10-Step Korean Skin Care Routine

Ever wonder how Korean women get flawless glass skin? Here are K-Beauty secrets to achieve poreless, clear skin.

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Photo credit: Freepik

Everyone is crazy about the “glass skin”, “honey skin” phenomenon - it’s a skin goal that gets you transparent, dewy, luminous complexion with the 10-step Korean skin care routine. This unique regimen is more extensive than the usual 3-4 steps of the standard Western routine which can be intimidating at first, but it doesn’t mean you need to use 10 steps all at once.

Once you understand the steps and what your skin needs, then you can customize them to fit your skin concerns, goals and lifestyle. You may opt for a 5-step method in the morning and one with more steps at night. We’re here to break it down of each step, helping you understand how to figure it if it’s right for you! 

1. Oil-Based Cleansers/Makeup Removers

Have you heard about “the double cleansing method”? It’s part of the South Korean beauty regimen and basically uses two different facial cleansers to get an ultra-clean canvas.

You can use cleansing oil/balm as the first step, it removes all trace of waterproof eye makeup, sunscreens(SPF), excess sebum, and pore-clogged impurities. The science-backed principle logic is that oil cleansers pull the oily gunk out of your skin and to use a water-based cleanser to get rid of any remaining residue like dirt, sweat, and pollutants.

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E Nature Moringa Cleansing Balm

The cleansing balm is infused with moringa seed extracts, birch juice sap, and iris extract to promote collagen production to prevent signs of aging and improve skin texture and tone while dissolving makeup, dirt, and excess sebum.

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Olivarrier Wash All Barrier Relief

This natural cleansing oil is a mildly acidic facial cleanser(pH5.5) that gently removes makeup, keratin, excess sebum with creamy bubbles while creating the skin barrier and adding a very hydrating layer on your skin. Infused with organic rose water and 8 cold-pressed & unrefined organic oils such as jojoba seed oil, avocado oil, argan oil, baobab oil, rosehip oil, and more - all of which are rich in natural vitamins and nourishment that your skin needs.

2. Water-Based Cleansers 

Follow with a water-based cleanser – think foaming wash, hydrating creams, milky bubbles, micellar cleansing water. This second step helps deep pore cleansing and rinse off the skin to remove anything left behind.

Washing your face twice is recommended by dermatologists and aestheticians and it’s important to choose the right cleansers based on your skin types and concerns. According to BYRDIE, Lucy Hale said “double cleansing is what it’s really about for me” on how to keep her skin glowy and breakout-free.                                     

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Heimish All Clean Green Foam

This is a pH 5.5 balancing face cleanser that gently clears away impurities, pollutants while balancing the pH level to enable the skin to function at its best. Formulated only with safe EWG green-rated ingredients, Centella Asiatica to soothe the skin with its anti-inflammation and witch hazel to moisturize the skin.

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Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Marine Collagen Micro Cleansing Water

A micellar water cleanser contains microparticles to deeply cleanse pore-clogging impurities, makeup, and dead skin cells without drying out the skin. Enriched with pearl extract, marine collagen, and fermented yeast, this purifying face cleanser brightens, smoothen, and plumps up the skin while restoring moisture, nourishment, and elasticity.

3. Exfoliators

Exfoliating is a must-do beauty step for a glowing, youthful-looking complexion. It’s the process of removing old dead skin cells that clog pores which can result in whiteheads, blackheads, dull and blemished skin. This allows your skin to promote skin cell turnover, smooth rough patches and fade out acne scars and hyperpigmentation.

Also, the following skincare products penetrate deeply into skin which maximizes the effectiveness of your skin care routine. You don’t have to exfoliate every night but two or three times a week should do the trick. It’s better to start slowly adding exfoliation to your routine if you don’t currently exfoliate in order to see how your skin handles it!

There are two ways of exfoliating your skin – physical and chemical exfoliants. The first method requires rubbing or scrubbing skin with products using hands or skin care tools such as sponge, towel, brush.

