Cleanse, tone and moisturize that’s the skincare routine that most of us grew up to and that’s what I did until two years ago. When I discovered the 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine.
When it comes to skin care, I can say that I’ve always been diligent. As early as 14 years old, my mom got me my first skin care kit with facial cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen. She nagged me every day to use them, or else I will regret it when I get older when dark spots and wrinkles start to appear, and of course, I was scared so even though moisturizer at that time felt oily I still followed her instructions.
I believed her because growing up I saw my mom lather cold cream on her face every night and until now she has the softest skin I’ve ever seen.
Unfortunately for me, I did not get that soft skin gene, but I can say that her nagging for me to do my daily skin care seemed to work well because I grew up without any major skin issues. But then two years ago something changed, my skin just can’t take any skincare product. Any product even facial wash makes my skin super red and itchy, I thought I was just allergic to the product I used, so I went to buy other brands that are hypoallergenic and even tried baby products, but still my skin still got itchy and red, and worst I even had skin asthma. I was so frustrated at that time; then my dermatologist told me to try Korean skin care, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine
If you are not familiar with Korean skin care products, I can say that you’re missing a lot. Korean skin care products have been considered as one of the most advanced in the world.
For Koreans, skin care is a serious business and a lifestyle. They have a product for almost all skin care concerns that you have, and they have tons of brands to choose from. If you know Koreans, one thing that you’ll notice is most of them have this beautiful and pore-less skin.
Of course, their DNA is responsible for that and their diet as well but ask Korean women and some men too, and you’ll discover that most of them are serious in taking care of their skin. That they use lots of products and they religiously use them daily.
The 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine has been gaining raves worldwide. Even Amazon now has their own page for Korean Beauty products, you can also get some at Target, Walmart or even Sephora.
Korean skincare products are very effective and as a matter of fact, this skincare routine saved my skin. In just a month after I started my Korean skincare regimen, my skin asthma cleared up and what I love most is that with these Korean products I never got itchy or redness. I think the key here is this skincare routine focuses on hydrating the skin to make it look and feel healthy. Which is very smart!
After a few months of doing Korean skin care routine, I noticed that my skin had this glow and dewy look which I never had during the time I used my old skincare products. I became confident in my skin that I no longer have to rely on a lot of makeup to cover it. So while I’m still planning my future trip to South Korea to hoard their products and immersed in their culture, I want to share with you the Korean skin care regimen steps.
And if you’re looking for a good makeup organizer here is my favorite.
Here’s the 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine: Best Products of 2023
I know most of you will say “who has time to do 10 step skin care every night?” It sounds a bit crazy and time-consuming, but one thing I discovered about Koreans after reading the book The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin is that they add skincare as part of their lifestyle, they don’t just do it, but they enjoy it. It’s their way of destressing and their “me time” part of the day.
After doing this routine for two years now, I can say that it’s something that I look forward to every day. It’s relaxing, and once you see the benefits that it gives to your skin you will totally say it’s worth it. And to clear things up you don’t have to do 10-steps daily.
Some steps are just done once or twice a week.
Personally my tip for you is to listen to your skin. You need to know what it needs.
For summer, use less products. For days when it’s super dry then use a sleeping pack, for days that you feel you have great skin then just do 4 or 5 steps.
Before we start I just want to tell you that you can follow the 10 step Korean skin care routine without using exclusively all Korean beauty products. You can use your favorite brands just follow the steps but if you want to fully immersed with Korean brands I will include my favorite products below.
Step 1 – Makeup remover and oil cleanser
If you wear makeup or sunscreen the first step is to remove them. As much as possible I try to avoid makeup cleansing wipes or cloths because rubbing your face with it will cause irritation or redness. I prefer to use cleansing oils or cleansing balms, just scoop some, lather on your face, wait for a few minutes and rinse.
Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Cleansing Oil is my new favorite!
It’s very gentle but does a goo job of melting makeup. I realized that I like having the oil version at home because it lasts longer.
- This contains oriental herbal ingredients such as glycine soja oil and ginseng seed oil which effectively cleanses your face but at the same time moisturizes it as well.
- Just use 1-2 pumps. Then, lather to your face. Leave it for about a minute and then emulsify with some water. You can see your makeup melting at this point. Then wash throughly with water and follow-up with your usual face cleanser.
