A Guide to the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

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Korean skincare routine is all about embracing the traditional formulas in their eternity. It features the goodness of all-natural ingredients like oils, black sugar, green tea, Aloe Vera, honey, and more. K-Skincare routine is not about how many beauty products you use; it’s all about using the right beauty products in the right sequence.

Hop on below to explore the cores of a 10 step Korean skincare routine, in-depth advantages, and details of each step involved.

Step 1: Use Oil-Based Cleanser and Cleansing Balm

The Spa-like Cleansing Oil
The Ginseng Cleansing Oil helps attract and absorb impurities like a magnet, while simultaneously providing moisture deep within the skin.

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If there’s one step that is the highlight of the K-skincare routine, it’s double cleansing, and using the oil-based cleanser and cleansing balm is the first step of it. Double cleansing preps your skin for further steps. It promotes better absorption of K-skincare products by clearing out pores, making them free of all dirt and debris.

Double cleansing not only purifies skin but also hydrates and nourishes it, preventing irritation and breakouts. Though deep cleansing seems harsh by name, it’s way gentle, as it doesn’t meddle with the natural skin barrier. Moreover, it doesn’t strip the skin of the beneficial oils (coconut, almond, etc.) needed for balance and protection.

Oil-based cleansers usually boast magical ingredients like Jojoba Oil, Grape Seed Oil, and Macadamia Oil. These natural oils act synergistically to remove impurities, and the oil-based makeup protects (SPF, sebum, and more), blocking the pores. It also removes excess sebum to make your skin look fresh and glowing.

Likewise, Cleansing Balm is another worthy product of the K-skincare routine. Where cleansing oils act to break down makeup products, even those stubborn waterproof makeup particles, cleansing balm acts to address your skin issues. It features an oil-soluble oil-in-water rinse-off ingredient, oily emollients, and thickeners. All these further cleanse your skin, hydrate, exfoliate, and treat blemishes. Both these cleansing products are also worthwhile alternatives to those harsh chemicals featuring makeup removers.

Step 2: Water-Based Cleanser

The Organic Facial Cleanser
The Cleanse Me Milk Cleanser gently cleanses and nourishes the skin. Removing dirt and makeup while moisturizing and softening the skin.

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Next comes the second step of double cleansing, i.e., using Water Based Cleanser. These cleansers help get rid of those impurities that weren't removed by the oil-based cleansers. These include dirt and sweat that can later result in breakouts. It also wipes off any leftover residue from the oil-based cleanser. Hence, the oil-based and water-based cleansers work synergistically to deep cleanse your skin, freeing it up from every sort of impurities and blocking the pores.

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

Most water-based cleansers dry out your skin and strip it of the necessary skin barrier components. Those contain sulfates and are of high pH. However, be sure to include a low pH, hydrating, and gentle water-based cleanser into your ultimate 10-Step Korean skincare routine.

Step 3: Exfoliating Your Skin with Either Chemical or Physical Exfoliator

pH-Balancing Hydrating Toner
The pH-Balancing Hydrating Toner helps gently exfoliate 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. You can perform two types of exfoliation, physical and chemical. Where both perform the same function, the latter is often preferred. Keep reading to explore why.

Physical exfoliation involves using products boasting small particles, like scrubs or any textured surface like a washcloth or peeling gel. These work by scrubbing off dead skin cells. On the other hand, chemical exfoliation includes using products like resurfacing serums, acids, and enzymes that dissolve dead skin cells.

Chemical exfoliation is preferred because of being mild. These best suit those with darker or sensitive skin, more prone to scars. As chemical exfoliates don't involve removing skin cells manually, they offer fewer chances of overdoing exfoliation and ending up with all-red and irritated skin. One commonly used component in chemical exfoliators is BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acids), which works to delicately dissolve the buildup of oil and dead skin cells that can block your pores.

However, whatever exfoliator you choose, be sure to 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 helps make your skin brighter and smoother, but it also promotes better absorption of other skincare products. It’s a crucial step in any Korean skincare routine for right.

Step 4: Use Cotton Pad to Pat Toner On Your Skin

Hydrating Fragrance-Free Toner
The Haruharu Wonder Hydrating Fragrance-Free Toner helps improve skin elasticity and brightness, while strengthening the skin barrier.

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Next comes the turn of Toner! Korean toners are way different from those of Westerns. It features the goodness of Aloc, licorice, carrot root, amino acid, kelp extract, hyaluronic acid, grapeseed oil, and citric acid. Being ultimate prep products, toners offer the first layer of hydration in the K skincare routine. Don’t expect K toners to be like astringents; they are gentle in their actions.

Toners are used to balance the pH of the skin. The very first protective layer of our skin acts like an acid mantle – a slightly acidic invisible mantle with a pH of 5.5. This acidic pH helps lock moisture in the skin layers and keep the bacteria off it. Toners also remove the leftover residue of cleansers when purifying the skin.

To your surprise, the magical splendor of Korean toners doesn’t end at this. These also help the other skincare products penetrate deep into the skin like an exfoliator. Drenching the deeper skin layers, they better prep the skin for the next six steps of the Korean skincare routine. Your skin is like a sponge; it's much easier to revive its hydration when it's already damp instead of hardened and all dried up.

Step 5: Applying Essence

Radiance-Boosting Essence
The Radiance-Boosting Essence helps improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines' appearance and boost overall radiance.

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It won't be wrong to call Essence a traditional K beauty product. Koreans have been using it as a skincare product since when they didn't know what this product does. They used to apply essence just because their mother told them to do so. Isn’t it interesting?

