10-Step Korean Skin Care Routine

Have you ever wondered how Korean women get flawless glass skin? Here are the K-Beauty secrets for poreless, clear, and glowing skin.

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Everyone is crazy about the phenomenon of "glass skin", "honey skin”—it's a skin goal that gives you a transparent, dewy, luminous complexion with the 10-step Korean skin care routine.

What is the 10 step Korean skin care routine?

This unique regimen is more extensive than the usual 3-4 steps of the standard western face care method, which can be intimidating at first, but it doesn't mean you have to do 10 steps at once.

Once you understand these facial care steps and your skin's needs, you can tailor them to suit your skin problems, goals, and lifestyle. You can opt for a 5-step method in the morning and add more beauty products for the night routine or just for the weekend.

We're here to break down each step and help you figure out if it's right for you! Just read below to see all of the explanations on how to properly use Korean face care products and when to incorporate them into your skin regimen.

1. Oil-Based Cleansers/Makeup Removers

Have you heard of the "double cleaning method"? It's part of South Korean beauty regimen that essentially uses two different facial cleansers to achieve an ultra-clean face.

This step is basically the first step in the two-step face wash technique and how the famous Asian face care secret begins. You use cleansing oil/balm, which can removes all traces of waterproof eye makeup, sunscreen (SPF), excess sebum and pore-clogged impurities.

E Nature Moringa Cleansing Balm

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A gentle cleansing balm is fortified with moringa seed extracts, birch sap, and iris extract to promote collagen production, prevent signs of aging, and improve skin texture and tone while dissolving makeup, sun-protection, and excess sebum.

💘 See more details about E Nature Moringa Cleansing Balm

Olivarrier Wash All Barrier Relief

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This natural cleansing oil is a mildly acidic facial cleanser (pH 5.5) that gently removes makeup, keratin and excess sebum with creamy bubbles while forming the skin barrier and adding a very moisturizing layer on your skin.

Enriched with organic rose water and eight different kinds of cold-pressed and unrefined organic oils like jojoba oil, avocado oil, argan oil, baobab oil, rosehip oil and more—all rich in natural vitamins and nutrients that your skin needs.

💘  See more details about Olivarrier Wash All Barrier Relief

2. Water-Based Cleansers 

Follow with a water-based facial cleanser—think of soft cleansing foam, moisturizing cleansing cream, gel, lotion, or milk. This second step helps cleanse down pores and rinse the skin to remove any residue.

Washing your face twice is recommended by dermatologists and aestheticians, and it's important to choose the right cleansers based on your skin type and concerns.

According to BYRDIE, Lucy Hale said that "the double cleanse is really important to me" in keeping her skin glowing and breakout-free. 

Heimish All Clean Green Foam

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This is a pH 5.5 balancing face cleanser that gently removes impurities and pollutants while balancing the pH level so that the skin can function optimally.

Only formulated with safe EWG green ingredients, Centella asiatica to soothe the skin with its anti-inflammatory properties and witch hazel to moisturize the skin.

💘 See more details about Heimish All Clean Green Foam

Etude House SoonJung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser

Etude House SoonJung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser for dry sensitive skin korean natural skin care k beauty world

This non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic facial cleanser is suitable for all skin types, especially ideal for dry and sensitive skin.

This product consists of 98% natural ingredients and its low-irritation and weakly acidic formulation, which is similar to the lipid film of the skin, soothes the skin without feeling taut even after washing the face.

💘  See more details about Etude House Soon Jung Cleansing Foam

3. Exfoliators

Exfoliating is a must-do beauty step if you want to achieve a radiant, youthful looking complexion. Simply put, it is the process of removing old dead skin cells that clog pores, which can lead to whiteheads, blackheads, dull and blemished skin.

(Related: 10 Best Korean Face Exfoliators for Soft Velvety Skin)

Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

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A mild chemical peel gently eliminates dead skin cells and blackheads, reduces clogged impurities and excess sebum.

Formulated with 4% natural BHA and 67.8% willow bark water to smooth bumpy and rough patches of skin and strengthen the skin barrier for clear, soft skin. Enriched with niacinamide (vitamin B3), which brightens skin tone and brightens pigmentation and dark spots on the face.

💘  See more details about Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

Huxley Sweet Therapy Scrub Mask

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A two-in-one facial care product combines a scrub and a face mask that gently removes dead skin cells, excess sebum and waster from the pores without stripping the skin's natural oils.

Formulated with naturally derived ingredients such as sucrose, walnut shell powder and Sahara cactus extracts and prickly pear seed oil that deeply nourish and moisturize the skin.

