Korean women are known all over the world for their seemingly perfect skin. Although you could credit some part of their milky-smooth complexions to good genes, Korean women do put in a lot of effort into maintaining and improving their skin. If cleanse, tone, and moisturize is your idea of a complete skincare regiment, think again. In Korea, a decent skincare routine could involve, more or less, 10 individual steps that takes a little less than 15 minutes to complete but could produce staggering results.
Interested? I am too. Here are more details into each individual step:
Step 1: Remove Make-up
First things first, remove your make-up. It’s an absolute sin to leave any make-up on your skin before you go to sleep and it’s the first and one of the most important steps of any skincare routine. For this step, first use non-irritating make-up remover wipes to gently wipe your eyes clean. After your eyes are free of any traces of eyeliner or mascara, proceed with using an oil cleanser. If you haven’t used or heard of oil cleansers before, they are oil-based cleansers that remove any excess make-up and sebum from the surface of your skin—things your ordinary foam cleansers can’t remove properly. Simply apply an ample amount on your face and massage on for about a minute or two before wiping or rinsing off.
Step 2: Foam Cleanser
After using the oil cleanser, your skin should feel extremely clean and soft—but we’re not done yet. Believe it or not, cleansing the face once isn’t enough to completely remove all the dirt and make-up that has latched on to your skin throughout the day—and we want all of that out. This time, take out your foam cleanser and lather it up using a foaming net or simply use your hands. Once you’ve worked up a decent lather, rub the foam onto your skin using gentle circular motions while avoiding the eye area. After a minute or two, rinse out all the foam.
Step 3: Gentle Exfoliation
If you thought cleansing your skin twice was enough, think again. Once all the dirt on the surface of the skin is removed, it’s time to clean deeper into the skin and clear out your pores. There are various methods of exfoliation that you could try out depending on you skin. For those who struggle with clogged pores and flaky skin, Konjac sponges are an excellent way to exfoliate gently everyday without causing damage to the skin. Regular exfoliation helps increase blood flow and remove dead skin. Removing dead skin helps even out your skin tone, prevents the clogging of your pores, and improves your skin’s overall texture.
Step 4: Toner
Finally! We’re done with the cleansing so now let’s move on to toners. There was a time when I had no idea what exactly a toner did but used it anyway because my dermatologist commanded it. After years of wondering, I’ve finally figured it out; and they’re actually quite useful. A toner’s most basic role is to lightly hydrate the skin and improve its general condition. Korean toners are non-astringent and moisturizing, making it an excellent alternative to western alcohol-based toners that tend to dry up the skin. Applying alcohol-free toner after cleansing gives the skin back its moisture all while conditioning it to absorb the products applied later on more effectively.
Step 5: Essence
So far, besides the extra cleansing, the steps on this routine have been more or less familiar—let’s pick up the pace. This step is right at the heart of this Korean beauty routine and is part of what sets Korean skincare apart from all the others. An essence is a watery product that appears similar to a toner but performs a different role. Essence targets specific skin problems like fine lines and dryness, and contains a higher concentration of ingredients that target those specific issues. Unlike toner, it’s not recommended to apply essence with a cotton ball since it’s a bit more expensive and using a cotton ball would waste too much product. Instead, use your fingertips to gently pat and spread the liquid all over your face and let it dry on its own.
Step 6: Serum & Ampoule
If essence is watery and light, serums and ampoules are a bit heavier and have an even more concentrated formula. Much like essence, serum and ampoule address specific skincare needs with its extra-strong formula. Given that it’s more concentrated, serums and ampoules tend to cost a bit more than essence. Thankfully, Korean serums and ampoules conveniently come with droppers that release just the right amount of product to cover your face.
Step 7: Facial Oil
Facial Oil is yet another part of the Korean skincare routine that makes it so interesting and different. Korean skincare routines are all about customization and Facial Oil is one more way to achieve that. Basically Facial Oil is oil extracted from nutrient-rich plants, flowers, or fruits. It’s an excellent way to incorporate the natural benefits these oils provide into your skincare routine.
Step 8: Eye Cream
The skin around our eyes is very delicate and needs special care. There are a variety of eye creams available in the market depending on the kind of issues you have with your eyes—be it fine lines, wrinkles, or dark circles. Just take a pea sized amount of your eye cream and use your ring finger to gently dab the product on the under eye and eyelid area.
Step 9: Moisturizer
Okay, we’re almost at the end of our rigorous skin regimen! After making sure each area of your face gets the right kind of nourishment it needs to retain its youthful glow, seal everything in. Apply a generous amount of your favorite moisturizer, massaging it gently into the skin. Your skin may feel like it’s had enough moisture now, but once all that product starts absorbing, it’s your moisturizer that’ll keep your skin soft and bouncy.
Step 10: SPF/Sleeping Pack
Finally, add in a layer of SPF to protect your delicate skin from the harmful rays of the sun. When choosing SPF, be sure to choose a broad spectrum formula, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Protecting against the sun is absolutely essential as it prevents any sun damage that may cause premature aging and uneven skin tone. It also prevents any of the products you’ve used from reacting to the sun.
On the other hand, when doing this routine at night, apply a layer of favorite sleeping mask to aid in your skin’s overnight healing. Your body is designed to heal and regenerate overnight while you sleep and the sleeping mask should aid the healing process; leaving you with gorgeous skin the morning after.
Now you're done. It sounded complicated but actually went by quite fast. Your skin will thank you for your investment and love!