Skincare in Korea is an exhaustive, multi-step process; as one of the laziest people I know for beauty, it may come to a surprise I've been keeping up with the 10-step skincare routine for four months.
After what feels like a lifetime of teenage, adult and hormonal acne, I stumbled upon Charlotte Cho’s The Little Book of Skincare: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin. All of a sudden, the way I thought about skincare and treatment towards it forever changed. I started the 10-step Korean beauty routine almost immediately after realizing how unkind and misinformed I was about how to treat my acne and ultimately, skin. Four months into my new routine I can now speak on my experience and share my thoughts, tips and go-to products!
The 10-Step Korean Beauty Routine
Step 1: The Double Cleanse – Make-up Remover and Oil Cleanser
Double cleansing your skin is hands down the most important part of your skincare routine! Once you remove your makeup with an oil-based cleansing cloth (so…yeah…uh, triple cleanse?) use an oil-based cleanser to remove all the excess oil and trapped sebum from your face. My three favorite oil-based cleansers are:
- Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil | $22
- Banila Co., Clean It Zero PURITY for Sensitive Skin | $25
- SheaMoisture Peace Rose Oil Complex Sensitive Skin Facial Cleansing Oil | $10
Step 2: Double Cleanse – Water-Based Cleanser
Probably what you’re most familiar with. A gentle foaming cleanser finishes off ridding your face of impurities and debris that isn’t able to be broken down by oil. It is also noted according to Miss Cho, you should wash your face and “work it in circular motions with your fingers…to help increase circulation and enhance lymphatic drainage.” My three favorite water-based cleansers are:
- Artistry Essentials Balancing Cleanser | $42
- Nature Republic Rose Cleanser | $13
- Artistry Hydra-V Gel Cleanser | $24
Here’s a quick tutorial on the double cleanse.
Step 3: The Exfoliator
A fun fact: exfoliating does not need to be done every day, twice a day, so this part of the 10-step Korean beauty routine can be knocked off for most of the week (lazy girls celebrate)! Exfoliating helps loosen clogged pores (raises hand), improves your skins texture, and brightens your complexion. I use a mechanical exfoliator as chemical ones containing lactic or salicylic acid don’t do my sensitive skin any good. Only exfoliate once or twice a week! I choose Sunday’s and Wednesday, the beginning and middle of my week to help build and keep a steady routine. My current exfoliator is the Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel. I still don’t know how I feel about it, to be honest, but I do like how soft my skin feels after. My top 3 recommendations are:
- AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel | $60
- Dr.G Brightening Peeling Gel | $28
- SKINFOOD Black Sugar Mask Wash Off | $10
Step 4: Toner
The second most important step in your skincare routine, toners prep your skin for the products you’ll apply after as well as removes any leftover residue (trust me, there are always leftovers) from your cleanser. Use a hydrating toner versus an astringent, which is basically like rubbing alcohol on your face which can break down your skins natural protective barriers. This can lead to more breakouts! Use a cotton pad to swipe the toner across your face or pat in the product manually. My three favorite toners to date are:
Learn more about toners with this quick video.
Step 5: The Essence
The heart of the Korean skincare routine, essence is my newfound love. I started using essence when my mother handed me one by Artistry (I swear by that one) and have been hooked ever since. Essence helps hydrate and increase cell turnover for more even, brighter skin. Since using essence I have people tell me my skin is glowing (something that never used to happen, trust me). My favorite essences to date:
- Artistry Ideal Radiance Illuminating Essence | $123
- COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence | $19
- ENature Birch Juice Hydro Essence Skin | $20
Step 6: Ampoules, Boosters and Serums
These will be used to tackle very specific skin problems. From dark spots to wrinkles to acne itself, ampoules, boosters and serums are what help combat our biggest skincare problems (and insecurities). These are also really good for hydrating your skin, brightening and increasing cell turnover. More in-depth information can be found here. I currently use:
- Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Drop Serum | $23
- Artistry Hydra V Refreshing Gel | $43
- MISSHA Time Revolution Night Repaid Ampoule | $49
Step 7: Sheet Masks
I have so much fun with sheet masks! You should sheet masks on average twice a week but you can do more if you see fit or just like to do it as a way to unwind from the day. Sheet masks are filled with concentrated ampoules, serums and/or boosters. What makes sheet masks so great is they stop the products from evaporating. Wait 15-20 minutes, remove the masks and pat for absorption. I use the extra juice in the packet on my back for my back acne and scars.
Go off the deep end like I did and try the SokoGlam 7-day Sheet Mask Challenge!
Step 8: The Eye Cream
For someone who genetically has dark circles under her eyes you’d think I’d be using eye creams from the beginning. I, like most women my age, thought eye cream was for a much older group of women. The thing with skin care is you have to start with prevention! I learned from The Little Book of Skincare regularly using intensive eye cream can help prolong dark circles, puffiness and crows-feet from our beautiful, happy faces. I’ve only used one eye cream and at my first HeyDay visit my skincare therapist complimented me on the skin around my eyes.
Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Power Eye Cream | $46
Step 9: The Moisturizer
Even girls with oily skin need to moisturize (as I learned the hard way). Moisturize at night for intense hydration and skin restoration. Again, I thought night creams were for older women, but the biggest difference I saw was when I started using a moisturizer. My skin needed less maintenance, felt moisturized (duh) and was visibly brighter. My current moisturizer obsessions are:
Step 10 (Thank Goodness): Sunscreen
I cannot stress the importance of sunscreen. This is the ultimate way to protect the health and beauty of your skin as sun exposure causes the most damage and has the biggest impact on our skin. Growing up in Florida I never used sunscreen, I thought the tanner the better. Now I know better and do not leave the house without sunscreen. Use sunscreen with a built in moisturizer and apply frequently throughout the day. My favorite products are:
Phew, was that long but so necessary! I still have a long way to go with my skin, but this journey has been not only transforming but informative. The best way to take care of your skin is to be proactive, do your research and treat it the way it’s meant to be treated. Have any questions? Don’t be afraid to message me or leave a comment below. Until next time!