4 Creepy Crawly Ingredients Used in Korean Beauty Products

Korean beauty products are known to include unusual items in their ingredients. You’ve seen masks with traces of volcanic ash, night creams with pearl essences, and facial soaps dotted with coal. But no matter how unconventional they are, these concoctions never fail to fascinate consumers with their effects. However, the list of weird ingredients that you can find in K-beauty products doesn’t end there.

Aside from volcanic ash, coals, and pearls, insects and selected mollusks are also found in a number of skincare items. Worry not, these bugs aren’t necessarily mixed in with the product and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find insects in your cosmetics. Instead of insect and mollusk parts, their slime, venom, or extracts are used in these skincare items. If you are wondering what invertebrate has made it into your favorite Korean beauty product, this article will introduce you to 4 commonly used bug ingredients. And if you are interested in trying these products out, you can find them on online stores like YesStyle.com.


Bees pollinate flowers and create honey in the wild, but their products are also widely used in the world of cosmetics. Their honey, beeswax, and venom have made their way into beauty products like masks and creams. Because of their organic quality, bee products can be used on all skin types. In fact, each provides users with specific skin benefits.

Honey has antibacterial qualities perfect for treating and preventing acne. It also clears pores.

Beeswax has vitamin A that softens and moisturizes the skin longer than artificially made moisturizing products. Bee venom stimulates the production of collagen, which strengthens body tissue and elastin. It is also easier to use than Botox, as it only fools the skin into thinking that it has been stung. No needles needed.

Korean items that carry the beauty benefits of bee products include: COSRX Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask, Skinfood Honey & Sugar Jelly Body Scrub, and LadyKin Ice Cold Mask (bee venom).


Snails might be known as a gardener’s worst nightmare, but in the world of Korean cosmetics, they secrete the holy ingredient of many sought-after beauty products: snail slime. That’s right, snail slime is a popular component found in a lot of facial masks and creams. The slimy, sticky ooze that coats a snail’s foot is meant to protect the mollusk from cuts, bacteria, and UV rays. The same slime contains a potent mix of elastin, proteins, anti-microbials, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid - natural goodies that keep the skin healthy. Snail slime can do all sorts of things, from clearing dark spots to treating acne. Even in ancient Greece, this magical beauty ingredient was used as a topical treatment to reduce inflammation.

It’s not difficult to look for beauty products that contain snail slime. Products like Farm Stay Snail Moisture Soothing Gel, Etude House 0.2 Therapy Air Mask, and Tony Moly Ferment Snail Eye Mask can be found in most Korean beauty stores.

Beetles (Cochineal Beetles)

Among the various species of beetles, only one is used to create a stunning shade of red. The cochineal beetle – specifically, the female – is an insect that feasts on red cactus berries of cactus plants found in Central and South America. Once the beetle is full of cactus juice, it is removed from the plant, boiled, and crushed into fine powder. And the result is a unique color akin to red called carmine.

Creating carmine by crushing cochineal beetles isn’t new; it’s been done for centuries. Carmine from cochineal beetles is used not only in beauty products, but also in ice cream, candy, yogurt, and beverages. The dye is all-natural and very safe for most people. If you are looking for carmine-colored makeup, you can try lipsticks like COLORNIQUE Creamy Lipstick (#5 Rose Carmine).


Yes, even spiders have made it into the beauty product scene. But unlike cochineal beetles, spiders are prized by cosmetic manufacturers for their enzymes and spider web extract protein more than their alluring color.

When searching for spider enzyme, manufacturers look for a specific protease called arazyme, which can be found in spiders called Nephila clavata. Nephila clavatas are silk-weaving spiders that are native to Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China. The reason why this spider’s enzyme is valuable is that it contains high antibiotic and antibacterial properties. These properties can treat pimples and other skin problems, as well as soften and exfoliate the skin.

Spider web extract protein contains amino acids similar to those found in human skin. This means that it’s easy for human skin to absorb the products with spider web extracts. Spider web extract protein is also versatile and can be used in various cosmetic products.

Truly, Korean cosmetics do come up with the wackiest ingredients. You may not appreciate the presence of insects and mollusks in your beauty products at first, but now is the time to celebrate their existence. These invertebrates may not be easy on the eyes for some people, but they’re certainly good for even the most sensitive type of skin.


  1. This is so strange and interesting at the same time!

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