Cleanse, tone and moisturize that’s the skincare routine that most of us grew up to and that’s what I did until two years ago. When it comes to skin care, I can say that I’ve always been diligent. As early as 14 years old, my mom got me my first skin care kit with facial cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen. She nagged me every day to use them, or else I will regret it when I get older when dark spots and wrinkles start to appear, and of course, I was scared so even though moisturizer at that time felt oily I still followed her instructions.
I believed her because growing up I saw my mom lather cold cream on her face every night and until now she has the softest skin I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately for me, I did not get that soft skin gene, but I can say that her nagging for me to do my daily skin care seemed to work well because I grew up without any major skin issues. But then two years ago something changed, my skin just can’t take any skincare product. Any product even facial wash makes my skin super red and itchy, I thought I was just allergic to the product I used, so I went to buy other brands that are hypoallergenic and even tried baby products, but still my skin still got itchy and red, and worst I even had skin asthma. I was so frustrated at that time; then my dermatologist told me to try Korean skin care, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine
If you are not familiar with Korean skin care products, I can say that you’re missing a lot. Korean skin care products have been considered as one of the most advanced in the world. For them, skin care is a serious business and a lifestyle. They have a product for almost all skin care concerns that you have, and they have tons of brands to choose from. If you know Koreans, one thing that you’ll notice is most of them have this beautiful and poreless skin. Of course, their DNA is responsible for that and their diet as well but ask Korean women and some men too, and you’ll discover that most of them are serious in taking care of their skin. That they use lots of products and they religiously use them daily.
The 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine has been gaining raves worldwide. Even Amazon now has their own page for Korean Beauty products, you can also get some at Target, Walmart or even Sephora. Korean skincare products are very effective and as a matter of fact, this skincare routine saved my skin. In just a month after I started my Korean skincare regimen, my skin asthma cleared up and what I love most is that with these Korean products I never got itchy or redness. I think the key here is this skincare routine focuses on hydrating the skin to make it look and feel healthy. Which is very smart! After a few months of doing it, I noticed that my skin had this glow and dewy look which I never had during the time I used my old skincare products. I became confident in my skin that I no longer have to rely on a lot of makeup to cover it. So while I’m still planning my future trip to South Korea to hoard their products and immersed in their culture, I want to share with you the Korean skin care regimen steps.
Here’s the 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine
I know most of you will say “who has time to do 10 step skin care every night?” It sounds a bit crazy and time-consuming, but one thing I discovered about Koreans after reading the book The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin is that they add skincare as part of their lifestyle, they don’t just do it, but they enjoy it. It’s their way of destressing and their “me time” part of the day. After doing this routine for two years now, I can say that it’s something that I look forward to every day. It’s relaxing, and once you see the benefits that it gives to your skin you will totally say it’s worth it. And to clear things up you don’t have to do 10-steps daily. Some steps are just done once or twice a week. Personally my tip for you is to listen to your skin. You need to know what it needs. For summer, use less products. For days when it’s super dry then use a sleeping pack, for days that you feel you have great skin then just do 4 or 5 steps.
Before we start I just want to tell you that you can follow the 10 step Korean skin care routine without using exclusively all Korean beauty products. You can use your favorite brands just follow the steps but if you want to fully immersed with Korean brands I will include my favorite products below.
Step 1. Makeup remover and oil cleanser
If you wear makeup of course the first step is to remove them. As much as possible I try to avoid makeup cleansing wipes or cloths because rubbing your face with it will cause irritation or redness. I prefer cleansing balms, just scoop some, lather on your face, wait for a few minutes and rinse.
The Banila Co. Clean It Zero Sherbet Cleanser is one of the most powerful makeup remover that I’ve ever used, it melts makeup even those stubborn mascara but it’s still gentle to the skin.
If you have sensitive skin, I highly recommend that you try the Heimish All Clean Balm. This is my newest favorite! It melts your makeup without stinging your eyes.
If you have oily skin, try the ENature Moringa Cleansing Balm.
For mornings or for days that you don’t wear makeup but you still double cleanse, you can use light cleansing oil. Double cleansing is highly suggested by most dermatologists because this will thoroughly clean your face of all those sunscreen and makeup residue, oil and dirt that may cause breakouts. Even if you have oily face you can still double cleanse. A cult favorite is The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil. This will make sure to break down all those oil-based products that you used like makeup and sunscreen.
Step 2. Cleansers
Second part of double cleansing is to use a mild water-based cleanser which will clean your face but not make it dry.
I love NEOGEN DERMALOGY REAL FRESH FOAM (Green tea). It works great and smells so good and good for oily skin. Green tea is a powerful ingredient for cleansing and detoxifying skin. They also have a stick variety, the Neogen Real Fresh Cleansing Stick Green Tea.
If you’re prone to acne, you can try the Cosrx Low Ph Good Morning Gel Cleanser.
For sensitive skin I love Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam, it’s the mildest cleanser I’ve tried. It will cleanse your face without stripping it of moisture.
If you prefer multitasking cleansers that doesn’t just cleanse but also offers extra benefits here are some suggestions.
For brightening: Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Cleansing Foam – This is a foaming face wash with Korean Pearl extract that will brighten your skin
Hydrating and reduces inflammation: J.ONE JELLY Cleanser – A low pH, makeup melting cleansing gel that is infused with Propolis, Royal Jelly and Honey extracts to soothe and brighten the skin.
Step 3. Exfoliator – Once or twice a week.
If you want smooth skin exfoliating is a must once or twice a week! You need to unclog pores and remove those dead skin cells.
I love Neogen Dermalogy Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine. I’ve been using this for years and the wine version is still my favorite. These are pads that are soaked in AHA and you just wipe your face with it and wash with warm water after. It also comes in lemon and green tea.
