The PERFECT 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

Have you ever wondered about the enchanting clarity of Korean skin, or perhaps marveled at the subtle, natural glow that seems to grace their faces? It's because they adopt a slightly different approach to skincare. While there's ample information online about the 10-step Korean skincare routine, none delves deeply into the specifics. That's why we've delved into the skincare routines of Korean celebrities, dermatologists, and beauty influencers to quench your curiosity!

Let's zoom in on the details.

The Perfect 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

1. Wash Your Hands Thoroughly Before Cleansing

7 Steps to Hand Washing

Washing your hands before cleansing your face is the most basic and important step, yet it's a step that many neglect. Think about all the surfaces you touch throughout the day—door handles/knobs, phones, hair, and countless others. Applying cleanser with unwashed hands risks transferring germs and dirt to your face, a bit like relying on shampoo runoff to cleanse your body in the shower. Such shortcuts won't cut it. Washing your face with clean hands forms the cornerstone of a proper Korean skincare routine.

2. Precleanse Your Makeup

If you wear makeup, it’s crucial to thoroughly remove it using an oil-based cleanser or micellar water before proceeding with your facial cleanser. This initial step ensures the removal of impurities that may not be visible to the naked eye during the subsequent wash.

Now, when using an oil-based cleanser, you need to make sure that you gently massage your face with it on a dry face for no more than a minute. It's important to note that this minute applies to all your facial cleansing steps, including exfoliation. After massaging, add some water to activate the oil formula, causing it to emulsify into a milky consistency that effectively cleanses your skin and removes any oily residue that could lead to breakouts.

Once emulsified, proceed to rinse your face with lukewarm water. Remember to rinse your face with lukewarm water at all times!

Quick tip! Consider using eye and lip makeup removers (also known as point makeup removers) that not only gently eliminate makeup but also offer nourishment to these delicate areas.

Precleanse Your Makeup

Skip the oil-based cleanser if you haven't applied any makeup. Double cleansing can lead to dryness and disrupt your skin’s natural balance of water and oil, especially if your skin is sensitive or dry. It's important to note that cleansing your face twice won't necessarily address skin concerns; instead, it may cause irritation. Always prioritize gentleness when caring for your skin.

3. Gently Wash Your Face With A Low pH Cleanser

You've likely heard about the importance of balancing your skin's pH levels to address various skin concerns. This holds some truth. Making minor adjustments can actually alleviate many daily skin issues, and a great starting point is opting for a low-pH cleanser.

A low-pH cleanser won’t leave your skin feeling tight, dry, or itchy after use. It effectively removes dirt and debris while maintaining the skin's optimal pH balance. Healthy skin typically maintains a pH level within the range of 4.0 to 5.5, and low-pH cleansers contribute to maintaining this acidic environment. This, in turn, promotes healthier, stronger, and less inflamed skin, while also enhancing the effectiveness of other skincare products!

Gently Wash Your Face With A Low pH Cleanser

Be sure to lather an ample amount of facial cleanser between your palms to produce sufficient foam before cleansing your face. Your skin will thank you for the reduced irritation, as the foam acts as a protective barrier against abrasion, harsh rubbing, and moisture loss. Additionally, the fine particle size of the foam allows for a more thorough cleanse. Remember to apply an adequate amount of moisturizer afterward (see step 5).

4. Exfoliate Your Skin With A Chemical Exfoliant

Exfoliation is a fundamental step in the Korean skincare routine, essential for boosting skin cell turnover, refining texture, evening tone, and diminishing blemishes. When choosing between physical and chemical exfoliants, the latter proves to be the preferred option for most.

Chemical exfoliants work by gently breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells, providing a slow and gentle approach to skincare. In contrast, physical exfoliants mechanically remove these cells, often leading to uneven results and skin irritation—a big no-no!

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are the primary ingredients in chemical exfoliants, aiding in the regeneration of healthy skin cells. If you're already using products containing these compounds, additional exfoliation may not be necessary. However, for those who rely solely on daily moisturizers, incorporating a gentle peeling gel into your routine once or twice a week can be beneficial.

Exfoliate Your Skin With A Chemical Exfoliant

Avoid over-exfoliating your skin! Some people find even weekly exfoliation too harsh, while others consider it unnecessary. Remember, always optimize your routine according to what suits you best.

