A Simple 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine for Beginners

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An Asian woman applying cream to her face

The Korean skincare routine embraces traditional formulas in their eternal form. It features the goodness of all-natural ingredients, like plant-based oils, black sugar, green tea, aloe vera, honey, and more. The Korean skincare routine is not about how many beauty products you use; it’s all about applying the right products in the correct sequence.

Hop on below to explore the basics of a 10-step Korean skincare routine and the details of each step involved.

Step 1: Oil-Based Cleanser or Cleansing Balm

Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Cleansing Oil

Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Cleansing Oil
Absorbs impurities like a magnet while providing moisture deep within the skin.
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If there’s one practice that is the highlight of the 10-step Korean skincare routine, it’s double cleansing. It preps your skin for the following steps and promotes better absorption of skincare products by clearing out pores, making them free of dirt and debris.

Double cleansing not only purifies the skin but also hydrates and nourishes it, preventing irritation and breakouts. Though double cleansing seems harsh by name, it’s very gentle, as it doesn’t disrupt the skin’s natural barrier.

The first step of double cleansing is an oil cleanse. Oil-based Korean facial cleansers usually boast nourishing ingredients like jojoba oil, grape seed oil, and macadamia oil. These natural oils act synergistically to remove air pollutants, oil-based products, and excess sebum, cleaning your skin without stripping its protective barrier.

Cleansing balms are another worthy product in our 10-step Korean skincare routine. Where cleansing oils break down makeup products, even stubborn waterproof makeup particles, cleansing balms address skin issues. They feature an oil-soluble, oil-in-water rinse-off formulation, oily emollients, and thickeners. 

All these further cleanse and hydrate your skin. Cleansing oils and balms are also worthwhile alternatives to makeup removers that are loaded with harsh chemicals.

Step 2: Water-Based Cleanser

Sioris Cleanse Me Softly Water-Based Cleanser

Sioris Cleanse Me Softly Milk Cleanser
Removes dirt and makeup while moisturizing the skin.
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Next in our 10-step Korean beauty routine is water cleansing. This helps get rid of impurities that weren't removed by oil cleansing, such as grime and sweat. The cleanser also wipes off any leftover residue from the oil-based cleanser. Hence, oil and water-based cleansers work synergistically to deep cleanse the skin and purify pores.

Korean water-based cleansers often feature green tea, rice, and pearl extract, giving exceptional cleansing results. Additionally, green tea acts as a one-two punch. Besides cleansing, it also helps kill acne-causing bacteria. Rice extract hydrates and nourishes the skin to revive its glow. Meanwhile, pearl extract calms inflammation, removes dead skin cells, and evens the skin tone. It also assists in smoothing wrinkles and fine lines.

Most water-based cleansers dry out your skin and strip it of necessary skin barrier components. Use a sulfate-free and low-pH cleanser in your 10-step Korean skincare routine to avoid stripping your skin.

Step 3: Chemical or Physical Exfoliator

Benton Aloe BHA Exfoliating Toner

Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Gently exfoliates the skin, unclogs pores, and removes dead skin cells, leaving the complexion brighter and clearer.
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Exfoliation refers to the removal of dead skin cells. It’s directly linked with improving the skin’s appearance. There are two types of exfoliation: physical and chemical. Although both perform the same function, the latter is often preferred. Keep reading to explore why.

Physical exfoliation involves manually eliminating dead skin cells using abrasive products, such as grainy scrubs or a coarse washcloth. On the other hand, chemical exfoliation uses gentle acids and enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells, making them shed naturally.

Chemical exfoliation is preferred for the 10-step Korean skincare routine because it is the gentler option. They are best for people with darker complexions, sensitive skin, and those prone to scarring. As chemical exfoliants don't involve removing skin cells manually, you are less likely to go overboard and end up with all-red and irritated skin.

One commonly used component in Korean exfoliators is Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHA). These mild acids work gently to dissolve the buildup of oil and dead skin cells that block your pores and cause breakouts.

Whatever exfoliator you choose, look for ingredients like BHA, black sugar, salicylic acid, and lactic acid. These ingredients deeply clean pores, making them free of dead skin cells. Regular exfoliation makes your skin brighter and smoother and also promotes better absorption of other skincare products. It’s a crucial step in your 10-step Korean beauty routine.

