10-Step Korean Skincare Routine
The 10-step Korean skincare routine is currently one of the most on-trend and widely followed skin care regimes around the world. Koreans have long been known for their massive obsession behind how to achieve what’s known to many as the “glass skin” look. This 10 step routine takes us one step closer to filling our desire to perfect our skin. The continuous advancement of science, beauty, and technology brings us the opportunity to take advantage of achieving this perfection in our skin. This skincare routine is not only personalized, but can also be done in the comfort of our own homes.
10 is the magic number and though it may scare us off a little and make us question whether or not we’ve even got the time to do every single step, the end results will surprise you. Your skin will thank you and you’ll realize it’s well worth the investment to follow this 10-step Korean skincare routine.
To get you started on your Korean skincare journey – we’re here to help break down the 10 steps with products we’ve tried, tested and recommend (even for those of us with sensitive skin). Do remember that even though we’ll be going through all 10 steps of the routine, you’re welcome to pick and choose which steps best align to your personal goals. With that said, let’s begin..
Step 1: Makeup Remover or Oil Cleanser / Balm
The most important step in prepping your skin for what’s to come is to make sure you’ve got a nice clean base to work with. The first step to clean skin is important and to truly remove all makeup. Try opting for an oil based cleanser or cleansing balm. Oil based cleansers are best known for their ability to remove oil-based makeup, SPF, and other impurities that can cause breakouts or irritate our skin. Dispense enough on your hands and massage it over your dry face and neck to first break up the makeup and then add a splash of water to emulsify the cleanser. Massage again and then wash it off! This is a gentle yet effective way to cleanse rather than tugging at your skin. If a liquid-oil cleanser is too messy for you, try a cleansing balm. Cleansing balms are solid, mess-free and work to dissolve makeup just the same. These are an essential first step to your Korean Skincare Routine!
Products I love and recommend:
Shu Uemura Ultim8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil (an all-in-1 cleanser with anti-aging and moisturizing properties)
- A highly effective cleansing oil
- Contains precious essence of eight exquisite botanical origin oils
TATCHA 1-Step Camellia Cleansing Oil (Made from Japanese Camelia Oil (Tsubaki) an excellent source of vitamin A, B, D and E & nourishing omegas 3, 6 and 9. Hadasei 3 complex: trio of anti aging super foods: rice, algae & green tea) Promotes healthy looking radiant skin.
- Formulated without mineral oil, synthetic fragrances, parabens & detergents
- Non-comedogenic, non-irritating, non-sensitising. Dermatologist tested & cruelty free
Banilla & Co Clean it Zero Cleansing balm (With papaya and acerola extract. This hypoallergenic cleanser in a solid balm form that quickly transforms into silky oil upon touching the skin – no need to worry about spilling!)
- Removes heavy makeup in one single step
- Formulated with non-irritating ingredients & artificial colourings, while brightening and nourishing skin
Heimish All Clean Balm (Formulated with natural botanical ingredients for deep cleansing & removing makeup & sunscreen)
- Formulated with shea butter, coconut & citrus herb oil along with coconut fruit extract to balance, moisturise and help improve skin tone
- Suitable for all skin types, even those with sensitive skin!
Step 2: Water based Cleanser
Also known as “double cleansing”; follow up your oil cleanse with a water-based cleanser to wash away any remaining residue or impurities to leave your skin supple. The most important thing to remember is to find a formula that’s gentle enough to clean your skin but won’t strip or dry it out. A cleanser that leaves your skin feeling tight and overly squeaky clean is the first sign that it could be stripping your skin too dry. Your Korean Skincare Routine just wouldn’t be complete without this!
We’d love for you to try:
Klairs Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser (Lightweight and perfect for those that have dry skin – it’ll change your mind about how you wash your face)
- Contains hyaluronic acid & aloe leaf extract to nourish and calm skin
- Tea tree leaf oil fights breakouts and helps you achieve clearer skin
- PH level of 7.37 suitable for all skin types
COSRX Low-PH Good Morning Cleanser (Super low pH cleanser that’s great for your morning wash – it won’t strip your skin of it’s natural oils and contains botanical ingredients and mild acids to gently cleanse your skin)
- Non-sticky gel formula
- Great for sensitive and dry skin
- pH level of 5 keeping skin super happy
Son & Park Beauty Water – 2015 Beauty Award Winner (Not just a cleanser, but also an exfoliator)
- Contains willow bark and papaya extract to help sweep away dead skin cells & reveal brighter skin tone
- Mildly exfoliates to reveal smoother more radiant skin
- Slight orange scent
Step 3: Exfoliator
Though not absolutely compulsory, exfoliating twice a week is the first step in achieving clear, polished skin. Dead skin cells make it harder for makeup application and exfoliating ensures the removal of these cells to reveal brighter looking skin and makes it easier for your other products to make friends with your pores and work wonders on your skin. The best way to exfoliate is to gently massage or tap the exfoliant onto your skin. Try to steer away from rubbing or pushing too hard on your skin with the exfoliator as this applies unnecessary pressure which can damage your skin. Your Korean Skincare Routine needs a good exfoliator to promote healthy skin!
