The 10 Step Korean Skincare Routine

Step 1: The Eye Makeup Removal
Remove your eye makeup gently with good makeup remover, because expecting a normal cleanser to do a detailed job is what leaves you with week-old mascara on your lashes. And the last thing you want to do is tug the skin around your eyes, because, like most things in life, it will hold up better if you treat it gingerly. Also, use it to remove any long-wear lipstick.

Step 2: The Cleanse
Rule of thumb is, if you’re going to spend 30 minutes putting on your face, you should spend the same amount of time are take the same amount of care when cleaning it off. Use an oil cleanser and use gentle, circular motions with your fingers to massage and clean off that foundation and BB cream. Koreans believe that massaging the face increases circulation, which equals brighter skin.

Step 3: The Exfoliator
Exfoliating with a natural scrub  really brings your skin back to its glory days when it was as soft as a baby’s butt. Twice a month is plenty, just concentrate on the t-zone or where blackheads frequent. When it comes to facial exfoliation, Korean women often believe less is more.

Step 4: The Refresher
What we in America think of as “toning’ is an essential step. It’s believed to help remove pollutants along with any residue from your cleansers, while also restoring your skin’s pH balance. It soothes and preps your skin to absorb the next step—the essence. I’ve found Korean toners are less harsh and drying than other kinds that I’ve tried, which is maybe why they’re called “refreshers.” And they’re made from more interesting ingredients. Dispense the toner onto a cotton pad and wipe your face and neck—and don’t be surprised at the dirty streak left on the pad.

Step 5: The Essence
Considered the most important step to Korean women, yet still a mystery to many. Soak your face in Essence. It affects skin on a cellular level, speeding your cell turnover rate which makes skin smoother and brighter. I’ve had the most noticeable results from adding this this to my regimen.

Step 6: The Ampoule
Ampoules are super-concentrated versions of essences, and are often referred to as serums and boosters out West. See, we’re not that different.) which helps brighten skin, fading sunspots, and smoothing fine lines.

Step 7: The Sheet Mask
Sheet masks are a twice-a-week ritual, or more if your face is very dry. The fun is in the variety; some masks contain avocado extracts (containing tons of antioxidants) or Vitamin E (anti-aging). The secret to sheet masks? They force your skin to absorb the nutrients and moisture better than if you just applied a cream or serum—before the product has a chance to evaporate. The immediate effects are addicting, after one use your face is slightly more plump and much brighter due to all the moisture your skin just absorbed.

Step 8: The Eye Cream
This is a self-explanatory product, but take note of the technique. Gently tap the Eye Cream around the eye area. This leads to better absorption of the product, and of course eliminates any of that tugging and pulling.

Step 9: The Moisturizer
Really, another layer? If you haven’t noticed, Korean women are all about layering, to the point you feel your skin has been mummified. Again, generously massage the Emulsion (the Korean translation for “moisturizer’) with gentle strokes so that it really, truly, penetrates into your skin.

Step 10: The Night Cream
By this point your face feels like a 6-tiered cream cake and your skin has major shine—or as Korean women like to call it, a dewy, “moist glow.” The point is, your skin needs to stay hydrated as you recharge overnight. The next big thing in Korean skincare is the use of fermented ingredients and again pure collagen. If it’s morning time, skip this and go straight to a BB cream or a product with plenty of SPF.