Step 4: Toner

HaruHaru Wonder Black Rice Toner

Haruharu WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner
Improves skin elasticity and brightness while strengthening the skin barrier.
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Next in our 10-step Korean skincare routine is the toner! Korean toners are very different from their Western counterparts. They feature the goodness of aloe, licorice, carrot root, amino acid, kelp extract, hyaluronic acid, grapeseed oil, citric acid, and lots more. Being the ultimate prep products, toners offer the first layer of hydration in the K-beauty skincare routine. Don’t expect Korean toners to act as astringents; they are gentle in their action.

Toners are used to restore the skin’s acid mantle after washing your face. The acid mantle is a slightly acidic, protective film on your skin that forms a barrier against microbes and other harmful substances. Toners also remove the leftover residue of cleansers after washing your face, prepping it for the following products of the 10-step Korean skincare routine.

Step 5: Essence

Dr. Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Essence

Dr. Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Essence
Improves skin texture, reduces the appearance of fine lines, and boosts overall radiance.
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Essences are the quintessential K-beauty product. Koreans have been using it as a skincare product long before they knew about all its beauty benefits. They used to apply essence just because their mother told them to do so. Isn’t it interesting?

A Korean face essence is a nourishing product designed to fill each layer of your skin with hydrating components. It is lightweight and features plenty of hydrating, complexion-enhancing, and anti-aging ingredients in its formula. These can include rice extract, birch juice, yeast, and hyaluronic acid.

Using an essence in your 10-step Korean skincare routine will plump up your skin and make it look healthier. Essences also help in cell turnover, i.e., replacing old skin cells with newer ones. In short, they hydrate, nourish, and boost the skin's overall health, which is why they are essential in your 10-step Korean beauty routine.

Step 6: Serum or Ampoule

Madagascar Centella Ampoule

SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Asiatica 100 Ampoule
Promotes skin regeneration, repairs damaged skin, and improves overall skin health.
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Next in our 10-step Korean skincare routine is ampoules and serums. Both of these K-beauty products are considered the ultimate skin perfectors. Boasting the perks of effective natural ingredients like soybeans, tea tree, and vitamin C, they help deal with targeted skin problems. These issues can be anything from hyperpigmentation and acne to wrinkles and fine lines.

First, let's talk about Korean face serums. These are emollient gel-like substances saturated with active ingredients and have a more viscous texture than essence. Owing to their heavy-hitting ingredients, serums directly target the affected skin cells and address the issues. They mainly treat dullness, wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of premature aging.

Ampoules are widely considered booster shots or hyper-saturated versions of serums. They are normally used for a short period until the skin concern is treated. Keep in mind that these are not for daily use! You can use them for a quick and considerable recovery after a skin crisis or before any major event. These often come in droplets, as they are very concentrated.

Step 7: Sheet Mask

Pink Jumiso Sheet Mask

JUMISO Rich Nourishment Mask
Deeply nourishes and revitalizes the skin, leaving it feeling soft, supple, and radiant.
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While essences are regarded as the heart of Korean skincare routines, sheet masks are considered the souls! Green tea, rose, and cucumber are some of the primary ingredients used in making Korean face masks. The best thing about this part of the 10-step Korean skincare routine is that the sheet remains in prolonged contact with the face, giving it enough time to absorb the nutrients required for fresh, hydrated, healthy, and glowing skin.

Sheet masks perform two main functions: They deeply hydrate your skin and provide the most essential nutrients. Also, as explained earlier, they create a barrier, allowing nutrients to absorb well into the skin. With the created barrier, the product will sink into your skin instead of evaporating.

Using sheet masks is like a dream! They give you plump, bouncy skin while being a relaxing ritual. How often you use a sheet mask depends on its type. You can use hydrating masks daily in your 10-step Korean beauty routine, but clarifying masks should be used only a couple of times a week, as daily use will dry out your skin.

