Korean skincare has taken over the world and it’s not really surprising. From the extensive number of brands to the use of high quality and less traumatic ingredients. it’s no surprise. Here in Nigeria Korean brands are extremely popular; however, I am not sure of how much we know about the principles behind how the products work and the steps that are regarded as essential in building a K skincare routine. So without further ado let’s get into Korean skincare and who to get the best out of it.
One of the hallmarks of Korean Beauty is the fact that it consists of a 10-step skincare routine with products layered onto the skin. The number of steps involved can be a deterrent or a plus depending on where you fall in your skincare enthusiasm. For some people doing the 10 steps is a way to transition into feeling more restful and taken care of while for others it is exhausting.
What most people don’t know is that the number of steps is very flexible and dependent on your skin type as well as the season. Here I will take you through the full 10 step routine explaining why each is important and how best to modify the routine for your skin type as well as your lifestyle. Because let’s face it even the most basic of skincare routines needs at least 10 minutes.
What are the steps in a Korean skincare routine?
The 10 steps recommended by Korean skincare gurus and brands are listed below
- Oil cleanser
- Foam/cream cleanser
- Sheet Mask
- Eye Cream
Step 1: Double cleanse
This is one of my favourite steps in the Korean skincare routine because I believe cleansing is the foundation for great skin and if you wear makeup like I do it helps get it all off.
I have written a full blog post on this step and you can read about it here. The basics are that you wash your face twice, first with oil and then with a water-based cleanser. The oil gets rid of the surface impurities while the water-based cleanser cleans your skin. My recommendations for an oil cleanser are Banila Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm or Clinique take the day off.
Step 2: Toner
In Korean skincare, toners play a different role from western toners in skincare. They are not astringent toners used to remove leftover dirt from cleansing. Korean toners are used to add a layer of moisture, correct your skins PH and soften your skin. They come in different consistencies some with active ingredients like AHA and BHS while others have more gentle fermented actives. I have tried a quite a few and my all-time favourite is the Black Sugar Perfect First Serum The Essential and MISSHA Time Revolution Clear Toner.
Korean skincare step 3: Essence
An essence adds a second layer of moisture onto your skin, don’t forget Korean skincare is all about layering. Unlike your regular moisturiser, an essence is thin and watery so is able to penetrate deeper into your skin. I love the SK-II essence it completely transformed my skin and the SU:M 37 secret essence also works well
Korean skincare step 4: Emulsion
Yes, I know shocking right an emulsion is yet another layer of moisture. If you think this is a bit much, Google ‘’glass skin’’ . You will understand the power of moisture in your skincare. Emulsions are thicker and richer than essence’s so provides additional moisture which your skin may need. But this is dependent on your skin type as drier skin will benefit more.
Korean skincare step 5: Serum/ampoule
A serum gives you more of the same above but in a much more concentrated dose. If your skin feels good here and does not need any additional care you can skip this step. However, if your skin feels like it needs that additional blast of intense moisture then a serum will do the job. I would recommend including this step following a chemical peel to combat the dryness that follows the procedure.
Korean skincare step 6: Sheet mask
When I first saw sheet masks I was completely taken aback. However, they have grown in popularity most brands have at least one. At this point, there are sheet masks for everything you can think of, brightening, moisture acne you name it. They are soaked in serum targeted to the issues I mentioned above. However, these are optional and can be used as often as you feel the need. They typically take 15-20 minutes and can sometimes be a pain to put on. I love to use them on the weekend after a hard week to give myself a Spa-like treat, but don’t have any specific recommendations. Amazon and TJ Maxx have a huge selection with inexpensive bundle deals.
Korean skincare step 7: Eye cream
Using an eye cream is pretty universal since the skin around the eyes are delicate and show age first Korean eye creams so the same moisturize the thinner skin around the eyes to prevent crow’s feet.
Korean skincare step 8: Moisturizer
Finally, something you recognize a moisturizer. This is the final step for most people and you use a heavy occlusive cream to seal it all in. Korean moisturizers come in different consistencies for each skin type.
The next 2 steps depend on if it is AM or PM
Korean skincare step 9: sunscreen (AM step)
Koreans do not play when it comes to sunscreen and wear it daily they also provide protection from UVA and UVB rays. However unlike other sunscreens which use the SPF rating to determine strength Korean sunscreens use a PA rating. The PA rating is measure persistent pigmentation and the higher the number of plus after the PA the greater the protection. Asian sunscreens are much more advanced and use more ingredients to protect against the sun so if you want and effective sunscreen they are the best on the market.
Korean skincare 10: sleeping masks (PM step)
Since the body repairs itself at night a sleeping mask helps the process along while adding moisture to your skin. Sleeping masks have an almost jelly-like consistency which ‘’ dissolves’’ and absorbs into your skin once applied. I have only tried the LANEIGE Water Sleeping Mask which i loved.
So there it is your introduction to Korean skincare. As you can see the foundation is on moisturizing your skin but doing so in layers.
Do you do the full 10 steps in a Korean skincare routine or do you only use some steps? Let me know in the comments and tell me some of your favourite products