If you are addicted to K-dramas and K-pop idols *just like us*, surely you have wondered why do Koreans have good skin? And yes, it may have something to do with their blessed genetics, however, the biggest reason why they have healthy glowing skin is that they take the skincare routine VERY seriously.
We are not exaggerating when we say that the Korean skincare routine is not just some everyday boring steps, it is a lifestyle that everyone wants to follow and for a really good reason: their 10 step korean skincare can be adapted to any skin type, addresses specific skin concerns, and can offer amazing results.
This beauty trend started many years ago and it has been growing exponentially ever since. From beauty influencers to world-famous celebrities, everyone has been adopting the K beauty routine, but what is Korean skincare, why is it in the spotlight, and how can you build your own?
Let’s unwrap all these questions with this A to Z guide!
What’s so big about Korean skincare?
For starters, the “K beauty” stands for Korean beauty *no, it’s not Kardashian beauty* and it’s 100% composed of products formulated in South Korea with natural and non-harmful ingredients.
The Korean skin care routine is all about celebrating your skin without subjecting it to abrasive or non-comedogenic products that will only cause damage. In fact, the Korean beauty industry has been creating these products understanding that pampering the skin and getting good results is a matter of time, so their regime is focused on achieving glowing skin in the long term and not overnight.
In other words, going from a damaging skincare regime to the Korean skincare routine is like changing a fast-food diet to a healthier lifestyle.
Koreans are the kings and queens of “me time”, that’s why their routines are long but full of ingredients that work wonders for their skin. In this sense, what’s so buzzworthy about the Korean beauty regime is that it is effective, offers results over time, prevents future skin concerns, and honors the skin with nature-inspired and active ingredients.
The K beauty look dictionary
Before dipping ourselves into the Korean skin care routine, let’s talk about some terms that are used in the K beauty industry.
Have you ever wondered why skincare gurus keep talking about getting “honey skin” or “glass skin”? Keep reading:
More than an Instagram beauty trend, “honey skin” is a synonym for baby-like skin. This slang refers to glowing, poreless skin that is as smooth and rich as honey.
Glass skin is all about having radiating, luminous skin! This is a goal many beauty fans have and it consists of having healthy skin and as perfect as glass, free of dark spots, acne, wrinkles, or fine lines.
No, we are not talking about a 3-ingredient recipe to cook dumplings, this is a K beauty trend too!
“Smooth”, “moist”, and “exquisite” are words that can be used to describe a delicious dumpling, but actually define another skincare goal.
#DewyDumplingSkin focuses on making your skin look glowy and hydrated through a comprehensive skincare routine.
Whether your goal is to have honey skin, dumpling skin, or all at once, Korean face products and their world-famous skin care routine will do the trick for you!
Korean skincare routine order
The most popular Korean skin care routine is composed of 10 steps created to clean, moisturize, nurture, and protect the skin’s barrier.
The products can change depending on the skin types, goals, and the time (morning or night), however, all of them will give you the glowy skin you are looking for if you apply them in the right order.
Based on the fact that the products must be applied by layering the lightest first and then the thickest, this is the buzzworthy Korean beauty routine:
1. Oil based cleanser
Koreans REALLY get the importance of cleaning the skin to remove dead skin cells and free clogged pores, that’s why they double cleanse!
Even though it can sound like overdoing it, a double cleanse removes oil-based contaminants, sweat, and dirt more effectively.
Here’s how you have to do the double cleansing: first oil based cleansers and then water based cleansers.
We know many of you are scared of the word “oil” and we get it! “Oil” can mean acne prone skin, breakouts, oily skin, sebum, and the list goes on and on. However, that doesn’t have anything to do with oil based cleansers.
An oil cleanser is formulated to remove oil based impurities off your face and can be used by all skin types *yes, even oily and combination skin*.
But what are these impurities we are talking about? Well, they can be makeup, sun protection remainders, sebum and dead skin cells. Anything that can’t be washed off with a water based cleanser is considered oil based impurities.
An oil based cleanser is a MUST in your Korean skin care routine because its gentle formula will unclog your pores, preparing them for all the hydration that will come in the next steps.
2. Water based cleanser
Next in your Korean skin care routine comes the water based cleanser! This is a more light, gentle cleanser that will get rid of the rest of the dirt that remains on your skin after applying the oil cleanser.
This is the most common cleanser in traditional skincare routines and you can find it in bar or liquid form.
This step can be a little tricky because it can’t *we repeat: CAN’T* be included in your daily skin care routine and there are two types of exfoliants: physical exfoliator and chemical exfoliator. Let’s explain the rules and the difference between them:
A physical exfoliant contains little sugar-like particles that scrub the skin barrier to remove skin cells and dirt.