5. Opt For A Hyaluronic Acid Toner

Use A Hyaluronic Acid Toner

Hyaluronic acid (HA), also known as hyaluronan, is a natural substance present in the body's fluids. This powerful humectant can attract up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. Due to its exceptional moisture-retaining ability, incorporating HA into your skincare routine immediately after cleansing is highly beneficial.

To do so, abundantly wet a cotton pad with HA toner, gently wipe your face, and lightly tap your skin to enhance absorption and enjoy its full benefits. By using an HA-infused cotton pad after washing your face, you can effectively remove any remaining residue and brighten your skin. Alternatively, you can apply several dampened cotton pads across your face for a hydrating facial mask experience!

If your skin is sensitive or if your toner has a thicker consistency, you may want to skip the cotton pad and use clean hands to apply the HA evenly across your face. Another option is to opt for a HA toner mist!

6. Use A Vitamin C Serum

Use A Vitamin C Serum

The next step in the perfect Korean skincare routine is the application of a vitamin C serum. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects your skin against photoaging while reducing hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. By promoting a healthy skin environment, you can further prevent skin troubles. It's worth emphasizing that vitamin C serums work to enhance skin tone and stimulate collagen synthesis, promoting firm and youthful skin.

For optimal results, look for vitamin C serums containing ascorbic acid in concentrations ranging from 10 to 20%, or explore gentler alternatives utilizing other forms of vitamin C.

For a nighttime skincare routine, you can skip vitamin C and instead incorporate a Korean retinol cream into this step. Just be mindful that you don’t exfoliate your skin when applying retinol.

7. Use A Niacinamide Ampoule

After applying a vitamin C serum of your choice, proceed to apply a niacinamide ampoule or essence. Vitamin C serums have a light texture and are quickly absorbed, so there's no need to wait a couple of minutes before applying the niacinamide ampoule.

Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, offers a range of benefits to the skin. Primarily, it shields your skin from environmental damage and fortifies the skin barrier to maintain skin health. It also boosts the function of the skin's lipid barrier, promoting hydration and preventing dryness.

But the benefits of niacinamide don’t end there; it also soothes the skin, reduces inflammation, and plays a valuable role in anti-aging skincare routines. A key reason why people turn to niacinamide is its ability to inhibit melanin production, resulting in a brighter skin tone and reduced hyperpigmentation.

Use A Niacinamide Ampoule

Niacinamide is great for all skin types, whether oily, acne-prone, or sensitive, so be sure to include it in your Korean skincare routine!

8. Apply a Thin Layer Of Soothing Moisturizer

Apply a Thin Layer Of Soothing Moisturizer

For the final application, apply a thin layer of your daily moisturizer. Whether it's a cream or lotion, choose what works best for your skin. The moisturizer will help lock in hydration, keeping your skin healthy and glowing. Moreover, the ingredients in the vitamin C serum and niacinamide ampoule will aid in absorbing the moisturizer.

9. Care For Your Skin With An At Home Skincare Device

We’re very lucky to have more options to care for our skin these days. The care you would have otherwise received at a professional clinic? We’ve got so many devices available to use at home as well. Well, of course in lower intensities but that still gets the job done!

The Korean beauty market has witnessed a surge in competition for beauty devices as people’s interest in pore care has increased over the past few years. Especially with the occurrence of the pandemic, many are seeking convenient ways that don’t require continuous visits to the aesthetician. Consider trying one of these innovative beauty devices to experience Korean skincare!

Care For Your Skin With An At Home Skincare Device

10. Don’t Forget Suncare In Your Morning/Day Routine

Now, this last step is the most important one in maintaining healthy skin: never skip suncare! While we understand the importance of sunscreens in preventing skin cancer, safeguarding against UV rays is equally vital for preserving youthful skin. With numerous sunscreens available on the market, it can be confusing to choose. Opt for a sunscreen that suits your skin type and has SPF50+, such as one of these Korean sunscreens. But remember, the best sunscreen is the one you apply consistently!

Don’t Forget Suncare In Your Morning/Day Routine

Before applying sunscreen, ensure you have allowed sufficient time after applying moisturizer. If you apply sunscreen immediately afterward, the oily substances may mix, leading to an uneven application. This could diminish the effectiveness of both the moisturizer and the sunscreen and may even cause skin issues. Allow about 5 minutes for your skin to absorb the moisturizer before proceeding to suncare.

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