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Say Hi to a blinding glow with this super easy to follow 10 step Korean skincare routine!
The Hallyu wave has literally bombarded the world with everything K-, be it dramas, pop culture, music, and entertainment. It has impacted our food choices (I’m sure South Korea already had as at “ramyeon meokgo gallae”) and revamped our fashion sense.
But I believe the strongest impression has been left on us by the Korean skincare regime — so ubiquitous that your friends are raving about it, and the world’s overflowing with K-beauty products.
Amidst all this, it can be overwhelming to absorb the particulars as a beginner. But why worry when I’m here to save your day?
*drum rolls* 🥁
In this piece, I’ll cover the 10 step Korean skincare routine, the holy grail for glowing and flawless skin.
Here we go!
The easiest 10 Step Korean Skincare Routine
Korean skincare routines are extensive step-wise regimes for protecting your skin. The best part is there’s no generalization of the product. Thus, you can take care of all sections of your face depending on their specific requirements.
For example, rather than simply washing your face with a mild soap and applying moisturizer, you can focus on maintaining your skin’s pH, targeting sensitive areas under the eyes, and so on.
The result is well-treated, balanced, and protected skin that’s not just glowy and glossy, but also healthy from within.
There are numerous Korean skincare routines with a differing number of steps — 5, 7, and even 12. However, the following 10 step Korean skincare routine remains undefeated.
1. Double Cleanse step I – Oil
The rule is simple — the more you apply, the more thoroughly you wash.
You’ve got to level up your cleansing game if you use makeup regularly and eminently. This is where Korea’s “double cleansing” concept comes in.
Using an oil-based cleanser should be an ideal start to any skincare regime. They are best for removing makeup, sunscreens (even waterproof), and your body’s natural oils that tend to clog pores.
The idea is to remove oil-based impurities from the skin first, present excessively in cosmetics and synthetic products.
How To Use: Take your oil-based cleanser in the recommended amount and start rubbing it on your face in gentle, circular motions. Once applied thoroughly for a minute, rinse it away with lukewarm water and proceed to the next step!
Best Oil-Based Cleansers:
- Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil
- TATCHA Pure One Step Camellia Oil Cleanser (for dry skin types)
- Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil
- Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleanser (for sensitive skin types)
- Beautycounter Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil (for combination skin types)
And if you’re looking for drugstore cleansing oils, 👈🏽 here are my best recommendations for that!
2. Double Cleanse step II – Water
The next step in double cleansing is to use a water-based cleanser for the remaining impurities. You must not use a water-based cleanser first because water and oil naturally repel each other. Thus, you need to rely on oil to attract and remove the greasy dirt and then wrap the cleansing procedure using a foaming liquid.
A second cleanse also ensures your skin is properly cleaned for the following steps. Water-based cleansers remove the dirt that your oil-based cleanser couldn’t as well as the impurities left by it. So, yup. Don’t skip this crucial step ever.
However, if you have ultra-dry skin that gets highly irritated due to rigorous double cleansing, stick to oil-based cleansing only.
How To Use: Before using, make sure the pH of this cleanser is suitable for your skin type. Water-based cleansers can strip your skin of natural oils, so be a bit careful with this step. Once you’ve landed the perfect match, take a considerable amount of the cleanser and rub-n-rinse with lukewarm water, similar to step 1.
Best Water-Based Cleansers:
- Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Gel (for acne-prone skin types)
- CeraVe Hydrating Micellar Water
- SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser (for dull/uneven skin types)
- Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser
- Tata Harper Superkind Softening Cleanser
3. Exfoliate (But Not That Much!)
Want that baby-soft skin? Exfoliate, girl!
Applying soap and water isn’t enough to combat all the harshness your skin faces. You need to remove dead skin cells on a regular basis to keep your skin clean and crystal clear.
