What Is the 10 Steps Korean Skin Care Routine?

When it comes to Korean skin care, 10 step beauty routines and unusual ingredients might be what first come to mind. I know what you’re thinking - a ten step beauty routine? Doesn’t that take forever? 

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Well, there’s a reason that the 10 steps Korean skin care routine exists in the first place - it just really works. To be honest, it’s more than just a way of applying your skincare routine for many women - it’s a way of life. Here’s our guide to exactly what this ten-step skincare routine is made of with some tips for the best of Korean skin care along the way.

What are the 10 Steps to Korean Skin Care?

To put them all in a list, in the correct order, here’s what makes up a 10 steps Korean skin care routine:

  1. Oil Cleanser
  2. Second Cleanser
  3. Exfoliator
  4. Essence
  5. Toner & Face Mist
  6. Serums
  7. Sheet Masks
  8. Eye Cream
  9. Moisturiser
  10. Sun Screen (Day) / Sleeping Mask (Night)

Each of these steps has an important role in nourishing your skin - and the best thing is, the beneficial effects of each of these steps is boosted when you use the best of korean skin care. Making sure that you take time for each of these skincare steps can boost your skincare results!

However, to get the benefits of all 10 steps to Korean skin care routines, we first need to go through each step and understand why each step is so crucial to help bring your skin to the next level!

Step 1: Oil Cleanser

Technically, this step also includes using a balm cleanser - both types of cleanser are perfect for this step. The reason that oil cleansing is the first in a 10 steps Korean skin care routine is that it removes any lingering grime from your day. 

Oil cleansers help to break down makeup and other oil-based debris, as well as deeply cleanse your skin of any particles like pollution that might be lingering in pores. Balm and oil cleansers are usually part of your night time routine as they’re such an important step in makeup removal.

This lightweight cleansing oil from Sulwhasoo sweeps away all traces of makeup and impurities for fresh, radiant skin.

Step 2: Second Cleanser

Using an oil cleanser and a regular cleanser together is a technique called double-cleansing - the two most important first steps in the full 10 steps to Korean skin care routine. By using a second cleanser after your oil cleanser, you’re making sure that there are no more lingering traces of makeup and that any residue from your oil cleanser is gone. 

Another reason you might want to use a second cleanser is if you’re using a cleanser with active ingredients - they help to benefit your skin, even in the short amount of time that they’re actually applied!

Fortified with a Korean herbal formula to nourish and revitalise skin, this cleanser from History of Whoo is an amazing addition to your skincare routine.

Step 3: Exfoliator

Exfoliation helps get smoother, more refined skin, but that’s not all this skin care step is good for. Regularly using an exfoliating ingredient like glycolic acid or lactic acid can help to firm skin, boosting collagen production and fading dark spots for a youthful, healthy glow. 

Physical exfoliators can give skin a glowy boost, too - which one you add to your 10 step skin care routine is completely up to you!

This two-in-one exfoliator and face mask from Sulwhasoo reveals your skin’s radiance with the power of potent Ginseng Extracts.

Step 4: Essence

Essence is an incredibly important skin care step in Korean beauty routines. They’re gaining popularity in Western brands now, but essences have been around for a very long time in South Korea and Japan, and have a crucial role to play in your skincare routine.

An essence is a very lightweight skincare product that primes your skin for all of the skincare steps that come after it. In a 10 steps Korean skin care routine, it’s the first step after exfoliating. Skin care essence works like a primer, boosting the absorption of any skincare steps that come after as well as lending some skin care benefits with a small amount of active ingredients to your skin.

Instantly hydrate skin and refine pores with this lightweight, nourishing essence from su:m37°.

Step 5: Toner & Face Mist

Toner in East Asian skin care has a different definition compared to the west. In Western countries, a toner is a skincare product that is usually slightly drying and astringent, in order to minimise pores and reduce the look of shiny skin. 

In a 10 steps Korean skin care routine, a toner is typically a lightweight, watery skincare product that’s pressed into the skin with your hands to boost hydration and glow. Toners are sometimes packaged as face mists for more convenient application - all you have to do is spritz your face and pat in the excess - to increase your skin’s water levels and ward off dryness.

