The 10 Step Korean Skincare Routine That Transformed My Complexion

I in no way take the simple approach when it comes to my skincare routine. It’s my passion so I go all out. Not everything I do is essential to achieve beautiful clear skin, but hey be the Kim K of your passion, aka extra af!

I follow two general guidelines when it comes to skincare. First is a natural, non-toxic routine. I am aware that not all the products I use are completely natural and nontoxic, but I make a conscious effort to use products with amazing ingredients that are as close to that as possible.  The skin is the body’s largest organ and what we put on it is just as important as what we put in it.

The second skincare practice I follow is the 10-Step Korean Skincare routine. I know what you may be thinking. Ten steps?! Who the heck has time for that?! But hear me out.

Korean women and men are often known for their beautiful, glowy, poreless, dewy, smooth, mind-blowing blemish-free skin (I could keep going, but I’ll spare you). Skincare is a huge part of their culture. Some of the most innovative skincare products and regimens come out of Korea. After years of dealing with dry and blemish covered skin, adopting Korean beauty routines has changed my life and most importantly my complexion.

The 10 step routine is a process of layering skincare products on the skin in order of thinnest to thickest. This allows each product to absorb properly into the skin. Each step is meant to treat, heal, protect or hydrate the skin. The goal is to effectively tend to all different skin issues at one time.

If you’re new to skin care ten steps may sound threatening but you don’t have to use all ten steps every day. I want to give you the information to help you begin your journey to achieving beautiful, glowy, poreless, dewy, smooth, mind-blowing blemish-free skin.

So buckle up, and let’s get to it!

Step 1.  Remove Makeup & Oil Cleanse

Oil cleansers work to break up makeup and remove oil-based debris left on the skin that water cleansers are unable to remove. Oil cleansers are great because they don’t strip the skin of its natural oil but they are able to attract the oils on your skin and pull them out. Gently massage an oil-based cleanser into your skin to remove the day’s makeup and build up of excess sebum. Learn more about oil cleansing and how it’s done here.

Step 2. Water-Based Cleanser

Water-based cleansers remove any remaining water-based debits and impurities that are left after your oil cleanser. Use a water-based cleanser that won’t dry out your skin and rinse your face with lukewarm water (NEVER hot, as this strips the skin and will dry it out). Here is a complete guide to double cleansing.

Step 3 Exfoliate

This step doesn’t need to be done every time you go through your routine. It is possible to over exfoliate so learn to read your skin and exfoliate as you see fit. At a minimum, it is important to exfoliate at least one to two times a week to remove the build-up of dead skin cells and keep your skin clear and polished. Without this layer of dead skin cells, your products can better absorb into your skin and provide more benefits. To learn about the three different types of exfoliation click here.

Step 4. Tone

The main purpose of a toner is to balance the slightly acidic pH level of your skin (about 5.5) after using an alkaline cleanser or water. This is very important as when your skin’s pH is off balance the protective barrier around your skin is not as effective and can cause permanent damage. Toners also dampen the skin which allows your skin to absorb the rest of the products in your routine better and faster. You can apply toner using a cotton pad, toner spray, pressing it into your skin using your hand or all three (click here to learn about the 7 Skin Method, a multi-layer toner technique).

Step 5. Essence

Essence is often referred to the heart of Korean skincare as it not only hydrates but it also aids in skin repair and cell turnover. To apply an essence simply pour the product into your hand and press it into your face and neck. If you’re interested in learning more about essences click here.

Step 6. Serums & Ampoules

These are highly concentrated treatments that treat specific issues you’re concerned about. This is the step of your routine where you can specifically target your skin’s personal issues. Everything from aging to ance can be targeted through serums and ampoules. Here I explain the difference between them. Apply by pressing the product into your skin.

Step 7. Sheet Mask

Arguably the most popular skin care product to come out of Korea, sheet masks are great for providing your skin with extra hydration and maximum treatment. The “sheet” locks in the product and allows it to absorb deeply into your skin before it evaporates. All you have to do is place one on your skin for 15-20 minutes and relax while it does all the work. They can be used once or twice a week or every day if you desire. It all depends on your skin’s current needs. Here you can get the full 411 on sheet masking.

Step 8.  Eye Cream

The skin around the eyes is the most delicate and often shows the first signs of aging. Eye cream provides the delicate eye area with extra hydration and protection. Use your ring finger to tap the product around the eye, never rub as this can cause tugging that speeds up the formation of fine lines. Use an eye cream morning and night to receive maximum benefits.

Step 9. Moisturizer

Hydrated skin is healthy skin. You should be wearing moisturizer both day and night to keep your skin dewy and glowing. Moisturizers seal in moisture to plump the skin and smooth away any fine lines while giving your skin a luminous glow. If you’re dealing with dehydrated skin you may need to take this a step further and add in some extra hydration before you moisturize. This can be done by using hydrating serums or treatments that increase the moisture in your skin by pulling moisture from your surrounding environment. Here I broke down the difference between moisturizing and hydrating.

Step 10. Sun Protection

Last but certainly not least, sunscreen. Sunscreen should be worn every day even if you’re just sitting inside by a window or stepping out for a few minutes. It is the most effective way to prevent premature aging and skin damage. Sunscreen should be applied last in your routine so it can work its best at shielding your skin from UV rays and then reapplied every few hours as needed. Wear sunscreen on your face, neck, chest, ears, and hands as these are the areas first to show signs of aging.

And that’s a wrap! Of course, you can (and should) be adding in weekly masks and facials to detox and treat your skin. I add a mask to my routine about 3 times a week or more depending on my skin. These can be clay masks, hydrating masks, sleep packs (which are Korean masks you wear to bed that add loads of hydration to the skin), peels, or whatever your beautiful skin needs.

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