Skincare in Korea is a somewhat exhaustive multi-step process, a fact which seems to have sparked a ton of intrigue in the beauty world as of late. To outsiders looking in, the “million-step” Korean skincare regimen sounds a bit extreme, but it all boils down to cleansing, exfoliating, treating, intensely moisturizing and applying plenty of SPF during the day.
As I am of Korean descent, the ten step Korean skincare regimen is a method that I have been advised to follow since adolescence. I will be describing the steps in detail and going into depth about the benefits!
Step 1: The Eye Makeup Removal
Remove your eye makeup gently with good makeup remover. A normal cleanser will not be able to do the job thoroughly. And the last thing you want to do is tug the skin around your eyes, because, like most things in life, it will hold up better if you treat it gingerly. Eye makeup remover can also be used to remove any lip makeup, as well.
Step 2: The Cleanser
Koreans like to use gentle, nonirritating cleansers. It is not recommended to cleanse the skin with harsh, acne cleansers. These types can often cause irritation and dry skin. Trust me; I have had my fair share of bad experience with those types of cleansers. Use gentle, circular motions with your fingers to massage and clean off that foundation and BB cream. Koreans believe that massaging the face increases circulation, which equals brighter skin.
Step 3: The Exfoliator
Exfoliating with a natural scrub brings your skin rejuvenation, and also makes it as soft as a baby’s butt. Once or twice a week is plenty, just concentrate on the t-zone or where blackheads frequent. When it comes to facial exfoliation, Korean women often believe less is more. Over exfoliation is never the answer!
Step 4: The Refresher
What we in America think of as “toning' is an essential step. It's believed to help remove pollutants along with any residue from your cleansers, while also restoring your skin’s pH balance. It soothes and preps your skin to absorb the next step—the essence. Koreans look for toners that are not harsh or drying. The toners actually help hydrate the skin, and are alcohol free. Dispense the toner onto a cotton pad and wipe your face and neck—and don’t be surprised at the dirty streak left on the pad. Double cleansing really does the job.
Step 5: The Essence
The essence is considered the most important step to Korean women. It affects skin on a cellular level, speeding your cell turnover rate which makes skin smoother and brighter. I’ve had the most noticeable results from adding this this to my regimen. I love the SKII! It brought immense hydration to my skin.
Step 6: The Ampoule
Ampoules are super-concentrated versions of essences, and are often referred to as serums in the U.S. I personally am not too familiar with this step, but I do know that ampoules generally are made to concentrate on one problematic focus of the skin. For example, ampoules may be specific to dryness, uneven skin, etc.
Step 7: The Sheet Mask
Sheet masks are used 2-3 times a week, or more if your face is very dry. The wet are soaked in ingredients like collagen, which they in turn soak into your skin. They force your skin to absorb the nutrients and moisture better than if you just applied a cream or serum. A recent Korean skincare trend, modeling masks, are the hype right now. I haven’t tried it yet, but intend to very soon. They apparently give you the skin of a baby!
Step 8: The Eye Cream
This is a self-explanatory step, as the eye is the most sensitive and delicate skin area. Gently tap the eye cream into your eye bags and use the leftover cream on your smile line wrinkles! (a tip my mom has taught me)
Step 9: The Moisturizer
If you haven’t noticed, Korean women are all about layering, to the point you feel your skin has been mummified. Again, generously massage the lotion, or emulsion (called that in Korea) into our skin.
Step 10: The Night Cream
Your skin probably looks shiny, or dewy, (as Koreans call it) at this point. This step is not recommended in the morning, though, because it will be too greasy of a base for your makeup. At night, however, the skin will rehydrate and recharge with the use of this product.