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The Korean Skincare Routine

Updated on September 3, 2018
Etude House Milky You Cleansing Foam
Etude House Milky You Cleansing Foam

If you are into anything Korean, you've probably heard about their unique skincare routine. This routine is very intensive and requires some dedication, but sticking to it will lead to amazing results. There are typically 8-10 steps to follow, and it includes a morning routine and a nightly routine. Want to learn more? See what you'll need to follow the routine and get started to see the changes for yourself.

Morning Routine

Step 1: The Cleanse

The first step of the morning routine is to wash your face so you start fresh. In the morning, you only need to cleanse once. You can use a cream cleanser or a foaming cleanser. This is a great way to wake up your skin. Try massaging your skin a little bit to refresh yourself! Peppy scents like grapefruit, peppermint, and citrus are great for your morning cleanse.

Secret Key Tea Tree Refresh Calming Toner
Secret Key Tea Tree Refresh Calming Toner

Step 2: The Toner

After the cleanse, it's time to use a toner. The toner removes any leftover cleanser on your face, and it also prepares your skin to receive the benefits of the other skincare steps to come. Toners are easy to use - you can use a cotton pad to apply it to your face or gently pat it in with your hands. Toners don't get rinsed off.

Innisfree Green Tea Fresh Essence
Innisfree Green Tea Fresh Essence

Step 3: Essence

The essence is the first step of skin renewal and treatment. This step will start allowing you to target certain skin issues you may have, like blemishes, wrinkles, or dull skin. You can apply this product with a cotton pad, your hand, or even a misting bottle - it's very watery. Use a gentle tapping motion to tap the essence into your skin.

Milky Dress Peach Intense Care Serum
Milky Dress Peach Intense Care Serum

Step 4: Serum

Serums are like thicker, more powerful essences. They work to treat skin issues as well. Serums are one of the most important steps in the Korean skincare routine. At this step, you can use more than one serum if you have multiple issues you want to treat. Just wait 1-2 minutes between each serum so that they have time to soak into the skin. It is easiest to use your hand for applying it. Gently tap the product into your skin.

Skinfood Black Raspberry Eye Cream
Skinfood Black Raspberry Eye Cream

Step 5: Eye Cream/Spot Treatments

Now you can get into more specialized skincare. At this point, you can use eye cream, spot treatments, and even lip care. Here, you can use special treatments for wrinkles, acne, blemishes, and more. Use as many products as you need for the areas you want to address.

Mizon Lovely Pure Moisturizer
Mizon Lovely Pure Moisturizer

Step 6: Day Moisturizer/Emulsion

Finally, you want to use a moisturizer to end your morning routine. Your daytime moisturizer should be light and should include some SPF for sun protection. Remember to think about your skin's needs here - if you have dry skin, go with something a little thicker and heavier. If you are oily skin, a very light emulsion might be best for you.

Tonymoly Clean Dew Apple Mint Cleansing Oil
Tonymoly Clean Dew Apple Mint Cleansing Oil

Night Routine

Step 1: The Pre-Cleanse

At night, the first step is the pre-cleanse. This first cleanse will remove the makeup that you wore during the day. In this step, you can use a makeup removing cleansing towelette or tissue, or you can use a cleansing oil. Some people use both. Just remember that cleansing oil is best for the heavy duty makeup, like mascara and eyeliner. Cleansing oil is also great for helping with breakouts and excess oil, although it may make the problem appear worse before it starts clearing up.

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam

Step 2: The Cleanse

The double cleanse is probably the trademark of the Korean skincare routine. At night, after you do the first cleanse with tissues or oil, you'll wash your face with your foam or cream cleanser. This will remove any lingering makeup and the cleansing oil that you used. This second cleanse prepares the skin to receive all the benefits of the remaining products.

The Face Shop Smart Peeling Honey Black Sugar Scrub
The Face Shop Smart Peeling Honey Black Sugar Scrub

Step 3: Exfoliate or Mask

At night, you can exfoliate your skin or use a skin mask every so often. If you like, you can do this as your second cleanse. For exfoliating, you don't want to do this every day, as it could irritate your skin. Doing it at least once a week will help to remove dead skin to keep your face looking bright and feeling soft. Wash-off masks can be used as you please - these masks are left on for 15-20 minutes before you wash them off, and can help with different skin issues like redness, acne, and more.

Skin79 Green Tea Mist Toner
Skin79 Green Tea Mist Toner

Step 4: Toner

Now it's time for the important toner again. At night, this step is especially important since it will help your skin get ready to receive all the great benefits you are about to give it through sheet masks, essences, serums, and night creams. Consider using one with a soothing scent or ingredient to help you get ready for sleep!

Chosungah Wonder Milk
Chosungah Wonder Milk

Step 5: Essence

After the toner, it's time to use an essence. At night, your skin will have an even better chance to get the benefits from this step. It will also have the chance to stay on longer while you sleep. Use an essence to help you treat any specific areas you worry about, like brightening, firming, or pore tightening.

Dermal Red Wine Collagen Essence Mask
Dermal Red Wine Collagen Essence Mask

Step 6: Sheet Masks

Sheet masks at night are a great little luxury. These masks are packed with ingredients that give your skin a great boost. Sheet masks get left on your face for about 15-20 minutes, and then you tap the remaining product into your skin. The mask gets thrown away when you are done. This step doesn't need to be done every day, but you can if you want to. It's a nice way to relax before bed. If you like, this can be done instead of an essence and serum, or you can use it in conjunction with those other steps.

Hope Girl Magic White Rain Serum
Hope Girl Magic White Rain Serum

Step 7: Serum

At night, you'll use serums again. Layering on serums makes more sense at night, since your skin has more time to absorb all the beneficial ingredients. Remember to let the serum soak in for a few minutes before applying the next one. A light massage is a great way to help the serum really get absorbed.

Milky Dress Wrinkle & Whitening Eye Cream
Milky Dress Wrinkle & Whitening Eye Cream

Step 8: Eye Cream/Spot Treatments

Time for eye creams and spot treatments again! At night, it's best to use stronger creams to help your skin. If you feel a pimple coming on, use an acne spot treatment to zap it overnight. If you are worried about wrinkles, an anti-aging cream for under the eyes is a great option. It can also be nice to pick out a soothing lip balm to smooth your lips while you sleep too!

Innisfree Wine Jelly Sleeping Pack
Innisfree Wine Jelly Sleeping Pack

Step 9: Night Moisturizer/Emulsion/Sleeping Pack

Finally, the last step of the nightly routine. Once again, it's time to moisturize. At night, you can use your standard moisturizer or you can use a sleeping pack or night cream. These are thicker moisturizers that have more benefits for your skin as you sleep. Depending on how dry your skin is, you can use a sleeping pack every night, a couple times a week, or just as you need!

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© 2015 Nora B


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