For those with acne or breakout problems, the Cosrx Bha Blackhead Power Liquid is a chemical exfoliator that is a cult favorite because aside from unclogging pores and removing dead skin cells it also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
If you want an all natural exfoliator check out Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash Off Exfoliator or the Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask. I use clay mask to detox my skin and it purifies and makes my pores look smaller.
Step 4. Toner
Unlike the toners that we’re used to most Korean toners not only tones, cleanses but hydrates as well.
My new favorite is Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner, if you have oily skin it’s the perfect toner that resets the PH of your skin and so refreshing. You can even use it as face mist. If you have dry skin, then you should try Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner, it’s the brand’s bestselller and it will energize without drying your skin.
SON & Park Beauty Water is a favorite not only in Korea but of other western makeup artist. Some even considered it as their holy grail item.
KLAIRS Supple Preparation Unscented Toner is a lightweight, moisturizing toner for oily/combo/sensitive skin that’s so hydrating.
For acne prone skin try the Cosrx Aha/bha Clarifying Treatment Toner or my favorite the Cosrx One Step Pimple Clear Pads. Even if you’re not acne prone the Cosrx One Step Pimple Clear Pads is something that you can use because it cleanses those impurities and clears up those occasional pimple that’s about to appear during your monthly period or after using makeup.
Step 5. Essence
Essences promote skin renewal and adds extra hydration. Make sure to read the label since some essence are to be used before toner. Some essences can also be layered.
My all time favorite and considered as Korean bestseller is the MISSHA Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence. It’s considered as dupe for the expensive SKII essence. It contains 90% fermented yeast extract. It helps revive dull skin, boost collagen production and anti-aging.
For oil essence, try Huxley Oil Essence Secret of Sahara.
Another gentle product that will hydrate and make your skin glow is the Primera Miracle Seed Essence.
If you want a brightening essence that smooths and helps with skin elasticity, check out Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence Rose Edition. It’s made with galactomyces ferment filtrate, niacinamide and rose water. I’m using this right now and I love it!
If you have sensitive or acne prone skin, you should check out Skin Food Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence. It has BlackBeepropolis Extract (63%), Royal Jelly Extract (10%) and Honey Extract (10%) which are great for calming and moisturizing skin.
Step 6. Ampoules, Boosters and Serums
Now time to target your specific skin problem with ampoules or also known as boosters or serums.
My new favorite is Pyunkang Yul’s Moisture Ampoule. Right now, I have dry skin and I use it as the last step of my skincare routine to seal in all the moisture.
If you have dark spots or wants skin brightening then check out Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Drop Serum, it has 5% pure vitamin C. My skin loves this product. I have some sun spots and melasma and after 2 bottles I saw that they really lightened up. If you haven’t used any acids or vitamin c before or have sensitive skin I recommend you start with this because it’s fairly mild.
If you want some anti-aging then the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule is a great product to try.
Step 7. Sheet Masks – Twice a week.
I love sheet masks! There are a lot of varieties to choose from and I think almost all skincare and makeup brands in Korea have their own line of sheet masks. There are sheet masks for different skin care concerns like anti-aging, whitening, calming, brightening etc. It’s even a popular souvenir for tourists. In the 10 step Korean skin care routine, sheet masks are recommended to be used twice a week, but you can use it as often as you want especially if you have dry skin. Most Koreans use it every day, and that’s what I actually do because I love it so much. I find it so relaxing and something that I look forward to every day.
My favorites are Innisfree sheet masks because they are cheap and mild enough to be used daily and makes my skin soft and supple. I also love Leaders Clinic Aqua Ringer Skin Masks, this is my go-to mask whenever I have dry skin because it’s so moisturizing. Another new favorite of mine is Whamisa Organic Sheet Masks, it’s a bit pricey but it’s organic, full of serum and a fantastic hydrogel sheet mask that brightens, tightens and cools. It’s my once a week indulgence.
Step 8. Eye Cream
The skin around our eyes is the thinnest so it needs a specific product to give it moisture without irritating it. My pick is the MIZON Korean Cosmetics Snail Repair Eye Cream. Yes, you read that right, it has “snail” slime. Snail secretion or slime is a common ingredient in Korean beauty and skin care products because it is packed with nutrients.
Step 9. Moisturizer
Time to seal all in with a moisturizer. In the morning, I use LANEIGE Balancing Emulsion Light but at night I love the Cosrx Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream and MISSHA Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream. For sensitive skin, try KLAIRS Midnight Blue Calming Cream.
For sensitive and acne-prone skin, you need a light moisturize like the COSRX Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap.
Step 9A Sleeping Pack (Once a week)
Once or twice a week, replace your moisturizer with a sleeping pack like the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. This is an optional item but you can use it if you feel like your skin needs an intense hydration boost. What I do is I use sleeping pack if I have an event to attend to the next day because it makes my skin look so fresh.
Step 10. SPF (Daytime)
For daytime, never ever skip sunscreen. Even though your foundation or moisturizer has spf you should still use sunscreen under it. My new sunscreen favorite is Neogen Dermalogy Day-Light Protection Sun Screen. It has SPF50/PA+++, it’s not sticky and dries clear without any gray cast. I also love Innisfree Eco Safety Perfect Sunblock. If you want a super mild sunscreen that’s also perfect for summer, try COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50 PA+++.
If you want to know more about Korean skin care regimen steps, makeup and shopping I highly suggest you read the The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin by Charlotte Cho. It’s very informative and a must read if you want to know more about Korean skincare and beauty.
Check out more Korean skincare products:
Must Have Korean Makeup
1. Cushion Foundation
2. Lip Tint
3. Eyebrow Pencil
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