This toner from Sulwhasoo works hard to fade dark spots and hydrate skin.

Step 6: Serums & Treatments

Serums are the hero of any skin care routine, especially when it comes to targeting concerns like ageing, dark spots, and more - so it’s no surprise that there’s a space reserved for them amongst all the steps to Korean skin care routines!

Serums and ampoules are packed with higher concentrations of active ingredients to boost your skincare routine and get you on the way to reaching your skin goals. Emulsions can also fit into this spot in a skincare routine, and even be used after serum for an extra nourishing boost.

This lightweight skin treatment from the History of Whoo boosts skin with a blend of herbs proven to restore luminosity and glow.

Step 7: Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are often more common in Korean skin care routines than wash off masks - and that’s because they’re able to lock in all the benefits of the previous skin care steps and supercharge your skin’s hydration.

These leave-on masks are created with a thin sheet of natural fabric that’s soaked in a nourishing essence with conveniently shaped with eye, nose and mouth holes to fit over your skin. Sheet masks instantly plump skin full of hydration for a dewy glow, and are often infused with other ingredients to soften fine lines, boost radiance, and firm skin.

Sheet masks like this one from Dr. Jart+ are an easy way to up your skin’s hydration and nourish skin. 

Step 8: Eye Cream

When it comes to the signs of ageing, our eyes are often the first to show. That’s why the best of Korean skin care routines always include an eye care step!

Using an eye cream regularly can reduce how deeply eye wrinkles form, as well as lend all-important hydration to help plump the area and reduce the look of dark circles. 

Firm delicate under-eye skin and ward off crow’s feet with this nurturing eye cream developed by luxury Korean skincare brand su:m37°.

Step 9: Moisturiser

The all-important product to lock everything in in a 10 step skincare routine has to be moisturiser! They’re formulated to plump up fine lines with hydrators and prevent any water from evaporating away from your skin, making sure your skin stays dewy and moisturised all day and all night long.

This creamy moisturiser from Sulwhasoo is fortified with Ginseng Extract, a powerful natural ingredient that strengthens skin against premature signs of ageing. 

Step 10: Sunscreen OR Sleeping Mask

The last (but not least) step of a 10 step Korean skin care routine depends whether you’re doing your morning or night time routine. In the daytime, it’s crucial to cap off your Korean skin care routine with sunscreen. This protects your skin from the age-accelerating rays of the sun, warding off wrinkles and age spots. 

While this isn’t a Korean skincare product, it fits right in to support your 10 step k-Beauty routine by shielding your skin from the sun’s damaging rays!

Or, if you’re getting ready to go to bed, it’s best to finish off your routine with a sleeping mask. A sleeping mask is like a heavy-duty moisturiser and tends to be enriched with more active ingredients than your average moisturiser. They leave your skin with a noticeable glow in the morning thanks to the increased hydration and moisture they can lock into your skin!

Take your nighttime routine to the next level with the sleeping mask in this supercharged anti-aging skincare set from Sulwhasoo.

Now that you know all the steps to Korean skin care, will you make this lengthy skin care routine a habit? If you still want to use the best of Korean skin care without committing to all 10 steps, pick the ones most important to you - you can still make use of them, just make sure that you’re layering your skincare the right way!

Not sure about the full ten steps and just want a simple skin care routine? Try our skin analysis - you’ll get a straightforward routine that’s created just for your skin type. Plus, you can try the products that we suggest to you before you commit to the full size!

Skin Analysis

Products Mentioned:

  • Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil
  • The History of Whoo Gongjinhyang Foam Cleanser
  • Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Exfoliating Mask
  • su:m37° Water-Full Timeless Pore Essence
  • Sulwhasoo Snowise Balancing Water
  • The History of Whoo Gongjinhyang Seol Radiant White Emulsion
  • Dr. Jart+ Dermask Vital Hydra Solution
  • su:m37° Secret Eye Cream
  • Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Cream
  • Dermalogica Powerbright Moisturiser SPF 50
  • Sulwhasoo Time Treasure Invigorating Skincare Set
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