💘 See more details about Huxley Sweet Therapy Scrub Mask

4. Facial Toners

Korean toners are different from astringent toners, which dry out your skin. It's all about hydrating and restoring the skin to optimal pH balance while preparing the skin to take the next steps of treatment for maximum benefit.

Many products are formulated with natural ingredients or humectants such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin(glycerol) to help retain moisture.

Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner

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Thanks to fine particles of the main ingredient, this best-selling hydrating toner penetrates deeply into the skin effectively and increase the effect of the product to the maximum.

💘  See more details about Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner

Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner

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An antioxidant-rich toner helps relieve skin stress and irritation and revitalize your skin with botanical ingredients. Made from EWG green-level ingredients, including 80% green tea extract from Jeju Island, an island in South Korea.

Green tea is rich in amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, vitamin C, and polyphenols that nourish and soothe dull, inflamed skin while protecting skin from visible signs of skin aging. Formulated with allantoin, hyaluronic acid and centella asiatica extract to keep your skin hydrated.

💘  See more details about Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner

5. Facial Essences

Facial essence serves as a primer for subsequent products such as serums, ampoules and moisturizers or facial oils.

Skin essences are lightweight and quickly absorbed by the skin and penetrate the deeper layers of the skin than most larger and heavier molecular weight moisturizers. They provide an excellent layer of moisture and prepare the skin to absorb all of the good properties of your next beauty products.

The consistency of the products varies from watery to viscous and you can choose them based on your type, needs and goals.

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

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Formulated with 96% snail secretion filtrate, a powerful anti-aging ingredient known to improve uneven skin tone and stimulate collagen and elastin formation.

Snail mucin is rich in multivitamins, proteins, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid and panthenol with antimicrobial properties that keep acne-causing bacteria in check while strengthening the skin barrier.

💘 See more details about Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

Hyggee All-In-One Essence

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This all-in-one beauty product simplifies many steps of skin care products in just one bottle of moisturizing formulation.

The convenient and innovate product consists of face toner, serum and essence that provide intense hydration and replenish dry, dull, tired-looking skin.

Formulated with birch sap and triple hyaluronic acid complex, which provides your skin with supple, plump and deep moisture.

Thanks to natural exfoliants, it also gently works to cleanse excess sebum and impurities on your skin, leaving the skin looks brighter and feels softer.

💘  See more details about Hyggee All-In-One Essence

6. Sheet Masks

Korean sheet masks are face-shaped, soaked with unique active ingredients and help the skin to recharge moisture and nutrients in just 15 minutes - perfect for a quick and easy self-care ritual.

How to use sheet masks?

After cleansing and toning, apply on your face for 15-20 minutes. You don't need to rinse it off afterwards as a sheet mask will benefit your skin even after it is removed. Take advantage of the remaining hydrating residue and let it soak into your skin for the best results.

A helpful tip: Do not leave it in longer than the instructed time as this can have a reverse effect. The dry sheet mask will try to suck moisture out of the skin.

When should I use sheet mask?

People often get confused about when to use the masks before or after the toner. Facial toner helps cleanse any impurities left after cleansing and prepares the skin for a better skin absorption of the active ingredients from face mask.

Face masks are like an "a la carte" version of the skin essence, so you can use them in place of the essence. and you can use them either for the night or in the morning.

How often to use sheet masks?

Some Koreans use "1 Day 1 Mask" and this beauty trend has reached the whole world and you may have seen beauty bloggers, YouTubers and Reddit users using several "Using a sheet mask everyday challenges".

The simple answer is it’s really up to you. You can use these facial masks daily or weekly depending on your skin type and preference.

Innisfree My Real Squeeze Mask Acai Berry

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A Korean sheet mask is made from freshly squeezed acai berries, a powerful antioxidant and full of nutrients to protect dry, tired skin from harmful external stimulants and free radicals.

Formulated with Jeju Green Complex, which includes green tea, tangerine, cactus, camellia leaves and orchid.

All those active ingredients are extracted using a "Cold Brew Squeeze" process at low temperature to ensure that all nutrients are fully contained.

💘 See more details about Innisfree My Real Squeeze Mask Acai Berry

Tony Moly I'm Real Lemon Mask Sheet Brightening

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A hydrating Mask is made of lemon extract, high in Vitamin C to brighten and even out your skin tone while moisturizing!

The sheet masks is made from a 3-ply cellulose pulp for optimal delivery and absorption of its skin beneficial essence to your skin for maximum results. Free from paraben, benzophenone, triethanolamine, talc. and color additives.

