Korean Skin Care Starter Guide

Korean skincare may seem intimidating at first, and understandably with click-bait headlines that never fail to mention the “10 step-routine”. The focus on a multi step Kbeauty routine can seem overwhelming for some, but fear not! Your routine is only as long as you need it to be because it’s all about customization. Korean skin care brands cover a wide range of issues with solutions at all price points, making it a great way for people to seriously get into skincare without seriously draining their wallet.

Here is a general look at my daily routine. Note that not all of these steps happen every day, and some are only reserved for AM/PM.

  1. Cleanse:  In the morning this is only one step, I use a foam cleanser to clean my face. At night I do a double cleanse, using an oil cleanser first to break apart grime and a foam cleanser to wash it all down.
  2. Toner: You can go a few ways with this. I like to use a hydrating toner, which preps and soften my skin. 
  3. PH dependant actives (PM): This includes AHA’s/BHA’s, vitamin c, and retinol.
  4. Treatment Step:  These are your serums and ampoules. They contain all your problem targeting ingredients. 
  5. Moisturizers: The name says it all! Helps to seal everything in and keep your skin hydrated. They come in a variety of forms depending on your skin type.
  6. Sunscreen(AM): Sun protection is your most valuable skin care tool. A SPF of 30 or higher is recommended. Prevention means less treatment later. Sunscreen helps to prevents sunspot, cancer and premature aging.


A Word About Double Cleansing

Double cleansing is a gently way to remove every last bit of dirt, makeup and sunscreen. Step one is an oil cleanser that breaks apart makeup, sunscreen and stubborn gunk from your face. Step two is a foaming or gel cleanser that washes away everything the oil cleanser has broken up. A low pH cleanser is usually recommended, as it’s more gentle on the face.

A Word About pH Dependent Actives(AHA’s/BHA’s and Vitamin C)

Actives include vitamin C, retinoids, and the chemical exfoliants AHA/BHA. These are the skin care heavy lifters and can do wonders, but can also wreck skin if used too often. Chemical exfoliants help to smooth the skin’s texture, prevent future breakouts and control buildup in pores. Vitamin C and retinoids help to promote college production, diminish sunspots, and diminish signs of photoaging.

A Word About Treatments (Serums/Ampoules)

These are your serums that contain ingredients to help combat problems and achieve your skin goals. Some help to calm the skin, some help add a glow, while others provide a boost of moisture. There are people who have one or two serums that they use every day, while others have a rotating shelf of serums to choose from depending on how their skin is feeling that day. Once again, the word is: customization!

A Word About Sheet Mask

My favorite part! Sheet mask is synonymous with Asian beauty thanks to Instagram and selfies. They were so popular and well recognized that they were one of the first Kbeauty products that US retailers picked up. These mask are applied to your face and left on for 15-20 minutes. Using a sheet mask immerses your face in the serum that does not evaporate thanks to the mask. They provide a kick of plumpness and hydration that sometimes a lotion just can’t do.


TL;DR (but you really should)

Korean skincare only has as many steps as you need/want. Customize and experiment with your skincare to create a routine that makes your skin happy!


– Genie