New to K-Beauty? Beginner Korean Skincare 101

Are you new to Korean skincare products? If you are, then you’re probably as overwhelmed as I was when I first started. Too many products to choose from, where to start? What’s the best product for me?

If you’re a newbie to K-Beauty, you may be confused about what products are good for you. The truth is that there are an overwhelming number of Korean skincare products out there. Moreover, their names, ingredients, and packaging look way different than the skincare products that we’re used to seeing in the U.S.

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    I’m here to guide you on your journey to the world of K-beauty!

    Korean skincare is a sought after skincare regimen around the world, but is often overlooked by Westerners. It is known for its efficacy and affordability, making it a great alternative to the more expensive brands that are popular in the West. When it comes to Korean skincare products, there are a few things that you should know before you start using them.

    Have you heard of the 10-Step Korean Routine?

    You don’t just apply Korean beauty products, you have to do it the right way! Read The Amazing 10 Step Korean Skincare Routine: Everything You Need to Know to learn more about the Korean beauty philosophy and how to do it for maximum effect

    What Makes Korean Skincare Different?

    Did you know that the average Korean woman uses 12 products in her skin care routine? From toners to essences, and serums to moisturizer, it’s no wonder that Korean women have some of the most flawless and beautiful skin on the planet!

    Korean skincare is the new skincare on the block, and it’s here to stay — it’s not just the products and ingredients that are different, but the entire philosophy surrounding skincare is unique to Korean culture. The Korean Skincare Philosophy is a holistic approach to personal care that’s based on treating the skin, not covering up imperfections. In fact, the 10-step Korean skincare routine is now a part of the daily routine of many people, young and old, all over the world.

    The 10-step method is the perfect beginner Korean skincare routine because it’s easy to follow and the ingredients you need are usually very easy to find. The great thing about Korean skincare products is that they are designed around this philosophy, which means they are usually made to work effectively together with other common K-beauty ingredients.

    Cleanse, Prep, Nourish and Protect

    The 10-step Korean Routine is divided into 4 steps: Cleanse, Prep, Nourish and Protect.

    Their multi-step skincare routine has been around for ages, but more and more people are becoming interested in Korean beauty products because of their effective ingredients and affordable price tags. Instead of using a million different products, Korean women choose to use less and use them all the time. This is because Korean women understand the importance of layering products in order to get the best results possible.

    The Korean skincare philosophy is more than just a trend. It’s a way of life. An ancient method of caring for your skin has now become a luxurious, but affordable, staple in the lives of women all over the world. Although the routine is steeped in tradition, you don’t have to be to reap its benefits.

    Know Your Skin Type

    Before you can get started using K-beauty products, it is very important to know what your skin type is. A lot of people don’t really pay attention to the skin type, and they just buy whatever product is on trend.

    “Skin Type” is Universal

    Although there are still some differences between Asian and American skin types, most skin types are pretty universal. So whether you’re an Asian beauty expert or a total beginner, knowing your skin type is important for choosing the right products.

    Dehydrated or dry skin types, for example, are most comfortable using products that contain hyaluronic acid to help fix balance and help with general hydration. Oily and combination skin types are those most required by the experts to use a moisturizer that gives them barrier support and also helps with the brightening effects of retinol products.

    Are you dry? Oily? Combination? Acne-prone? Sensitive? Dehydrated? A combination of all of these? Keeping your skin type in mind will help you find the perfect products that will work best for your skin without causing irritation or breakouts.

    Get to Know the Ingredients

    Korean skincare products are usually more accessible, effective, and affordable than their western counterparts. This is because they’re specialized for specific skin types. Whether you want to reduce acne, brighten your complexion, fight aging, or take care of your delicate skin, there’s a Korean skincare product for you.

    K-beauty products are known for their high quality because of the amount of research and development that goes into them. Some of the most common ingredients found in Korean skin care products include propolis, niacinamide, green tea, snail mucin, and various extracts. It’s important that you get to know each one of these most common ingredients and how each can affect and contribute to your skin type.


