Korean facial skin care can be so intimidating, especially when you’re starting out. Do I need a serum? A moisturizer? A face wash? What the heck is an essence?!
If you feel like you’re swimming in a sea of skincare products and don’t know where to start, don’t worry – I’m here to help! Today, I’m going to show you how to do the easiest 5-step Korean skin care routine for rookies that want to get that Korean glass skin without having to perform an endless 10-step ritual!
No matter if you have sensitive, dry, oily, or normal skin, read on, and get ready to start your journey to beautiful skin!
Korean facial skin care: Is it worth the hype?
Any beauty junkie worth their salt knows that a good skincare routine is essential for maintaining clear, youthful skin. And, if you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard about the famous (or infamous) Korean skin care routine. But what is it?
Korean facial skin care is a beauty regimen that typically involves 10 basic skin care steps that help you achieve "glass skin," which is the term used to describe flawless, porcelain-like, glowing skin.
The routine may seem excessive to some, but Koreans believe that taking care of your skin is the foundation of beauty. And they seem to be on to something because this ritual has traveled around the world and it’s now followed religiously by a lot of people, no matter their skin type.
Of course, not everyone has the time or patience to follow such a strict skincare routine. That’s why we’ve created a simplified 5-step Korean skin care routine that can help improve your skin's appearance and overall health without sweating it!
Korean beauty routine: 5 basic skin care steps
A traditional Korean skincare routine consists of double cleansing, exfoliating, sheet masking, and applying toner, essence, serum, eye cream, and face cream. However, if you feel overwhelmed by all these steps but still want to treat your skin concerns, here is our favorite easy 5-step Korean skin care routine that will give you the skin of your dreams:
1. Double cleansing
A double cleanse routine is the new hotness in the Korean beauty world, and it's not hard to see why. The two-step process (which involves using an oil cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser) is incredibly effective at removing makeup, dirt, and oil from the skin.
This step is often recommended for people who wear a lot of makeup or have oily skin, as it helps to remove all traces of dirt and grime. However, anyone can benefit from double-cleansing, as it helps to leave your skin feeling refreshed and squeaky clean.
Here’s how you can do it:
An oil cleanser is exactly what it sounds like: a cleanser that contains oils. These oils work together to break down stubborn makeup and dirt (which are oil-based impurities), while also cleansing and moisturizing the skin.
And don’t worry! These oils are easily absorbed by the skin and non-comedogenic, which means that, even if you have acne-prone skin, your pores won’t clog and cause breakouts!
Plus, if you have dry skin, this type of cleanser will help you remove impurities without further drying your skin. Awesome, right?
- iUNIK Calendula Complete Cleansing Oil
- The Face Shop Rice Brightening Water Cleansing Rich Oil
- Elizavecca Natural 90% Olive Cleansing Oil
The term "water-based" refers to the fact that the cleanser contains water as its main ingredient. This includes foams, gels, creams, etc.
A water cleanser is the best to remove water-based impurities, like sweat, from your skin.
You caught me, these are actually 2 steps, but believe me when I say that it’s totally worth it! In fact, many K-beauty aficionados swear by this routine!
And, if you still don’t want to add more steps to this Korean skin care routine, I have a solution for you: multi-tasking cleansers!
A toner is most commonly known as that refreshing liquid you put on a cotton ball and swipe all over your face post-cleansing. But what exactly does it do? First, let’s start with what it’s not: a toner is not a cleanser and it will not remove makeup or dirt from the skin.
So what’s the point? A toner’s job is to balance the pH of your skin (which can be thrown off by a number of things, like using harsh cleansers or tap water), restore any lost nutrients, and prep the skin to better absorb your serums and moisturizers.
There are different types of toners that go from a hydrating toner to an exfoliating one that helps to remove dead skin cells. So, the most important thing is that you choose one that suits your skin type better.
- SOME BY MI AHA-BHA-PHA 30Days Miracle Toner
- G9Skin White In Milk Toner
- COSRX Refresh ABC Daily Toner
Let's face it: we all want that dewy, glass-like skin most Koreans have. Baby soft, without a blemish in sight. But let's get real for a second here: skin is the largest organ in our bodies, and it's constantly bombarded with dirt, pollution, and other nasty stuff.
So it's no wonder that our skin can start to look dull and feel dry after a while. That's why, whether you choose serums or spot treatments, it's so important to give your skin some love during this step.
Facial treatments are designed to treat a specific skin concern. For example, you could pick a hyaluronic acid serum to treat dehydrated skin, a vitamin C one to brighten the skin and get rid of dark spots, or a spot treatment with salicylic acid to get rid of an annoying pimple. Either way, treatments are packed with concentrated active ingredients that penetrate deeply into the skin barrier to nourish and help the skin go back to its beautiful, glowy state.
