K-Beauty Skincare Routine 101
One of the benefits of going in-store for a skincare consultation is that you can get some personalized help breaking down all the steps of a skincare routine. But even in person, the products you are being introduced to and when to apply it can be overwhelming to process. In this blog, I will be breaking down each and every step in your 10-or-so-step skincare routine so there will no longer be any confusion! We all have heard of the 10-step Korean skincare routine and we all aim for flawless glass skin, but where do we start? How you approach your skincare routine is completely up to your customization. That’s what’s so fun about skincare, it’s catered for you and you only!
Let's Get Started!
What we need to know beforehand and what I like to ask customers when they are coming in for a consultation is: what is your skin type and what are you trying to target or improve on? Now I often experience this answer: "I don’t know my skin type". But you do! Let’s focus now on our skin.
Ask yourself: How is it right now?
- Does your skin feel tight? Your skin type is dry.
- Excessive shine and it’s all over your face? Your skin type is oily.
- Dry on the cheeks, oily around the nose and forehead area? Normal with nothing to complain about? Your skin type is combination.
As Asian beauty rules follow, the key intent is hydration.
- If your skin type is oily, the textures you’ll tend to favor are lighter. You may incorporate fewer steps in your routine as it does not require a lot for your skin to be hydrated.
- If your skin type is dry, the textures you’ll tend to favor are heavier. You may need more steps in your routine to reach the level of hydration that you’ll need.
- If your skin type is combination, the textures you tend to favor may vary. You may like layering lightweight to thicker textures.
Still with me? Now let’s break down each step:
Step One: Oil-Based Cleanser
First and foremost, the beginning of the skincare routine starts with cleansing your face. Whether you wear makeup or not, it is recommended that you do a double cleanse. A double cleanse consists of an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser. Why do you need to use both? Oil-based cleansers will be key in removing makeup, sunscreen, and clogged pores. When you apply oil to your skin, the oil clings onto dirt, sebum, and oil-soluble products which washes away after applying water. Water-based cleansers, on the other hand, contain surfactants (which is what makes your cleanser foam and lather) which will not remove makeup or sunscreen as effectively as an oil-based cleanser.
If you are not a fan of oil cleansers due to the liquid form, you can use cleansing balms which come in a solid form. Both forms will emulsify into a milky consistency after adding water, thereby removing dirt and sebum. To properly use your oil-based cleanser, take your cleansing oil or balm and massage it into your skin for 45-60 seconds then wash it off. Let’s break it down further.
For dry skin:
(Oil-Based Cleanser) Manyo Factory Pure Cleansing Oil
(Cleansing Balm) Beauty of Joseon Radiance Cleansing Balm
For combination & oily skin:
(Oil-Based Cleanser) IUNIK Calendula Complete Cleansing Oil(Cleansing Balm) Heimish All Clean Balm Mandarin
Step Two: Water-Based Cleanser
After your oil-based cleanser, go in with your water-based cleanser. These cleansers come in all types: Cream-to-foam cleansers, self-foaming cleansers, gel cleansers, and milk cleansers. Like with oil cleansers, massage your water-based cleanser into your face for 45-60 seconds then wash it off.
Other notes: If you truly do not think you’ll be able to upkeep a two-step cleanser routine, we do have options for a one-step cleanse. These will help break down makeup and sunscreen and ensure a deep cleanse. Check out the Axis-Y Quinoa One Step Cleanser or the Nursery Makeup & UV Cleansing Gel.
For dry skin: Dear Klairs Gentle Black Facial Cleanser
For combination & oily skin types: IUNIK Centella Bubble Cleansing Foam
Step Three: Toner
A common question I also get from customers is whether or not toners are necessary. Personally, I love toners and find them necessary in my routine. Toners are hydrators, because they help rebalance your skin’s pH after cleansing. Regulating your skin’s pH will prevent your skin from dry patches, breakouts, redness, and basically anything that is categorized as a skincare concern. Additionally, I find that toners are crucial in product absorption as they help to prep your skin with the following skincare steps.
For dryness: Rohto Hada Labo Gokujun Premium Hyaluronic Toner
For brightening: Manyo Factory Galactomy Clearskin Toner
For calming sensitive or acne prone skin: Purito Centella Unscented Toner
Step Four: Essence
For dryness: COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
For brightening: Purito Galacto Niacin 97 Power Essence
For calming sensitive or acne-prone skin: I’m from Mugwort Essence
Step Five: Exfoliant
Exfoliants. Admittedly this is a step that I am not the most consistent on. This is also a step you do not need to be doing every day, although this topic can be broken down in more angles. Exfoliating is key in removing dead skin cells which in turn will help make your skin brighter and less textured, while shrinking the visibility of enlarged pores.
