The ultimate 10-step guide to Korean skincare

·Shopping Editor
·5 min read

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Whether you’re chasing “glass skin,” “cream skin” or “dumpling skin,” as celebrity makeup artist Nam Vo likes to call it, there’s no arguing that Korean beauty trends are the epitome of skin goals.

K-beauty’s hallmark 10-step skincare, a global phenomenon grounded in Korea’s cultural desire to have healthy skin, continues to evolve with decades of scientific advancements. It has become the holy grail of skincare everywhere.

ALSO SEE: These $14 Korean beauty acne-fighting patches are 'genius'

The K-beauty approach to skin, consisting of oils, essences, serums, face masks and more, can seem pretty intense and expensive. Rather than splurging hundreds of dollars on a brand new regimen, the routine is all about having the right products and using them in the right order.


To help you better understand, we breakdown the crucial steps of a K-beauty skincare regiment. We have also included products we love, in case you need something new.

Step 1: Makeup Removal

Instead of opting for a wipe, gently melt makeup away with an oil cleanser. These are the base of the Korean skincare routine and, the first step in the famous double cleanse regiment. Gently massage into dry skin to breakdown debris and makeup. Emulsify with lukewarm water, and then rinse.

Editor’s Pick: Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

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Step 2: Cleanse

It’s time to bust out the facial cleanser (preferably a water-based one). Double cleansing is recommended by aestheticians and dermatologists as it thoroughly removes impurities that can cause breakouts. Water-based cleansers pick up the excess oil and dirt your oil cleanser didn’t.

Editor’s Pick: Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam

Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam
Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam

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Step 3: Exfoliate

It’s important to exfoliate your skin regularly. It helps your other skincare products absorb better and work more efficiently. Exfoliation penetrates the pores to remove excess sebum and dead skin cells, to reveal a brighter and smoother complexion.

But be wary! Depending on your skin type, excessively exfoliating can have harsh results on your skin. A good rule of thumb is to exfoliate three to four times a week.


Editor’s Pick: SATURDAY SKIN Rub-A-Dub Refining Peel Gel

SATURDAY SKIN Rub-A-Dub Refining Peel Gel
SATURDAY SKIN Rub-A-Dub Refining Peel Gel

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Step 4: Toner

Toning is like primer, but for skincare. It preps the skin by removing leftover residue left behind from your cleansers, while neutralizing your skin’s moisture barrier and pH levels.

Editor’s Pick: Benton ALOE BHA Skin Toner

Benton ALOE BHA Skin Toner
Benton ALOE BHA Skin Toner

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Step 5: Essence

Essences, often mistaken for toners, are lightweight formulas packed with a concentrated blend of skin-enhancing ingredients. Depending on what your skin needs, look for ones formulated with rice extract, birch juice and hyaluronic acid.

Sprinkle a couple of drops into your hands and lightly push it into the face and neck.

Editor’s Pick: MISSHA Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist

MISSHA Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist
MISSHA Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist

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Step 6: Serum

Our favourite step of all. Packed with powerhouse ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, and glycolic acid, serum treatments target specific skin concerns such as acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and so much more.


Editor’s Pick: COSRX Triple C Lightning Liquid

COSRX Triple C Lightning Liquid
COSRX Triple C Lightning Liquid

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Step 7: Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are arguably the heart of Korean skincare. When the sheet is in prolonged contact with your face, it allows the skin to fully absorb its key nutrients and concentrated formula. While there are endless ranges of infused ingredients to love, we suggest leaning towards cucumber, aloe, and green tea.


Editor’s Pick: KLAIRS Rich Moist Soothing Tencel Sheet Mask

KLAIRS Rich Moist Soothing Tencel Sheet Mask
KLAIRS Rich Moist Soothing Tencel Sheet Mask

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Step 8: Eye Cream

No matter how old you are, eye cream is a must! We can’t stress this enough. The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most delicate part of your face. Keep dark circles, puffiness, and crow’s feet at bay by using eye cream regularly. Gently tap the product around the orbital bone.


Editor’s Pick: ELENSILIA CPP Collagen 80% Intensive Eye Cream

ELENSILIA CPP Collagen 80% Intensive Eye Cream
ELENSILIA CPP Collagen 80% Intensive Eye Cream

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Step 9: Moisturizer

Gone are the day of thick and heavy moisturizers. They now come in various forms (gel, cream, lotion emulsions) to best suit your skin type and comfort. There’s no reason to skip this step ever again. Moisturizers ultimately seal in moisture to plump and smooth the skin.

Editor’s Pick: MISSHA Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream

MISSHA Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream
MISSHA Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream

SHOP IT: Soko Glam, $50

Step 10: Sun Protection

Dermatologists say sun protection is the most important step of all. Not only does SPF protect your skin from various damage caused by harmful UV rays, including cancer, but it is the most effective solution to prevent premature ageing.

Editor’s Pick: NEOGEN Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50/PA+++

NEOGEN Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50/PA+++
NEOGEN Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50/PA+++

SHOP IT: Soko Glam, $30

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