Your Essential Guide To The 10-step Korean Skincare Routine

Writer: Yeu -Gynn

The 10-step Korean skincare routine is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it’s not as daunting as it sounds. In fact, it can be quite therapeutic and meditative. Popularized by Korean beauty celebs and adopted by women who yearn for that glass-skin glow, this multi-step skincare routine is here to stay. We may not all be Korean celebrities, but we sure envy their flawless and nearly poreless-looking skin. Like, how does it glow so? Spill the tea.

The 10-step skincare routine is all about cleansing, exfoliating, treating your skin concerns, intensely moisturizing, and the ever-important sun protection. More than just using the right products, it’s about using the right products in the correct order. Here is an essential guide on how you can do the 10-step Korean skincare routine right in comforts of your bathroom sink.

1. Oil-based cleanser

Oil-based cleansing is  the first step in the double cleansing method. This is a process in which you remove your makeup and other oil-based impurities such as sebum buildup with an oil-based cleanser, before using a water-based or foam cleanser to remove the sweat and dirt that accumulates throughout the day. Gently massage an oil-based cleanser into your skin, and let the product emulsify with water. Rinse thoroughly after about 30 seconds. You can do this step in the morning and at night, but you can skip it in the morning if you feel like it’s not necessary – especially if your skin does not produce much sebum. Some oil-based cleanser ingredients that’s safe for most skin types are argan oil, camellia oil, and rosehip oil.

2. Water-based cleanser

Here’s the second step of the double cleansing method where a water-based cleanser is used to thoroughly remove other impurities like pollutants, sweat and dirt, that the oil cleanser didn’t pick up. It’s better to be safe and cleanse twice instead of just once. Lather some water based cleanser in your hands and gently apply them on your face in a circular motion, and rinse. The ingredients you can look out for in a water-based cleanser depends on your skin type. For example, tea tree and green tea work great for oily-skinned babes. Those with dry skin types should search for rich and moisturizing cleansers, preferably ones formulated with hyaluronic acids.

3. Exfoliator

Physical and chemical exfoliation can help to remove dead skin cells for visibly brighter skin. Hello, gorgeous glow! The choice between physical or chemical exfoliation depends on you, really. Sugar scrubs are the safest for physical exfoliation, and you can even use a loofah to help with the scrubbing process. The key here is to do it gently. Meanwhile, chemical exfoliators are made of AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids), with the former being more suitable for dry skin types. However, if you’re concerned about acne and blackheads, BHAs are your best bet, with their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Do this twice a week, at most, so you can give your skin cells a chance to renew themselves.

4. Toner

Prep your skin while balancing it’s moisture and pH level with a good, alcohol-free toner. A toner dampens your skin and gets it ready to absorb all the skincare products that follow suit. Most people use cotton pads – but we’ll let you know a lazy (but eco-friendly) way. Pour your toner into a travel spray bottle and spritz away! It’s a quicker way to dampen your whole face with the product, and plus, you’ll be saving on lots of cotton pads. Pat your face gently afterwards. Rosewater and aloe vera are popular ingredients to look out for in a toner.

5. Essence

OK onto step 5! We’re already halfway there, and you’re doing great, sweetie! Essences are the heart and soul of the 10-step Korean skincare routine. Essences include a higher dose of active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin to add a rich dose of moisture to your skin. Most essences also contain anti-ageing properties that help to retain moisture and increase cell turnover for long-term improvement of one’s skin. Some essences may also be specialised in treating different skin concerns such as snail mucus (ew, but effective!) for acne and hydration, and niacinamide to brighten up dull skin. Sprinkle onto your palms and pat the liquid onto your face. Bring some of the excess down to your neck – it needs to match your face’s ethereal radiance.

6. Serum

Serums (sometimes called “ampoules”) are basically super-potent essences. They’re often known as boosters, or skin perfectors, and are usually packaged in concentrated vials. Serums can address any issues that your skin may face, such as acne, dry patches, or fine lines. They’re are made of smaller molecules that can penetrate deeply into your skin – hence it’s speciality in addressing specific skin concerns. You don’t need to take this all over your face, just apply the product directly on the areas of concern. For oily-skinned babes, serums with vitamin C or salicylic acid should work for you. Those with dry skin should seek for vitamin E or hyaluronic acid to brighten your skin and retain moisture.

7. Sheet mask

Optional, but always effective nevertheless. Done about once or twice a week, sheet masks are soaked in concentrated essences infused with effective, and sometimes calming ingredients like collagen, rice extract, ginseng or green tea. Just place one on your skin and allow it to absorb all the goodness for 20 minutes or more. Here’s a hack for you – when you remove the sheet mask from it’s package, pour out any of the excess essence and gently pat the liquid onto your face before putting on the sheet mask. The immediate effect is exhilarating. Your skin will feel plumper and more radiant from all the moisture and goodness that it has absorbed. You’ll probably feel more relaxed inwardly too.

8. Eye cream

Your grandma would not have gone a day without this! Say goodbye to those Gucci eyebags and hello to brighter eyes. The skin around your eyes are the most delicate area of your face, so it should be nourished with a product that’s made for it. An intense and effective eye cream can reduce eyebags, dark circles, crows feet and puffiness in your appearance. Eye creams are usually formulated to be gentle towards thinner skin around your eyes. Tap the product in gently on the skin around your eyes. Look out for gentle, yet effective ingredients such as collagen, green tea extract, and ginseng.

9. Moisturiser

The whole 10-step Korean skincare routine is all about hydration. You can’t deliver the best benefits of hydration without a moisturiser. A moisturiser, whether in the form of a gel, emulsion or lotion, locks in moisture, plus all the good stuff you’ve been using, onto the surface of your skin. If you’re feeling extra, you can use a sleeping  it’s a pretty therapeutic routine to give your skin a little self-lovmask at night and a different moisturizer during the day. Gently pat a layer of moisturiser onto your skin to get that desired “glass skin” glow. Some ingredients you should look out for are hyaluronic acid, centella leaf and olive. By this time, you should feel like a glowing goddess!

10. Sunscreen

Here comes the sun, and out comes the sunscreen! Yep, SPF is the key product to prevent premature aging and skin issues caused by the sun’s UV rays. Sunscreen is the final step as it acts as a shield for your skin. Higher SPF just means more sun protection – so take it all the way up to SPF 50+ if you must. Most dermatologists agree that SPF 30 is just about enough for a normal day out. Take a moderate amount and pat it onto your skin, and your body too, especially if you’ll be exposed to the sun for quite some time.

Now for the big question – do you really need to do all 10 steps? Logically, you shouldn’t need to apply sunscreen at night, for example. Plus, some of these steps like exfoliating and sheetmasking can be done twice or thrice a week at most. Without these added steps, the whole process can take a little less than 10 minutes. Plus,e just before you drift into the loving arms of the night’s well-rested sleep. If you want to give your skin that extra glow, you just need to put in a little bit of extra effort, and effective skincare products, of course!

Let us know if you’ll try to do the 10-step Korean skincare routine! If you’re already doing it, tell us about your experience with it. Which step do you, or would you do differently?