Time needed: 10 minutes.
10-step Korean skincare routine is a phrase that has been floating around the beauty community for a few years now. For someone who’s never tried Korean skincare, it sounds a little daunting. No one wants to do 10 steps in the morning! However, when you dig into what all goes into your average step-by-step Korean skincare routine, what you will realize is that you already have 5 of them in your existing morning skincare routine.
This is a step-by-step Korean skincare routine, which will guide you through your morning and night-time skin care routine. You can use this for Asian skin, dry skin, combination skin or oily skin – the tips in this post will work for all types of skin from all over the globe!
You might be wondering how can this be done in the morning, with a full-time job? The answer is: it’s very time-consuming. That’s why I have created this guide to a Korean 10-step skincare routine for beginners. This post has everything you need for your first-ever Korean skincare regime – what products to buy and all the necessary techniques.
- CLEANSING BALM
Here is the first step in my Korean skincare routine. It’s essential because it removes all of one’s makeup, dirt and grime that has been trapped in the pores throughout the day.
Starting off your Korean skincare routine with a cleansing balm makes sense and is probably one of the best thing you can do for your skin. Learn about the benefits of first using a cleansing balm step by step here.
Cleansing balms, or cleansing oils, are one of the most unique products in the world of exfoliants. They not only remove makeup and sunscreen but do so without adding any moisture to your skin!
Cleansing balm acts as an emulsifier and cleanser in one. It melts the makeup and impurities into a creamy texture allowing for easy removal.
Dirty skin has a huge negative impact on our confidence so it’s important to make sure we’re removing all makeup and dirt first. This is why I start off my routine with a cleansing balm to remove my makeup. I tend to use the same products every night so if you aren’t particular with using a soft balm or want to double cleanse you can switch it out with another foaming or water based cleanser.
Cleansing balm is an essential step in Korean skincare because it can not only remove makeup but also wash away dead skin cells and impurities to deeply clean and nourish the skin.
To explain why cleanser is the second step, it’s because you have to first use a makeup remover to get rid of all your cosmetics. Then you can move onto the second step which is cleanser. After all, how can you thoroughly cleanse your face when there are still layers of makeup on your face?
It’s important to properly remove all of your makeup each night. Nobody wants to sleep with their mascara caked on, right? You want a cleanser that will efficiently remove makeup and other impurities from the day. This is when double cleansing comes into play.
Use your oil cleanser and massage it gently into your dry face for 30 seconds or so. Then add some water and continue to massage for another 30 seconds. Rinse well with water, then follow up with a foaming cleanser.
The second step in your Korean skincare routine is cleansing. The one thing you must remember is that this is the most important step of all. Skincare is often referred to as a journey, and cleansing is the start of your road or journey.
The priority of cleansing is to remove all traces of makeup and grime from your skin without drying it out. So, I chose a cleanser that is a combination of oil (olive oil) and water custom to cleanse my face gently and effectively.
Ditch your harsh cleanser for something a bit more friendly to the skin. The second step in your Korean skincare routine should be a gentle one, so you start building good habits right away. If you go straight from sunscreen to makeup, your skin might build up a resistance to your strong cleansers and it will take a lot stronger one to get the job done later on. Your next priority should be mildness, but don’t make the mistake of thinking “gentle = low-quality” – not at all! A well-formulated gentle cleanser can do wonders for even the most sensitive of skins.
The toner step of the Korean skincare routine is where absorption occurs. This is why the toner is applied last so that it can absorb all of the nutrients from the products you use before hand. The toner’s job is to improve your skin texture and prepare your skin for receiving more beneficial ingredients. Toner should be applied with a cotton pad within 2 minutes after you clean your face with a foaming cleanser.
The third step is known as ‘soothing and invigorating,’ so the goal of the toner is to both cleanse your skin while also being soothing and calming.
What you’re going to want to do with this step is apply a few drops of toner to your hands and then pat it onto your face. This will help close up your pores that acne might have opened up and help with counteracting any bacteria in them.
It will also give you a quick boost of hydration, which you could need after cleansing since certain areas of your face might have gotten a little bit rougher and dryer. The other thing that it does is help prep your face for the next steps in your routine, so that they will go on more smoothly as well.
Toner is a must have in the Korean skincare routine. It prepares your skin for the rest of the steps and helps you get that smooth, glowy complexion.
As I mentioned previously, toner is an important step in my Korean skincare routine. It balances the pH of your skin and prepares it for all the products that follow, so if you skip this step, your serum and other products won’t absorb as well and your skin will feel tight.