The chemical exfoliators use gentle exfoliating acids such as AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids - glycolic acid, lactic acid), BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acids – salicylic acid), PHA (Poly Hydroxy Acids), and enzymes to dissolve “glue” substances that binds dead skin cells together, revealing radiant, soft, brighter skin. 

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Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

A mild chemical exfoliator gently eliminates dead skin cells and blackheads, reduces clogged impurities and excess sebum. Formulated with 4% natural BHA and 67.8% willow bark water to smooth bumpy and rough patch of skin and strengthen the skin barrier for clear soft skin. Enriched with Niacinamide(vitamin B3) that brightens the skin tone and lightens hyperpigmentation, dark spots on face.

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Huxley Sweet Therapy Scrub Mask

This is 2-in-one skincare products that blend an exfoliating scrub and a face mask. It gently slough away dead skin cells, excess sebum, and clogged impurities from pores without stripping your skin of its natural oils. Formulated with naturally derived ingredients such as Sucrose, walnut shell powder, and Sahara's cactus extracts and prickly pear seed oil.

4. Toners

Korean toners differ from astringent toners that dry out your skin. It’s all about hydrating and restoring the skin’s optimal pH balance while preparing skin to absorb the next treatment steps for maximal benefits. Many products are formulated with natural ingredients or humectants like hyaluronic acid to retain moisture.

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Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner

Enriched with 91.3% milk vetch root extract in a place of purified water which is rich in mineral and vitamins. Thanks to fine particles from root extract, this best-selling Korean toner penetrates deep into the skin, This face toner helps detoxify and protect skin from free radicals with anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, anti-aging properties.

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Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner

This antioxidant-rich toner helps relieve skin stress, irritation and revitalize your skin with botanical ingredients. Made of EWG-green grade ingredients, 80% of green tea extract from Jeju Island, an island of South Korea. Green tea is high in Amino Acid, Antioxidants, Minerals, Vitamin C, Polyphenol that help nourish and soothe dull, inflamed skin. Formulated with allantoin, natural extracts, hyaluronic acid, and Centella Asiatica extract, keeping your skin moisturized.

5. Essences

Facial essence works as a primer for subsequent products like serums, ampoules, and moisturizers. Light in weight and fast-absorbing, they work to penetrate the deeper layers of skin than most of heavier molecular weight creams, making the skin ready to absorb all the goodness of your next beauty products. The consistency of the products varies from watery to viscous and you can choose them depending on your needs and objectives. 

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Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

Formulated with 96% Snail Secretion Filtrate, a powerful anti-aging ingredient known for improving uneven skin tone and stimulate the formation of collagen and elastin. Snail mucin is rich in multi-vitamins, proteins, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid, panthenol with antimicrobial properties which helps to keep acne-causing bacteria at bay while strengthening the skin barrier.

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Hyggee All-In-One Essence

This Korean beauty product simplified many steps of skin care regime into just one hydrating moisturizer. it's combined from toner, serum, and essence that provides intense hydration and repairing effects on dull skin. Formulated with birch sap and triple hyaluronic complex, which makes your skin supple, plump and deeply hydrated. With natural exfoliant, the skin tightening treatment gently exfoliates dead skin cells and clean excess sebum and impurities.

6. Sheet Masks

Sheet mask selfies are everywhere these days on social media - Instagram, Facebook and even you can see celebrities like Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, and K-pop band BTS using face masks. They’re spreading the beauty buzz about the benefits of these sheet masks. 

Korean cotton sheet masks are face-shaped, soaked in unique active ingredients, helping skin supercharge moisture and nutrients in as little as 15 mins – Perfect for a quick and easy self-care ritual.

How to use sheet masks? After cleansing and toning, apply on your face for 15-20 minutes. People are often confused when to use the masks before or after toners – Toner helps cleanse any purities left after cleansing and preps skin for better skin absorption of the mask. Face masks are like an “a la carte” version of skin essence, so you can use them in the place of the essence. 