Neogen – Biopeel Gauze Peeling Wine (Unique and easy to use double sided pads perfect for gentle exfoliation)
- 3 layer pad technology ensuring dead skin cells are gently removed from the surface of your skin
- Lactic acid penetrates deep into pores to clean out pore-clogging debris
- Powerful antioxidant; Resveratrol, helps prevent free radicals from pigmenting or forming wrinkles on your skin
- Designed for on the go convenience
- Made with all natural ingredients to reduce the chance of skin irritation
- Deeply penetrates pores to clear waste and transform the skin
Step 4: Toner
Let’s take a moment to think of our skin like a sponge. They’re difficult to re-hydrate once they’ve dried up and hardened but a lot easier when they’re already damp. Toners are a great way to take your skincare to the next level. They help to dampen our skin and balance its PH levels and texture in preparation for what’s to come next. Pour a sizable amount onto the palm of your hands, rub them together and tap it directly onto your skin. You can also dispense some onto a cotton pad and gently swipe over your face starting from the inside and working your way outwards. We’re already to Step 4 of the ultimate Korean Skincare Routine. Don’t skip the toner!
Our top picks are:
COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Toner (There’s a reason to use the best quality AHA/BHA daily)
- Prevents early development of whiteheads and blackheads and treats flaky skin caused by lack of moisture
- Uses mineral water rich in AHA and BHA instead of purified water to protect skin & remove dead skin cells
- 5 free formula: no parabens, artificial colourants, artificial fragrance, triteanolamine or phthalates
Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX (A gel textured water that prepares the skin for intense moisturization)
- Soothes and hydrates leaving skin supple
- Matrimony Vine and Purslane provides hydration leaving your skin with a delicate veil of moisture
- Spreads smoothly and absorbs quickly, soothing the skin and leaving a clean finish
Step 5: Essence
The absolute heart and glory of the Korean skincare routine! An essence is the perfect hybrid, a mix between both toner and serum made especially for hydrating and helping your skin to repair and promote cell turnover. Apply it to freshly toned skin and pat it in until dissolved.
Get your hands on:
Tatcha The Essence (Ultra concentrated blend of Japanese super foods. The ultimate holy grail of essences, worth absolutely every penny. Glowing skin in a bottle)
- Oil free
- 98.7% hadasei 3 complex. Antioxidant-rich; green tea, rice and algae.
- Boosts cell turnover and refine skin surface for a super smooth feel and luminous finish
Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence (Cult favourite. Missha’s #1 best selling essence)
- Well known to repair damage and even out skin tone in just a few weeks
- Over 90% fermented yeast extract from Himalayan Purple Barley to plump skin, refine texture and reduce pigmentation
- Niacinamide brightens and clarifies skin tone while adenosine energises for more younger looking skin
Step 6: Treatments
Also known as serums, boosters or ampoules, treatments are concentrated essences of happiness in a bottle that directly treat and target the issues you’re most concerned about. Typically targeting dull skin, large pores, pigmentation and wrinkles, serums and ampoules are the ideal skin-perfector. Simply tap these onto your skin.
Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum (5% Vitamin C and gentle enough for all skin types including sensitive skin!)
- Fragrance free
- Fades brown spots and protects the skin from pigmentation occuring
- Brightens and evens out skin tone
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule (Powerful but gentle)
- Helps give a dewy supple clear complexion
- Comparable to Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair only more affordable!
- Repairs, hydrates and gives luminous even-toned skin with regular use
Step 7: Sheet Masks
The SOUL of nearly every Korean Skincare Routine. Sheet masks come in all different designs, packaging and textures and provide you with a quiet and relaxing skin-pampering ritual that imparts maximum treatment to your skin. All you have to do is put one on and relax or watch some tv or read a book for 15 – 20 minutes and you’re done. Use as often as you please.