Rubbing an exfoliant into your skin will prevent your pores from clogging, however, you should bear in mind that these products are beneficial for oily skin and not so much for sensitive skin.
Chemical exfoliators are jam-packed with many beneficial ingredients for skin health, such as alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids.
We know you must be thinking that the word “acids” may sound like something too abrasive for the skin, however, these chemicals are really gentle and safe to use on your skin.
Don’t believe us? Let us prove it to you:
The two ingredients we mentioned before sound really scary right? What if we tell you that the beauty world fave, a.k.a hyaluronic acid, is a beta hydroxy acid? Or if we explain that lactic and glycolic acids are AHAs? Not so scary, right?
These acids not only remove dead cells but also are effectively absorbed, hydrating the deeper layers of your skin. Moreover, they work on every skin type and address many skin conditions, like premature aging, acne-prone and dry skin.
Now: to exfoliate or not to exfoliate every day?
Even though most products are formulated with safe, active ingredients that will exfoliate all the dirt and dead cells away, you shouldn’t use them every day, especially if you are choosing physical exfoliators.
Tip: try to exfoliate your skin once or twice a week tops and consult with a board certified dermatologist if you experience any problems.
The next step in your Korean skin care routine is to tone it up! Use a cotton pad, apply a few drops of toner in it, and gently tap it on your skin.
Toners balance your skin’s ph levels and your skin tone, preparing it for what’s coming next.
Something that is unique in the Korean daily skin care routine is the use of essences. The K beauty industry basically invented these steps and you must have watched your favorite idols doing it in many K-dramas, so applying essence is a signature step!
Essences are a hydrating mist or concentrated liquid that will increase your skin's ability to absorb all the delicious nutrients that you will apply in the next steps of your 10-step Korean skincare routine.
These moisturizing miracles go from hyaluronic acid to prevent premature aging to vitamin c to treat spots and will leave your skin feeling oh-so-amazing.
Serums can treat specific skin concerns like dark spots, acne, wrinkles, dry skin, fine lines, redness, blemishes, and many more.
These hydrating products are really easy to apply. You just need to layer a few drops of your favorite serum and gently massage until it is effectively absorbed.
7. Sheet mask
These face-shaped sheet masks are used to address different skin concerns, so their ingredients can vary according to the problem they are treating.
For example, some are packed with shea butter for intense moisture; tea tree, green tea, and salicylic acid for acne control; or hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin.
There is a mask for almost any skin type. Moreover, sheet masks could be used every other day and not in your daily routine. You should apply them for 20 min to allow all the ingredients to penetrate deeply into your skin.
8. Eye cream
If you want to get rid of dark circles and the saggy skin under your eyes, eye cream is the next step in your Korean skin care routine.
The skin under your eyes is super thin, that’s why you should give it special treatment. Eye creams and gels are formulated specifically to be light and easy to absorb by your skin.
You should apply only a little bit of eye cream (please don’t go too crazy about it) and gently massage the area until it is 100% soaked up.
As you may have noticed already, Koreans are true-blue about giving the skin the moisture it needs to be healthy and honey-looking, that’s why they swear by this step.
Moisturizers help your skin to effectively absorb nutrients, sealing them in. They form a thin layer that prevents the skin from losing hydration and free radicals from penetrating the skin barrier.
A good moisturizer leaves skin feeling tight and ready to face the day or to have the beauty sleep you deserve.
10. Sun protection
This is a morning routine step that you can’t, won’t, and not be allowed to skip.
Sunscreen repels the effects of the damaging UV rays that can cause dark spots, redness, and skin cancer.
Important: You must wear sunscreen, even if you are the Lord of Darkness and never go out.
Korean beauty routine: steps in and steps out
As we’ve mentioned before, the 10-step Korean skincare routine can be actually made up by as many steps as you want.
For example, you could eliminate the eye cream or add a sleeping mask to your night routine. However, there are some steps you can’t skip if you want your Korean skin care routine to work:
- Oil based cleanser
- Water based cleanser
The other steps are optional and you should adapt them to your skin type and needs!
Remember that Korean skin care is all about celebrating your skin in the most natural way, so leave out as many extra steps as you want, and build a Korean beauty routine that you love and adapts to your lifestyle.
Where can you find the products for your Korean daily skin care routine?
Whether you are looking for the basic steps Korean face products like an oil cleanser, toner, water cleanser, and moisturizer, or want to go all the way through the 10-steps routine with serums, essences, sheet masks, and eye creams, there are many shops where you’ll find everything you need to start with your Korean skin care regime, and that’s where we come in!
Asian Beauty Essential is an Asian beauty product-only shop where you can buy all the products you need to get started with your Korean skin regime.
So, are you ready to get that glass, honey, or dumpling skin you have been dreaming about?
Visit our shop and begin your skincare journey today.