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Your Complete Guide to a Korean Skincare Routine

One of the biggest trends right now is trying out a 10 step Korean skincare routine. While it sounds time consuming, those who have tried it, swear by it. In her article, Kilee Thomas (contributor at Her Campus Utah) breaks down her skincare routine and urges collegiates to try it out for themselves. Thomas says that she has found products that work for her and has been able to tailor the routine to her skin and lifestyle.

Since trying out a Korean skincare routine, I have come to love the Korean brand Innisfree. From skincare products to makeup and hair, Innisfree is the hub for all things Korean skincare. If you are just starting to begin your skincare journey, Innisfree makes it incredibly easy for customers to shop for products with limited information on skincare.

For example, Innisfree’s website breaks down their products by category and by benefit. What I love about shopping by benefit is that you can select products depending on problem areas of your skin. Whether your skin lacks hydration, is uneven in tone or needs firming, Innisfree has a plethora of products for all skin types.

When I first started looking into skincare products, I was nervous about the ingredients used. If your skin is sensitive like mine, it can be daunting to read product labels and not know what exactly they are. Innisfree’s products contain all natural ingredients from South Korea’s Jeju Island. For more information on Innisfree as a company and brand, you can find their story here and learn more about their search for ingredients from Jeju Island.

The following steps make up the popular 10 step Korean skincare routine:

  1. Makeup remover/oil cleanser

  2. Water-based cleanser

  3. Exfoliator

  4. Toner

  5. Essence

  6. Treatments (acne/spot treatments, serum)

  7. Sheet masks

  8. Eye cream

  9. Moisturiser

  10. Sun protectant/SPF


Makeup remover and oil cleanser

This step is crucial because it removes makeup, dirt and any build up on your skin from throughout the day. Innisfree’s Fresh Cleansing Oil with Green Tea is perfect for all skin types as an oil based cleanser. Retailing at only $21, this cleansing oil is lightweight and the all-natural green tea extract offers extra vitamins and nourishment to your skin.Water-based cleanser

You might be asking yourself what is the point in using two different cleansers in one routine!? I have found it to super beneficial to use both an oil and water cleanser. Firstly, the water cleanser clears off any leftover residue from the oil cleanser and offers a more thorough cleansing of the face and neck. I think of this step as helping to deep cleaning past the surface of the skin and really target pores and remove impurities. To achieve a full, two-step cleanse, I recommend using the Hydrating Cleansing Water with Green Tea, which leaves your skin clean and moisturised deep within.


Exfoliating multiple times a week is another necessity for me because it gets rid of dead skin cells and removes unwanted dirt from deep within the skin’s pores. I usually use my exfoliator in the shower because the hot water opens up my pores and allows for an even deeper clean. Innisfree offers Purifying Facial Exfoliating Cleanser with Sea Salt with different percentages of sea salt to target all skin types. This exfoliator not only leaves your skin smooth but also targets deep under the skin and provides minerals to nourish the skin.


Innisfree’s Fresh Toner with Green Tea simultaneously removes excess oil, evens out skin tone and minimises the appearance of pores. In my own routine, I use toner every morning although it is also acceptable to use it a night (or both)! If you have acne-prone skin, toner is a must have because it digs out dirt, impurities and closes your pores to prevent bacteria from entering the skin. The Fresh Toner with Green Tea extract retails for $16 on the Innisfree webstore.Essence

I find that essence is usually left out of many people’s everyday skin routine because people don’t usually know what it is and what its purpose is. Ultimately, essence offers vitamins, minerals and offers extra hydration to the skin. Essence is different from serum, although they offer similar benefits to the skin. What I love most about essence is that it is usually more lightweight than serum and can target specific desires. For example, Innisfree’s Firming Energy Essence with Fermented Soybean is a 6-in-1 product that firms, brightens, tones and smoothes skin all while creating dewiness (not oiliness!) and serves as a moisture barrier. The fermented soybeans are particularly helpful here because they add natural anti-oxidants and promote anti-aging.


The treatment section of the routine is highly customisable and will differ from person to person. Some of the treatments include prescribe acne medications, spot treatments, dark spot removers and serums. Serums are helpful if there is a specific problem area you want to target. While they are thicker in feeling, they penetrate the skin and release vitamins and minerals to help with issues such as brightness, moisture levels, and controlling pores. I highly recommend the Moisture Serum with Green Tea from Innisfree because it provides moisture in a more concentrated form as well as nourishing the skin with green tea extract.

Sheet masks

Sheet masks are also an absolutely must for me and my skin routine. Sheet masks should only be used one to two times a week as they offer extra nourishment and minerals to the surface of the skin. I recommend using a sheet mask after a shower but before moisturising the skin for the night. Innisfree has a wide variety of sheet masks with ingredients ranging from green tea to broccoli with each mask offering different different vitamins. I have personally used Innisfree’s sheet masks and love all of them - they leave my skin feeling refreshed, nourished and brighter.

Eye cream

Eye cream is a great investment for a skincare routine because it protects and nourishes the delicate areas around the eye. One of my favourite eye creams from Innisfree is the Youth-enriched Eye Cream with Orchids. This eye cream in particular firms, smooths and brightens areas around the eye. I find it most useful to apply eye cream during my nightly routine because my skin is clean and stays clear throughout the night. This gives the cream all night to absorb into my skin.


Similar to essence and serum, moisturiser will have different effects on the skin depending on the person. If you have dry, oily, combo or sensitive skin, you can find a moisturiser that works best for you. Moisturiser targets the surface (and everything below) of the skin and is a seriously important step because it protects your face from drying out throughout the day! Moisturiser should be a part of of both your morning and nightly routine and should never be skipped. If your skin lacks brightness or nourishment, I recommend the Nourishing Cream with Canola Honey from Innisfree. This cream deeply moisturises, hydrates and protects the skin’s moisture barrier.


The very last step of the routine consists of SPF or sun protectant. This step can be skipped during your nightly routine but should be used at all times during your morning one. Not only does SPF protect you from the sun and cancer, sunscreen protects your skin from creating dark spots. If you already have dark spots on your skin, SPF will protect them from getting worse. Another benefit from SPF is that it promotes anti-aging and helps your skin from forming wrinkles! Just like any sunscreen, you can choose the amount of SPF that is necessary for you. For example, if you have fairer skin and are more prone to sunburns, you would chose a higher SPF like SPF 50+. Personally, I like the Daily UV Protection Cream with SPF 36. At only $9, this cream offers sun protection, hydration and leaves your skin looking dewy throughout the day.

If you are just beginning your skincare journey, I recommend starting with the products you believe will benefit your skin the most and look for products that you can afford. While the 10 step routine maximises all benefits of skincare, it is totally acceptable to change the routine and even decrease the amount of steps. At the end of the day, it is your skin and your routine - so experiment with what works best for you!


Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11


Through her experience of living internationally throughout her childhood, Christi has firsthand knowledge of other countries, cultures, and religions. She is a Communication major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and has been able to use her writing both in an academic and leisurely setting to spread cultural acceptance, awareness, and growth. Her favourite topics to write about include travel, feminism, politics and social life.
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