Korean skincare combines innovative technology and ancient traditions to produce mind-boggling results. The 10-Step routine is actually a lifestyle that has become a global phenomenon. The steps are the answer to Korea’s cultural obsession with healthy skin and is heavily backed by decades of scientific advancement.
“It may sound extensive, but most Korean women use an 8 and 10-step skincare routine each and every day to help keep their skin looking healthy and beautiful. Although it’s quite a bit of work compared to the average skincare regime, their effort does not go unnoticed – these women take pride in knowing they have some of the best skin in the world!”~Korean beauty and lifestyle blogger of Sorabelle.com, Vicky Leeone to Cosmopolitan.
The focus of the skincare routine is not about having more products but rather about finding the perfect products to target your needs and using them in the right order. The ten steps can be broken down into four parts: Cleanse, Prep, Nourish, and Protect.
1. MAKEUP REMOVER & OIL CLEANSER
Oil cleansers are an integral part of Korean skincare. It is the first step of the double-cleansing method. Oil cleansers remove makeup and draw out other oil-based impurities like sebum, SPF, and pollution. It breaks down oil-based debris such as makeup and sunscreen and should be used in the morning and night.
To effectively use an oil cleanser one should gently massage into dry skin before adding lukewarm water to emulsify the cleanser before rinsing it off. When choosing an oil cleanser look for ingredients like Macadamia oil, Jojoba oil, and Grapeseed oil to avoid comedogenic oils like coconut oil.
2. Water-Based Cleanser
The second step of the double cleansing method is using a foaming cleanser. This double cleanse method has been recommended by aestheticians and dermatologists as it ensures that all impurities that can cause breakouts have been removed from the skin. Water-based cleansers dissolve any water-based impurities such as dirt and sweat that would not be cleaned off the skin by oil cleansers. Like the oil cleanser, this should be used morning and night.
Use a small amount of cleanser, wet it, and foam it up in your hands before applying it to the damp face and neck. Then massage in a circular motion ensuring to massage the entire face before rinsing with lukewarm water. Look for ingredients like Ginkgo, Green tea, Rice extract, and Pearl extract.
The third step in the routine is exfoliation. This can be either a physical or chemical exfoliator. It helps clean pores and slough off dead skin cells to brighten skin and smooth out the texture. Regular exfoliation also allows other skincare products to absorb more effectively.
The skin should be gently exfoliated 1-2 times a week. Special attention should be paid to the nose area and visible pores on the cheeks. Good ingredients to look for in an exfoliator include black sugar, salicylic acid, and lactic acid.
The fourth step falls under prep as toners remove any leftover residue from cleansers and also repair the skin’s barrier. This ensures that the skin will effectively absorb moisturizer. Like a sponge, the skin is more difficult to rehydrate when it is dried and hardened than when it is slightly damp.
Toners also balance moisture and pH levels. The best way to use toners is to use a cotton pad and swipe the product across the face or pat gently into the skin using hands. Some of the best ingredients to have in a toner include aloe, licorice, and citric acid.
Essences are a lightweight but concentrated blend of hydrating, anti-aging, and complexion-enhancing ingredients. A good essence will hydrate and aid in cell turnover.
The best way to use an essence is to sprinkle a small amount into hands and lightly pat it into the face and neck. Some good ingredients to look for in an essence include rice extract, birch juice, hyaluronic acid, and yeast.
The sixth step revolves around boosters, serums, and ampoules. These are concentrated formulas that are believed to be skin perfectors. They are often packed with the best ingredients to target specific skin concerns such as acne, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation.
The best way to use them is to apply it directly to the problem areas it is intended to treat by gently tap into the skin and focus on areas affected by skin concern. Depending on your skin concerns, some effective ingredients in treatments include soybeans, tea tree, and Vitamin C.
7. Sheet Masks
Sheet masks are often referred to as the soul of Korean skincare. The sheet when in prolonged contact with your face allows the skin to fully absorb the nutrients and moisture. Sheet masks also promote relaxation while infusing your skin with concentrated essence.
To get the best results it is important to smooth the mask onto clean skin and relax for 15-20 minutes. After removing the mask pat in the excess essence. Some good ingredients to look for in sheet masks are cucumber, green tea, and rose.
8. Eye Cream
The skin around the eyes is the thinnest. This makes the area the most delicate area on the face. Using an intensive eye cream regularly helps to reduce dark circles, puffiness, and crow’s-feet. Eye creams are specially formulated and concentrated to be extremely gentle and non-irritating while still being effective.
The best way to apply eye cream is to use the third finger or pinkie to gently tap the product around the entire orbital bone while avoiding the waterline. Never rub or pull in the area. Beneficial ingredients to look for include honey, ginseng, and lily.
Moisturizers are varied and come in many forms. Korean skincare users can choose between emulsion, lotion, gel, cream, and sleeping masks depending on the needs of the skin and time of day. Moisturizer is important to seal in moisture, plump up the skin, and smooth fine lines.
To get the best results, gently pat the formula into your face and neck morning and night, every day. Moisturizing ingredients to look for include bamboo, hyaluronic acid, Centella Asiatica (cica), snail mucin, and green tea.
10. SPF or Facial Oil
Sunscreen is often considered the most important step in the routine and stressed by Koreans. It should be worn every day even if you will be inside. Wearing sunscreen regularly protects the skin from damaging UV rays and prevents premature aging.
Sunscreen should be the last step in the day time routine as it acts as a shield and should not be diluted by additional products. Gently pat sunscreen into the face and neck as the last step of the morning routine and remember to re-apply throughout the day. Look for sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
In the night, this step can be replaced with a facial oil to seal in the moisture from the previous. Face oils are known to seal in moisture and can assist with smoothing lines, soothing the skin, and encourage healing.
The right face oil can help balance skin. Good oils to use to help with healing or dark marks are blackcurrant oil and rosehip oil.
Worried that you are messing up the routine and need to test your skills? Take this quiz to see if you’ve got the hang of it.