Exfoliation is a sure way to restore the texture and gloss of your skin while also keeping it compact. There are three ways to achieve this:
- Mechanical Exfoliation: uses brushes, washcloths, loofahs, scrubs, crystals, and other tools to unclog pores and remove dirt from the skin
- Chemical Exfoliation: chemically dissolves the cellular glue that holds our dead cells together for facilitating the natural shedding process
- Enzymatic Exfoliation: treats skin with plant-based enzymes to break down the dead cells and eliminate them out and out.
Depending upon your requirement and preference, you can choose either of them. However, no matter what type of exfoliation you pick, don’t overdo it. It’s not something you have to use daily in every skincare routine.
Exfoliating once or twice a week is a solid YES for removing dead skin cells without aggravating your skin. You can also skip this step or do it more infrequently (twice/thrice a month) in case you have acne breakouts or super-sensitive skin.
4. Toner — A Heaven’s Kiss!
Using a toner after double cleansing and exfoliation is a must to lock moisture and hydrate your skin before proceeding to the later stages of the 10 step Korean skincare routine.
Alcohol-free toners should be your prime choice, for they’re rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
A toner also acts like a primer and prepares your skin to absorb and blend makeup easily. It penetrates rapidly into your skin, removes dead cells, and freshens it up in minutes.
How To Use: Pour a couple of drops (confirm the dosage on the product) of your favorite toner into your palm and dab the liquid gently onto your damp skin. Pat, pat, pat for quicker absorption instead of rubbing the toner against your face. You can also use a cotton pad to apply the product.
- Lancôme Tonique Confort Hydrating Comforting Toner
- Murad Acne Control Clarifying Toner
- Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner
5. Use A Facial Essence For A Balanced pH
Consider essence as a bridge between your toner and serum. It’s more like a pre-serum product that adds extra hydration to your skin after you’ve applied a toner.
Essences are more diluted than serums and hence cannot stand up to their properties, but are an essential part of skincare to make your serums and moisturizers work. They help balance the pH of the skin, heal and bless it with vitamins, and create a plumping effect.
How To Use: You can either pat the essence on your skin using your fingertips or spread it between your palms and press them gently against your skin to apply. Nevertheless, make sure your hands are completely dry and your toner set before moving on to essence.
- SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
- Laneige Water Bank Essence (for dry skin)
- COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
6. Serum — The Soul Of Our Routine
Now that you’ve thoroughly cleansed your skin and prepared it, it’s time to use the hero products. Starting with a serum, it’s a concentrated version of a facial essence but caters to specific skin concerns.
For example, you can have a serum for treating acne, wrinkles, pigmentation, and so on.
Serums help boost your skin health with active ingredients to brighten the tone, even out the coarse texture, soothe sensitive skin, and prevent aging. Thus, when buying a serum, think of what kind of treatment your skin requires the most to find to end up with the right product.
How To Use: Once your essence’s all soaked in, take 1-2 drops of serum (if thin) and gently massage it on one side of your cheek using your fingertips. Repeat this for the other side, forehead, chin, nose, and neck.
If the density of the serum is slightly thicker, 3-4 drops are recommended. Rub them between your palms first to activate the serum using heat.
Pat, pat, and pat until the product is completely absorbed!
- Avène Cleanance Concentrate Blemish Control Serum (for acne)
- The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum (for coarse texture)
- Dermalogica UltraCalming Serum Concentrate (anti-inflammatory)
- The INKEY List Retinol Anti-Aging Serum
- SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense
7. Relax With A Sheet Mask
Soaked in serums and essences, sheet masks are thin, wearable papers that provide deeper nourishment to your skin. The chemicals are properly absorbed by your skin and hence do not dry up.
Sheet masks are ideal for extensive skincare regimes like the 10 step one when you have at least 10-20 mins to dedicate to your skin. Or when you don’t have other products but need glowing skin on a budget.
How To Use: Grab your favorite sheet mask (they come in standard sizes, so need to worry about the fitting) and gently spread it over your face. Press it on your skin so the mask sticks to your face.
