fantastically unique- it is a thin gel with a serum consistency, which definitely isn’t what comes to mind when I think of a moisturizer. Those with oily skin will love how lightweight it is. And if you have dry, sensitive skin like me, then you’ll love using it as a serum under a heavier cream (or as a lightweight moisturizer under sunscreen). I have genuinely been using this at least once a day since receiving it (I love it in both my morning and evening routines), and I already have a backup ready because my current bottle is almost empty. The ingredients list is lovely- just to name my favorites, there are 3 different peptides (their signature tri-tide complex): madecassoside, ceramide NP (ceramides are naturally found in your skin’s moisture barrier and help to keep your skin healthy), and the do-it-all wonder that is niacinamide. This is the product on the list that I’ve had for the shortest length of time, but to me it will have my heart for many years to come.
Have you discovered any holy grail K-Beauty products through subscription boxes (or even through reading reviews on MSA)? Do you think there’s something missing that I should have included? If you’re wondering why there weren’t more sheet masks featured, don’t worry- I just couldn’t narrow the sheet masks down enough to fit here, but look out for my list of sheet masks I would repurchase (and I’ve tried hundreds!).
Ready to meet your beauty box matchmakers? Check out some of our readers’ favorites that hit all the marks.