Korean Skin Care Routine Secrets

Korean Skin Care Routine Secrets

Everything you need to know about the famous Korean skin care routine secrets

Find out what the Korean skin care routines is all about and why they became popular so you too can get the K-Beauty glass skin of your dream.

Shortcuts? Simplified version? There are a lot of articles telling people how to achieve great K-Beauty results with less time and effort just by using two or three products. You'll end up hurting yourself and looking like a 'walking tocino'. So don't be lazy - read on and educate yourself.

The Korean Beauty Philosophy

Korean beauty products and regimens are built for the long haul. Consistency and dedication are what yield their much-desired results. Korean skin care focuses on prevention and protection rather than the use of products to undo damage. Taking care of your skin before it needs it will pay off in the long run.

Fundamentally, the routine is about respecting your skin. Instead of using products full of harsh ingredients that strip the skin’s natural barrier, it's always better to prevent damage than to try to fix it. After all, once the damage has been done, it can be difficult to get skin back to its original state.

Korean skin care philosophy is about routines which involve cleansing, hydrating, nourishing, and protecting skin by working with its natural ecosystem thus allowing your skin to thrive rather than fighting against it.

Dedication Vs Budget

At its core, Korean beauty products originate from, and are manufactured in, Korea. They are generally created with the Korean beauty philosophy in mind - hence the price.

But it doesn't have to be all imported - there is no such rule.

Understanding and adhering to the philosophy and following a routine, you'd do well using locally sourced premium quality (not the cheap ones) skin care products that are equally effective when used properly.

Is It Just A Fad, Buzz Or Hype?

The Korean skin care routine wasn’t any one person, K-Pop group, K-Drama or brand discovery. It was more of a gradual evolution that originated from the skin regimen that many Koreans follow.

What came after has changed the skin care industry worldwide and captured the attention of people who follow beauty and skin care trends.

Not only does this type of routine often produce effective and consistent results, but it also contributes to people respecting their skin and taking a little extra “me time.”

What is “glass skin”? The term “glass skin” is commonly used in the Korean beauty world to refer to a smooth, clear, and intensely hydrated complexion that appears transparent.

Different Skin Types

Different skin types may need to keep a few things in mind when determining the best products and steps for their Korean skin care routine.

  • For oily skin - Despite what you might think, it is not counter-intuitive to use an oil-based cleanser on oily skin. If you have oily skin, don’t be afraid to embrace double cleansing. For toner, oily skin types will want a lightweight and less emollient formula.
  • For dry skin - For those with extra dry skin, you may want to only use an oil-based cleanser. Pay attention to how your skin feels and make the decision that makes the most sense. For toner, dry skin benefits from humectants, like hyaluronic acid.
  • For combination skin - If you have combination skin, you’ll want to choose products that help balance out your skin.
  • For acne-prone skin - If you have an active acne breakout, you may want to skip exfoliating until your skin clears up.

Day And Night Routines

Day and night routines don’t need to be the same. Using SPF when there is no sun just doesn't make any sense at all.

  • Morning routines may be much more streamlined, focusing on moisturizing and protecting from the sun.
  • Longer routines can be reserved for the evenings, including exfoliants, eye creams, masks, and more.

5, 7, 10, Or 12 Steps? Which One To Follow?

All Korean skin care routines begin with the traditional double cleansing technique, which is at the core of Korean skin care.

Even though 10-step is the most popular number in Korean skin care routines, it’s a rough estimate. In general, Korean beauty routines include multiple steps. But, overall, they focus on improving skin gently while achieving lasting results.

Ultimately, it’s not about following a certain number of steps, but tailoring a skin care routine to your skin’s needs. While many people begin with a 10-step routine, you can adjust up or down, depending on your needs or preference.

10-Step Routine

The traditional 10-step routine is the most widely used method of performing a Korean skin care routine. It usually goes as follows:

1. Oil-based cleanser
Oil and water repel each other, which means that a water-based cleanser won’t effectively remove all the oil-based impurities on your skin.

SPF, makeup, and your body’s natural sebum are most effectively removed with an oil-based cleanser. This doesn’t strip the natural healthy oils from your face.

2. Water-based cleanser
This is the type of cleanser most people likely think of when they hear the word “cleanser.” This is usually a foaming liquid (or bar) that removes the remaining impurities left behind by the oil cleanser, such as sweat and dirt.

3. Exfoliant
Exfoliants are things like scrubs, peels, and pads. These products help remove dead skin cells and buildup. Start slow and do it sparingly (once or twice per week max).

4. Toner
Once you get to this step, your skin’s pH might be out of whack and need to be returned to its acidic state.

Toners help restore the balance and bring moisture back to the skin.

5. Essence
Unique to Korean skin care regimens, essences are formulated with fermented ingredients and are meant to hydrate and protect skin. Think of an essence as somewhere between a toner and a serum.

6. Treatment
In Korean skin care, a treatment is anything that’s focused on aiding a specific problem — usually referred to as a serum. They contain highly concentrated ingredients meant to target specific issues, such as wrinkles or acne.

7. Sheet mask
Sheet masks are sheets of serum-soaked paper that you lay on your face for about 20 minutes. Like exfoliants, sheet masks aren’t something that needs to be or should be done every day.

8. Eye cream
Eye gels, creams, or oils are made to target the thin, sensitive skin around the eyes while helping with darkness, puffiness, and fine lines.

9. Moisturizer
Moisturizer acts as a sealant to ensure everything soaks into your skin.

10. SPF
Lately, people seem to be acknowledging the effects of sun damage more and more. More products, like foundation and moisturizer, are being sold with built-in SPF.

Even if you will wear another product with SPF, it’s still very important to include this step.

5-Step Routine

This lighter version cuts the popular 10-step routine in half. Perfect for those on a budget or short on time, these five steps are the most important and basic to do every morning.

  • oil-based cleanser
  • water-based cleanser
  • toner
  • moisturizer
  • SPF

7-Step Routine

A 7-step routine is best for the majority of evenings, given the lack of SPF and since you don’t need to exfoliate or use a mask every day.

  • oil-based cleanser
  • water-based cleanser
  • toner
  • essence
  • treatment
  • eye cream
  • moisturizer

12-Step Routine

If you make it to 10 steps and feel like continuing, another common one is a 12-step routine.

Follow the 10-step routine first, and include these two additional steps:

11. Mist
If you’ve grown to love the dewiness that comes with that “glass skin” you’ve worked so hard for, misting periodically will help maintain and reactivate the products you use.

12. Maintenance facials
A weekly facial, complete with massage, is not uncommon for Koreans and those who faithfully follow a Korean skin care routine.


Yes the number of steps in a Korean skin care routine may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it, these steps won’t take much time at all.

Taking care of your skin is a form of self-care, and it's something that everyone can benefit from. From the time we wake up until the time we go to sleep, our skin is always on our minds. We need to treat it like a part of our body and do everything we can to make sure it is healthy.

The main thing to figure out about a Korean skin care routine is to figure out what your targeted skin care needs are. Once you've done that, you can apply appropriate products to address them.

In addition, the right application is just as important, not only in the way but also in the order that they’re applied. Liquids go on first, then light products (like cleansers and toners), and finally heavier products (like moisturizers and SPF). You want to take care to put on each layer the appropriate amount, and this is where proper instructions and testing can really help you avoid problems.