Korean Skincare: 10 Steps To Great Complexion
If you’re like us, your beauty routine would probably consist of washing your face, using a toner and adding a moisturizer. But at midlife, we need more than that, especially if we dream of a flawless complexion. In Korea, where having supple skin has been a virtue for millennia and where cleansing your face is as ingrained as washing your hands before you eat; women of all ages know how to master the art of skincare. Their secret? A weekly ten-step beauty routine to nourish and balance the skin.
What is the Korean 10 Step Skincare Routine?
The Korean 10 Step Skincare Routine is all about layering the right hydration products to sustain a high moisture level throughout the day. In fact, hydration is the most important factor for most Koreans as it helps with anti-ageing and other skin troubles such as large pores, saggy skin and hyperpigmentation.
Each step has its own specific purpose in helping your skin truly feel younger, healthier and glowing from the inside out. Here, we’re breaking down all ten steps, plus our product recommendations for each.
Step One – Cleansing Oil/Cleansing Balm
Cleansing oils and balms are great for removing makeup, environmental pollutants and excess sebum. Use a cleansing oil or cleansing balm on completely dry skin on top of your make up. Massage the product in circular motions into your skin for at least 30 seconds. Next, wet your hands and massage them over the oil or balm to emulsify it. You should see a milky consistency on your skin. Rinse the product off, use a wet flannel or bamboo cloth to remove and pat your skin dry.
Check out: Elemis Cleansing Balm, DHC Cleansing Oil, Dermalogica Pre Cleanse Oil.
Step Two – Cleanser
Double cleansing is the most effective way of cleaning our skin. Once you’ve used the balm or oil as your first step to removing what’s on the surface, now its time to cleanse your skin. Gentle foaming cleansers are kind enough to remove excess oil cleanser or balm that might still be on the skin. Avoid cleansers containing sulphates. When using a foaming cleanser wet your face first and then pump the cleanser into your hands or onto a konjac cleansing sponge. Make sure that the cleanser looks and feels foamy before applying to your skin. Use circular motions to cleanse your face, neck and décolleté. Rinse thoroughly.
Check out: Huxley Cleansing Gel ‘Be Clean – Be Moist’, Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Ageing Foaming Cleanser.
Step Three – Exfoliation
As we mature our skin needs more help than ever to remove dead skin cells and dullness. Exfoliation helps to smooth, brighten and enable the skin to be more receptive to serums and moisturisers. It is essential to prepare the skin for the rest of the ten steps. Apply to your face and massage gently, leave on it for a few minutes for a deeper exfoliation. Rinse your skin thoroughly to remove the product, then gently pat your face dry.
Bear in mind, there are various ways of exfoliating the skin and some will penetrate more layers than others.
Physical exfoliators are granular in texture and feel rough on the skin’s surface. This type of exfoliator is more suitable for drier thicker skins. Micro exfoliators are instead very gentle, formulated especially for sensitive skins, and come in a powder or cream formula. Chemical peels, the most effective exfoliating product for a deeper exfoliation, can feel very tingly on your skin especially if it is dehydrated. Always be cautious when using chemical peels for home use, because they can cause damage to your skin if used incorrectly.
Check out: Monu Micro Exfoliant, Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel, Caudalie Deep Cleansing Exfoliator.
Step Four – Toner
Facial toners have come a long way since they removed alcohol from the ingredient list. Toners help to refresh your skin and remove any cleanser residue. They hydrate and refine the pores as well as balancing the surface layers. Apply your chosen one to cotton pads or reusable bamboo pads and wipe across your face, neck and décolleté avoiding your eye area. Rose skin tonics are great for mature/dry skin types. Glycolic is for hydrating and balancing the skin, suitable for all skins except sensitive skins. Rice toner is perfect for all skin tones and has a brightening effect on the skin.
Check out: Pixi Glow Tonic (Glycolic), I’m From – Rice Toner, Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner.
