The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

The 10-Step Korean skincare routine is more than a routine to try out. It’s a whole lifestyle that has developed into a global experience. It’s heavily based on Korea’s cultural passion for having healthy and flawless skin. It is supported by many years of scientific research and advancement. The routine does not prioritize having more (skincare) products than you can count, but instead, it focuses on having the right products (for your skin) that do the right things and use them in the intended order.

The routine is made up of some particular Korean products, such as essences and ampoules. It’s also made up of universal cornerstones in skincare, such as moisturizers and cleansers. The routine follows an almost stringent or religious order; the steps are as follows:

⦁ A balm or oil cleanser.
⦁ A foaming cleanser.
⦁ An exfoliant.
⦁ A toner.
⦁ An essence.
⦁ An ampoule or serum.
⦁ A sheet mask.
⦁ An eye cream.
⦁ A moisturizer.
⦁ Thicker night cream or sleeping mask or an SPF.

The general idea of the routine is that after the cleansing, you want to use the product with the lightest formula and finish off with the thickest products.

Oil cleanser

Oil cleansers are the first step of this routine. They are part of a double cleanse step. The oil cleanser is very relaxing to use, and they break down and remove oil-based impurities such as sebum and SPF. Oil cleansers are also less harsh on your skin compared to a regular cleanser. These oil-based cleansers have also proven to be very effective in removing any water-proof sunscreens as well.

Use the oil cleanser in the night. Gently massage it into your skin for 2-3 minutes, and use some warm water to rinse. Ingredients such as Jojoba oil, macadamia oil, and grapeseed oil are some of the essential oils to look out for in your cleanser. However, take note of the oils if you have any allergic reactions to them.

Foaming cleanser

The second step makes use of a water-based cleanser. Using a foaming cleanser will help eliminate all the sweat and dirt building up on your skin. This double-cleansing step will remove all dirt, grime, sweat, and any other oil-based impurities that might have been left over. Cleansing twice is highly recommended to remove all dirt and impurities. Water-based cleansers dissolve water-based impurities that can’t be cleansed by an oil cleanser.

Use the foaming cleanser in the morning or night. Gently apply on your damp skin, then rinse off with warm water. Use a pH balancing cleanser so that your skin barrier is protected. The human skin has pH levels of between 4.7-5.7. Use a cleanser that has a lower pH number than that. Some ingredients to look out for in a foaming cleanser include green tea, rice extract, and pearl extract.


A gentle face scrub that best suits your skin type should be enough here. This step will help to clean your skin. Physical and chemical exfoliation will clean your skin pores and remove any dead skin cells for visibly smoother skin. Regular exfoliation also helps your skin to absorb other skincare products you use, making them more efficient. Exfoliation will also improve your skin tone.

Use an exfoliant once or twice a week for the best results. Pay more attention to your nose region, your cheeks, and all other areas where there are visible pores. Gently exfoliate and use warm water to rinse off. Pat yourself dry with a soft towel. Some of the key ingredients to look out for in an exfoliant include black sugar and lactic acid.


A toner’s main job is to balance the moisture and pH levels of your skin. Using a toner will remove any leftover impurities from your cleansers while also helping your skin effectively absorb the moisturizers. Some toners tend to decrease the oil in your skin, making it feel very dry and tight. Therefore, avoid using any alcohol-based toners. Recently, toners containing antioxidants, other beneficial additives, and anti-inflammatory properties are now available. These offer better results than alcohol-based toners.

When applying the toner, use a cotton pad to dab all across your face or gently massage into your skin using your fingers. Make use of a toner that contains ingredients such as aloe and citric acid.


Using an essence is one of the most critical steps of the Korean skincare routine. Essence offers the best of both worlds; soothing and healing. It is very gentle and helps to soothe your skin while healing it at the same time. An essence is lightweight and full of skin hydrating and anti-aging ingredients. It also helps to speed up cell turnover. Regular use of essence will give you a more radiant skin that is firm and even.
To apply an essence, pour a few drops into your hands and lightly pat them into your face and neck area. Some ingredients to look out for in essence include hyaluronic acid and birch juice.

Ampoule or serum

Ampoules, serums, and boosters will help you have an even skin tone. They are made of ingredients that target specific skin issues, including acne, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles. A face serum or ampoule is a slightly concentrated and heavier type of essence. Its primary purpose is to even out your skin tone. This step of the Korean skincare routine is also intended to improve your overall skin health.

Gently pat the serum into your skin, paying more attention to darker parts. Key ingredients include Vitamin C and tea tree.

Sheet mask

This is another key step of the Korean skincare routine. Sheet masks are soaked in serums, and they are full of beneficial vitamins and minerals. They are also very hydrating, leaving your skin feeling soft and supple. A sheet mask will also infuse your skin with numerous minerals and essence.

To use a sheet mask, apply it to your face and gently pat as you line it around your mouth and eyes. Lie down, relax and leave the sheet mask on for 20-30 minutes. Essential ingredients in a musk include cumber and green tea. These are full of antioxidants and hydrating properties that are good for your skin.

Eye cream

The skin around the eyes is quite delicate, and it is usually the first to show and expose signs of aging. Therefore, the regular use of eye cream can significantly reduce puffiness, dark circles, and crow’s feet. An eye cream will also help this skin to remain hydrated. They are also formulated to be gentle and non-irritating.

To apply, take a small drop of your eye cream and gently tap (do not rub) it around the orbital bone and into the skin under your eyes. Essential ingredients in your eye cream should include honey and ginseng.


Moisturizers came in many forms (emulsions, lotions, gels, creams, etc.), but they all work the same. Their purpose is to seal in moisture so that your skin does not dry up. In the Korean 10-step skincare routine, the moisturizer helps to lock in previous layers. Find a moisturizer that is best for your skin. If you have oily skin, find a light, lotion-based moisturizer. If you have dry skin, make use of a heavier cream-based moisturizer.

To use, take a small dab of your moisturizer and gently rub it into your skin for 10-15 minutes. Use moisturizer in the morning and night, every day. Ingredients in your moisturizer should include hyaluronic acid, bamboo, and green tea.


This will help to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Always wear your sunscreen, even if you will stay indoors. Sunscreens also come in different forms, so find one that is best suited for your skin.

This is the last step in the routine, and this ensures that it is not diluted with other previous products.

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