The Amazing 10 Step Korean Skincare Routine: Everything You Need to Know

It’s no secret that Korean women are known for having beautiful skin. However, this beauty comes with careful planning and a daily (or rather nightly) skincare routine.

If you’re interested in K-beauty, you’ve probably already heard of the 10-Step K-beauty Routine After all, it’s a major part of the Korean skincare industry.

The 10 step Korean skincare routine has been part of Asian beauty for a long time, but it’s picking up steam in the US, and we’re willing to bet that you’re one of the people interested in learning more about it. It utilizes ten steps to achieve the perfect balance of hydration and glow.

This routine is a popular and effective way to keep your face soft, smooth, and youthful-looking. Your skin will thank you for it. All you need is time (about 30 minutes) and a few basic ingredients.

Table of Contents

    Cleansing

    Cleansing is a very important step in Korean Skincare. It is the key to achieving smooth and radiant skin. Cleansing your face is absolutely essential to maintaining good skincare. But what are you supposed to clean it with? The answer is simple: a cleanser! It’s the first step in any skincare routine and it’s an important step to take.

    Cleanser #1: For Oil Cleansing

    Cleansing Oil plays a very important role in the Korean routine as it helps to cleanse the skin and remove any residue that your makeup has left behind. The oil is usually applied onto dry skin and massaged in circular motions for about 1-2 minutes before wiping off with a tissue or cotton pad.

    After cleansing with oil, wash your face with lukewarm water and do a “water cleanse”.

    Cleanser #2: For Water Cleansing

    In Korean skincare, water plays an important role. It’s essential for cleansing your skin and removing excess oil. Also, cleansing with water helps to maintain the pH of your skin. There are many different types of water in Korean skincare, and they all serve different purposes.

    The water cleansing method involves using a facial cleanser that consists of only water. Water-only facial cleansing can be used in addition to, or as a replacement for, standard cleansing methods.

    Use a mild, non-abrasive cleanser to gently massage the skin for about 30 seconds. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water, pat dry with a clean towel and proceed to the next step.

    Exfoliation

    In most skincare routines, exfoliation is the second step. This is after cleansing in the morning and before your night cream. Exfoliation works to remove dead skin cells that can build up on your face throughout the day. As they get stuck in your pores, they can cause issues like blackheads or whiteheads to occur. Exfoliation can also help to even out the texture of your skin, which can also be an issue for some people.

    This is one of my favorite steps in the Korean skincare routine because it makes such a difference to my skin! There are different ways to exfoliate your skin depending on what your skin types need, but I’m going to talk about physical and chemical exfoliation methods that I have used.

    There are a number of ways to exfoliate your skin including physical exfoliation with products such as scrubs, chemical exfoliation with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and mechanical exfoliation with microbeads.

    Chemical Exfoliation

    AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) are one of the staples in Korean skincare. Both are chemical exfoliants, and are part of the reason Koreans have such healthy, radiant skin. Chemical exfoliants have the ability to scrub away dead skin cells and brighten your complexion, and you can find them in toners, serums, masks, oils, and scrubs.

    AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) are commonly used in Korean skincare to treat skin conditions such as acne, dryness, and aging.

    Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) are a type of acid that is commonly used in chemical peels. They are used to smooth the skin’s surface because they can dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells together. The result is smoother, softer skin. The acids in this group are salicylic acid (from willow bark), and glycolic acid (from sugar cane).

    Physical Exfoliation

    Physical exfoliants are an excellent way of removing dead skin cells, deeply cleansing and getting rid of blackheads and whiteheads. The two most popular physical exfoliants are microdermabrasion and exfoliating scrubs. Both of these are excellent for removing those dead skin cells.

    Facial scrubs are a great way to keep your skin healthy and happy. If your face is a little dry or oily, using a scrub can help remove dead skin cells and produce buildup so you can promote the regeneration of new skin cells.

    Both Chemical and Physical exfoliation are both essential to the 10 Step Korean skincare routine. After cleansing your skin, exfoliation will not only rid you of dead skin cells, dirt and oil build-up but also prep your skin for the upcoming serums and moisturizers. This is because exfoliators help remove the top layer of dead skin thereby allowing your other skincare products to penetrate the deeper layers of your skin. You can use an in-shower or in-bath scrub, a chemical peel or a physical scrub.