How often to use sheet masks? Some Koreans use “1 Day 1 Mask” and this beauty trend has reached all over the world and you may have seen that bloggers, YouTubers, and Reddit users have done several “Using a sheet mask everyday challenges”.

You can use these masks daily or weekly depends on your skin types and preference. A helpful tip – Don’t leave it on longer than the instructed time which can cause a reversal effect. The dry mask will start to try to suck moisture out from your skin.

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Innisfree My Real Squeeze Mask Acai Berry

This sheet mask is made of fresh-squeezed Acai berry, a powerful antioxidant and full of nutrients to protect tired skin against harmful external stimulants, free radicals. Formulated with Jeju green complex - green tea, tangerine, cactus, camellia leaves, and orchid and the active ingredients are extracted using ‘cold brew squeeze process’ at low temperature, to ensure all the nutrients are completely included.

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Tony Moly I'm Real Lemon Mask Sheet Brightening

A hydrating Korean mask is rich in Vitamin C to brighten and even out your skin tone while moisturizing! The mask sheet is made of a 3-layer pulp for optimal delivery and absorption of its water-type essence to your skin for maximal results. Free of Paraben, benzophenone, triethanolamine, talc. and color additives.

7. Treatments (Serums/ampoules/boosters/Spot Creams) 

This facial treating step is the essential core of Korean beauty and it’s all about finding the best high-concentrated serums or ampoules for your personalized skin issues or desires.

You should pay attention to active ingredients that target specific benefits from acne treatment, skin brightening, dehydration, and anti-aging.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) to brighten, even out skin tone, peptides, retinols and niacinamide (vitamin B3) to fight signs of aging, Benzoyl Peroxide to sooth acne, snail mucin to fade acne scars, hyperpigmentation, AHAs BHAs PHAs to exfoliate dead skin cells.

A useful tip to follow is to start with products that have the thinnest consistency to thickest (i.e. water based to oil based) as this will allow them to deliver potent ingredients into the skin more effectively.                               

If you use any types of topical spot treatment to blitz acne breakouts or lighten scars, this is the time you can apply them as they are more highly concentrated formulas targeted to deliver deep into the skin. The products applied first to the is skin absorbed to the fullest, so a specialized treatment such as an Acne product can benefit from being applied sooner.

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Liz K Super First C Serum Pure Vitamin 13%

Formulated with 13% pure Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) and 10 powerful anti-aging ingredients including Fullerenes (Nobel Prize-winning) and Tocopherol, this antioxidant-rich bomb helps brighten and even out skin tone, diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentations, fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots on skin, giving your youthful-looking complexion back!

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The Plant Base Time Stop Collagen Ampoule 

Formulated with 76.53% Mushroom Extract(Hericium Erinaceum and 3 other types of natural mushrooms)- that boosts collagen production which increases firmness and elasticity to the skin while smoothening fine lines and wrinkles to lift and diminish signs of aging. Several key ingredients are combined for maximum benefit - Sodium Hyaluronate(hyaluronic acid) and Panthenol for hydration, Centella Asiatica (aka Cica!) and Aloe to soothe and repair skin.

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Urang Brightening Blue Oil Serum 

Formulated with a powerful skin brightening ingredient, alpha-bisabolol, which is known for helping inhibit melanin synthesis and stimulate collagen production. Features organic German Chamomile essential oil, Camellia Sinensis seed oil(green tea) which contains soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps relieve redness and irritation whilst brightening skin and lighten hyperpigmentation/dark spots on skin.

8. Eye Creams 

The skin around the eyes is thin, delicate and more easily dehydrated, so it’s usually first to show signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, dark circles, and eye bags. The Korean eye cream helps keep them at bay and stay moisturized while brightening and smoothing out skin.      