You don’t have to use sheet masks daily. Limit their use to once a week because you’re already including essence and serum in your 10 step Korean skincare routine.
Best Sheet Masks:
- Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask
- Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask
- Too Cool for School Egg Cream Sheet Mask
8. Don’t Forget Eye Cream!
The most sensitive region on your face is the undereye. It has the thinnest layer of skin compared to fuller cheeks and chin and thus is highly prone to concerns like discoloration, wrinkles, fine lines, etc.
You can skip wearing eye cream if you don’t really see the need for it. But if your undereye area is growing excessively dark and puffy, this becomes an inevitable step. Moreover, if other products tend to irritate the skin beneath your eyes, it’s better to stick with eye cream for this particular area.
How To Use: Take a pea-sized amount of the cream and start dabbing it over the concerned region.
Best Eye Creams:
- RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream
- Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream
- SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex
9. Hydrate Your Skin With A Moisturizer
Finally, we’re nearing the end of our 10 step Korean skincare routine and it’s time to bring in the queen of skincare products — the moisturizer. It acts as a barrier for all the layers you’ve applied till now and helps them last as long as possible.
How To Use: Apply a peanut-sized amount of the moisturizer in circular motions on your face for 4-5 minutes to soak it in. Remember to purchase a moisturizer according to your skin type (lotion-based for oily skin and cream-based for dry skin).
- Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre (for dry skin)
- Kate Somerville Oil Free Moisturizer (for oily skin)
- Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer (for acne)
- Osmia Purely Simple Face Cream (for sensitive skin)
10. SPF! SPF! SPF!
Last but definitely not least comes the SPF, a mandatory skincare product when stepping out in the sun, even if you’re not following a stepwise regime. Sun exposure can lead to numerous skin problems like sunburn, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer. Can’t stress the importance of using an SPF enough.
How To Use: Depending upon your skin type, choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, is water-resistant, and has a higher SPF value (30 or above). Take a small amount of the product and apply it thoroughly on your face, neck, and jawline.
- Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion
- Juice Beauty SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer
- Elta MD UV Daily SPF 40 Tinted Moisturizer Sunscreen
Some FAQ’s to help you out!
How often do you do the 10 step Korean skincare?
While the exact frequency will depend on individual skin type and needs, in general, it is recommended to follow this 10 step Korean skincare routine both morning and evening on a daily basis for optimal results.
Is the 10 step Korean skincare necessary?
The truth is, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some people swear by it and others might prefer a simpler routine. It all comes down to your individual skin type and what works best for you.
If you’re someone who loves pampering your skin and has the time and resources to invest in a more comprehensive routine, then the 10-step routine might be worth trying. But if you’re someone who prefers a more low-key approach, then a simpler routine might be more your style.
What is the secret of Korean skincare?
The secret of Korean skincare is the focus on layering products and utilizing specific ingredients to target individual skin needs. For instance, many Korean skincare products are loaded with natural extracts like tea tree oil and citrus, which help reduce inflammation and revitalize dull skin. Additionally, the use of essences and serums allow for a personalized approach to tackle any skincare concerns.
Ultimately, the combination of layers, products, and ingredients form the secret that has made the 10-step Korean skincare routine so popular.
Final Words on a 10 step Korean skincare routine
Whether or not the 10 step Korean skincare routine really works depends on a lot of factors.
First and foremost, no cosmetic can equate to the benefits of a healthy diet. You cannot gorge on junk and put the entire burden on your skincare regime.
Second, you must have the right products in hand that suit your skin type (oil, dry, sensitive, or combination) and don’t cause or aggravate acne breakouts. Natural and alcohol-free products are highly preferable for sensitive skin types.
Third, excess of anything can be bad. You don’t have to overdo the routine — follow the steps carefully and pay attention to the frequency of different products. For example, do not exfoliate more than twice a week.
And with that said and done, I’m sure you’re just a couple of months away from achieving smooth, clear, glowing, firm, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, healthy skin!
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