The fourth step of the Korean skincare routine is essence. An essence is a toner-like liquid that is the second most important layer in your skincare routine. Unlike toners, there are several active ingredients in an essence (more than toners), like antioxidants and extracts.
The fourth step in my Korean skincare routine is to apply essence. It can be tricky to understand how best to use this product but once you get the hang of it, it’ll become one of your favorite steps.
Essence helps hydrate the skin after cleansing and acts an important first line of defence to keep skin from being damaged. It contains high concentrations of products which help to speed up cell renewal and boost collagen production in areas where there has been damage due to stress or external factors such as pollution.
While we don’t want to overdo it with the amount we apply, it’s what can really make a difference to your skin, and you only need a small amount on your entire face to get the desired effect.
This is one of my favorites steps in my skincare routine because it really gives you that extra glow and hydration. Just like the name says, this step is the foundation of your routine. I found that this step is what sets your skin up for all the other steps to come.
Now that you’ve cleansed, toned, and moisturized, it’s time to amp up the skincare routine with the addition of an ampoule! Am-poo-le. Ampoules are teeny tiny bottles of concentrated beauty products. They are called ampoule in Korea! The term for a serum or essence in the U.S. is a bit broader. Some call serums essences. There’s also lotions which are sometimes referred as serums as well. What’s certain is that they are all amazing!
The ampoule is actually quite a simple concept – but there are some things you need to know about it to get maximum benefit.
Ampoule-sometimes known as as serum- is the fourth step in the 10 step Korean skincare routine. The role of an ampoule in your skincare regimen is exactly the same as that of a moisturizer or emulsion.
As you’ve read in my previous post on essential oil, this product is the perfect combination of everything. It’s a moisturizer and essence combined.
Ampoules are small single-use liquids that contain concentrated amounts active ingredients. These help deliver the active ingredients directly into your dermis (your skin’s second layer). There are different types of ampoules though.
I started adding ampoule in my skincare routine when I met someone who was using them. She seemed to have nice skin and I thought I’d give it a try. After doing some research, I found out that ampoule is actually the top-up step in a 10-step Korean skincare. On top of that, it can be used to treat specific skin concerns such as wrinkles and acne.
It is known as the booster step, the concentrated source of active ingredients that work in synergy with the rest of your routine to help you achieve maximum results.
In my opinion, the serums are the most important part of your skincare regime. These serums will deliver the biggest change to your skin as they have the power to penetrate deeper than any other product. In this step I am going to talk about how to choose a serum, and share some of my top recommendations.
The serum step contains active ingredients that you only apply at night – such as retinol, antioxidants and vitamin C. Multi-taskers such as hyaluronic acid can help boost hydration and create a glow while also targeting fine lines.
Serums are a step in the routine that I feel like no one talks about! Most people focus on toner, then lotion, then serum. Some people also add an emulsion onto their routine, but I never have. To be honest with you guys, it wasn’t until recently than I really see the benefit of serums. Now don’t get me wrong, they make your skin look and feel amazing, but I honestly thought they were just a beauty fad.
Serum is a vital part of any Korean skincare routine because it can target specific skin concerns such as fine lines, dryness and uneven tone. You have probably already guessed but serums are my ultimate favorite step in the entire routine!
Serums can have various purposes in skincare. Just like toners go deep into your pores to remove sebum, dirt and excess oil from the skin, serums go deeper into the skin than hydrating creams and emulsions do.
- EYE SERUM
Eyes need love and attention too. I use eye serum every night in the hopes that my eyes will look more open and awake the next day with fewer bags under my eyes. While eye cream is designed for people with dry or aging skin, eye serums can be used by everyone so long as it’s not too greasy or irritating.
A good eye serum should address the specific needs of the eye area, which unfortunately most skincare for eyes do not do.
It’s an important part of the Korean skin care routine as it helps in the prevention of skin troubles around your eyes. I took a long time to find the right eye cream as my skin is very sensitive around my eyes. I also think that too many serums can be make your skin feel heavier and clogged. So in this post, I explain what kind of eye serum works for me and break down what to look out for when throwing product into your cart.
If there is one place that we tend to neglect the most, it’s our eyes. In Korean, this step is actually called “eye serum” and while some people think that eye serums only serve to reduce and prevent wrinkles, they also have other functions such as anti-puffiness, brightening dark circles, and helping lighten your overall complexion.
Facial sheet masks are a nice way to help keep the skin around your eyes moisturized, but if you want a more targeted approach, eye serums (also known as eye creams) are your best choice. Eye serums are developed with active ingredients specifically for the delicate area around your eyes to prevent early signs of aging, improve the elasticity of the skin and reduce puffiness.