When to apply eye creams? If your eye cream is lightweight and thinner than your moisturizer, it should be applied before moisturizer; however, if it’s richer and thicker than it should go out on top. The best way to ensure the right order of your skincare steps is to check the instructions of the packages.                

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Benton Fermentation Eye Cream

Benton vegan eye cream helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and keeps skin firm and supple. Formulated with Galactomyces ferment filtrate, Bifida Ferment Lysate, sh-Oligopeptide-1, and Ceramides to help repair damaged, dull skin and brighten, plump, and hydrate the eye area for brighter, more younger-look.

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Aromatica Rose Absolute Eye Cream

Plant-based eye cream helps protect against signs of aging and dark circles around the eye area. Formulated with natural Bulgarian rose oil, organic aloe vera leaf extract, organic argan oil, and organic shea butter to help strengthen the skin's natural moisture barrier and smoothen the delicate eye area while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

9. Moisturizers/Face Oils/Night Cream 

This is a stage where you seal the deal for all the goodness you’ve applied earlier - like vitamin C serum, snail mucin essence, etc. How to find the right moisturizers for your skin? There are different types of moisturizing agents – humectants, emollients and occlusive, so choose moisturizers based on your skin type and needs.                               

The best moisturizer for oily skin is a water-based, oil-free, non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic products - lightweight gels and emulsions formulated with salicylic acid. For dry skin, look for oil-based creams, lotions but avoid products with alcohol and fragrance. Occlusives are particularly great for very dry skin types and those who have eczema but should be avoided if your skin is prone to acne. Great moisturizers are designed to moisturize (with humectants), soften and nourish (with emollients) and keep all those on your skin (with occlusives).

When to use face oils? Apply oils to seal in moisture at the very last step in your regimen as oils are the most occlusive ingredients in your routine. If you’re using natural oils that are lightweight then you may consider using oils first with your serums. 

We recommend using a heavier night cream in your night routine to provide deep hydration and nourishment to your skin during the night. For the night, before a big day or simply feeling like enjoying some self-care, use overnight packs twice or three times a week to give your skin radiance and glow. What is the difference between night creams and sleep masks? Night creams are moisturizers that are typically thicker than daytime creams and formulated with ingredients like retinol, which is best used at night. Sleeping masks are filled with higher potency ingredients and provide better efficacies than night creams.  

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Huxley Secret of Sahara Cream More Than Moist

This ultra-hydrating facial moisturizer helps replenishes lost moistures and nourishment on your skin. With anti-aging potent, it helps strengthens the skin's barrier against free radicals. Enriched with organic prickly pear seed oil and cactus extracts from the Sahara desert which contain high concentrations of antioxidants and hydrating properties.

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Pyunkang Yul Nutrition Cream

This nutrient-rich face cream has a thicker and creamier consistency without feeling heavy or greasy. Infused with milk vetch root extract which contains anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties that help detoxify skin and protect from free radicals that cause fine lines, wrinkles and age spots - making skin soft and supple.

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Aromatica Organic Rosehip Oil

This facial oil is made of ECOCERT certified and 100% USDA approved organic rosehip fruit oil. It is pure cold-pressed and extracted from organic-harvested premium rosehip fruit. This plant based oil deeply moistures, nourishes dull, dry and damaged skin with Vitamin A, Omega 3, 6 and 9. The organic oil is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids which protect the skin from free radical and boosts the revitalization of skin

10. Sunscreens/SPF 

Sun protection is non-negotiable and the most crucial role in Korean beauty, the SPF protects your skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays – UVA and UVB rays.

If you have dry skin, you can use cream-type sunblocks and for oily skin, try to find water-based or gel-type sunscreens that have control oil productions or matte finish. If your skin is sensitive and prone to breakouts, use non-comedogenic SPF products without alcohol, fragrances, oxybenzone, and salicylates.