💘  See more details about Tony Moly I'm Real Lemon Mask Sheet Brightening

7. Skin Treatments (Serums/ampoules/boosters/Spot Creams) 

This facial treatment step is the essential core of Korean beauty routine and it is all about finding the best highly concentrated serums or ampoules for your personal skin problems or desires.

You should pay attention to active ingredients that target the specific benefits of acne treatment, skin lightening, dehydration, and anti-aging.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) for brightening and evening out the skin tone, and peptides, retinols and niacinamide (vitamin B3) against the signs of aging, including wrinkles and fine lines.

Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid are known to relieve acne, and snail slime to hydrate and lighten acne scars, pigmentation, and AHAs, BHAs and PHAs to remove dead skin cells and prevent blackheads and dull skin.

Which comes first serum or ampoule?

A useful tip is to start with products that are the thinnest to the thickest of consistencies (i.e., water-based to oil-based), as they can deliver potent ingredients into the skin more effectively.

When should I apply spot treatment (acne cream or gel)?

If you're using any type of topical acne treatment to soothe acne breakouts or lighten scars, this is the time to apply as they are more highly concentrated formulas aimed at penetrating deep into the skin.

When applied closer to bare skin, the product is more likely to be completely absorbed by the skin, so a specific treatment such as an acne product can benefit from earlier application.

Liz K Super First C Serum Pure Vitamin 13%

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Formulated with 13% pure Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and ten other powerful anti-aging ingredients, including fullerenes (Nobel Prize winners) and tocopherol.

This antioxidant-rich serum helps lighten and even out skin tone, reduces the appearance of pigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots on the skin, and restores your youthful looking complexion.

💘 See more details about Liz K Super First C Serum Pure Vitamin 13%

The Plant Base Time Stop Collagen Ampoule 

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Filled with 76.53% mushroom extract (Hericium Erinaceum and 3 other types of natural mushrooms)—which boosts collagen production, increases skin firmness and elasticity, while smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles to reduce the signs of aging.

Several key ingredients are combined for maximum benefit, including sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) and panthenol for hydration, Centella asiatica (aka Cica!) and aloe for soothing and repairing the skin.

💘  See more details about The Plant Base Time Stop Collagen Ampoule

Urang Brightening Blue Oil Serum 

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Enriched with a powerful skin brightening ingredient, Alpha-Bisabolol, which is known to inhibit melanin synthesis and stimulate collagen production.

Features organic German chamomile essential oil, Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil (green tea), which has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.

This natural serum soothes redness and irritation, improve uneven skin tone, and fade the appliance of pigment spots on the skin.

💘 See more details for Urang Brightening Blue Oil Serum

8. Eye Creams 

The skin around the eyes is thin, delicate, and more easily dehydrated, so it usually first to shows premature signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness.

The nourishing eye cream helps to helps keep them at bay and also work in solving your other skin problems like dark circles, and bags under the eyes.

Eye care products therefore help to moisturize, lighten, soften, moisturize, and protect your skin, making it smooth and deeply moisturized.

When should you apply eye creams?

The answer is that it depends on the formulation of the product you are using. If your eye cream is lighter and thinner than your moisturizer, it should be applied before the moisturizer.

However, if it's richer and thicker, it should go out on top. The best way to ensure the correct order of your skin care steps is to check the package instructions.

Benton Fermentation Eye Cream

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Benton vegan eye cream helps nourish the skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and keeps the skin firm and supple.

Formulated with Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, Bifida Ferment Lysate, sh-Oligopeptide-1, and Ceramides to repair damaged, dull skin and brighten, plump, and moisturize the eye area for a brighter, younger look.

💘 See more details about Benton Fermentation Eye Cream

Aromatica Rose Absolute Eye Cream

Aromatica Rose Absolute eye cream for dark circles, wrinkles anti-aging cream korean vegan skin care k beauty world

 

A rose eye cream contains natural Bulgarian rose oil that soothe dry sensitive skin and protects against signs of aging and dark eye bags around the eyes.

Infused with organic aloe vera extract, organic argan oil and organic shea butter to deliver abundant nutrients and strengthen the skin's natural moisture barrier and smooth the delicate eye area.

💘 See more details about Aromatica Rose Absolute Eye Cream

9. Moisturizers/Face Oils/Night Creams 

This is a stage where you seal the deal for all the goodness you put on earlier, like vitamin C serum, snail mucin essence, coenzyme Q-10 ampoule and more.

Moisturizers are emulsions of oil, water, and other active ingredients that you apply to your skin to increase comfort, lubrication, and prevent dryness.

The basic rule of thumb is that you should choose your moisturizer based on your skin type and you choose where you apply it, face or body, depending on the thickness of the formulation.