Beauty of Joseon Radiance Cleansing Balm – Cleansing balms are great for travelling since you don’t have to worry about it spilling. This one by Beauty of Joseon has solid sherbet texture.
The Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm is one of the most powerful makeup remover that I’ve ever used, it melts makeup even those stubborn mascara but it’s still gentle to the skin. It’s a cult favorite for a reason. Just smear it on your face and leave it for few minutes. No need to rub it in. Then use water to emulsify and wash off.
- An award winning cleansing balm that’s powerful in melting and cleansing your makeup or sunscreen while at the same time nourishes the skin with its added antioxidants, essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
For mornings or for days that you don’t wear makeup but you still double cleanse, you can use light cleansing oil. Double cleansing is highly suggested by most dermatologists because this will thoroughly clean your face of all those sunscreen and makeup residue, oil and dirt that may cause breakouts. Even if you have oily face you can still double cleanse. A cult favorite is The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil. This will make sure to break down all those oil-based products that you used like makeup and sunscreen.
- Non-Irritating oil cleanser that makes your skin look bright
- Powerful in cleansing your makeup but still hydrating
Step 2 – Cleansers (Water-Based)
- My favorite! A mild refreshing cleanser that’s perfect for your morning cleanse
- This gel type cleanser will not make your skin feel dry
- This contains oriental herbal ingredients such as plum water, plum extract, and mung bean extract.
Second part of double cleansing is to use a mild water-based cleanser which will clean your face but not make it dry.
I love NEOGEN DERMALOGY REAL FRESH FOAM (Green tea). It works great and smells so good and good for oily skin. Green tea is a powerful ingredient for cleansing and detoxifying skin.
If you have sensitive skin and prone to redness, check out the COSRX Pure Fit Cica Creamy Foam Cleanser
- With CICA-7 Complex (containing 7 centella asiatica-derived ingredients) and 7 botanically derived oils
- Refreshing cleanser that will effectively clean your face yet still gentle and soothes the skin.
- Hypoallergenic. For oily and sensitive skin.
- Cleansing but still hydrating, gentle and calming. This has all you want in a cleanser.
- A low-pH slightly acidic foaming cleanser with a pH of 5.5, so it will thoroughly cleanse your skin and even pores without irritating your skin.
- I really like that when I use this I feel that my skin is clean but it’s not tight so it doesn’t strip off my skin’s moisture.
Step 3 – Exfoliator (Once or twice a week)
If you want smooth skin exfoliating is a must once or twice a week! You need to unclog pores and remove those dead skin cells.
I love Neogen Dermalogy Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine. I’ve been using this for years and the wine version is still my favorite.
- These are pads that are soaked in AHA and you just wipe your face with it and wash with warm water after. It also comes in lemon and green tea.
For those with acne or breakout problems, the Cosrx Bha Blackhead Power Liquid is a chemical exfoliator that is a cult favorite because aside from unclogging pores and removing dead skin cells it also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- This improves dull skin by peeling it mildly with the active ingredient AHA 8%
If you want an all natural exfoliator check out Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask. I use clay mask to detox my skin and it purifies and makes my pores look smaller.
- 3 in 1 product: It exfoliate, cleanse & mask
- A physical exfoliator. This low irritating wash-off mask is formulated with grapefruit extract and kaolin to soften your skin texture. The shea butter, raspberry oil, and jojoba will leave you skin moisturized after washing off.
Step 4 – Toner
Unlike the toners that we’re used to most Korean toners not only tones, cleanses but hydrates as well.
Round Lab 1025 Dokdo Toner – My favorite daily toner
- Refreshing toner that doesn’t have alcohol and no fragrance
- Removes dead skin and cleanses pores
- With 74 kinds of natural minerals
- A hybrid toner that softens and hydrates skin
- Perfect for warm weather, you can skin your moisturizer and just use this.
- I love using this under makeup because it makes my skin look radiant.
KRAVE Beauty Kale-lalu-yAHA is a skin resurfacing exfoliator/toner that kicks your dead skin cells to help with skin discoloration, sun damage, and fine lines.
If you have sensitive skin try Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner, it’s the perfect toner that resets the PH of your skin and so refreshing. You can even use it as face mist. If you have dry skin, then you should try Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner, it’s the brand’s bestselller and it will energize without drying your skin.
SON & Park Beauty Water is a favorite not only in Korea but of other western makeup artist. Some even considered it as their holy grail item.