Essence is basically a hydrating product. It’s destined to fill up each layer of your skin with hydrating components. It’s lightweight and features a plethora of not only hydrating but also complexion-enhancing and anti-aging ingredients in its formula. Some are rice extract, birch juice, yeast, and hyaluronic acid.

As mentioned earlier, your skin works in a similar way as a sponge. However, prepping your skin with toner and essence will help you absorb the next applied K beauty products better. Moreover, just as the sponge becomes dull and darker on drying up and turns brighter and fluffier on hydration, our skin experiences the same. When stripped of hydrating components, it's way more prone to developing irritation and showing premature signs of aging.

However, hydrating your skin with essence day and night will help your skin breathe well with a healthy and balanced texture. Toners also help in cell turnover, i.e., replacing old skin cells with newer ones. In short, it’s concerned with hydrating, protecting, and boosting the overall health of the skin.

Step 6: Ampoule & Serum

100% Centella Asiatica extract Ampoule
The Centella Asiatica extract Ampoule helps promote skin regeneration, repair damaged skin, and improve overall skin health.

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Next comes the turn of ampoules and serums. Both of these K beauty products, along with the boosters, are considered the ultimate skin perfectors. Boasting the perks of effective natural ingredients like soybeans, tea tree, and vitamin C, these products help deal with targeted skin problems. These issues can be anything from hyperpigmentation and acne to wrinkles and fine lines.

First, coming to serums. These are emollient gel-like substances saturated with their active ingredients and have a more viscous texture than essence. Serums are aimed to directly target the affected skin cells and treat the issues, owing to their heave-hitting ingredients. Mainly serums treat dullness, wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of premature aging.

Whereas ampoules are widely considered as booster shoots or hyper-saturated versions of serums. These are normally used for a short span of time until the skin issue is treated. Keep in mind; these are not for daily use! For instance, 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 a little ampoule gives enough results.

Step 7: Put On A Hydrating Sheet Mask

Radiant Skin Revival Sheet
The Radiant Skin Revival Sheet Mask deeply nourishes the skin, helps to balance and revitalize the skin, leaving it feeling soft, supple, and radiant.

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Essences are often regarded as the heart of Korean skincare routines, and sheet masks are the souls. Green tea, rose, and cucumber are some of the major ingredients used in making K beauty masks. The best thing about this step is that the sheet remains in prolonged contact with the face, giving enough time to absorb loads of nutrients required for fresh, hydrated, healthy, and glowing skin.

Sheet masks perform two main functions; these deeply hydrate our face and provide the most-essential nutrients. Also, as explained earlier, they make a barrier, allowing nutrients to absorb well in the skin. With the created barrier, the essence is destined to sink into your skin instead of getting evaporated.

It won't be wrong if we call sheet masks lifesavers for our sins. These are like a dream come true; you get your desired skin when enjoying meditative relaxation rituals. The usage frequency depends on the type of masks you choose to use. You can use hydrating masks daily, but the clarifying masks should be used only a couple of times within a week, as on daily use, these will leave your skin all dried.

Step 8: Eye Cream and Patch

Plant Extracted Anti-Aging Cream
The anti-aging eye cream contains potent ingredients such as Bakuchiol, Niacinamide, and Rice Extract that work together to brighten, firm and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

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Regular use of effective and intensive yet gentle and non-irritating Korean eye creams can help you get rid of those frustrating dark circles, crow’s feet, and puffiness. It’s because the skin covering the area around our eyes is the most delicate. Most Korean skincare eye creams feature retinol, bakuchiol, honey, lily, and ginseng in their formula.

Though eye creams feel more like a moisturizer, these boast special ingredients to target multiple eye-related concerns. Besides hydrating the eye area, these also make 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 applying moisturizer. Meaning you can swap steps 8 and 9 of our 10-step Korean skincare routine if you like. 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 of your face, i.e., the eye area, before applying the eye cream. You can layer it up with a gentle moisturizer afterward.

Step 9: Applying Moisturizer

The Ultimate cream for radiant and healthy skin
The 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 can be of multiple types: lotion, gel, creams, sleeping masks, emulsions, and more. Whatever the moisturizer type you choose, here are a few ingredients you should look for: bamboo, green tea, snail mucin, hyaluronic acid, and Centella Asiatica (cica).

The prime function of a moisturizer is to prevent the epidermal loss of water by hydrating the skin and locking the hydrating components by creating a barrier. These products do hydrate your skin, but it doesn't do it alone. It intensifies the hydrating effect of previously used products, including essences, serums, and more.

Multiple moisturizers 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, locking in moisture and preventing transpiration and skin damage.

Moreover, these K moisturizers are lightweight, non-sticky, feature a plethora of effective natural ingredients, and are ideal for enriching dry skin.

Step 10: Sun Protection

Stay Matte and Protected
The Matte Sun Stick gives a non-greasy, matte finish that doesn't feel sticky or oily. A on-the-go sun stick that can provide UV protection, sebum-control and also hydration.

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Last but one of the most crucial steps of not only Korean but also any other skincare routine is the surety of sun protection. Sunscreen is a must, no matter if you are going outside or staying indoors. The damaging sunrays have been proven to trigger the development of certain skin issues and even skin cancer.

Applying sunscreen is the easiest way to prevent your sin from all these. Sun protection is saved for the last so that it can offer optimal shielding against sunrays without being diluted by other products' layers.

In general, sunscreens fall into three categories: hybrid, chemical, and mineral. The mineral sunscreen category features zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in its 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, preventing the skin.

You can go with whatever type you like; neither is superior to the other, as all offer protection from the sun in their own way. However, there's one thing to note: hybrid sunscreens are for every skin type, mineral sunscreens are for sensitive skin, and chemical sunscreens are for acne-prone and sensitive skin.