Westerners are beginning to realize the benefits of Korean-style skin care habits. Skin care is different in Korea because they place extra emphasis on layering lots of different products, using innovative ingredients, many of which we aren’t used to using here in the west. They also value being very gentle to the skin. Taking great care of your complexion is even more important than your makeup. Undergoing a long Korean skin care routine every night may sound like a lot of work. However, most people who try it say it actually doesn’t take up that much time. Give this 10-step skincare routine to feel the difference in how radiant, soft, and plump your skin is.

10 Steps in a Korean Skin Care Routine

1. Makeup Removal

Women and girls in Korea will typically apply light, youthful-looking makeup every morning. A typical look will include bb cream, blush, lip tint, eyeliner, and brow pencil. This dewy, fresh makeup look must be thoroughly removed every single night to prevent impurities from sullying the skin. To remove your makeup, first gently wipe away the larger portion of it with a cleansing wipe. Then, gently massage your face with a cleansing oil for a couple of minutes to loosen up any remaining makeup. Wipe off the oil with a tissue.


2. Cleansing

After you have removed your makeup, it’s time to really cleanse your face. You can do this in the shower or bath, if that works for you. Use a gentle foaming cleanser or milk cleanser to dissolve the remaining oil cleanser and impurities and wash them away. Rub the cleanser in circles around your face for no more than a minute, and rinse with warm water.

3. Exfoliation

In a Korean skin care routine, exfoliation is much more gentle and infrequent compared to Western-style skincare. Exfoliate your skin with a gentle facial scrub no more than twice a week. This is enough to remove dead skin cells and leave your skin smoother without treating your skin too harshly. Since the last step was to cleanse, your face is already clean. Over-cleansing will dry out your skin. So, use a facial scrub that does not double as a cleanser, which many Western facial scrubs do. If you want to use a two-in-one cleanser and scrub, don’t wash your face prior to this step.

4. Toner

Toner is a product that is well-known enough to Western audiences. However, toners tend to be more gentle in Korean skincare. You will often find toners under the name “refresher” in many Asian skincare brands. Gently wipe a cotton pad doused with the toner over your face, or spray it all over if the toner is in a spray format. The purpose of this step is to re-balance your skin’s pH after cleansing.


5. Essence

An essence is a light liquid that contains targeted ingredients meant for various skincare concerns. Depending on your skin, you may benefit from an anti-aging, acne-fighting, moisturizing, antioxidant, soothing, brightening, or plumping essence. Dab this product all over your face with your fingers.

6. Ampoule

An ampoule is much like an essence in terms of purpose, but ampoules are much more concentrated. They are practically the same thing as serums in Western skincare. Many practitioners of the Korean skincare routine use more than one essence and ampoule. After all, as mentioned earlier, layering many products is a mainstay of Korean skincare. As with essences, ampoules are gently applied to the face using your fingers.

7. Sheet Masks

Sheet masks consist of a sheet or pad that is wet with an essence. You stick the sheet onto your face and let the ingredients soak in for a few minutes. Unlike with other types of face masks, you don’t rinse these off. That’s why you can use sheet masks after you’ve already applied other products. Many sheet masks are meant to be moisturizing, while others are specialty masks for individual skin concerns.


8. Eye Cream

Since the skin around the eyes is thin and susceptible to wrinkles, it’s important to moisturize that area every night. A rich eye cream is gently applied to the upper and lower eyelids with a finger. By morning, your eyes will seem brighter and more youthful.

9. Moisturizer

Now that you’ve applied all of your active ingredients, it’s time to moisturize your skin. This is one of the most important steps, as moisture is what keeps your skin radiant and plump. Without moisturizer, your skin can become dull, tight-feeling, or crepey. Pick a moisturizer that’s appropriate for your skin type. Dry skin will benefit from a richer moisturizer, while if you have oily-skin you should pick an oil-free moisturizer.

10. Night Cream

Korean skincare culture calls night creams “sleeping packs”. You should apply these products at nighttime, after your regular moisturizer. The extra moisturization that sleeping packs provide will help your skin repair itself and become more radiant while you sleep. Just swipe the sleeping pack over all of your face, and then hit the hay! In the morning, however, the last step of your Korean skincare routine will be a good Asian sunscreen. Korean and other Asian sunscreens tend to be higher-quality than most Western sunscreens. They feel more natural on the skin and produce less white cast and excess shine.

The many steps outlined here will build upon on each other to produce maximum results. Plus, one of the great things about a Korean skincare routine is that it’s totally customizable. Each product in the routine is adaptable to suit your individual skin type and skin concerns. You can also mix-and-match products from your favorite brands, whether they’re Korean or Western. There are unlimited options, so give it a try!