10-Step Korean Beauty Routine


If you have skimmed through Pinterest, read a beauty based article in almost any magazine, walked through Ulta, or watched a skincare related YouTube video then you have probably noticed the new trend taking over: Korean beauty. The American market is constantly beginning to introduce more and more Korean brands onto our shelves while American based brands are playing copycat and producing their own versions of these innovations into their product lines. But what is Korean beauty and how is it any different? K-beauty is based around the idea of clear, youthful, dewy looking skin with different products focused on different results. But don’t think this youthful glow is as easy as it looks. Along with all these cool, new premiere products, Korean beauty is also about the 10-step regimen. Yes, you heard me right, 10 steps!

Everyone wants to glow from within and look 25 while they are well in their 40’s but here’s some things to remember before starting the transition. Take it one or two steps at a time. Your skin may react to different products and if you change up your routine too fast or with too many new products you may not know which product is actually causing the reaction. Also, as Alicia Yoon tells Glossy, “Skincare really needs to be adjusted to both your personal lifestyle and the seasons. I would encourage people to experiment a lot, be adventurous, but be observant about what’s really working during the summer months and what’s working during the winter months. And how your skin is reacting to things as you age and as your lifestyle changes.” Also remember that not all steps need to be done everyday so don’t get discouraged! With that being said, let’s get down and dirty with all 10 steps!

(1) Oil Based Cleanser

First step in the K-beauty routine is a small amount of an oil based cleanser. Throughout the day makeup settles, sebum is released, and toxins sink into your pores. Oil based cleansers will clean deep down and it is important to rid your skin of all that. Farmacy Clear Bloom is currently on my vanity and I have no complaints while REN Rosa Centofolia Cleansing Balm is my favorite.

How to use: Apply 1-3 pumps of cleanser straight onto dry face. Massage in. After about 1 minute add water and continue to massage. Wipe off with a warm cloth.


(2) Water Based Cleanser

Once all the oil based cleanser is removed, go in with a water based cleanser such as Too Cool for School Egg Mouse Soap or Farmhouse Fresh Green Tea Milk Wash (available at Salt). Why 2 you ask? Because believe it or not one cleanse is not enough to get rid of all the grime. A double cleanse is a standard practice in all my facials and the Korean’s took this into the home. Water based cleansers are usually foaming but not enough to strip your skin.

How to use: Apply to wet skin. Massage until foamed and rinse with warm water.


(3) Exfoliation

Whether it is physical or chemical, exfoliation is what is sloughing off all the dead skin cells from your face. This in turn helps cell turnover, diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, and gives your skin extra glow. This is also a crucial step for anyone acne prone. This step is definitely not for everyday but is important to include 1-2 times a week for upkeep of youthful skin. For a more intense exfoliation session try a chemical peel or derma-planing during your next facial!

How to use: (chemical) Most chemical exfoliators that can be bought across the counter are in wipe form. Apply to dry face, let sit for amount of time suggested on package and cleanse away with damp cloth. (physical) Apply the grainy, beady exfoliator to damp skin and work into skin in circular motion. Make sure to get the crevices of your nose and chin which are normally the most congested. Cleanse away with damn, warm cloth.


(4) Toner

In the past toners were used to make sure every last bit of dirt and grime and makeup remanence were off your face but since technology and the beauty world has upgraded.  Now, toners are used to help balance your skin’s pH balance. Healthy skin is slightly acidic and most cleansers are alkaline. Toners also help add moisture back into your skin after stripping it from the cleansing process. The most popular Korean toner on the market today is the Caudalie beauty elixir. It is formulated with grape extract and other natural ingredients that add an immediate radiance boost.

How to use: Spray straight onto face or apply into hands and pat onto face. Let dry before applying more products.


(5) Essence

Hands down, this is the newest K-beauty trend to hit our market and it has taken over in a large way. The point of an essence is prep your skin to better absorb products. As an esthetician it is insane to me that it took us this long to jump on this trend. Our skin acts as a sponge when we apply products. If we have dry, brittle skin little product absorption will occur, but when our skin is prepped and moisturized products sink in without problem. All essences are made for all skin types, easy to use, and profoundly full of active ingredients. May Coop Raw Sauce is a go-to for newbies and age old K-beauty followers.

How to use: Apply a couple drops to a cotton pad or round. Sweep onto face in an upward motion from neck to forehead. Pat in until fully absorbed.


(6) Serums and Treatments

Whatever your skin problem, there is a serum to help with it. You can alway contact me and ask for my suggestions or Sephora makes it easy to find a specific treatment for each skin concern. No matter what your skin looks like, once you hit 20 you should always have either a vitamin C or vitamin A (a natural version of retinol) serum, or if you’re a skin care junkie like me then you can invest in both. Mad Hippie is one that I purchased from Salt and have been using for months. I can definitely tell my skin is brighter and more youthful.

How to use: Apply to hands and massage onto dry face morning and/or night.


(7) Mask


The mask you use, again, depends on your skin and it’s needs. It also is another step that is not included everyday. Mask are packed with ingredients and only need to stay on between 5-20 minutes. This is also a great time to relax and let your skin absorb all the goodness. The most popular mask in Korean skincare is by far the sheet mask. I love the Tony Moly variety pack for a cheaper buy and the Dr Jart+ for a more intense option. However, my skin is pretty moisturized most of the time which is why I turn to the Farmhouse Fresh Peat Perfection mask. It calms my redness, purifies my skin, and helps clear up any nasty pimples.

How to use: Apply mask in an even layer, or lay across face (sheet mask) and leave on for desired amount of time. Slight sensations may occur but should only last about the first 2 minutes. Rinse off with warm water. Remember to also use up any extra serum from the sheet mask bag.


(8) Eye Cream

Eye Creams are all about prevention. It is so hard to treat any skin under the eye for a condition especially one that should have never come up. So, pick a cream that is right for you. Where it is hydration, brightening, one that helps diminish under eye bags or dark circles, or even crows feet, there is always an eye cream on the market for everyone.

How to use: Apply a small pea sized dot onto ring finger and tap onto eye, starting outwards and moving inwards.


(9) Face Cream

You know how I keep saying that not all of these must be used everyday? Well this one is the exception. Moisture is one of the most important parts of skin care and for sure in Asian beauty, especially in these colder months. Even acne prone and oily skin needs a good moisturizer. Night creams can be a little heavier since your skin heals while you sleep and day creams stay on the lighter side since you will have makeup over top. So, grab a cream and lock in that moisture!

How to use: Apply the moisturizer with your fingertips and massage in morning and night.


(10) Sunscreen

We did it, we have hit the last hooray in the K-Beauty 10 step routine! Although I hope you are already using a sunscreen, let me just remind you about the importance. Makeup with sunscreen is not enough to block out all those UVA and UVB rays. Just walking to our cars is enough sunlight to cause damage. My choice is always a physical sunscreen which bounces the rays off your skin, as oppose to a chemical which absorbs the rays. UVA and UVB each cause different problems to your beautiful skin and are the main signs of aging in adults today. Every morning should start with a cup of coffee and end with a good sunscreen!

How to use: Apply a generous amount to face, neck, and decollate and wait for it to e absorbed.


written by: mary

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