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We might be beauty-obsessed here in America, but we’ve got nothing on South Korea. Women there spend almost seven times more on beauty treatments and products than women in the US. As a result of the high demand, many of the skin creams and face masks popular in Korea have gotten, well, extreme. So we asked Alicia Yoon, cofounder of leading Korean beauty retailer Peach and Lily, why we would ever use this stuff on our skin. Here’s what she told us:

1. Fermented Foods

"Fermentation was long appreciated in Korea for generations and is great for sensitive skin. Fermented ingredients have the ability to fight off bad bacteria and so are more stable formulations. This time-tested skin care trend has made a resurgence in recent years, and there are whole skin care lines and even brands created based on this concept." Try a fermented sea kelp face mask or wake up tired eyes with a fermented soybean eye cream.

Mucin, for the uninitiated, are snail guts. According to Yoon, mucin "soothes, hydrates, firms, helps with fine lines as well as acne, all in one gel-like, non-greasy formulation."

Don’t worry, it only hurts when it comes from the end of a bee's stinger. Once extracted, bee venom is a potent combination of enzymes and amino acids that help cell regeneration, and it is surprisingly "soothing and calming as well as hydrating."

Some beauty products have begun to incorporate maple tree sap because the molecules are the "same particle size as the body's natural fluids, allowing for incredible delivery into skin." That means all of the nutrients and minerals in your skin cream get absorbed more effectively.

Natural germinated brown rice extract is a very popular skin care ingredient in many Asian cultures. The extract "helps the skin retain moisture, has brightening properties and evens skin texture and tone."

Konjac is an East Asian plant whose roots are thought to have medicinal properties. In Korean beauty products, the fibers from the root act as a gentle exfoliator and is "rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to nourish and smooth the skin without irritating."

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