Interested in Korean skin care, but not looking forward to the 10-step process? We break down Korean skin care into its most basic components and essential products to help you reap the benefits of beautiful Korean skin without the hour-long hassle.
Simplified Korean Skin Care Routine
We’ve all seen the the video by Australian beauty guru, Wengie, that details the 10-17 steps in a Korean skin care routine and while we love how lavish the routine is, it’s not always the most practical for gals who work, have children or just don’t have the time to spend an hour a day sitting in front of their bathroom mirror. The good news is that the 10-step routine isn’t a hard rule and really depends on how many products you feel like layering at the time. To help you navigate the world of Korean skin care, we’ve broken the traditional regimen down to its most basic components to help you achieve that glowing, baby smooth skin we love without spending an entire day doing it.
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Korean Skin Care
So, why are Korean skin care routines so long? Before we simplify the regimen, let’s see what it involves:
Step 1: Pre-Cleanse
During this stage, you would use an oil-based cleanser to remove your makeup and any traces of dirt or oil that have gathered throughout the day.
Step 2: Cleanse
Here you would cleanse with a gentle foaming cleanser to remove oil residue from your oil cleanser. When using a foaming cleanser, the best way to apply it is to foam the cleanser up first, then apply it in your skin in gentle, circular motions. When rinsing, be sure to use room temperature or lukewarm water, as extremely hot or cold water will predispose your skin to broken capillaries.
Step 3: Exfoliator
This is a step that can be done either 3x/week or, if your skin isn’t sensitive, every day. It is important to note that daily exfoliation on sensitive skin types will only thicken your skin and make it look dull. Gel exfoliators are gentle and will aid in the removal of dead skin cells.
Step 4: Toner
After exfoliating, you would apply your toner with either a cotton pad or by patting it onto your face. Toners help balance the pH level of your skin and will prepare it for any products you apply afterwards.
Step 5: Essence
Essences are watery liquid that provide additional nutrients and benefits to your skin depending on the essence chosen. To apply, you can either spritz an essence on or pat it into your skin using the palm of your hands.
Step 6: Sheet/Face Masks
Masks are like shots – they’re intense and great at targeting certain skin conditions or issues. When using a sheet mask, leave it on your skin for 10-15 minutes then gently remove and rinse. You can also prepare your own sheet masks at home by buying the sheets at any Asian stores (like Daiso) and using your own essence.
Step 7: Serums
This is when you would apply your serum. If using multiple serums, wait 1-2 minutes in between applications.
Step 8: Eye Cream or Other Specialized Creams
After your serum, you would apply your eye cream, or any other creams such as lip creams, etc.
Step 9: Moisturizer
You know what to do here, ladies.
Step 10: Sleeping Masks
If your skin needs an extra shot of moisture, use a sleeping mask! Sleeping masks are extra thick, can be patted onto the skin and left overnight. You also have the option of alternating between your moisturizer and sleeping masks.
Korean skin care specialist also recommend carrying a facial mist with you to hydrate your skin throughout the day and sunscreen, as sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 3-4 hours.
A Simplified Korean Skin Care Routine
Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE Korean skin care routines. Just look at how much love, attention and care go into them! It’s no wonder Korean women have the world’s most enviable skin. But, with that said, the steps are so arduous that we have a hard time disciplining ourselves into waking up an hour earlier or setting aside the time after a long day of work. If you’re in the same boat, then you understand how necessary a simpler, easier-to-manage routine is. Let’s deconstruct the beauty routine from above and transform it into something a little less…scary.
The general rule of thumb to follow if venturing into Korean skin care is that when it comes to layering your products, you always want to go from the lightest to thickest products. With that knowledge in hand, let’s check out a newer, faster routine using Korean beauty products.
Step 1: Cleanse
This step we’re all too familiar with (at least we hope you are!). Cleansing is one of the most important steps in any skin care routine, which is why it always comes first. When it comes to Korean skin care, the only difference between what they do and what we do in the West is double cleanse. If double cleansing, make sure that one of your cleansers is an oil cleanser and the other is a gentle foaming cleanser. We recommend:
image via Blow Ltd.
Step 2: Toner
By this step, all traces of oil, dirt and makeup should be removed from your face. The purpose of toner is to restore your skin’s pH balance after cleansing. Korean toners tend to be milkier and “bouncier” than Western toners, which are marketed as astringent, clarifying toners. One of the best Korean toners is:
Be the Skin Botanical Pore Toner
image via Peach & Lily
Step 3: Essence
If there’s one product to take away from a Korean skin care routine, it’s essence. Essence is easy to incorporate into your current skin care routine and works well on most skin types. Our favorite is:
Su:m37 Secret Programming Essence
image via Refinery 29
Step 4: Serum
While essences are reserved for the entire skin, serums are more concentrated formulas that should only be applied to areas you wish to treat such as under your eyes or any areas with wrinkles or blemishes. Serums are crucial to any skin care routine as they’re meant to nourish and treat your skin, therefore leaving it soft, supple and smooth to the touch. We recommend:
Vitamin C Vitality Face Serum
image via iHerb
Step 5: Moisturize
Last, but not least, moisturize! You guys already know how important moisturizing is for the skin, so instead of yapping, we’ll show you our favorite Korean moisturizer instead.
Su:m37 Timeless Moisturizing Cream
image via Shopify
Alternate Step: Face/Sheet Masks
Sheet masks are like concentrated serums that can only be used once. The best part about sheet masks is that you can buy them in bundles or by themselves, according to what skin issues you want to target. We love this anti-aging sheet mask bundle from Peach and Lily:
Anti-Aging Sheet Mask Bundle
image via Peach & Lily
So, there you have it, ladies! A 5-step Korean skin care routine that has all of the basic, necessary components and is done in half the time! While we love this simplified routine, we’re also for pampering ourselves every so often, so on a day when you have time, take the plunge and go all in with the 10-step routine!
If you’re a little skeptical over the purpose of all of those products and steps, read this account written by a woman who tried and blogged about her experience trying a 12-step Korean skin care routine.
Looking for more skincare advice? Then check out this guide on How To Build A Western Skin Care Routine! If you have a little time on your hands, don’t miss this fun post on What Would Happen To Fashion If Donald Trump Were President?
Are you currently using Korean skin care products? If so, which ones? Let us know in the Comments section below!
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