Step Five – Essence/Spray
Hydrated skins are plump, smooth, and glowing. Essence and sprays are water-based and add an extra layer of hydration to the skin. Adding a water-based skin essence or hydrating spray will boost your skins hydration externally, drinking water adds hydration internally. Essences kick-start your skin into regenerating collagen production: just add 3-4 drops of water-based essence to the palm of your hands and press onto your skin. Hold spray at arm’s length and spritz lightly all over your facial area.
Check out: 111 Skin Antioxidant Energising Essence, Dr Jart+ Vital Hydra Solution Essence, Caudalie Beauty Elixir and Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater.
Step Six – Serum
The serum is an essential part of any skincare routine. Serums come in a wide range of formulas they can be oil or water-based in the formulation. Choose one that’s right for your skin type to get the maximum benefit. Water-based serums are suitable for all skin types, Oil-based formulas depending on which option you choose are great for all skins too as long as your skin isn’t too oily or acneic. Always use it over the essence or spray. Apply 3-4 drops of serum into the palms of your hands and press onto your skin avoiding the eye area.
Check out: Aromatica Reviving Rose Infusion Serum, Dermalogica BioLumin C Serum, Herbivore Youth Preserving Facial Oil, Urban Skin Rx Super C Brightening Serum.
Step Seven – Sheet Mask
Sheet masks have improved since they launched initially and most of them are now eco-friendly and biodegradable. With a shelf life of 3 years from manufacture, they are injected with essences that can brighten and hydrate skin instantly; using them at this step will boost all your other skincare products. Remove the sheet mask from the packaging and unfold. Apply directly to your face shaping the eye, nose and mouth holes to fit. Leave on your face for 20-30 minutes, remove and massage any remaining essence into your skin.
Check out: Sheet Masks Mitomo Sake Essence Mask, Farm Skin Superfood Blueberry Strengthening Sheet Mask, Franz Microcurrent Mask.
Step Eight – Eye Cream
Eye creams are often left out of a skincare routine. Yet it is one of the most beneficial product for delaying fine lines, brightening and hydrating our eyes. Did you know that you can also use your eye cream to nourish your lips? Eye creams and eye serums are most effective when gently tapped into the skin. Try not to rub eye products under the delicate eye area. A 15ml tube of eye cream or serum has approximately 200 doses of treatment. You only need an amount the size of a rice grain for both eyes, twice daily. Use your ring fingers to gently tap the product, Tapping also helps with puffiness and enables rapid penetration into the skin.
Check out: Strivectin Peptight 360 Tightening Eye Serum, Caudalie Premier Cru The Eye Cream, Filorga Time-Filler Eyes
Step Nine – Moisturise
All skins need moisturiser even if your skin is oily. Moisturiser protects the barrier of your skin and stops it feeling tight and sensitive, nourishing and balancing your skin. An oil-free product is very lightweight and more suited to oilier skin types. Always moisturise from your forehead to your décolleté, massage into your skin in upward large circular sweeps. Don’t forget the back of your neck. You only need a small amount of product no more than the size of a normal-sized pea to moisturise your skin in the morning, and no bigger than a small blueberry for your whole face, neck and décolleté at night.
Check out: Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream, Huxley Secret of the Sahara Anti-Gravity Cream, Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Wrinkle Resist Moisturiser, RoC Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, Vichy LiftActiv Supreme Night.
Step Ten – Sunscreen
Sunscreen is your last step in skin care and your first step in makeup. Did you know that sun protection is the only true anti-ageing skincare product? We should be wearing a minimum SPF30 all year round. UVA rays (daylight) are the largest contributor of skin ageing, with genetics and DNA being second. Using a daily sunscreen is the most preventative to ageing skin as well as skin cancers. Look for broad-spectrum products that protect you from UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen to everywhere that will be exposed to the sun including the tops of your ears, face and neck. The product must be removed at night as it blocks the skin regenerating as you sleep.
Check out: Ultrasun For the face, La Roche Posay Anthelios, CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen, Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen.
According to Koreans, skincare shouldn’t be seen as a chore. Instead, it should be a natural next step in one’s journey toward self-care. In fact, skincare isn’t only about products. A beautiful complexion is an outcome of a healthy lifestyle: eating well, sleeping well, exercising enough, and of course, using products with great ingredients that are right for your skin type.