These Cult-favorite French and Korean Skincare Products Are Super Affordable and Great for Dry Winter Skin

Rough patches be gone.
By Karen I. Chen
October 14, 2020
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Right around this time of year, the weather in New York City tends to switch from muggy and humid to super dry seemingly overnight. Now that a chill has settled into the air, my skin has gone from looking dewy (some... might have called it sweaty) to ashy. I’ve already started to notice rough, dry patches on my cheeks and around my chin, and the cold weather has just barely begun. 

As someone who has always struggled with dry skin, I’ve tried so many face creams and serums claiming to quench parched skin. But as I don’t have a tree that grows money, I’ve also searched high and low for skincare products that don’t break the bank — because unfortunately, so, so many of them do. 

Leave it to the French and the Koreans to create unfussy products that work amazingly well and are crazy affordable. These three cult-favorite skincare products have become some of the staples in my lineup, and I always reach for them when my skin needs some extra moisture. And, lucky for you, they’re also now all on sale for Prime Day, meaning what was already a great deal for skincare just became a serious steal. 

Here’s a simple three-step routine that will have your skin looking July-fresh through the harsh winter months.

Bioderma Hydrabio H2O Micellar Water

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

I had never liked toners and astringents because they always made my skin feel tight and dried out, and I frankly never understood the need for them. This micellar water from the classic French beauty brand Bioderma was the first one that I've not only stuck with, but that I genuinely enjoy using: not only does this work fantastically to remove makeup, it also leaves my skin feeling hydrated and rejuvenated afterwards. Plus, it’s satisfyingly calming to swipe this over your face and neck even after cleansing to see the dirt that it picks up, and it has the best, ever-so-light scent (if you know, you know). When you’re on the go, it works well as a post-workout cleanser, too. I prefer this blue bottle formulated specifically for dehydrated skin, but there’s also the better-known pink bottle for sensitive skin types. 

To buy: amazon.com, $10 (originally $15)

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

If you’ve ever read a single article about skincare, you’ve probably heard of K-beauty brand COSRX. Or at the very least, if you’ve had a zit emergency, you’ve likely heard of their miracle-working pimple patches. COSRX makes simple, straightforward formulas packed with active ingredients — at a fraction of the cost of other brands. So it's no wonder it’s become a favorite among beauty aficionados: their products really work and you don’t have to spend your entire paycheck on them. 

For the uninitiated, snail mucin (literally secretion from snails) is an ingredient often used in Korean beauty as it helps skin retain moisture, stimulates collagen production, and improves elasticity. Get past any hangups of applying snail secretion to your face (the texture is slightly sticky but absorbs fast), and you’ll understand why this serum garners rave reviews. The snail mucin, combined here with hyaluronic acid and panthenol, which has reparative properties, nourishes dull skin, making it look healthier, hydrated, and more supple. 

To buy: amazon.com, $15 (originally $23)

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, Face Cream and Makeup Primer

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

This longtime French pharmacy staple is loved by celebs, beauty editors, and makeup artists — and for good reason. The silky moisturizer, made with shea butter, aloe vera, and soy protein, absorbs easily and applies beautifully, leaving a smooth, plumped, and dewy complexion. It's the perfect base for SPF and makeup afterwards. And though the milky cream feels lightweight going on, it does heavy duty work of soothing stubborn rough patches and restoring skin with fatty acids and vitamins.

To buy: amazon.com, $20 (originally $28)

Karen Chen is always planning her next great escape and loves the beach more than anyone else you know. See her prove it on Instagram @karenichen.

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