    Toner

    A toner is a formulated product, which is used to tighten pores and balance the pH levels on the skin. It helps prevent acne and blackheads. A toner can be used by anyone who wants to improve their skin, whether you have oily, dry, or normal skin. If you use a Korean skincare regimen, you will need to incorporate a toner into your daily routine.

    The aim of a toner is to refine your skin after cleansing it and to balance the pH level of your skin. Korean toners can help with fine lines, dullness, blemishes and blackheads. Korean toners are often alcohol-free, which makes them gentler on your skin.

    Korean toners are known for their ability to deeply hydrate and balance the skin. The toners used in Korea provide an excellent base for makeup and prepare the skin to receive a high-quality moisturizer or serum.

    While toners can vary in composition and function, most Korean toners consist of three main components: water, humectants, and an acid to adjust pH levels. This type of toner is called a “first treatment” toner.

    Some toners also contain exfoliating ingredients to help you remove dead skin cells. A toner can also have active ingredients such as niacinamide or vitamin C that can help reduce fine lines and brighten your skin tone by making it look more radiant.

    The toner is usually applied to the skin through a cotton pad. There are other forms of toners: spray toners and water gels and there are several of them that are formulated for different skin types. Make sure to know your skin type first to know which type of toner works best for your skin.

    Essence

    The word “essence” is becoming more and more popular in the world of skincare because of the tremendous benefits it provides. “Essence” is one of the most popular product categories in Korean skincare. But what is an essence? What does it do? How does it work? And most importantly: Should you have an essence as part of your routine?

    Whether you are using a drugstore brand or a high-end cream, there is one key ingredient that should be included in any skincare routine: Essence. Essence is an important step in your skincare routine because it is made up of amino acids and hyaluronic acid that help to replenish your skin with essential vitamins and minerals.

    In Korean skincare, “essence” — or 성분 (seongbun) — is a thin, watery liquid that contains high concentrations of active ingredients to soothe, rejuvenate and nourish your skin. These essences are also designed to work in conjunction with your skin’s natural functions to achieve healthy skin. Essence is the essence of the Korean skincare routine.

    Essences come in many forms and different ways of application. Make sure to read the labels and know which ones you need based on your skin type.

    Treatment

    You’ve probably heard about the “miracle water” that is Korean beauty serums and ampoules, but what are they and why should you care?

    Serums and ampoules have gained a cult following in the world of Korean beauty. A lot of people are confused about what they do, whether they’re really necessary and how you’re supposed to use them.

    K-beauty is more popular than ever, and for good reason. There’s a ton of science behind Korean skincare products. A Korean skincare serum is a great addition to your routine, and will help brighten your skin, reduce the severity of your pores, and even out your skin tone.

    Serums are lightweight products that contain higher concentrations of active ingredients that usually target a specific skin concern such as wrinkles and fine lines. Ampoules are concentrated formulations that are applied after the serum stage of traditional three-step Korean skincare routine to target specific concerns such as wrinkles, loss of elasticity and dullness.

    These treatment products are usually applied before moisturizer or other thicker creams. They are usually worn throughout the day instead of being washed off.

    It’s recommended to wear a sunscreen over your skincare layers if you are in direct exposure to sunlight. Ingredients in most serums and essences, such as Vitamin C and Niacinamide, can make the skin feel more sensitive.

    Sheet Masks

    I love Korean Sheet masks. I mean, I really love them. I’ve been using them for years and they have been a daily ritual for me. The results are amazing, the price is great and the experience of putting them on is almost as fun as taking them off.

    Extreme heat or cold can damage your skin. Don’t let your skin suffer when there are plenty of moisturizing sheet masks to use. They have a ton of essence in them, so they’re a great way to moisturize and give your skin a boost. And they look really cool!

    I try to incorporate them into my routine about once a week. There’s something therapeutic about sitting down and letting the mask work its magic, and then wiping off the excess serum before bed. They leave my skin feeling plump, soft, and super hydrated.

    Eye Cream

    Eye cream is one of the most important products to include in your nightly skincare routine. Eye skin is different from other skin and is more delicate and thin.

    The skin around your eyes is thinner than the rest of your face, and it is also the most sensitive. It’s so thin that you can actually see the blood vessels that run through it.

    The skin around the eye area is the first place to show signs of aging; crow’s feet, bags, dark circles, and fine lines are all common signs of aging under the eyes. To prevent all of this, it’s important to protect the eye area and keep it hydrated with the right eye cream.

