The Ultimate 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine Guide

asian woman face in water with red lips and flowers, korean skincare routine
via Pixabay

Anything and everything you need to know about the 10-step Korean skincare routine.

K-Beauty 101: The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

We won't lie to you. The 10-step Korean skincare routine is daunting, especially if you've religiously used one moisturizer for most of your adult life. But, we're telling you that it doesn't have to be hard. In fact, we consider this skincare routine to be more of a fun and relaxing lifestyle change.

So today, we're bringing you a comprehensive guide to the 10-step skincare routine, including tips and our top products for each step. Now, let's dive right in and don't be scared.

This routine takes time to develop for your skin. It's not an overnight fix, but once you're in it, you'll reach your skin goals that even K-beauty celebrities are envious of.

1. First Cleanser (Oil-Based Cleanser)

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Purpose: As part one of the double cleansing method, you should start your 10-step K-beauty routine with an oil cleanser. The oils in the oil or balm cleanser will pull out oil, like makeup and sunscreen, from your skin.

How to: Take a pump or scoop of your oil-based cleanser. Rub it gently into your skin in circular motions. Then, add a splash of water and gently rub your face for a few more minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

Tip: You can skip this step in the morning, but make sure to use it in the PM.

Products: Banila Co Clean It Zero Sherbet Cleanser, KOSE SoftyMo Speedy Cleansing Oil

2. Second Cleanser (Water-Based Cleanser)

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Purpose: As part two of the double cleansing method, you should wash your face with a water-based cleanser in order to remove the dirt and sweat from your skin.

How to: Take a pump of your water-based cleanser and gently massage your face for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Pat your face dry.

Tip: Water-based cleansers with a lower pH are better for your skin.

Products: COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser, Innisfree Blueberry Rebalancing Cleanser

3. Exfoliate

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Purpose: To slough away any dead skin cells to reveal younger skin.

How to: This depends on your exfoliator. However, you should always be gentle when applying this product and you should only really exfoliate 2-3 times a week.

Tip: You can use a physical or chemical exfoliator. Physical exfoliators are typically sugar masks, while chemical exfoliators are typically chemical peels.

Products: Neogen Dermalogy Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine, Skinfood Black Sugar Honey Mask

4. Toner

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Purpose: To hydrate your skin and allow products to be absorbed efficiently.

How to: Take some of the toner and splash a bit onto a cotton pad or your hands. Pat the toner onto your face until your face feels smooth.

Tip: Korean toners are not like American toners that typically dry out your skin. So, make sure that you're not using an astringent toner.

Products: Benton Aloe Skin Toner, Son & Park Beauty Water

5. Essence

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Purpose: Basically, a hybrid between a toner and a serum. It preps your skin for your treatment. The goal is to get higher cell turnover, which means brighter looking skin.

How to: Add some essence into your palm and pat it gently into your skin.

Products: Missha Time Revolution the First Treatment Essence, Benton Snal Bee High Content Essence

6. Treatment (Serums or Ampoules)

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Purpose: Where most of the magic happens. This step is meant to help you with your skin concerns.

How to: Like the essence, take the product into your hands and gently tap it into your skin.

Tip: This step completely depends on what you are targeting for, that being wrinkles, acne, hyperpigmentation. You name it and you can target for it here.

Products: Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop, Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum

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Purpose: To add even more treatment into your routine. And like the treatment step, it depends on your skin concern.

How to: This completely depends on the mask. Just follow the instructions on the back. However, most masks are typically 15-20 minutes long. This step is typically done between 2 to 7 times a week.

Tip: Don't throw away the packaging of the sheet mask! You can squeeze out the leftover essence leftover from the mask and put it in a ziplock bag. Then, put it in the fridge so you can use it the next day.

Products: The Face Shop Facial Sheet Masks, Nature Republic Real Nature Sheet Masks, Innisfree It's Real Squeeze Sheet Masks

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Purpose: To properly hydrate your eye area since the skin by your eye is thinner and more prone to wrinkles.

How to: Add a small dab of eye cream on your ring finger. Tap the product gently around your eyes.

Tip: Start when you are young. This will help prevent fine lines in the future. Just ask my mother, who probably looks younger than me at this point.

Products: CosRX Honey Ceramide Eye Cream, Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream, Benton Fermentation Eye Cream.

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Purpose: To seal all of the moisture in.

How to: Add the product to your palms and apply to your face using upward stroking motions.

Products: TonyMoly The Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Cream, Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream

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Purpose: To prevent sun damage.

How to: Add the product to your hands and gently tap it into your skin.

Tip: You don't need this in your evening routine unless the sun is still out.

Products: Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk, Missha All Around Safe Block