The Korean skincare craze is one of the biggest things happening right now in beauty. It has almost eclipsed our love affair with bold eyebrows, and we know everyone is addicted to statement arches. You have probably tried a sheet mask, but if you want to try the multi-step Korean skincare routine, it can be overwhelming, considering it takes about ten different steps. We asked Angela Kim, the founder of the popular Korean beauty site InsiderBeauty to break down the routine and give us tips on how to transition from your old one.
If you are only using one or two products on your face, do not suddenly start using 10 new ones. Angela recommends slowly building up to your new routine. She explains, “Because many women have different skin types, using too many products at once can overload your skin and create breakouts. By using one new product at a time, you can see if your skin needs more nourishment or moisture or if it’s had enough.”
As far as your technique goes, when applying products, Angela says to always move upwards, except in the case of cleansers which you should apply in a circular motion. She states, “How you apply your skincare products is just as important as what you’re putting on your face.” Many of us have a tendency to pull our skin downwards when we are applying products when we should be doing the opposite.
You should also wait about 10 to 20 seconds between each step, depending on the product. Certain products, such as toners and essences, will absorb faster than thicker ones, such as moisturizers, but in total, Angela says your routine should take 10 to 12 minutes. If you use a sheet mask, you can add another 15 minutes.
The important lesson about the Korean skincare regimen, according to Angel, is about prevention and maintenance. She says:
“The heart of Korean beauty is about diligent maintenance and being vigilant about skincare from an early age to prevent wrinkles and dark spots from forming in the first place. While many may view this regimen as overbearing and time-consuming, this consistent and thorough routine will reap huge benefits over time.”
Step 1: Cleanse
The first step is obviously the cleanser. Usually, it is an oil-based one as part of a double cleanse. Angela says, “If you’re not already incorporating a double-cleanse into your skincare regimen, that is a definitive must. I recommend RE: CIPE Rose Petal Cleansing Oil to remove all makeup debris and Laneige Lip and Eye Makeup Remover to gently take off all stubborn eye makeup.” Remember to apply your cleanser in circular motions to increase blood flow.
Step 2: Cleanse again
For the second step, it is time for the last part of your double cleanse. The key is to choose products that cleanse without irritating your skin. Angela says, “RE: CIPE Lemon Slowganic Cleanser has a bouncy, soufflé-like texture to thoroughly cleanse your face without stripping it of moisture. Because it has a pH level of 5.5, it preserves your skin’s moisture barrier. Many pH levels of facial cleansers are too high or too low, which can lead to breakouts or really dry skin.”
Step 3: Exfoliate
The third step is exfoliating. Angela suggests doing it twice a week, all year long. Angela states, “Many women tend to skip this step when fall/winter strips out all the moisture from their skin which is a huge mistake. When dead skin cells aren’t sloughed off, your skin isn’t capable of absorbing all the beneficial ingredients in your skincare products. Primera Facial Mild Peeling is a cult favorite in Korea and does a superb job in whisking away and keeping your skin smooth and bright.”
Step 4: Tone
You may have a thing against toners after the harsh ones you used as a teenager but do not skip this fourth step. If you aren’t getting Korean brands for every step, try to get a Korean toner, or “skin” or “softener,” as they are often called. Angela says, “Korean toners vastly differ from their US counterparts because they typically don’t contain alcohol. Su:m37 Time Energy Skin Resetting Refining Toner is a paraben-free softener with 80 botanical extracts to calm and balance skin.”
Step 5: Essence
If you haven’t heard of an essence, pay attention because the fifth step is an important one. Angela explains, “A fundamental step in every Korean skincare regimen, the essence is essential to not only fading dark spots and hyperpigmentation but helping prep skin to absorb all subsequent skincare products more efficiently. Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence contains 80% fermented yeast concentrate to brighten skin while clarifying acne scars and other dark spots.”
Step 6: Ampoule (Optional)
“Ampoule” is another term you may not be familiar with but can help bring back the moisture to your dry skin. Angela says, “An ampoule is a super-charged serum to boost your skin when it’s feeling drier than usual. Usually targeted for the wintertime, women in Korea love using ampoule for their nightly regimens as well as mixing it in with their BB Creams for ample hydration. Banila Co Miss Flower and Mr. Honey Essence Oil will improve skin’s elasticity while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
Step 7: Sheet Mask (Optional)
Sheet masks aren’t just meant to be used once in a while; they should be incorporated into your regular beauty routine. Angela states, “I recommend using a sheet mask two to three times a week for skin maintenance and hydration. Although sheet masks are typically used at night after cleansing, many makeup artists also love to apply sheet masks pre-makeup to bring out an inner glow. I recommend Leaders Coconut Gel Brightening Recovery Mask to moisturize and even out skin tone.”
Step 8: Eye Cream
Your eye cream should be used consistently, and the application is just as important as the product. Angela explains, “Because this is such a delicate area, I recommend gently tapping (not swiping) your Innisfree Eco Science Eye Cream. Infused with kelp and ginkgo leaf extract, this eye cream will infuse critical minerals and nutrients to help your eye area look plumped and vibrant.”
Step 9: Moisturizer
The moisturizer or emulsion step doesn’t need much of an explanation because it is probably something you are very familiar with by now. Angela states, “Apply your moisturizer upwards and let your skin absorb all the beneficial ingredients. I recommend Goodal Phytorain Murumuru Seed Hydra Emulsion.”
Step 10: Night Cream
Finally, we get to the night cream, which you may already use. Angela explains, “Specifically designed to keep your skin hydrated all through the evening; a night cream will lock in all the hydration and keep your skin looking moist by morning. Goodal Creamy Plus Hydrating Cream is great for intense hydration for those with dry and depleted skin.”