"Interested in Korean Skin Care? Here’s everything you need to know."
There’s no denying that Korean beauty (AKA K-beauty) is a major influence on the American beauty industry. All kinds of unique products and even whole product categories—BB creams andEssences to name a few—have made their way stateside after starting in Korea. We think beauty and skin care is a priority here, but the Korean skin care routine is no joke. Case in point: The extensive 10-step process. Here, a rundown on steps one through 10.
Oil cleansers were popular in Asia long before they were even a thing in the US; applied onto dry skin and tissued off, the goal of this first step is to remove makeup and any other oil-based product residue, like sunscreen. The Skinsei Total Meltdown balm-to-oil cleanser is a good option for this step.
Combine steps one and two for what’s known as a double cleanse. Whereas step one is more about removing makeup, switching to a foaming face wash (which is water- rather than oil-based) gets rid of dirt and sweat, plus any remaining grime that may still be left over on your skin. After all, if your complexion isn’t perfectly clean, then steps three through ten that are to come aren’t going to be as effective. Unlike step one, a foam cleanser is applied onto wet skin and rinsed off.
In America, we think of exfoliating as something we do a few times per week, if that. But in the Korean skin care routine it’s done daily. Not only does this step help clean out clogged pores (and keep them clear), it also sloughs off the dead, dry cells that can build up on the top layer of your skin and leave it looking dull, lackluster, and less than radiant. These daily sloughing sessions just may be why Korean skin so often has an almost glass-like glow to it.
Whereas toners may traditionally carry a connotation of stripping the skin, in the Korean beauty regimen, they’re thought of more as an extra prep or hydration step. After double cleansing and then exfoliating, your skin is most likely ready for a little nourishment, so in this case toners function as a way to add back some moisture to the skin, and help prep it for what’s to come. (Because after all, there are still six steps to go.)
If any one of the 10 steps is truly definitive of the Korean skin care routine, it’s this one. The entire product category of essences is part of their culture regimen and is one of the most important steps in this entire process. Essences straddle the line between toners and the treatments that are to come. Delivering just the lightest amount of hydration, a skin essenceleaves your complexion instantly soft and supple, and ready for heavier moisture and any other skin care ingredients to come. While many formulas have benefits similar to the latter, their consistency is closer to that of a toner, slightly waterier.
Still with us? Now that your complexion is properly cleansed and prepped, comes time for the heavy-hitter. This is when serums, ampoules, or boosters come into play, and this is when specific issues are targeted. That may be redness or hyperpigmentation or fine lines, but whichever treatment is used here is chosen specifically to address whichever complexion concern is an issue.
If you’re anything like us, you maybe use a mask, oh, once a week, as part of self-care Sunday or before a big night out. Not in the Korean beauty routine. Masking is a daily occurrence; the formula is once again chosen based on a particular skin care need you’re trying to address. Granted, this can be a time-consuming step (especially when you’re doing this routine in the morning), so if you need to cheat a little, you can skip this since the previous treatment step should in theory be giving you the same benefits.
The skin around your eyes is the thinnest on the body, making it the most susceptible to damage, and where signs of aging (hello, crow’s feet) tend to show up first. Still, because it’s so thin, it also tends to be where you’ll notice the benefits of any treatments you’re using show up first. To that point, using a separate eye cream is a good move. Our personal favorite move is to use a multi-tasking formula that address multiple concerns: puffiness, visible fine lines, dark circles. No matter which eye cream you pick, how you apply it is very important; instead of swiping it on, gently tap it in using your ring finger or pinky. The thin skin here is super delicate, so you don’t want to pull or tug on it at all.
The end is near! Along with sun protection (don’t worry, we’re getting to that), hydration is of utmost importance to keep your skin looking—and feeling—youthful and hydrated. You don’t want to go through all the trouble and spend all the time on steps one through nine, and then not give your skin one of the most basic things it needs. A dedicated face cream is super important; gel formulas are a favorite in the K-beauty space, since they absorb quickly, making them a good option to use under SPF and makeup, and also leave skin with a nice radiance and glow.
You know how Korean skin almost always looks so flawless? While yes, you can attribute some of that to this (very extensive) 10 step process we just went through, at the end of the day, the importance of this final step simply can’t be underestimated. Applying SPF regularly may just be one of the biggest differences between Korean and American skin care regimens, so follow their lead and be sure to use a broad-spectrum with at least an SPF 30 every day, rain or shine.
A ten-step skin care routine might be impractical for your daily routine. That is why at Skinsei we included the most effective formats of the Korean ritual into our regiments that will come in 3 or 5 steps. Check our diagnostic tool and get the best of K-Beauty in half the time.