Eye creams can be a little tricky as you normally do not make contact with this area during routine facial cleansing. Therefore, it critical that you apply eye cream BEFORE your morning or evening facial cleanser so that most of it is absorbed into your skin.
- SHEET MASK
If you have tried a Korean skincare routine, then it is almost certain that you have tried sheet masks. Sheet masks are simple, effective and are the ultimate lazy girl’s skincare. You lay back and relax as the hydrating goodness of the mask penetrates your skin. Then you jump up feeling refreshed and renewed, ready to start your day with a healthy dose of radiance.
Sheet masks are probably my favorite part of the Korean 10 step skincare routine. I especially love them in the morning, since they’re quick and easy to do.
If there is one thing that I could not live without, its sheet masks. It’s my favorite part of the 10 step Korean skincare routine and I cannot stress enough how important these masks are for a bright, dewy, glowy face.
We’ve got to admit that the sheet mask trend, for a while, was looked down on by some who saw it as a fad that didn’t actually contribute too much benefit to skin. But times have changed and people are getting serious about their masks—and thankfully so! Sheet masks are an amazing way to hydrate your skin on the go or in between a longer, more intensive masking routine. They’re also great if you’ve been neglectful and need serious TLC ASAP. And although you can purchase sheet masks from nearly every retailer, why not make inroads into your budget and DIY instead?
The 9th step of my 10-step Korean skincare routine is moisturizer! And I feel like I should clarify, because when people think about moisturizing their skin they really think about the final product, which is a moisturizer. But if you think about it, a lot of products can be a type of moisturizer. In fact, most alcohol based toners are actually referred to as “skin tone up” or “skin moisture” and not “moisturizers.”
Moisturizers give your skin the hydration it needs to look soft, supple and to avoid drying or flaking. Moisturizer helps to replicate natural oils your skin would produce with it’s own sebum if you had enough oil. These oils help protect your skin, and help stop it from losing too much water through evaporation.
This means you are almost done with the 10 step routine! It is important to note that some people will choose to do this step right after toner. Both work just as well so it is your choice! In fact, some people find a good way to try both by following the Western skincare routine of cleansing-toning-moisturizing and then the K-beauty skincare routine of double cleansing-toner-cream steps.
Moisturizer hydrates your skin by drawing in moisture from the air and from deeper layers of your skin while giving off a nice, dewy hydrated finish without looking greasy or too shiny.
Given that your skin is hydrated with toner and serum, you can now top it off with a moisturizer that will seal in moisture. Actually, some people think that they only need a moisturizer in the winter but WRONG! It is important to keep your skin moisturized all year round. Well, depending on the climate in your place of course.
It will help to moisturize your skin and increase the moisture level in your skin. Moisture is very important for preventing your skin from getting dry. This is also the step you will be done with your morning routine! Just make sure to apply sunscreen formula before you hit outdoors!
Moisturizer is like that nice piece of cake you eat after a full course meal. It’s the perfect way to indulge yourself after all the scrubbing, pat-patting, and massaging you’ve just done.
The final step in the Korean 10-step skincare routine is sunscreen, or sunblock, whichever you prefer to call it. Sunscreen is extremely important in Korea because direct exposure to UV light for a long time can cause damage and accelerate skin aging. This is especially true for those who have darker skin tones. This is why sunscreen takes the last place on the list.
sunscreen is super-crucial for Korean skin care. It’s number 10 in a 10-step routine for a reason, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re outside in the blaring heat or not, sunscreen should be worn every single day.
Sunscreen is the last step in your morning skincare routine, so it’s important to get it right. Just remember, it’s not an optional extra – UV exposure is a serious contributing factor in skin ageing and long-term damage. For ultimate skin health, consider sunscreen a vital ingredient in your daily defence strategy. You don’t need to go overboard on the SPF (SPF 30 or above will do) but a little goes a long way.
This is actually the most important step of your skincare routine, because it protects against future sun damage. When I first began my skincare journey in Korea, I thought that since I was only living there for a year, investing in anti-aging products wouldn’t be worth it since I wouldn’t be living there long enough to see any effects. However, after living in Korea for more than 6 months, I quickly realized just how much sun damage one can get within that time frame – and that was with the help of sunscreen.
Again, this is really important in order to protect your skin from all the harmful UV rays. Sunscreen ensures that your skin will keep looking bright and clear as it did when you finished your first 10 steps and will also help keep your skin from looking dry and flaky later on.
These 10 steps will help you achieve a flawless, glowing Korean skincare. This post is helpful for those new to K-beauty.