It’s no secret that Korean women have found the key to amazingly gorgeous skin. The real secret is in the infamous “million step” skincare regime they religiously follow. Wholesome and skin-nourishing, this near-mythical routine can have anywhere between 10-17 steps, and (with constant use) improves your skin tone, colour and texture, leaving you with an almost translucent, luminous, youthful glow. While this approach might seem excessive to some, it follows a very simple core idea of what your skin needs: hydration, hydration and hydration! This ensures that it stays plump, bright and radiant, reminiscent of your favorite K-pop stars and actors alike.
Step 1: Makeup Removal/ Oil Cleansers
To make sure that your products stick to your face and work effectively, you gotta get all that makeup, dirt and sebum off your skin. Using makeup remover on a cotton pad should do the trick to gently remove waterproof eye and lip makeup, while an oil cleanser melts away any face makeup you might have on (sunscreen / BB cream included). Make sure you don’t tug too hard on your skin as this could lead to wrinkles showing earlier than they should!
Step 2: Cleanser
Now that you’ve melted away your makeup and potentially look like a panda in disguise, double cleansing really is the way to go to keep your skin as clean as possible! Using a gentle cleanser is great for clearing oil, dirt and other residue left on the skin. If your skin requires a little more elbow grease to really get into those pores, investing in a pore brush or cleansing device may be a good idea.
Step 3: Exfoliator
Korean skincare has come up with innovative ways to exfoliate away dead skin, ranging from skin peeling gels to sugar scrubs to cotton pads laced with enzyme solutions. Whisking away dead skin gives your pores a chance to get up close and personal with your skin care products, allowing them to mingle and get down to business. It’s recommended to exfoliate twice a week for softer, smoother and brighter looking skin.
Step 4: Toners
Toners have a variety of names in the Korean beauty market including “softener”, “refiner”, “refresher” or simply “skin”. Compared to the conventional western toners, Korean ones are infused with interesting ingredients like a variety of plant and fruit extracts as well as some more famous ingredients like snail mucus that hydrate and benefit your skin instead of just being an astringent. They aid in balancing your skin’s pH level and prepares it for absorption of the next skin care products that follows. Choose to apply it on by soaking a cotton pad and applying it onto the face, or simply patting it onto your skin with your hands.
Step 5: Essence
Essences are an intriguing but vital part of a Korean skin care routine. A cross between a watery toner and a concentrated serum, essences treat skin on a cellular level, containing active ingredients that have a range of benefits including anti-aging, brightening, evening skin tone and ultimately, hydration for that “chok chok” (plump and moist) complexion. Gently pat onto freshly cleansed and toned skin, and you’re ready for the next step!
Step 6: Serums / Ampoules
Once your skin is prepped, it’s ready to take in serums or ampoules: concentrates with active ingredients which treat your skin and give it an extra boost. They can address just about any skin issue depending on the product, and is truly the cherry on top for skin-perfecting. Korea’s favorite way to use this isn’t to rub it into the skin, but to apply onto the skin and gently tap for better absorption.
Step 7: Sheet Masks
Ah, our favorite step! Sheet masks are the superhero (in our opinion, anyway) of the Korean skincare routine. Infused with concentrated treatments that target specific skin needs, this pampering step nourishes the skin and does all the hard work while you chill out for 15-30 minutes, depending on the mask you’re using. While most brands recommend using this once or twice a week, we say there’s no such thing as overdoing them (we try to do them 3-4 times a week!).
Step 8: Eye Cream
The skin around your eyes is super delicate and should be treated with utmost care. Using an eye cream not only helps to protect the area, but also hydrate it to prevent wrinkles. Whether you have puffy eyes (eye bags), undereye circles or wrinkles, the right eye cream will be able to aid in improving your eye area concerns. By gently tapping the product into the skin instead of rubbing, this allows the product to better penetrate the skin as well as avoid making signs of aging popping up on your face.
Step 9: Moisturizers
Moisturizers ensure that all that goodness you’ve put on your skin is sealed in with a final, thicker layer of hydration, giving you the red carpet to dewy, glowing skin. With a selection of different moisturisers in the market (emulsion, gels, lotions, creams, etc.), you’ll be sure to find one that suits your skin type and needs. Apply this with gentle strokes and pat into the skin so it truly gets into the skin, keeping your skin moisturized and protected.
Step 10: Sun Protection
Talking about protection, the sun is one of your skin’s biggest enemy! From anti-aging to darkening to making cancerous cells, sunscreen is really the way to go to ensure your skin stays protected from the evil sun. Make sure you slather some onto your face before you step out into the warm rays, and reapply as needed throughout the day. Using it as the last step of your skincare routine keeps your sunscreen from being diluted by the other products so you get the most protection out of it.
Phew! That was quite a bit of information, wasn’t it? We’re all for trying out the Korean 10-step skincare routine if it means it paves the way to clearer, brighter skin that would make even a light bulb jealous! Do you follow this Korean beauty regime on a daily basis? If you do, what are some of your favorite products? If not, would you try this for yourself? Let us know in the comments below!
Image: Elf V