You asked for it, so here it is. We’re getting into the nitty-gritty big time of skin care. Today we’re looking at the 10-step Korean skin care routine, also known as K-Beauty. I’m sure you’ve at least heard about it and may have asked, what is the 10 step Korean skin care? And is it for real?
As I’ve researched this I’ve not only learned a lot…I’ve also discovered that I’m actually already doing most of these things. I even use some Korean products…look at me go! I’ve always admired the beautiful skin of Korean women, but figured it was just genetics. I’ve discovered, however, that they have practiced for centuries what we in America…and other countries…have just discovered in the last couple of decades.
The “Why” Behind the 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine
Do you think of Koreans when you think of beautiful, clear, smooth skin. You’re in the minority if you don’t. Korean skin is often referred to as glass skin, which is clear, luminous, and looks almost transparent. People from around the world are taking notice and trying their best to duplicate this flawless skin.
As with anything else though, this flawless skin we crave for ourselves doesn’t happen without purpose and years of discipline. The South Koreans have a culture of skin care priority that stems back from centuries ago.
From the 14th to the 19th centuries South Korea had kisaengs, comparable to the geishas in Japanese culture. These women were considered among the most beautiful women, just like the geisha women. Of course these women were groomed from an early age to look and act very delicate. These women had porcelain skin and wore very distinct and minimalistic makeup which is still the norm in South Korean culture today.
The culture today in South Korea is still one of mastering the glass skin and starts at an early age. I known this doesn’t bode well for us, but maybe there’s still hope. From childhood they are taught to protect their skin from sun exposure and by their twenties they practice a full-scale skin care regimen. The thought of not washing their face daily would be equivalent to us not bathing or brushing our teeth for a week. Yuck!
And now we want the same. It may be too late for some of us to have that flawless skin, but we can take their advice and hopefully at least reverse some damage we’ve done to faces. So…let’s dive in.
The 10 Steps of K-Beauty
These steps may seem like a lot and maybe even overwhelming. I ask you to stick with me here though. Keep an open mind and consider adding at least one step for now, then continue to add steps. Before you known it you’ll be doing the entire process and reaping the benefits of that glass skin we discussed above.
Step 1: Oil Cleanser
Opposites may attract when it comes to love, but not so much when it comes to our skin. So, the first step is to use an oil cleanser to…you got it…attract the oils. These cleansers are designed to remove the oil in makeup, sunscreen, and pollutants. It will also pull out any natural oils if that’s still an issue for you. The oil will also help against dryness as it replaces the natural oils our skin is no longer producing…thank you menopause…
Step 2: Water-Based Cleanser
Wait, what? I thought I’ve already washed my face. Remember…the oil attracts oil. We now need a water-based foaming cleanser to wash away dirt, sweat, and other non-oily pollutants. I mention water based because it will gently wash your face without stripping away moisture. This is especially important as we age and our skin appears dryer. Look for a product with a low pH balance, between 4.2 and 5.6. A rule of thumb…if a cleanser leaves your skin feeling tight, the pH balance is too high.
The Korean’s believe this dual cleansing process is essential to prepping the skin for the following steps. They also believe that the cleansing creates a messaging motion that stimulates the skin, further preparing it for the products to follow.
And always rinse your face with lukewarm, not hot water. And don’t forget to use a gentle exfoliator 2 – 3 times a week to remove dead skin cells, which can make skin look dull, and unclog pores.
Step 3: Toner
We’re not talking about the toner you grew up with that you used to clean your face instead of a proper wash. We’re talking about a toner that will nourish and help replace the pH balance and soften the skin. Think of toner as a prep for your skin.
Step 4: Essence
The benefits of essence include fighting to repair fine lines and wrinkles. It also works to correct uneven skin tones and to erase dullness. Using an essence helps to add hydration to dry skin. Click here to see my post on using essence. I actually use Corsx Advanced snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, which by the way is a Korean product.
