Global Beauty: The 10-step Korean skincare routine

Pack up your contour kits and highlighters – this season’s biggest beauty trend is glowing, luminous skin. If you’re past the age of 18, chances are the youthful glow that once came so naturally, now requires a bit of effort to achieve.

Enter the Korean 10-step skincare regimen.

From BB Creams to Sheet Masks, Korean beauty products and treatments have long dominated the skincare industry.  The highly sought after glowing complexion is not just a passing trend, but part of Korean culture indicative of total well-being and a healthy lifestyle. 

In order to get a better understanding of the 10-step regimen, I turned to The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin by Charlotte Cho. Cho, a 2nd generation American of Korean heritage, received quite the culture shock when she left the sun worshiping shores of California to accept a job halfway across the world in Korea. Good skin care was a way of life (even for men) and it changed how she approached skincare and inspired her to become a board certified aesthetician. Her website, Soko Glam, is a beauty and lifestyle shop with a selection of the best Korean beauty products. 

Once in place, the 10-step routine only adds an additional 5 minutes onto my morning/night skincare routine. Not all 10 steps are done at once or everyday. For example, at night I double cleanse (second cleanse is done with my Clarisonic for exfoliation) then tone, apply essence, retinol, eye cream, and moisturizer. Some days I’ll throw in a sheet mask or will skip a serum if I do a more intense exfoliation.

Korean beauty is all about layering products, keeping the skin well moisturized, and protecting the skin from harmful sun exposure. All key components for glowing, radiant skin.

 

The 10-step Korean skincare regimen

Steps 1 and 2: The Double Cleanse

We already know to wash our face before bed but Korean skincare takes it a step further with a second cleansing, to ensure oil and dirt have been completely removed. The first cleanse is done with an oil cleanser to remove makeup. Immediately follow up with a gentle water based gel or foam cleanser.

Products to try:
Shea Moisture Peace Rose Oil Complex Sensitive Skin Facial Oil $9.99
Plantogen Foaming Cleanser $28  

Step 3: Exfoliate

Clogged pores, blemishes, and dull skin can all be attributed to not exfoliating regularly. Exfoliation can be either mechanical or chemical. Chemical exfoliators include AHAs and BHAs like glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid. Mechanical exfoliation includes facial scrubs or even using a Clarisonic. Depending on your skin type and what you are using, you can exfoliate everyday or once a week. I exfoliate with my Clarisonic every other night, a facial scrub 2 or 3x a week, and a chemical exfoliant during the day.

Products to try:
No. 7 Beautiful Skin Radiance Exfoliator $10.99

Step 4: Toner

I always read this was an unnecessary step and a waste of money. Not to according to Korean skincare, as it’s main purpose is to help reset your skin’s natural P.H. level and add hydration back into the skin. The stinging toners of yester-year that made your skin feel tight should be avoided.

Products to try:
Botanics Rosewater Toning Spritz $6.29 

Step 5: Essence

At the heart of Korean skincare is Essence, which is now making its way over to the U.S. It has a consistency similar to a light serum and is used to hydrate, brighten, even out skin tones, and reduce the visibility of wrinkles.

Products to try:
Murad Hydro-Dynamic Quenching Essence $78

Step 6: Boosters and Serums

Here’s where you will want to add in your Vitamin C, Retinol, or dark spot fading serum.

Products to try:
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster $72

Step 7: Sheet Mask

Sheet masks are a Korean innovation that is now huge in the states. Sheet masks are a great and inexpensive way to get that fresh from a facial glow.

Products to try:
Miss Spa Facial Sheet Mask $2.99 

Step 8: Eye Cream

Regular use of a good eye cream can help fight off dark circles and crow’s-feet!

Products to try:
Algenist POWER Advanced Wrinkle Fighter 360° Eye Serum $70

Step 9: Moisturize

Everyone needs to moisturize ---whether you’re oily or dry, weather it’s winter or summer, night or day, your skin needs moisture. Your night cream may be a little heavier than your day cream, but skipping moisturizer can actually cause your face to overproduce oil resulting in blemishes.

Products to try:
Filgora Skin-Absolute Night  $139
Murad Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture $72 

Step 10: Sunscreen

To this day, when I ask people if they wear sunscreen, they usually reply “of course! When I’m outside or at the beach….” It needs to be applied every day and SPF in makeup or moisturizer doesn’t provide the coverage you need.

If you need more convincing to wear sunscreen daily (not to mention skin cancer prevention), keep in mind studies have shown that almost 90 percent of aging is caused by sun damage.

Products to try:
Tatcha Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 $68