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What is a “Tone Up” Cream in Korean Skincare?

What is a “Tone Up” Cream in Korean Skincare?

What is a "Tone Up" Cream in Korean Skincare?

If you’re a fan of Korean skincare–these days, who isn’t?–, you may have come across a type of product with the words “tone up” in the name. You may have wondered “is this a toner?” or you may have wondered “what does it mean to tone UP my skin? what if I wanted to tone it down?” Wonder no more. Today, we’re taking a closer look at tone up products to help you figure out what they are, what they do, and how you can use them to complement your existing skincare routine. Keep reading!

What is a Korean tone up cream?

A “tone up” cream is a hybrid product that combines the benefits of a skincare product with the benefits of a makeup product. Most often than not, these products are primarily intended to even out your complexion; to do this, they use both brightening ingredients and enhancing pigments. A product that uses both can therefore provide a long-term brightening effect while helping you to even out your complexion right now, as soon as you apply the product. Win-win!

Tone up products come in many shapes and sizes: they can be serums, moisturizers, eye creams, or even sunscreens. Some position themselves more as skincare products that also happen to have an immediate beautifying effect; others position themselves more as makeup products that also happen to contain skincare ingredients.

Nuances aside, all “tone up” products have a common goal: to help you even out your complexion and brighten up a dull or uneven skin tone.

What does tone up cream do?

The main function of a tone up cream is to brighten and even out your complexion. The formulas may differ, but a tone up product will usually achieve this by using a little bit of pigments. These will give your skin a bit of a “wash” of color without actually providing opaque coverage, like a foundation would.

How to apply tone up cream

Tone up products, as we have already seen, are positioned somewhere between skincare and makeup. This should give you a good idea of ​​where to insert them into your routine: after skincare, but before makeup.

If you’ve got a tone up sunscreen, for example, that’s easy enough: just do your skincare routine as usual, and then apply your tone up sunscreen as the final step. Your skin will be protected and, at the same time, more glowing and radiant. Then, proceed with your makeup as usual.

5 Korean tone up products to try now

Now that you know a little more about Korean tone up products, we want to show you some that you can add to your routine. Here are our favorites:

Holika Holika Prime Youth White Snail Tone Up Mask Sheet

The sheet mask for an instant boost

Here’s an example of a “tone up” product that doesn’t contain any added pigments: the Holika Holika Prime Youth White Snail Toning Mask Sheet.

Designed to give your skin an instant boost of hydration and radiance, this sheet mask combines the hydrating properties of snail secretion Filtrate, glycerin, and hyaluronic Acid with the calming properties of niacinamide and allantoin. Use it whenever you need a quick pick-me-up, and you won’t be disappointed by the results.


Suntique I’m Tone Up Multi Base SPF50+

The daily “tone up” sunscreen

The Suntique I’m Tone Up Multi Base SPF50+ is a sunscreen with a slightly pigmented formula, which helps you achieve that “tone up” effect. Let’s talk about sun protection first: with SPF50+ and PA++++, this sunscreen offers very high sun protection against UVB and UVA radiation. It is, therefore, ideal for daily use, even on days when you will be very exposed to the sun.

As for the pigments: this sunscreen has a slightly peachy formula, which evens out the complexion and blends in naturally with a wide range of skin tones. Use it by itself to give you a little glow-up, or under makeup to benefit from its primer-like effect!


Chasin’ Rabbits All About Glow Tone Up Cream

The brightening cream

Chasin’ Rabbits All About Glow Tone Up Cream is a pretty straightforward tone up cream. The formula features brightening ingredients, such as niacinamide and white clover (Trifolium repens) flower extract, which help minimize dark spots and patches over the long term.

If you’re in a hurry to see results, though, this cream can offer instant benefits: the white formula lends your skin a natural-looking glow, evening out the complexion and “blurring” any imperfections.


Missha Safe Block RX Cover Tone Up Sun SPF50+/PA++++

The high coverage sunscreen

If you are looking for a sunscreen with high protection, high coverage, and a “tone up” effect, this Missha Safe Block RX Cover Tone Up Sun SPF50+/PA++++ is the perfect option.

While the titanium oxide in the formula offers highly stable physical sun protection, niacinamide provides a soothing and brightening effect, and vitamin E helps prevent free radical damage. Last, but not least, the added pigments provide foundation-like coverage, allowing you to skip the makeup step if you so desire!


Frudia Brightening Tone-Up Base Sun Cream SPF50+

The antioxidant-rich sunscreen

If you’re surprised by the variety of sunscreens in this post, don’t be: tone up sunscreens are very popular! After all, you’re already using them every single day–why not add a couple of “tone up” benefits to the formula? This Frudia Brightening Tone-Up Base Sun Cream SPF50+ is up to the challenge, with a formula that combines high sun protection with a natural glow-up effect.

In addition to the instant effect, this sunscreen also contributes to the beauty and well-being of the skin with niacinamide, vitamins C and E, and antioxidant extracts of mandarin and grape seed.


Let’s recap what we’ve learned about Korean tone up products: they are skincare and makeup hybrids that help you beautify your skin immediately, through lightweight coverage, but also over time, through brightening active ingredients. Not bad for just one product! Make sure to browse through our full selection of K-Beauty products in the shop, and find your favorites!

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