There are three different types of moisturizing agents, humectants, emollients, and occlusive and the best moisturizers are designed to add moisture (with humectants), soften and nourish the skin (with emollients), and retain all of these benefits in the skin (with occlusion).

How do you find the best moisturizers for your skin?

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, the best moisturizer is a water-based, oil-free, non-comedogenic (non-acnegenic) product—lightweight formulation, like gels, lotions, emulsions containing salicylic acid, tea tree, or hyaluronic acid.

For dry skin, look for oil-based creams or facial oils, but avoid cosmetics that contain alcohol and fragrances. Occlusive ingredients are especially great for extremely dry skin types and people with eczema, but should be avoided if your skin is prone to breakouts.

Still not sure which one is right for you? Here is a related blog post: How to choose the best facial moisturizer and recommended products for every skin type.

What is face oil used for?

As the final step of your face care routine, apply facial oils to lock in moisture as generally, oils are the most occlusive ingredient—the heaviest—or most dense— in your cosmetics.

Typically formulated with a blend of plant oils, this nourishing oils come in handy for softening, nourishing, and balancing the skin for a healthy looking glow.

Do you put face oil on before or after moisturizer?

It is now widely accepted that facial oil should be applied AFTER the moisturizer. Because if you apply a moisturizer after a facial oil, it cannot penetrate the skin well and is therefore less effective.

As you can imagine, moisturizers contain water but oils contains just oils. This means that water cannot penetrate through oil, so a moisturizer cannot completely absorb into the skin if there is an oil underneath. Oils, on the flip side, can penetrate moisturizers, but not the other way around.

What is the difference between night creams and sleep masks?

Night creams are moisturizers, usually thicker than day creams, and formulated with ingredients like retinol, which is best used at night. Using a heavier night cream in your nighttime routine will help add deep moisture and nutrients to your skin throughout the night.

Sleep masks are filled with more higher potent ingredients and provide better efficacies than night creams. Use an overnight mask two to three times a week to give your skin a healthy radiance for the night, before a big day or simply for “feel-good pampering self-care”.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Cream More Than Moist

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Enriched with organic prickly pear seed oil and cactus extracts from the Sahara, which contain high concentrations of antioxidants and hydrating properties.

An ultra-hydrating facial moisturizer helps replenish lost moisture and nutrients on your skin. With anti-aging effects, this product strengthens the skin's barrier against free radicals.

💘  See more details about Huxley Secret of Sahara Cream More Than Moist

Pyunkang Yul Nutrition Cream

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A nutritious face cream has a thicker, creamier consistency that glides gently onto the skin without feeling too heavy or greasy.

Enriched with milk vetch root extract, which contains anti-inflammatory and anti-wrinkle properties that detoxify and protect the skin from the free radicals that cause fine lines, wrinkles and age spots, leaving the skin soft and supple.

💘  See more details about Pyunkang Yul Nutrition Cream

Aromatica Organic Rosehip Oil

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A face oil consists of ECOCERT-certified and 100% USDA-approved organic rosehip oil, which is purely cold-pressed and is obtained from organically harvested premium rosehip fruits.

This vegan oil intensively nourishes dull, dry and stressed skin with vitamins A, Omega 3, 6 and 9. The organic oil is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that protect and promote the skin against free radicals the revitalization of the skin.

💘  See more details about Aromatica Organic Rosehip Oil

10. Sunscreens/SPF 

Sun protection is non-negotiable and the most crucial role in Korean beauty. The SPF protects your skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays—UVA and UVB rays.

If you have dry skin, you can use creme type of formulation, and for oily skin, try finding water- or gel-based sunscreens that control oil production or have a matte finish.

If your skin is sensitive and prone to pimples, use non-comedogenic SPF products without alcohol, fragrances, oxybenzone, and salicylates.

Missha All Around Safe Block Sebum Zero Sun EX 50+/PA+++

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A mattifying daily sunscreen has an advanced double layer polymer system that stays in place longer through sweat, water and heat to protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays.

Sunscreen helps prevent sunburn, limit the appearance of sunspots, and can reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature aging.

Heimish Artless Glow Base SPF 50 PA+++

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This make-up primer with SPF gives a naturally luxurious glossy effect with a shiny pearl powder and at the same time refines the complexion for a smooth and makeup-ready face.

This toning primer serves as a sunscreen to protect the skin from sun damage and provides important moisture that prepares the skin for long-lasting flawless make-up.

💘  See more details about Heimish Artless Glow Base SPF 50 PA+++

If you're not sure about your skin type, read our blog post- How can I identify my skin type and how to take care of it?

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