    Cosmetique de Baha (4.5 / 5 Stars)
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    Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that acts as an antioxidant and has the ability to repair skin damage. It’s a popular ingredient in skincare products, and is used to improve skin tone and texture, prevent wrinkles, and treat acne and hyperpigmentation.

    “I’m a scientist, so seeing that these products had results in an actual scientific study gave me some hope that they might actually work for me, too. I have been using (and love) Cos de BAHA’s peptide serum” – 5 Stars

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    Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Korean Skincare

    The Korean Skincare routine can be really confusing, mainly due to the sheer amount of products and steps you have to follow. But if you’re new to the Korean routine and products, then the whole idea of adjusting to this new routine can be daunting! There are some very important things that you need to remember (and avoid) to keep your skin glowing and fresh, as you intend it to be.

    Not Applying the Right Products For Your Skin

    I can’t stress this enough: your skin type matters. So make sure that you do a quick self-check to determine your skin type before buying any product.

    Using Routine Steps the Wrong Way

    Koreans understand the importance of layering. You don’t just layer ingredients on top of each other, you have to follow the sequence. Read the label! Most products have a “How to Use” label on the box, so take your time to read before applying. For example, there are some products that need to be applied first before applying heavier creams. It’s important that you know the right sequence.

    Forget Proper Moisturization

    Some products contain acids that strip away your natural skin oils! Make sure to add proper moisturization to your routine to avoid dry skin and acne.


    You may have been told throughout your life that washing your face is a great way to keep it clean. And while this is true, it’s important to note that having a good balance between washing and not washing is also equally important. You don’t want to completely get rid of your natural skin oils. It’s also important that your skin stays pH-balanced.

    Skin pH plays an important role. Your skin’s pH level is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of your skin. The pH of your skin also determines the effectiveness of products you use on it. The skin needs to be kept at a pH level of 5.5 in order to keep your skin healthy and moisturized, which is why it’s so important that you keep your skin balanced.

    Under-Applying Sunscreen or Using the Wrong Sunscreen

    This is an important part of personal skin care and health, as it helps prevent the effects of the sun on your face. However, not all sunscreens are created equally. In fact, some of them might be doing more harm than good to your skin. That’s why it’s important to apply sunscreen that is right for your skin type and protects you without causing any negative reactions or damaging your skin.

    If you have fair, dry skin, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Look for zinc oxide first in the ingredients list. This ingredient is considered the most effective sun-protection ingredient because it helps block both UVA and UVB rays.

    Not Using the Right Exfoliant

    Are you a fan of exfoliation? I know that I am! Keeping your skin exfoliated, smooth, and clean is a vital part of your daily routine; exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells that can clog your pores and lead to breakouts. It’s also important for your skin’s natural cell regeneration process.

    If you don’t exfoliate, your skin won’t be able to get rid of the old and dead cells that make your skin look dull. These dead cells also prevent your skin from absorbing moisture, which can cause it to stretch out and look wrinkled.

    The right facial exfoliant does so much more than just cleanse. For many common skin problems, a good exfoliating routine can actually help to prevent it from re-occurring. While exfoliation is very important in skin care, it is extremely important to use the right kind of exfoliant for your skin type. When you use an exfoliant that is too harsh or too rough on your skin, it can be damaging to your skin.

    The Lack Of Patience and Not Sticking to it Long Term

    It’s no secret that I have a tendency to be impatient. Particularly when it comes to skincare, it can be hard to see results as quickly as I’d like them to come in. However, I’ve accepted that my skin will not transform overnight, and have made peace with the process. After all, it is a process, and it takes time.

    Having the best skincare routine in the world doesn’t matter a jot if you’re not patient enough to consistently stick to it. And it’s not just about having the best products and knowing what your skin type is – the time and effort you dedicate to taking care of your skin also plays a huge role in how good your skin will look.

    Not Considering Your Age And Skin Concerns

    No matter your age, we all want to look and feel our best. If you’re trying out Korean skincare for the first time, it’s important to consider your age and skin concerns. You might be excited to try out all of the products, but if your skin is currently having issues, it might not be the best time to start.

    When you’re trying out your first Korean skincare routine, your age becomes an important factor. Skin changes as you age, and so does the way you treat it. Ask your dermatologist for the best way to care for your skin depending on your age and current skin condition.

