A decade in, the popularity of K-beauty is at an all-time high in America. The ten-step regimen, the lasting popularity of oil and foaming cleansers, serums, and sheet masks, the endless beauty blogs and mainstream outlets like Vogue obsessing over celebrity skincare routines — it’s all tied back to Korea. American scrutiny of Korean beauty trends started back in 2011, when Sephora started stocking BB cream from the Korean brand Dr. Jart. After that product was a hit the floodgates opened. And while plenty of industries crumbled or faced setbacks during the pandemic, skincare thrived. A report from the end of 2019 estimated that the global K-beauty market hovers around $10 billion — and that it will increase to over $30 billion (!) by 2029. Clearly, this “trend” isn’t going anywhere; K-beauty is beauty now.
But not all brands are created equal when it comes to Korean skincare. All this growth means that cheap knockoffs of Korean skincare and rituals are rampant. The best way to invest in products that are actually worthwhile is to go back to the source: Buy Korean. Market flooding means it’s even more important to spotlight the Korean companies themselves, not just the new players looking to utilize their knowledge. And the American demand for K-beauty has increased so rapidly that even companies who intended to only serve a domestic customer base have begun exporting their products.
One such company is Ma:nyo, formerly Manyo Factory, a Korean-made brand that actually makes all their products in Korea. Ma:nyo has been focusing on clean beauty with organic ingredients and botanicals since they were founded back in 2012 by Kim Hyun Soo and Hwang Kwan Ik. Unlike plenty of K-beauty brands, who focus on achieving the perfect —and usually unattainable — “glass skin” look, Ma:nyo has always emphasized their products will help those dealing with “problem skin,” offering a range of items to help wrangle acne, enlarged pores, or persistent dryness. The brand name translates to “sorceress” in Korean, emphasizing their products’ transformative abilities.
As mentioned above, the popularity of a two-step cleanser has taken hold even when the entire 10-step routine hasn’t always translated for busy Americans, and Ma:nyo offers one face wash in each category. Frankly, taken together, they’re some of the best facial cleansers I’ve ever used. The trick with a double cleanse is to start with the oil cleanser, which seems counter-intuitive until you watch it literally melt the makeup off your face. Except, don’t watch it — if you’re a contact-wearer, keep your eyes closed! One potential side effect of this product is temporarily coating your lenses with a thin oil film. The cloudiness abates quickly, but better to just keep eyes firmly closed. One of the hero ingredients in the Ma:nyo oil cleanser is argan kernel oil, an oil that helps balance skin pH levels which reduces oil production while moisturizing.
Writing for Who What Wear, veteran beauty reporter Marie Lodi cited Ma:nyo’s Pure Cleansing Oil as one of the few options that would remove a particularly long-lasting lipstick. Though it comes in a golden-yellow bottle with a quick pump, the oil itself is clear and incredibly light. It goes on smooth and smells slightly floral and citrusy, like grapefruit or wildflowers. Made from 14 plant oil ingredients, according to the label the cleanser has “lipophilic oil and hydrophilic foam and cleanses black head sebum as well as makeup and fine dust.” This, I can vouch for, as someone who has always been plagued with black heads. The oil particles are stickier so they seep into my skin and help pull all the lasting dirt out.
But what is an oil cleanser without a foaming step to follow it up? The Cleansing Soda Foam is even more texturally significant, starting as a muted green paste that’s a little bit like the consistency of toothpaste, but quickly bubbles up into a soft foams when you rub it on your face. Again, Lodi — who is my favorite beauty guru to follow — recommends Ma:nyo’s Foam cleanser raving that it “gets all my makeup off — the eyeliner, mascara, primer, matte foundation, blush, and liquid lipstick — in one swoop. Nope, I don’t have to double-cleanse. Hallelujah!” That’s high praise indeed. For now, I’m still sticking with the double cleanse because the oil step is helping out with my blackheads so much, but the Soda Foam could definitely stand on its own.
Another K-beauty and Japanese beauty blog I follow, hiyuzu, also recommended the Soda Foam for blackhead trouble. “Personally, no other cleanser has tackled my blackhead concerns as effectively as Manyo Factory’s Deep Pore Cleansing Soda Foam has — and so gently, too,” the writer explained. “As you work it into a rich, white lather, you can feel its tiny granules ever so gently removing dirt and oils from your pores.” Like me, the hiyuzu reviewer has oily/combination skin, so this is definitely a great product for that skin type in general.
Some foaming cleansers tend to strip my skin which leads to dryness, or are too harsh, but both of these products are very mild. Actually, the foaming cleanser is incredibly mild for how powerful it is at removing makeup, and it smells so good and soothing because of the orange peel oil, papaya extract, lemon and lavender. The baking soda and cornstarch are also super interesting additions, as are a whole bunch of other plant-based powders, which all help create the foaming texture. It’s the green tea and chamomile ingredients that are soothing and regenerative.
Because all of Ma:nyo’s products are vegan, made from plants, cruelty-free, they suggest a shelf life of two years or less. So even if either of these aren’t your everyday cleansers, even using them once or twice a week for extra attention to your face is still safe. And, as a final cherry on top, every single bit of packaging, bottles, and containers that Ma:nyo uses is recyclable. The K-beauty wave may be going stronger than ever, but increased emphasis on brands who are Korean-founded and center values like clean ingredients, recyclable packaging, cruelty-free testing and plant-based elements will always be the kind of companies I want to support. Ma:nyo fits the bill and then some, and if you’re on the market for some new cleansers, the price point is great too — each of these products are under $30.
Shop Ma:nyo products right here.