For acne prone skin try the Cosrx Aha/bha Clarifying Treatment Toner or my favorite the COSRX BHA Cleansing Pad which is something everyone can use because it cleanses those impurities and clears up those occasional pimple that’s about to appear during your monthly period or after using makeup.
Step 5 – Essence
Essences promote skin renewal and adds extra hydration. Make sure to read the label since some essence are to be used before toner. Some essences can also be layered.
- This calms the skin and helps improve and brighten your skin tone.
- It’s lightweight and helps make your moisturizer work better
- Ginseng is an ingredient that’s favorite in Eastern traditional medicine. Studies have proven that saponin, which is rich in ginseng has a lot of benefits. It helps prevent blood circulation, prevents skin aging, promotes moisture supply, and helps keep moisture deep in the skin for a long period of time.
A cult favorite is the MISSHA Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence. It’s considered as dupe for the expensive SKII essence. It contains 90% fermented yeast extract. It helps revive dull skin, boost collagen production and anti-aging.
- This brightens and plumps skin
- Made with 93% skin-compatible natural fermented ingredients that increases skin elasticity and strengthen skin barrier
- Prevents skin damage from UV rays
If you have sensitive or acne prone skin, you should check out Skin Food Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence.
- It has BlackBeepropolis Extract (63%), Royal Jelly Extract (10%) and Honey Extract (10%) which are great for calming and moisturizing skin.
- If you have damaged skin barrier or you have super dry skin, you will fall in love with this cult favorite essence.
- Made with 96.3% Snail Secretion Filtrate, this repairs damaged skin effectively.
Step 6 – Ampoules, Boosters and Serums
Now time to target your specific skin problem with ampoules or also known as boosters or serums.
- My current favorite
- I’m just amazed with how affordable this product is yet it’s effective
- I had very dry skin a few months ago and this saved me. Layer it before your moisturizer and it works amazing in keeping moisture in.
- It has 59.94% of propolis extract that is rich with anti-inflammatory ingredients
- 2% of niacinamide helps in balancing oil and moisture
- 0.5% of betaine salicylate helps remove sebum in pores
- If you’re prone to redness or have rosacea your skin will love this!
- The secret to hat glowy and dewy skin
- A skincare and makeup primer hybrid that hydrates and brightens skin
If your problem is skin redness or irritated skin, then KRAVE Beauty Great Barrier Relief is going to be your bestfriend. It is a skin-soothing serum that restores your damaged skin barrier while evening out your complexion.
- This product has been around for few years now and it’s still a bestseller for a reason
- This will boost hydration and moisture to your skin with its green tea extract
- Refreshing serum that’s easily absorbed by the skin
If you have dark spots or wants skin brightening then check out Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Drop Serum, it has 5% pure vitamin C. My skin loves this product. I have some sun spots and melasma and after 2 bottles I saw that they really lightened up. If you haven’t used any acids or vitamin c before or have sensitive skin I recommend you start with this because it’s fairly mild.
If you want an anti-aging product then the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule is a great product to try.
- Thi is considered as a good dupe for the more expensive Estee Lauder night repair serum.
- This is packed with 10 types of probiotics that went through triple fermentation process to extract and preserve their rejuvenating and restorative powers.
- Great serum for wrinkles, repairs elasticity and makes skin radiant
Step 7- Sheet Masks
I love sheet masks! There are a lot of varieties to choose from and I think almost all skincare and makeup brands in Korea have their own line of sheet masks. There are sheet masks for different skin care concerns like anti-aging, whitening, calming, brightening etc. It’s even a popular souvenir for tourists. In the 10 step Korean skin care routine, sheet masks are recommended to be used twice a week, but you can use it as often as you want especially if you have dry skin. Most Koreans use it every day, and that’s what I actually do because I love it so much. I find it so relaxing and something that I look forward to every day.
My favorites are Innisfree sheet masks because they are cheap and mild enough to be used daily and makes my skin soft and supple. These are great gift idea for friends.
I also love Leaders Clinic Aqua Ringer Skin Masks, this is my go-to mask whenever I have dry skin because it’s so moisturizing. So far, I love almost all of Leaders Sheet Masks.
Mediheal Tea Tree Essential Blemish Control Mask – These masks are for those with sensitive and oily skin. It’s a bestseller because of how soothing it is and how it calms the skin.