Exfoliants come in different forms. The most common one is a chemical exfoliant. Chemical exfoliants come in liquid form and include AHA, BHA, and in more gentler forms, PHA, and LHA. This is the strongest form of exfoliant and takes a few days to notice results. They do not need to be washed off and can be applied after toner and before any serums.
For texture concerns: COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid
For pore concerns: Isntree Chestnut BHA 2% Clear Liquid
If your skin is sensitive, you may want to avoid chemical exfoliants and replace them with a physical exfoliant. Physical exfoliants are less abrasive and work by exfoliating the top layer of your dead skin. One form of physical exfoliant is peeling gels or gommages. Upon contact with the skin, the abrasion between the gel and your skin removes dead skin cells and resurfaces smoother and brighter skin. To use physical exfoliants like peeling gels, first, cleanse your face, pat dry with a towel, and follow with the physical exfoliant, then wash off.
For dry skin: Cure Natural Aqua Gel
For combination-to oily skin: Meishoku Detclear Facial Peeling Jelly
Another type of physical exfoliant that has been becoming more popular is enzymatic or powder washes. For this exfoliant, dispense a small amount of powder onto the palm of your hand and add water. Once you rub your hands together, apply the liquified powder onto your face as a regular cleanser. This step will replace your water-based cleanser step.
For dry skin: Tosowoong Powder Enzyme Wash
For combination-to oily skin: By Wishtrend Green Tea & Enzyme Powder Wash
Step Six: Serum
Serums will follow your exfoliant on the days you exfoliate. If not, use your toner/essence and then follow with your serum. The serum step is also the step where you will be targeting skincare concerns. If you need more hydration, follow with more hydrating serums. If you are concerned about dark spots or hyperpigmentation, follow with a brightening serum. If you are concerned about fine lines, follow with an anti-aging serum. Now, the serum step could contain one serum or you can choose to pair it with multiple serums. This is also the step where you include spot treatments, such as acne creams or dark spot correctors, which people treating breakouts or scarring will resonate with.
Other notes: If you are combining serums, make sure you are layering them from thinnest to thickest in texture!
For hydrating serums: Torriden Dive-in Serum
For brightening serums: Timeless 10% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum
For serums to calm sensitive or acne prone skin: Beauty of Joseon Calming Serum
Step Seven: Ampoule
Ampoules are more concentrated forms of serums. You can use them interchangeably but ampoules tend to go after serums. They are not necessarily thicker than serums.
For hydrating ampoules: Manyo Factory Bifida Ampoule
For brightening ampoules: SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Tone Brightening Capsule Ampoule
For calming sensitive or acne prone: Anua Heartleaf 80% Soothing Ampoule
Step Eight: Eye Cream
Eye creams are another fun addition to your routine. This will usually be the step you apply eye creams although some people like to apply after moisturizer. Your choice! If you are looking to target fine lines, using an eye cream with ingredients like peptides, retinol, or collagen. For dark circles, ingredients like tranexamic acid and Vitamin C focuses on dark circles.
For fine lines: Mizon Collagen Power Firming Eye Cream
For dark circles: Mary&May Tranexamic Acid+ Glutathion Eye Cream
Step Nine: Moisturizer
It is important to, seal everything in with a moisturizer. I know, there are so many moisturizers on the market but the general rule of thumb is that oilier skin types work well with lighter-weight gel creams while drier skin types work well with thicker even balmier creams. If you’re skin is more of an in-between, you may even like an in-between emulsion texture.
For dry skin: Etude House Soon Jung 2X Barrier Intensive Cream
For combination skin: Isntree Green Tea Fresh Emulsion
For oily skin: IUNIK Centella Calming Gel Cream
Step Ten: Sunscreen
Lastly, as a morning routine step, apply sunscreen! It is important to wear sunscreen to prevent UV damage and early signs of aging. Here are our top 3 best-selling sunscreens at oo35mm:
- Beauty of Joseon Rice + Probiotics Relief Sunscreen
- Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence
- Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream
In recent years, sunscreen sticks have become more popularized. It is a great alternative to reapply sunscreen with a cream which if you are on the go or wearing makeup, may not be the most convenient. Here are our top 3 best-selling sunscreens at oo35mm.
- Beauty of Joseon Matte Sun Stick
- Abib Quick Sun Stick Protection Bar
- Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Airy Sun Stick
We have now broken down all the skincare steps. Need a consultation or general advice on your routine? Feel free to visit us in-store or on Instagram where we host weekly Q&As!