The Korean Skincare Routine
You’ve heard about the 10-step routine. It has become a global phenomenon, with various personalities raving about the results they have gotten ever since they adopted the way Koreans meticulously take care of their skin. At its core, Korean skincare is not about incorporating all these steps. Rather, it’s about having the right products that address your skin concerns, and using them in the right order.
Here, we simplify the famous Korean 10-step routine. Note that we have grouped the steps into three major categories to make it easier to remember and understand!
1 Oil-based cleanser
The first part of the double cleanse, this step involves using an oil-based cleanser to purify the skin from sunscreen, makeup, and other oil-based impurities such as sebum and pollution.
2 Water-based cleanser
The second part of the double cleanse! Following up with a water-based cleanser is recommended because it removes sweat, dirt, and other residue that your previous cleanse didn’t pick up. The double cleanse is your first line of defense against breakouts.
Physical and chemical exfoliation can be thought of as an extension to cleansing. Its purpose is to slough away dead skin cells and draw out debris from deep within pores, preventing whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Depending on the specific product that you’re using, this step can bring about other benefits too, including anti-aging. Proper exfoliation is key for visibly smoother and brighter skin!
Korean toners are different from Western toners. Western toners are typically astringents, with high percentages of alcohol or witch hazel in their formulas. Because of this, they can be very drying and irritating to the skin. Korean toners are quite the opposite — they’re designed to hydrate and nourish the skin, preparing it for the other products that follow.
Essences are typically lightweight and packed with ingredients that hydrate the skin, enhance the complexion, and prevent signs of aging. Common ingredients found in essences are snail mucin, galactomyces, and hyaluronic acid.
6 Serum + Ampoule
Serums and ampoules are similar to essences, but they are typically more concentrated with skin-benefiting ingredients such as niacinamide, propolis, and centella. They’re also usually thicker in consistency, so they are applied after the essence step. However, the lines between essences, serums, and ampoules have become blurred due to technological advancements, so we recommend that you select products based on what they can do rather than what they are named.
7 Sheet Mask
The gateway to Korean skincare! Sheet masks are a one-time-use treatment, soaked in rich essences to deliver nothing but goodness into your skin. The essences are formulated with a wide range of ingredients, from standard fixings like aloe vera and tea tree, to more exotic ones like snail, bee venom, and egg-shell membrane. Their primary purpose is to moisturize, but they definitely do more than that — they offer pore care, acne care, anti-aging properties, and brightening effects, depending on the variant. The mask sheet provides a protective layer between your skin and the outside elements, which allows for more effective penetration of skin-beneficial ingredients into your skin. Last but not the least, it gives you a great way to unwind after a long day.
8 Eye Cream + Moisturizer
The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most delicate, so it’s important to give it some extra TLC. Regularly using an eye cream can do a lot in preventing crow’s feet, dark circles, and puffiness. It’s an essential if you want to keep looking youthful!
Moisturizers are packed with humectants, emollients, and occlusives to keep skin plump. It comes in many forms (gel, emulsion, lotion, cream, sleeping mask) and works to prevent fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging, while sealing in all the good stuff from your other products.
Treatment + Protection
9 Spot Treatment
If you have blemishes, apply spot treatment or a patch. These help to accelerate healing and prevent dark marks from forming.
Sunscreen is the cheapest and most effective way to battle aging (and skin cancer!). You should always, always wear sunscreen, even if the weather’s cloudy or you’re inside most of the day. It should be applied after everything else so that it can provide maximum protection.