In recent years, the beauty industry has sky rocketed, particularly in the area of skincare. With social gatherings limited and work-from-home orders, less people are wearing makeup and creating a skincare routine instead. And there’s no question, Korea is the leading country in skincare.
One of the reasons that K Beauty has become such a huge trend is because of the “10 Step Korean Skincare Routine” that went viral across the globe. Steps include:
- Oil-based Cleanser
- Water-based Cleanser
- Sheet Mask
- Eye Cream
- Sunscreen or Night Cream
You can find several variations of the routine online, including rumours that Korean women do it everyday! In reality — barring a few skincare fanatics — no one does the 10-step routine everyday. What’s more, the skincare industry has evolved to complement our busy lives…I mean, who has time for 10 steps in the morning?
Of course, the state of our skin is determined by numerous factors such as our diet, lifestyle and genetics. However, achieving healthy skin is not as difficult as some may think and it certainly doesn’t warrant 10-step routines morning and night. Whether you’re a skincare newbie, on a budget or simply wanting to give K Beauty a try, here is an easy 4-step routine for you.
Step 1: Cleanse
The first step is to cleanse. Which cleanser you use will depend on what your skin has been through at the time. If you’ve got a full face of makeup or sunscreen that needs to come off, go for a balm or oil cleanser. However, if you’ve just woken up or been exercising with a cosmetic-free face, you can head straight for the foam cleanser.
Note: If you use an oil cleanser, you should always follow up with a foam cleanser to remove residual oil
One product that I personally recommend is the Calming Foam Cleanser by COSRX. It is a fresh, gentle cleanser that is great for sensitive skin or that prone to acne. It gently removes dirt and excess oil, leaving the skin soft, smooth and fresh. If you are nervous about the idea of using an oil cleanser, you can double cleanse with this foam cleanser instead!
You can pick up this cleanser at Olive Young or online at COSRX’s official site. They even sell outside Korea! In Korea they are 13,000 KRW and one bottle typically lasts me 3 months, so its definitely worth the money!
Step 2: Tone and Treat
Cleansing, while necessary, can disrupt your skin’s pH. Therefore, it is necessary to use a toner before continuing with your routine. Toners are great for rehydrating and rebalancing your skin pH after cleansing. Many people make the mistake of skipping the toner step and going straight to treatments, but you should think of the toner as a protective layer on top of your cleansed skin.
This is also the step where you can target any skin problems you may have. Whether you have acne, hyperpigmentation, redness etc. you can easily find targeted products in Korea. The treatment step can include one or more of essences, serums, ampoules or masks.
My advice is to search for products based on their ingredients. For instance, products containing Niacinamide can help to brighten dull skin, while Centella Asiatica helps to soothe inflammation or sensitivity. Additionally, hyaluronic acid is one of the best skincare ingredients for attracting healthy moisture.
You already know that I am a fan of COSRX, well, I also use their AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner. The combination of AHA and BHA aids pore control and hydrates the skin post-cleanse, making it the perfect toner-treatment combination. However, this toner is stronger than others on the market and can flare up the skin if overused. Therefore, start off by applying small amounts 1-2 times a week and increasing gradually. You can get a 100ml bottle for 13-15,000 KRW.
Step 3. Moisturize
Many people with oily skin make the mistake of skipping the moisturize step as they think it will exacerbate their problem. However, depriving the skin of moisture can stimulate the production of more oil in order to compensate for the water loss. Regardless of your skin type, moisturising is an essential step.
Lack of water is well-known as a cause of dry and flaky skin too. Hydrating your skin with a moisturiser will promote your skin’s natural exfoliation process. If you’re a fan of Korean sheet masks, moisturising afterwards will help your skin retain all the yummy goodness from the mask.
I use COSRX’s Advanced Snail 92 All in one Cream. The moisturizer is enriched with 92% snail mucin that, while sounding a little icky, is another invaluable skincare ingredient. Snail mucin is excellent at retaining moisture after your routine and throughout the day, without an oily texture. Moreover, snail mucin can dramatically improve your skin elasticity and collagen content. And — if that wasn’t enough — it also naturally soothes redness. It costs 13-15,000 won.
Step 4: Protect
Last but certainly not least, protect your skin by religiously applying sunscreen. Many of us only use sunscreen on certain occasions like going to the beach or hiking, but many Koreans use sunscreen everyday, even during winter. Wearing sunscreen not only protects your skin from burning; did you know UV exposure can speed up the development of wrinkles?
There are many Korean sunscreens with a pleasant texture and contain other protective ingredients. The Aloe Soothing Sun Cream (SPF 50+) by COSRX is formulated with aloe arborescens leaf extract, perfect for the hot humid Korean summer. Moreover, unlike other sunscreens, it doesn’t leave a white cast and feels super light on the skin — perfect pre-makeup!
When applying sunscreen, a good rule of thumb is to use the amount of 1-2 fingertips (no pun intended) or enough to cover the face, neck and other exposed areas. Avoiding wiping your face and be sure to reapply at least ever 2 hours, more frequently when you’re out in the sun for long periods of time.