Dr. Jart Dermask Soothing Hydra Solution (Cellulose sheet mask that hydrates, soothes and calms sensitive skin)
- Formulated without parabens and sulfates
- Allows pores to fully absorb essential nutrients & moisturising ingredients for ultimate hydration therapy
- Immediately soothes skin stress, prevents hydration loss & provides anti-cooling, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties to calm skin
Mediheal N.M.F Aquaring Ampoule Mask EX (Water system N.M.F helps provide and pumps abundance of moisture to your skin)
- Contains hyaluronic acid & ceramide that have excellent properties to hold and lock in moisture
- Tightens loose pores, regulates sebum production and provides intense moisture
- Long term use can solve allergies caused by dry skin
Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask (Instantly reveal remarkably softer, smoother skin with this rinse off treatment mask)
- Water-soluble Vitamin C derivative that absorbs quickly for an immediate glow
- Protection from UV damage for brighter, more even toned skin over time
- Powered by Japanese beauty berry, a super-fruit rich in antioxidants
Step 8: Eye Cream
Our eyes are the windows to our soul and the skin around our eyes is extremely thin and delicate and requires a lot of TLC. Treat it like that brand new luxury Chanel handbag. An eye cream helps provide the area with an extra boost of hydration and protection. To apply; be gentle and use your ring finger to tap (don’t rub!) around the entire orbital bone but make sure to avoid the water line.
Our absolute favourites are:
Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream (Formulated with Red Ginseng to help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles)
- Improves the visible appearance of firmness for youthful looking eyes
- Contains ginseng roots and flowers optimised in anti-aging benefits through 50 years of research
- Luxurious texture of the eye cream provides intense moisture and gently wraps the skin around the eyes
Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream (Jeju orchids deliver exceptional sleekness to dry skin)
- Anti-aging cream formulated with the vitality of Jeju orchids to tone and smooth the thin sensitive eye areas
- Promotes glowing, radiant looking skin
- Turn back the clock for younger looking skin
Step 9: Moisturiser
Hydration is the key to achieving glowing beautiful natural looking skin so it’s important that we find a moisturiser that tailors to your specific needs. Moisturisers come in many different forms – these include gels, lotions or even a cream, but all of these work the same way to lock in moisture and plump up that skin and work to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while keeping our skin super happy. Gently pat a moisturiser onto your face and neck morning and night everyday to ensure you’re headed in the right direction to clear beautiful skin. On any days that you feel like your skin needs some extra love, opt for a sleeping pack. Sleeping packs are great at replacing our moisturiser at night, lather it on and then head to bed! Moisturizing your skin is a crucial part of any Korean Skincare Routine.
We swear by:
Belif The True Cream Moisturising Bomb (Dermatologist tested – Intensive soothing cream clinically tested to provide 26 hours of moisture)
- Contains a blend of apothecary herbs
- Perfect for normal and dry skin types
- Leaves skin soft, supple and deeply moisturised
SU:M 37 Water-full Timeless Water Gel Cream (Gel-type cream provides freshness to your skin which has become dull and tired due to UV rays and dry surroundings)
- Light and cooling texture provides freshness to skin which has become dull due to environmental stress
- Leaves complexion soft, plump and dewy
- Red snow tea from Tibetan Highlands and 4 medicinal fungi strengthens aquaporins – the moisturising protein found in skin cells
Laniege Water Sleeping Mask (A gentle overnight mask designed to purify and rejuvenate stressed skin)
- Drawn from innovative technologies such as SLEEPTOX, MOISTURE WRAP and SLEEPSCENT to promote both a relaxing night’s sleep and a silky-smooth hydrated complexion
- Mild and soothing and suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin
- Easy to carry packaging great for travel
Step 10: Sun Protection
Probably one of the most underrated steps of any skincare routine. Sun protection is extremely important, especially as a part of your Korean Skincare Routine. Even if you’re simply just stepping outside for a couple of minutes you must remember to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen is the easiest and most effective way to help prevent the premature ageing of your skin and most importantly, sun cancer! Work it into your routine by finding a way that works best for you and ensure that you apply it every morning. The key is to remember to re-apply throughout the day as required. “Too busy” is not an excuse! Some people like to apply sunscreen first while others like to apply it last. Applying it first makes for a great makeup base whereas applying it last ensures that the product is not being diluted by the other steps in your skincare routine.
We’d like to recommend:
Missha Waterproof Sun Milk SPF 50+ (A sunblock that doesn’t feel like a sunblock)
- Blocks UVA/UVB rays with SPF 50/PA +++
- Doesn’t leave a white cast
- Waterproof, protecting you when you are most active
Heimish Artless Glow Base SPF 50 PA ++ (A makeup primer and sunscreen all in one)
- Weightless formula giving a smooth, easy and even application
- Perfect to be used alone or under makeup
- Suitable for all skin types
We’d love to know how this 10-step Korean Skincare Routine has helped change your skin. Leave us a comment with what you’ve changed and how it’s worked for you. Drop us a like and follow our Instagram to keep up to date on all things Kbeauty!