Step 5: Emulsion
Emulsion is a water-based lighter version of a moisturizer that soaks quickly into the skin. By now you may be asking why so many layers. Well, the Korean’s believe that multiple, thinner layers are more effective than a single thick layer because they penetrate the skin better and don’t clog pores.
Emulsion also includes drinking plenty of water to help our skin stay moist, plump, and youthful looking.
Step 6: Serum/Ampoule
You’ve most likely heard of serum, but ampoule? It’s basically a super-charged serum. Either of these products are going to help plump up skin, reducing wrinkles and fine lines. I use a vitamin C serum, which also brightens skin. I have the feeling, however, that the Korean versions are a lot more effective. I’ll have to check these out.
Step 7: Sheet Mask
Now, this is going to be the first step I add to my routine. This is typically a step you’d do at night, but could be done in the mornings if you have time. This thin mask comes soaked in serum and applied to the face for 15 – 20 minutes. The good news is that you can use this mask on those days when you feel your face has been through the ringer, like exposed to the sun all day. So, you don’t have to feel guilty on those nights that you skip this step. Do try to include it at least 3 – 4 times a week though.
Step 8: Eye Cream
Hopefully you’re already doing this step. Using eye cream is important to keep the eye area plump, smooth, and free of dark circles. Click here to see my recent review of the best eye cream for women over 50. Just be sure you’re applying eye cream with your ring finger so you keep that touch light.
Step 9: Moisturizer
This is another step that you’re hopefully already going. There are many choices out there. You can select an overall cream or two separate creams designed for day and night. I use a lighter cream for day wear and a thicker cream designed for night. Your body works to restore itself during your sleep, so you may want to consider a moisturizer specific for nighttime.
Step 10: Sunscreen or Sleep Mask
Last but not least…we have sunscreen for day and sleep mask for night.
Sunscreen is hopefully another given. See you’re already doing some of these steps. I find this placement interesting because I’ve always worn my facial sunscreen under my moisturizer. But I’m game to changing if I can get closer to having that beautiful glass skin.
Wearing a separate sunscreen is a good idea, even if your moisturizer and foundation have it built in. This product is geared specifically to protect your face from harmful UV rays, so give it a serious thought.
A sleeping mask at night will hold in the moisture from all these products you just applied. These products are designed to work while you’re in sleep mode, so they help your face to better soak in all the moisture needed. I currently use Laniege’s Water Sleeping Mask (another Korean product) twice a week after exfoliating. I have been using it, however, as a replacement for my night moisturizer. Well, I’m changing that starting tonight! I’ll now be using it every night as my last step over my night moisturizer.
Does That Seem Like Too Much?
Are you tired from just reading about all these steps? If 10 steps just seem like too much for now…don’t fret…instead try the 5 Step routine. This process consists of:
- The dual wash
- Serum or ampoule
- Sunscreen/Sleeping mask
Are the Products From South Korea?
Yes, most South Korean products are easily available to us here in the U.S. and some other countries; and no, some products labeled as Korean skin care are not made in South Korea. Non Korean based companies are attempting to duplicate these products as Korean skin care has become more popular around the world.
Is this a bad thing? Maybe…maybe not. My recommendation is to compare ingredients. If a cheaper product doesn’t have the common ingredients that the Korean products contain, then ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed by the amount they contain. If a product contains a certain ingredient common in that type product, but it’s at the bottom of the list then it’s not going to be as effective. If water is the first ingredient, you may want to stay clear of that one as well.
My Take on the 10 Step Korean Skin Care
Now that I’ve looked into this process I have to say I’m excited about it. And I’m going to say that it is for real! Are you going to start incorporating more of these steps and products with me? I just wish I’d discovered the process when I was in my twenties. Well…I guess better late than never, right?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have. Leave me a comment or question and I’ll be happy to get back with you. Which step do you plan on adding to your routine first? Have you already been using some products? Let me known.
Here’s to wishing you the best skin care over 50!