At the heart of K-beauty is diligent maintenance, and it all starts with 기초화장 (“gi cho hwa jang,” literal translation: basic makeup). It refers to the fundamental skincare steps, i.e., cleansing, protecting, and maintaining the health of your skin.
Although the idea of calling skincare “makeup” might sound a little dramatic, the Korean concept of skincare being synonymous with makeup is smart because it’s based on the notion that skin should be made healthy before creating the illusion of it. Further evidence is found in the rapidly surfacing beauty articles featuring THE Korean skincare regimen. We have observed, researched, and experimented with the way Korean women do it off and online and contemplated how to make the orchestral and possibly intimidating process easier to remember (and do). In the end, we narrowed it all down into four easy-to-remember categories and steps– a.k.a. the 4 pillars of a skincare routine.
Take it all off. Remove makeup with a Cleansing Wipe (or Makeup Remover for heavy eye & lip makeup), then take a Cleansing Oil or Cleansing Balm and rub it into the skin to draw out impurities. Lastly, wet your face with lukewarm water, lather up your Cleansing Foam, massage your face in a circular motion, then wash it off. If you would really like to dive into the art of cleansing, check out our previous blog post on the Double Cleanse method!
Insider Tip: When your face is wet after cleansing, avoid rubbing your face into the towel to dry off. Rubbing your face against the towel can be harsh and dry. Instead, gently pat the towel on your face to absorb water.
Stabilize your skin. Soak a cotton pad with a Toner/Skin Softener and sweep from the center of your face out. This will tone, hydrate, and restore the disturbed pH balance.
Insider Tip: Make sure your cotton pad is evenly soaked with a product to prevent any dry spots or corners of the cotton pad from scratching your skin.
Give it some love. Apply Essence when the skin is still moist with Toner, starting from the center of your face out (along with the skin’s natural texture for maximum absorption). Layer on Ampoule or Serum in the order of thickness (light to heavy texture).
Insider Tip: Select Essence and Ampoule to address specific skin needs. Do you struggle with hyperpigmentation? Try a brightening product with loads of Vitamin C. Need wrinkle care? Try a product with anti-aging properties.
Prepare for battle. Apply Emulsion and Cream after the Serum or Ampoule has been completely absorbed. Apply product starting from the center of the face out along the skin’s texture. Avoid tugging on delicate areas around the eyes and the corners of your mouth. Apply Eye Cream with your ring finger, gently tapping it on eyelids and the undereye area. Apply Sunscreen for daytime. Emulsion and Cream will not only hydrate but also create a protective layer against harsh temperatures or pollution.
Insider Tip: Avoid using your palms to apply skincare products. Palms are highly absorbent and will soak up most of the product before it goes on your face. Use your fingers instead.
For days when your skin needs some extra TLC, apply a Sheet Mask after the Cleanse step or wear a good Sleeping Mask to bed. You might notice your skin responding to certain consistency and texture over others and may need to customize your skincare regimen accordingly. The important thing is adhering to the 4 pillars, even if you choose not to use all the products mentioned. Always remember to be mindful of your skin type and needs when choosing a skincare product. Ultimately, YOU are your own skin expert!
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website's content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra's expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.