    Unsure About What You Are Looking For In A Product

    It’s easy to know your current skin type and what challenges you’re currently facing. Are you looking to moisturize dry-looking skin or treat oily skin? Don’t just go shopping for skincare products, know exactly what you need and your current skincare goals.

    Skin Care Routine Order Morning and Night

    Eye creams come in different types and formulations depending on the time of day they’re used. Some products are designed for daytime use, others are made to be used in the evening or at night.

    You need different ingredients at night than you do during the day. Eye creams, moisturizers and even toners come in different formulations for daytime and nighttime use. There are products that work better for daytime, and others for nighttime use.

    You might find that there are steps that are recommended to be done a few times a week. The use of chemical exfoliants like AHA and BHA are recommended to be used once to twice per week.

    Decide when you want these treatments applied. I personally like applying acids and essences at night as my face rests and my skin takes time to absorb the ingredients. Some ingredients are also not recommended when you’re frequently in the sun, so having a day and night alternative for each product is definitely a good idea.

    Have Fun!

    When faced with the Western world’s typical skincare products, the Korean skincare philosophy is a stark contrast. With a focus on prevention rather than cure, Korean skincare products are designed to provide users with all the tools they need to achieve and maintain their skin’s health.

    Get ready to experience a new level of soft and smooth skin with your first Korean skincare routine! If you’re new to the world of K-Beauty but want to give yourself the best skin possible, it’s important to know which products are the right ones for your skin. And as a beginner, you’ll want to know which products are the most gentle on your skin.

    For beginners of all skin types, we recommend trying out a skincare line from a single brand. Some of the products in the brand may not work for you or you could find better from another brand, and this is where you start experimenting with your mix and match. For starters, we recommend COSRX Favorites Bestsellers for your first “test kit”:


    COSRX Favorites Best Sellers Set (4.5/5 Stars )
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    Best selling travel-sized skin care essentials from COSRX. 20ml / 0.67 fl.oz each

    “I have dry combination skin with acne scars. Cleanser doesn’t dry out my face, toner didn’t irritate and making my skin glowing. Snail essence was amazing, it seemed like helping acne scars. Birch sap moisturizer is really good too! – 5 Stars

    See Product →

    There are general rules to follow, but don’t be afraid to experiment! You might find something that works well for you even if it does not follow the conventional rules. Just remember to start with gentle products, do your research on the common ingredients and find out what you need based on your skin type… And oh, don’t forget: Have fun!

    Have you already started with your K-beauty journey? What were the challenges you faced? We’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

    Dana Anderson

    Beauty Care Editor @ Beautiff HQ

    Researcher and Writer who loves Tennis and juggles my passion for skincare with being a mom of 2 wonderful kids. I write and edit for Beautiff particularly on Korean Skincare, which I have the most extensive research and best personal experience in.


    I’m always reluctant with changing routines. I’ve had so many different “regimens” I tried in the past but I have recently discovered kbeauty and would really love to try it out.


    Great post!! Pls do a review for Mizon, I’m really looking for a good eye cream product these days


    @LoumillaMay thanks for the feedback! We actually did mention Mizon here: K-Beauty Starters: 3 Best Korean Skin Care Products for Sensitive Skin it’s really one of those eye creams we highly recommend!

    Dana Anderson


    Nice article, thanks


    the korean routine 10-step is really the best I’ve encountered and really worked best for me. this article makes it sound like there’s too much to do, but most of the k products are similar and are designed to work and blend well with other korean products. my k routine has 7 products used daily and 3 used once or twice a week

    Sedonie F

    Always loved to try their products but quite hesitant because I don’t have “asian” skin but glad to know that it can work for any skin type


    I know a lot of Koreans who really have nice skin, no matter the color/complexion (pale or a bit darker asian). I am reaaaally jealous of the way their skin just stays plump and healthy-looking. I am 28 and my skin doesn’t look like it’s been well taken care of. It’s like koreans have flawless skin


    Thanks for recommending COSRX! I just got mine now (with a limited discount from the page you shared). I’ll see how it goes!


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