You can pick just one treatment or use different ones in your Korean skin care routine, the skin is the limit! Just remember to apply them depending on the texture, with the lighter ones first and then the rest; and choose the ones that best attend to your main skin concerns.
We can’t stress this enough: EVEN if you have oily skin or combination skin, moisturizers are a must and they won’t cause you excess oil if you pick the product wisely!
One of the most important steps in a 5-step Korean skin care routine is moisturizing. Why? Because this step helps to prevent dryness and flakiness, and it can also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Moreover, most moisturizers help create a shield around the skin that prevents it from being damaged by external factors that can cause breakouts in acne-prone skin, irritation, and redness.
So, how do you know which moisturizer you should pick? It depends on skin types and even seasons!
If you have combination skin or oily skin, we recommend a gel moisturizer, since they tend to get absorbed more easily by the skin and don’t leave that greasy residue that tends to be annoying. The same tip applies during summer, a season where a lighter moisturizer is better than a heavier one.
For dry skin, cream moisturizers are a godsend since they’re packed with deeply moisturizing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, that bind water into the skin and help get rid of dry patches. Likewise, the colder months of the year often demand this type of moisturizer.
Extra tip: if you have sensitive skin, try to pick fragrance-free moisturizers to avoid irritation and redness. Furthermore, if you have normal skin, choose the moisturizer you like best.
If you’ve been following our blogs for a while, you know what I always said: sunscreen is a MUST! Not a “maybe”, not an “I used it whenever I remember -which is almost never*”. It is a M U S T!
Sunscreen is such an important part of the k beauty steps that it's often referred to as "step number one," even though is the last one. And for good reason! Not only does sunscreen help to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun, but it also helps to keep your skin looking young and healthy. In fact, regular use of sunscreen can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and prevent hyperpigmentation
- Heimish Artless Glow Base SPF 50+ PA+++
- Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish SPF50 PA+++ 55ml
- All Around Safe Block Waterproof Sun Milk
K beauty steps: Extras you need to include from time to time
Now you may be thinking: “THERE’S MORE?! I thought this was a 5-step Korean skin care routine, what do you mean by extras?”
Don’t be alarmed! This is still a 5-step routine, however, here are a few extras you may want to include 2-3 times a week to spice up your regime even more:
If there’s something the Korean beauty industry is obsessed with are sheet masks and for a good reason!
For those who are unfamiliar with them, a sheet mask is a thin sheet of fabric that is soaked in a serum or essence and then applied to the face. It’s usually left on for 15-20 minutes, after which the mask is removed and the skin is rinsed off with water.
Korean sheet masks are especially popular because they are often packed with hydrating, calming, and brightening ingredients like ginseng, Centella Asiatica, and green tea. In addition, sheet masks are a great way to force yourself to take a break from your busy day and relax for a few minutes.
There are for every skin type, from dry skin to oily skin and everything in between, and they can be used 2-3 times a week to treat specific skin concerns.
Another Korean skin care classic is exfoliation and, even though this step can be performed every day *unless you want to tear and dry out your skin*, it’s a crucial time-to-time step that you shouldn’t skip.
Koreans typically exfoliate their skin 2-3 times per week using either a physical or chemical exfoliator. Physical exfoliators contain small grains that slough off dead skin cells, while chemical exfoliators use acids to dissolve them. This helps to brighten the complexion, unclog pores, and prevent breakouts.
Extra tip: if you have sensitive skin, include this step once a week and go from there.
Korean beauty secrets: Where to find your favorite products?
Now that you know everything about the 5-step Korean skin care routine that will give you amazing results without spending a crazy amount of time in front of the mirror, it’s for the most fun part: SHOPPING!
If you’re looking for your Korean skincare favorites or want to explore what goodies are the best for you, visit our shop! In Asian Beauty Essentials you’ll find everything you need to build the best 5-step Korean skin care routine for you!
What are you waiting for? Start shopping today and get ready to get that Korean glass skin you’ve been craving for!
- The 10 Step Skincare Routine Explained
- 10 Best-Kept Skin Care Tips that will Skyrocket Your Routine
- An A to Z Guide to the Buzzworthy Korean Skin Care Routine
- How To Build A Skincare Routine: Easy Guide To Your Dreamed Skin!
- Why You Should Do Double Cleanse Method: A Guide to Asian Beauty
- Types of Cleansers: Yeah, There is More Than One!
- What Does Toner Do? 5 Benefits + Top 3 Toners for Your Skin Type
- What is Exfoliation? A Full Guide on How to Exfoliate your Skin
- Moisturizer For Oily Skin: Do or Don’t?
- Should I Wear Sunscreen Indoors? The Definitive Answer!
- Essence Vs Toners Vs Serums: Difference, When And How Do You Use Them?
This rlly helped thnx