MEDIHEAL N.M.F Intensive Hydrating Mask – Another Korean bestseller. These masks are so gentle and so hydrating. The perfect masks for pampering your skin.
There are also fun sheets masks like Animal Character Mask Sheet which are great for girls sleepovers and an awesome gift idea for friends.
Step 8 – Eye Cream
- With ginseng extract and Vitamin A called retinal, this eye serum will help improve your wrinkles and will brighten your under eye
The skin around our eyes is the thinnest so it needs a specific product to give it moisture without irritating it. My pick is the MIZON Korean Cosmetics Snail Repair Eye Cream. Yes, you read that right, it has “snail” slime. Snail secretion or slime is a common ingredient in Korean beauty and skin care products because it is packed with nutrients.
- A lightweight eye cream that’s refreshing. This looks great even under makeup
- It will help smooth. fine lines, bright dark circles and even help decrease puffiness.
Step 9 – Moisturizer
ILLIYOON Ceramide Ato Lotion is a really nice daily morning moisturizer.
- This is an amazing product that’s affordable and great for your skin
- Light and glides to the skin. It’s non greasy and without fragrance
- Very mild and good for those with sensitive skin.
- They also have it in gel version, the ILLIYOON Ceramide Ato Soothing Gel
- Lightweight gel type moisturizer that’s refreshing o the skin
- Good for warm weather and for those with oily skin
- Non-sticky, not oily and is easily absorbed by the skin
Time to seal all in with a moisturizer. My skin loves propolis, so the COSRX Propolis Cream is my choice. It’s gentle and does a great job of sealing in the serums that I use, s when I wake up my skin feels so supple.
For sensitive skin, try KLAIRS Midnight Blue Calming Cream
- A gentle night cream that soothes irritated, sensitive and damaged skin
- Calming, hydrates and relieves redness.
- Perfect for days when you over exfoliated your skin
For sensitive and acne-prone skin, you need a light moisturize like the COSRX Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap.
Step 9A Sleeping Pack (Once/Twice a week)
Once or twice a week, replace your moisturizer with a sleeping pack like the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. This is an optional item but you can use it if you feel like your skin needs an intense hydration boost. What I do is I use sleeping pack if I have an event to attend to the next day because it makes my skin look so fresh.
Make sure to pamper your lips as well with the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
Step 10. SPF (Daytime)
For daytime, never ever skip sunscreen. Even though your foundation or moisturizer has spf you should still use sunscreen under it.
ISNTREE Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel is a beautiful every day sunscreen. It has a lotion like consistency and spreads easily. There’s no white cast, but will give you a slight glow and healthy sheen.
- Chemical sunscreen. SPF 50+, PA++++ blocks UV rays
- It doubles as moisturizer because it contains 8 types of Hyaluronic Acid which replenishes moisture in the skin
- It comes in a stick version too
- This is good for those with sensitive skin because it’s very gentle and doesn’t sting your eyes
BEAUTY OF JOSEON Relief Sun Rice + Probiotics SPF50+ PA++++ is my latest favorite sunscreen.
- It protects the skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, while also providing additional skincare benefits.
- Rice is known for its moisturizing and brightening properties. It’s also rich in antioxidants that help to protect the skin from environmental damage.
- Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to balance the skin’s microbiome, which can improve overall skin health. It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- It glides easily and absorbs quickly.
- It’s really beautiful even under makeup since it’s non-greasy and very gentle to the skin. No white-cast
[Beauty of Joseon] Matte sun stick : Mugwort+Camelia is perfect for reapplying sunscreen when you’re outside.
- With sebum-control silica powder that regulates sebum to increase adherence and provides a matte and smooth finish without clumping.
- Soft and non-sticky sun stick with SPF 50+ PA++++
If you want to know more about Korean skin care regimen steps, makeup and shopping I highly suggest you read the The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin by Charlotte Cho. It’s very informative and a must read if you want to know more about Korean skincare and beauty.
Disclosure: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
Meet Net, a skincare enthusiast and creative writer! With a passion for all things skincare, she is always eager to explore and learn about the latest trends and innovations in the industry. When not writing or indulging in their skincare routine, Net enjoys binge-watching TV series, knitting, and trading, among other hobbies. She is always eager to take on new challenges and try new things. Get ready to be inspired and learn something new with Net!