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Missha All Around Safe Block Sebum Zero Sun EX 50+/PA+++

A mattifying daily sunscreen has an advanced double-layer polymer system that stays in place for longer through sweat, water, and heat to protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays. It helps prevent sunburn & can reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed with other sun protection measures.

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Heimish Artless Glow Base SPF 50 PA+++

This makeup base with SPF gives a luxurious glossy, bright and natural radiant effect with a shining pearl formula while refining skin texture for a smooth and makeup-ready face. This tone up primer works as a sunscreen to protect skin from exposure of the sun/UV rays and provides important hydration that primes the skin for makeup.

5-Step Korean Skin Care Routine for Skin Type?

If the 10-step Korean skincare routine sounds too overwhelming, you can start with 5-steps and add more products(steps) when you feel comfortable. We'd like to share simple routines that are created for different skin types. If you're not sure about your skin type, you can refer to our blog post- How To Identify Your Skin Types and Care For Each?

Dry Skin

No more itchy, flaky, bumpy, or have red dry patches! The key to establishing a great daily face care regimen for dry skin is to help minimize tight, itchy skin. Choose hydrating formulas and ingredients for soft, smooth, healthy-looking skin. Here are 5 easy skincare steps, including double cleansing cleansers, toner, essence, and using a face moisturizer. These beauty steps help replenish the barrier, so that water stays in place, leaving your skin plump, supple, and more radiant.  

⭐️  5 Step Everyday Regimen For Dry Skin

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👉  Shop Now: 5 Step Set For Dry Skin 


Oily Skin

Are you prone to dead skin cell build-up, blackheads, and clogged pores? Does makeup melt off your face? You may have oily skin and you'll need products that help keep excess shine at bay and reduce acne breakouts while making your skin matte throughout the day. We've curated the most invest-worthy beauty products that help get your oily skin under control and get the clear, dewy-but-not-shiny look you're aiming for. With the help of two cleansers, a toner, a treatment, and an oil-free face lotion.  

⭐️  5 Step AM & PM Regimen For Oily Skin

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 👉  Shop Now: 5 Step Set For Oily Skin

1. Banila Co Clean It Zero Revitalizing
2. Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
3. Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
4. Pyunkang Yul Moisture Ampoule
5. Cosrx Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap

Combination Skin

Find a balance and say bye bye to tricky combo skin. This skin type needs careful treatment as it partially feels oily, especially in the t-zone but dry and flaky other areas. We've rounded up the routine consists of products that serve a dual purpose — hydrating dry skin and regulating excess sebum production.

⭐️  5 Step Daily Routine For Combination Skin

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👉  Shop Now: 5 Step Set For Combination Skin

1. Heimish All Clean Balm
2. COSRX Low pH Goodmorning Gel Cleanser
3. Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
4. COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

5. Pyunkang Yul Moisture Cream

Sensitive Skin

Struggling with negative reactions like stings, burns, or turning red when you try new beauty products? Sensitive skin types require extra caution and attention when it comes to designing your skincare steps. These five products are carefully selected to be efficacious yet gentle. All of those are made of safe natural ingredients without any harmful chemicals.

⭐️  5 Step Routine For Delicate Skin

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👉  Shop Now: 5 Step Set For Delicate Skin

1. Urang Natural Cleansing Oil
2. Aromatica Sea Daffodil Cleansing Mousse
3. COSRX Centella Water Alcohol-Free Toner
4. Aromatica Rose Absolute First Serum
5. Olivarrier Emollient Extra Comfort Cream

5-Step Korean Skin Care for Vegan & Cruelty-Free

This beauty routine is for those who like to extend their veganism to their skin care routine and enjoy plant-based, non-toxic, and cruelty-free products. Sometimes, it's not easy to navigate those particular needs, especially in the Korean beauty world but we've made this skincare set for your pleasant daily experience. Treat your skin with these five green K-beauty items for healthy and glass skin.

⭐️  5 Step Vegan & Cruelty-Free Beauty Routine

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