Your Guide To The Toner-Heavy Korean 7-Skin Method

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Another day, another new skincare technique. Coming straight from the K-beauty world, the latest skincare fad taking over TikTok is the Korean 7-skin method (the tag #7skinmethod has almost 10 million views). With claims that this technique can mimic the effects of a facial (but in a way more budget friendly way) it's no wonder the trend has taken off. If you're asking yourself what the main goal of the 7-skin method is, Young-Ji Park, founder of Korean beauty brand Purpletale, told Allure, "Hydration, minus the extensive Korean skin-care routine." Healthy skin in less time and for less money? We're in.

The technique involves layering three to seven skincare products (specifically toners or essences) to ensure your skin receives the most hydration possible (btw, there is a difference between hydrating and moisturizing). Park explained, "By layering your toner multiple times, your skin gets to absorb more of the hydrating ingredients, ultimately giving you hydrated and healthy skin." With an excited fanbase, the 7-skin method definitely seems worth looking into, especially for those with dry or combination skin. Whether you're already a huge toner and essence fan, or are looking to explore your options, the 7-skin method can offer up a great excuse to explore the world of "skins". (Toner and essence products are referred to in Korea as a "skin," hence where the '7-skin' name comes from).

How does it work?

As you may have realized, toners are pretty significant to the 7-skin technique.Charlotte Cho, a licensed esthetician, author, and founder of Soko Glam, elaborated to Healthline why this step is so important. "Think of your skin like a sponge. It's more difficult to rehydrate it when it's dried up than when it's already a bit damp. Essence, treatments, and moisturizers will be more fully absorbed when prepped with toner than when the skin is dry." This also helps makes the name pretty self-explanatory for this technique, you layer seven (technically anywhere from three to infinity depending on your time commitment and skin needs) different toners/essences/skins on your skin consecutively to achieve the most moisture possible..

The method is rooted in the idea that, when applying a single layer of a toner or essence, most of the product you use is actually evaporating rather than being absorbed by your skin. Therefore, by repeatedly layering your toner, you are ensuring your skin is actually absorbing as much product as possible. This explains why people say it can mimic the effects of a facial; it allows your skin to receive (a lot) more hydration than it does during your normal everyday beauty routine. This can be especially helpful for those with dry skin, and is a great addition for anyone who wants that post-facial glow without the hassle or price tag of a facial. Simply wash your face, pat dry, and begin your layering.

What exactly are toners and essences?

You might be asking yourself what toners and essences actually are and what they are supposed to do for your skin. For starters, toners are thin (they usually have the consistency of water) liquid primers. Used after you wash your face, but before you apply skincare products, toners can help to balance your skin's pH balance while removing any excess dirt or oil that might have survived your wash routine That said, advancements in skincare have broadened toners abilities and purposes. Where they used to be exclusively for cleaning or de-oiling, today's toners can help with hydration, anti-aging, and even brightening (K-beauty toners in particular offer a lot of skincare goodness). If you do decide to stick with only toner, we recommend a gentle, hydrating formula to help prevent your skin from drying out.

An essence, meanwhile is a hydrating product that is also often a thin primer. They are fantastic at preparing your skin for heavier products with a lot of actives because of their focus on hydration. In fact, many essences are actually formulated to help your skin better absorb your products, but different ingredients can also add a boost of hydration, brightening, or even antioxidants. In a normal skincare routine, an essence would be applied after a toner, but before serums and moisturizers. When deciding which specific product to use for the 7-skin method, consider your skincare needs and your budget.

How to get started

Like with all skincare trends, they don't work for everyone. Finding the right toner and essence for your individual skin type is the key to ensuring this technique really works for you. Pay attention to the ingredients list to make sure they're suitable for your skin needs. For example, Dermstore advises individuals with drier skin types see chamomile, vitamin E, and green tea as green flag ingredients as they all have calming properties. Oiler skin types, meanwhile, should consider toners with salicylic acid to aid with oil control and manage breakouts.

Still, if your skin isn't used to having a lot of products on it, try not to rush into a full-on 7-skin routine right away. Starting small with only a few layers can help your skin better acclimate to the new method. Plus, working your way up to seven layers can allow you to not only gauge how well your skin handles the process but also how well your chosen products are working (or not) for you.

It's also really important to avoid certain ingredients in your toner and/or essences if you plan on following the 7-skin method. Staying away from synthetic fragrances and alcohols can minimize chances of irritation. Also, be mindful of other products that are already in your routine. Using multiple layers of a toner with an exfoliating quality can also spell bad news for your skin, especially if you have another active in your cleanser or moisturizer. Always talk with a dermatologist before adding any new active ingredients in your routine, especially if you are using a retinoid or retinol. Since the point of the method is to boost your skin's hydration, it's important to stay away from any ingredients that can dry out your skin in any way. This will ensure you get the most out of the technique.