The 10-Step Korean Skin Care Routine (With Products You Can Find Stateside!)
Since its introduction to the Western World, Korean beauty has managed to shake up our skin care routines with innovative products that have become staples in our beauty cabinets—like BB cream and sheet masks—and it’s renowned 10-step skin care routine. Interested in starting a 10-step Korean skin care routine at home—even if you can’t get your hands on Korean skin care products?—keep reading.
Steps 1-2: Double Cleanse
The first step—or really two steps—in a Korean skin care routine is the double cleanse, which involves washing your face with an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser. Oil-cleansers are meant to be applied to dry skin first. They are formulated to help remove makeup, sunscreen, and other oil-based impurities that may be taking up residence on your face. After rinsing off with lukewarm water, follow with a water-based cleanser to help rinse off left over dirt, sweat, and other water-based debris. We recommend starting your double cleanse with Vichy’s Pureté Thermale Cleansing Micellar Oil. Formulated with camellia oil, this cleanser can remove stubborn waterproof makeup, dissolve impurities, and leaves the skin feeling soft and moisturized. Follow with a micellar water for your water-based cleanser. We love La Roche-Posay’s Micellar Water.
Step 3: Exfoliate (1-2x a week)
One thing we may have forgotten to mention is that while this is the 10-step Korean skin care routine, you do not—and should not—do steps three and seven each day. This can be especially true for step three, exfoliating. Exfoliating can help remove built up dead skin cells on skin’s surface and help prevent clogged pores, leaving skin feeling cleaner and more smooth. You should incorporate step three into your skin care routine once or twice a week using either a mechanical exfoliator, like The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Glow Boosting Microdermabrasion Exfoliator or a chemical exfoliator formula with salicylic acid like, La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Clarifying Solution.
Step 4: Toner
This is a step in the Korean skin care routine that you don’t want to skip. Toners are designed to remove any leftover residue from your double cleanse while refreshing your skin and getting it ready to soak up the moisturizing products used in the remaining steps. Now, don’t get toners confused with astringents, as toners are the opposite of astringents and can be very hydrating to the skin and gentle enough to use on all skin types. Dab some toner—like L’Oréal’s HydraFresh Toner, formulated with vitamin B5 to help protect skin against moisture loss—onto a cotton pad and apply to your skin.
Step 5: Essence
Essence can not only provide the skin with extra hydration and moisture, it can promote a brighter-looking complexion. If you want to switch to a 10-step Korean skin care routine, investing in an essence—like Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Essence Treatment, which can promote radiant-looking skin while fighting early signs of skin aging—is key.
Step 6: Serum
Instead of using one serum and applying it all over your skin, use it as a spot treatment and apply it just to the areas that can benefit from it. If you tend to break out on your chin and your cheeks appear to be on the dull side, apply a serum like SkinCeuticals’ Blemish + Age Defense Serum to your chin—which can help reduce the appearance of blemishes—and SkinCeuticals’ Hydrating B5 Gel on the dry areas of your cheeks—to replenish moisture and leave the skin feeling hydrated and renewed.
Step 7: Sheet Mask
Perhaps one of our favorite products to come out of the world of Korean Beauty is the sheet mask. They require little to no work in the removal process and can leave the skin feeling more refreshed than ever. Sheet masks are exactly what they sound like: a mask that is made up of a white sheet, or blend of fibers, that are pre-cut to fit your face and soaked in hydrating essence or serums that address everything from a dull complexion to dry skin. We recommend trying Decleor’s Intensive Brightening Sheet Mask, to give your skin some serious hydration and promote a brighter, more youthful-looking complexion. Another reason to love sheet masks? They’re perfect for travel. In fact, some celebrities have been known to sport these while flying to relieve their skin of the plane’s ultra-drying climate. Use one in your skin care routine one to two times per week.
Step 8: Eye Cream
Using an eye cream can offer a whole boatload of benefits to the skin around your eyes including reducing the look of under-eye bags, dark circles, and fine lines. Just as it is important to keep your skin hydrated, it is important to keep the skin around your eyes hydrated. Using an eye cream like, Yves Saint Laurent’s Forever Youth Liberator Eye Créme, in the morning and in the evening to help keep the area around your eyes looking smooth and radiant.
Step 9: Moisturizer
Since moisturizer is most-likely the thickest product in the 10-step Korean skin care routine, you’ll want to do this last—well, before step 10—to lock in the benefits of the previous steps. Moisturizing can be especially important in the evening, but it’s something to be aware of all throughout the day—especially if you are in a dryer climate. You can apply a thick night cream in the evening like, Giorgio Armani’s Crema Nera Extrema, which helps revive skin and fight early signs of skin aging and comes in a light cream that can be used in the daytime before your final step.
Step 10: Sunscreen
Applying sunscreen to your skin may just be the most important step in your morning routine. Skipping sunscreen can result in everything from sunburns to discoloration from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays, not to mention it leaves your skin more vulnerable to developing skin cancer. It is absolutely important to wear sunscreen every single day, including days when the sun appears to be nowhere in sight!