    Many of the ingredients in Korean eye cream are derived from the natural resources found in Korea such as ginseng, tea, and various flowers. These ingredients have been used for centuries by the people of Korea to keep their skin healthy and youthful.

    Moisturizers

    It’s easy to underestimate how important moisturizing is, but if you look at it from the perspective of skin health, it makes a lot of sense. Without good moisturizing, you will not be able to achieve the result you want even after applying other skincare products on your face because the base of your skin is dry.

    Many times people get confused about what type of moisturizer to use in Korean Skincare. This is because there are different types of moisturizing agents. There is also a bit of a difference from Western moisturizers.

    In most skincare routines, the focus is to hydrate and moisturize the skin. But how do you know if a moisturizer is right for your face? It’s important to understand how Korean moisturizers differ from their Western counterparts. Korean moisturizers are much lighter in texture and can have a slightly different consistency.

    Korean moisturizers are designed to be lightweight and offer more hydration, so they’re perfect for those with oily or acne-prone skin. Korean moisturizers also tend to be water-based, which means that they’re less likely to clog pores and cause breakouts.

    The main reason that some people have acne is because their pores are clogged, and this causes an increase in production of sebum. Sebum is the oily substance produced by your body that keeps your hair moist and soft. It also works to keep your skin moisturized so that it doesn’t get too dry. Korean moisturizers are known for their ability to deliver hydration as well as plenty of other benefits. They contain ingredients that not only work to hydrate the skin, but also soothe redness and inflammation while reducing acne breakouts. They can also help even out skin tone and battle hyperpigmentation.

    Sun Protection

    To counter the damaging effects of the sun, the K-beauty industry has come up with a comprehensive range of sun protection products. Sunscreen is the most important skincare product next to moisturizer because the protection it provides is superior to everything else. It’s also one of the best anti-aging products you can use.

    Koreans are some of the most diligent sunscreen users in the world and it’s no surprise — their climate is notoriously stressful on the skin. In fact, many Korean women regularly use sunscreens at SPF50+.

    The UV rays of the sun can cause serious damage to your skin if it’s not protected. Sun exposure over time can cause fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and even skin cancer. All these issues can be prevented with proper sun protection.

    As the weather heats up and we spend more time outdoors, it’s important to increase your protection against harmful UV rays. While sunscreen is a must, many of us don’t realize that our skincare routine can help keep our skin safe from sun damage throughout the year.

    If you’re living in a city with hot and humid weather, it’s crucial to keep your skin protected from the sun. Sun exposure can cause dryness, discoloration, and more serious problems like skin cancer.

    Making the 10 Step Korean Skincare Routine a Habit

    The 10 Step Korean Skincare Routine has been around for a long time and is steeped in tradition. It’s more focused on prevention than cure, unlike its Western counterparts. The best part is it works on any skin type, as there are a lot of products out there that cater to every skin type possible.

    It takes a lot of patience, I mean A LOT, taking time to make this a daily habit to be able to see results over time. If you’re new to Kbeauty, I hope this post has helped you get started on your journey! Remember: All you need is just 30 minutes and the right ingredients for your skin type and you’re on your way to beautiful, glowing and healthy skin!

    Ana Prieto

    Contributor @ Beautiff HQ

    I’m a graphic artist from Curitiba, Brazil contributing to topics such as Korean Skincare, vegan diet and self-improvement. I co-author a blog with my partner Enrique called A Jornada where we share our adventures through travel photography.

    Comments

    For eye cream, I prefer coconut oil. It’s an antioxidant-rich oil with anti-aging properties. Other vitamin E sources should work too.

    wideeyedcotton

    Innisfree and The Face Shop are well-known for their entry-level masks. If you can’t find them locally, Naruko is another resource because they have a wide variety of products. I also recommend Leaders & Mediheal, which are a popular mask brand in Korea.

    Claudia

    Is essence adn serum same?

    Terry Schmitz

    @Terry Schmitz Essences sometimes come in serum or ampoule form

    lara

    I honestly think the Cosrx snail mucin can be passed off as a moisturizer. It’s already quite moisturizing. Sheet masks are cheaper than individual products, and my most expensive item was just $16.

    oxeyetoffee

    Thanks for this helpful post

    Anonymous

    I love innisfree sheet masks! I use them often and absolutely love their quality, texture, and performance. My favorite mask is the Ginger Honey Toner which keeps my skin hydrated all day long. The sheet masks are $1.80 each.

    Doorey_153

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