With Korean culture gaining more and more popularity overseas, it comes as to no surprise that their hauntingly flawless complexion has become increasingly sought after by media-conscious women. And honestly speaking, who wouldn’t want perfect skin?
That said, most would balk as soon as they hear that the Korean beauty routine consists of 10 daunting steps. Ouch! That’s more than three times the standard we’re used to.
There really isn’t any need to feel intimidated by it, though. It may consist of 10 steps, but contrary to popular belief, these aren’t practiced everyday. Most days would require 7 steps or less; it depends on what works for your skin.
Here is the low down on the infamous beauty regimen:
1. Cleansing Oil
The first step to cleaning your skin is to get rid of all of the environmental gunk that has piled up on your face. This is where the nifty cleansing oil comes in. From dirt to grime to make up, this product will melt away these impurities, leaving your skin clean without stripping it of precious moisture.
And if you find the idea of using oil to clean your face strange, you aren’t alone! Ever since we’ve known about skincare, we’ve been taught that oil is terrible and that it should be done away with. It really isn’t all that bad, though. At least not this one.
In this case, cleansing oil is your buddy, especially in the double-cleansing method. It’s here to gently pull dirt away from your skin, just so your foam cleanser could work all the more effectively afterwards.
2. Foam Cleanser
Now, this is something just about everyone is familiar with. In the standard Cleanse-Tone-Moisturise routine, this plays the main role in cleansing.
In the Korean beauty routine, however, it plays the second.
While it might sound unnecessary, the double-cleansing method actually has a lot of merit to it. I’m sure that with the standard regimen, most of us have experienced feeling that our skin isn’t clean even after using a foam cleanser- and in order to really wash all of that grime away, we choose to cleanse it a second time. Big mistake.
Because what you’re left with is uncomfortably tight skin that is stripped of moisture. This might sound harmless, but it could lead your skin to working in overdrive to produce more oil. Not good.
What the double-cleansing method does is provide you with that same level of cleanliness without dryness.
3. * Facial Scrub
Not for daily use. Our skin is constantly shedding, and in order to avoid dead skin cell build up, we need to exfoliate once every 3-4 days. Once a week for those with dry and or sensitive skin.
This not only helps with skin cell renewal, it will also unclog pores and reveal a brighter, glowing complexion. An important step, exfoliating ensures that the products you use later on will penetrate your skin more easily.
Note: Do not exfoliate everyday. This will only aggravate your skin and cause it to break out.
Toning was something I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with during my highschool years. On one hand, it was oh so satisfying to see dirt picked up by the soaked cotton pad; it made me feel as though my skin was super clean. On the other end of the spectrum, I hated it because toners tended to dry out my skin, leaving me with botched red, peeling skin. Gorgeous.
Nowadays, I’ve noticed that toners are a lot less drying, to the point that they are more on the hydrating side. In fact, their purpose is to restore the pH level of your skin as well as prep it to better absorb the products that follow suit.
Considered the heart of the Korean beauty routine, essence is kind of a mix of a toner and a serum in one. Its consistency can be compared to a toner; slightly thicker, but still very runny.
I’ve not had the pleasure of using this often as there weren’t many sold where I live -keyword, weren’t. Things are improving!- and the ones that were on the market were either ridiculously expensive or cheap. I tend to avoid the latter because my skin is a bit of a diva; it tends to break out horribly with cheap products.
That said, when I do include this in my routine, the results are quite significant. Essence basically helps with hydration, skin repair and cell turnover.
6. Serum & * Ampoule
It’s time for a treatment! These babies are designed to target specific skin concerns. From problems with pigmentation to fine lines to dry skin, you are spoiled for choice on the market.
What is the main difference between a serum and an ampoule though? The difference lies in the levels of concentration between the two. Ampoules are basically the more powerful, effective cousin of serums, meant to give your skin a boost overnight.
But wait! Before you start reaching for ampoules, bear in mind that these can only be used once in awhile. This is due to their levels of concentration. Apply them too often and they’d wreak havoc on your skin.
For me, using ampoules once every 3-4 days is my sweet spot. The duration between each use might be longer for others. It all depends on what suits you best.
Serums should be used daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Note: For better absorption, products should be applied in the order of from least viscous to the most. Therefore on days you’re using an ampoule, it should go on before your serum. It can stand alone if smoothing on both at the same time is too much for your skin.
7. * Sheet Mask
Can be used daily, if you wish (though I’ve yet to try this daily style of masking!). Because of my oily, acne prone skin and not to mention budget, I usually opt for clay masks instead of sheet masks. The latter is more of a rare treat for me, but let me say that if not for the reasons stated, I would go for them a heck of a lot more. My experiences with sheet masks are generally positive, and the results are totally worth it.
These are meant to deliver a powerful punch of ingredients to your skin, designed to target specific concerns. Think of them as amped up serums in the form of soaked sheets.
Note: If you’re planning on opting for a clay mask instead, slip it in your routine right after you exfoliate.
8. Eye Cream
If you have any undereye concerns, this is the product to aim for. With the number of beauty companies out there, there is a huge range of eye creams on the shelves, each made to address different issues. These creams most commonly take care of fine lines, hydration and dark circle woes.
It is worthy to note that this is a product you’d have to be willing to spend a bit more on. Cheap options rarely work.
Tip: Because of how fragile the skin around your eyes are, use your ring finger to tap the cream in. Never rub, tug or pull. This is to avoid the formation of premature wrinkles.
It is always, always, always important to keep your skin properly hydrated. To put into perspective just how vital this is, take note that skin lacking in hydration will not only appear duller, it will also feel uncomfortably tight, peel and form premature wrinkles. Yikes! Definitely not something you want, right?
To avoid a cracked complexion, and to one day obtain that much vied youthful, dewy Korean skin, never forget to apply moisturiser. This will both hydrate and lock in the work you gained from previous steps.
If there is a single step that you absolutely must not miss out on aside from the standard Cleanse-Tone-Moisturise, it is applying sunscreen.
This not only plays a huge role in protecting you from nasty burns and skin cancer, it also plays a role in anti-aging. That’s right. The sunscreen you apply will help prevent premature aging, so unless you want to be introduced to wrinkles early, get to smoothing some on.
For this, I personally recommend Biore’s UV Perfect Milk SPF50+. Non-sticky and super lightweight, it’ll feel like you’re not wearing any sunscreen at all.
And that’s a wrap!
Phew! That was one exhaustive list. But I suppose that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Because not only do Koreans see flawless skin as a sign of beauty and health, they sincerely do enjoy these rituals. A stark contrast to their Western counterparts, and let’s face it, a good chunk of the Asian region too!
If you’re all for it though, be ready for your wallet to take a blow because it can get expensive.
Tip: If you’re going to dive into this hefty skincare routine, it would be best to introduce each new step one by one. This is so it would be much easier to spot which product isn’t working for you.
Have any questions? Ask away!
Edited on 26th June 2017.