Step 8: Eye Cream or Patch

HaruHaru Wonder Bakuchiol Eye Cream

Haruharu WONDER Black Rice Bakuchiol Eye Cream
Contains potent ingredients such as bakuchiol, niacinamide, and rice extract, which work together to brighten, firm, and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
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Applying eye cream is one of the most important steps of the 10-step Korean skincare routine. The skin covering the eye area is the most delicate, so it needs extra TLC to ward off crow’s feet, dark circles, and puffiness. Most Korean eye creams feature retinol, bakuchiol, honey, lily, and ginseng, which are known for their rejuvenating and brightening properties. 

Though conventional eye creams feel more like moisturizers, Korean ones boast special ingredients to target multiple eye-related concerns. Besides hydrating the eye area, they also form a protective barrier for sealing the effect of their moisturizing power.

It's up to you whether you wish to apply an eye cream before or after moisturizing. This means you can swap steps eight and nine of our 10-step Korean skincare routine. You need to consider certain things before deciding, the main one being what type of eye cream and moisturizer you use.

However, we recommend applying eye cream before moisturizing. This way, you will treat the most delicate skin on your face, the eye area, first. Then, as the next part of your 10-step Korean beauty routine, you can layer it up with a gentle moisturizer.

Step 9: Moisturizer

Corsx Advanced Snail 92 Cream Moisturizer

Cosrx Advanced Snail 92 All-In-One Cream
Provides intense hydration, anti-aging properties, and rejuvenation for all types of skin. Deeply moisturizes, while repairing damage.
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Moisturizers come in various types: lotion, gel, creams, sleeping masks, emulsions, and more. To choose the right product for your 10-step Korean skincare routine, look for these ingredients: bamboo, green tea, snail mucin, hyaluronic acid, and Centella Asiatica.

The primary function of a moisturizer is to create a barrier over your skin and prevent water loss. These products hydrate your skin, but they don't do it alone. They intensify the hydrating effect of previously used products, including essences, serums, and more.

Moisturizers often feature ingredients called occlusives. These ingredients create a hydrophobic film above the skin surface, forming the same barrier we discussed earlier. This hydrophobic film is a layer of oil in composition that doesn’t allow water movement in or out of the skin, helping maintain the skin’s moisture balance.

Moreover, Korean moisturizers are lightweight, non-sticky, feature many effective natural ingredients, and are ideal for enriching dry skin.

Step 10: Sun Protection

Beauty of Joseon Sunstick

Beauty of Joseon Matte Sun Stick: Mugwort + Camelia
Imparts a non-greasy, matte finish that doesn't feel sticky or oily. An on-the-go sun stick that can provide UV protection, sebum control, and hydration.
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Last but not least, one of the most crucial steps of not only the 10-step Korean skincare routine but also any other beauty regimen is sun protection. Sunscreen is a must, no matter what time of the year. The sun’s damaging rays have been proven to trigger the development of certain skin issues and even skin cancer.

Applying sunscreen is the easiest way to protect your skin from all these issues. Sun protection is saved for last because it offers optimal shielding against ultraviolet rays without being diluted by other products' layers.

Sunscreens generally fall into three categories: hybrid, chemical, and mineral. Mineral sunscreens feature zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in their formula. These ingredients help in repelling the sun's UV rays, whereas chemical sunscreens feature around 30 protective chemicals that convert the absorbed UV rays into heat, protecting the skin.

For your 10-step Korean beauty routine, you can use whatever type you like. Neither is superior to the other, as all offer protection from the sun in their own way. However, one thing to note: hybrid sunscreens work for every skin type, mineral sunscreens are ideal for sensitive skin, and chemical sunscreens are best for acne-prone skin.

Shop Authentic Korean Skincare Products at EYURS

Adopting the 10-step Korean skincare routine does more than just give you flawless skin. It also cultivates a daily self-care ritual that makes you look and feel good. While it might seem overwhelming at first, practicing this routine for a few days will make it a habit you will cherish for its rejuvenating and relaxing effects.

If you’re looking for Korean skincare products to get started with this routine, you can find the best here at EYURS! We offer authentic Korean skincare products from the top K-beauty brands, including COSRX, Beauty of Joseon, Haruharu Wonder, and more. Shop Korean skincare online at EYURS and enjoy free shipping on orders over $40.