10-step Korean Skincare Routine 101

It's hard to dispute the fact that Korean pop culture is making a big impact on westernized societies and has been for the last few years. A large sum of this impact could be thanks to the rise in popularity of K-pop (Korean pop music), specifically BTS, and K-dramas (Korean dramas) in the states. Because our cultures may seem exponentially different, there are a number of things and customs that intrigue westeners about the Korean culture, but there is always one underlying question we all share: how and why are they GLOWING???  


Envy and curiouslity got the better of me this year as I started becoming more and more exposed to Korean pop culture. Glowing skin is referred by many Koreans as either "glass-like" or "honey skin." Glass-like skin is used in referernce when someone has smooth, even toned, almost translucent looking skin. While that might sound like the highest of compliments, honey skin is the ultimate level of skin godliness. If you are telling someone they have honey skin, it means their skin is dewy, plump and shiny, resembling honey. If you search "honey skin" on Youtube, you will find thousands of video tutorials on how to acheive this healthy skin complexion. 

Obviously, everyone wants healthy and plump looking skin so, I did my research and watched as many tutorials, blog posts and articles as I could find tht explained the process of achieving "honey skin." And as it turns out, it's quite the process. If you want "honey skin," you are gonna have to put in the work. Koreans use a 10-step skincare routine. Yes, 10-steps. Not 3, not even 5, but 10. 


Here they are: 

  1. Makeup remover & oil-based cleanser
  2. Water-based cleanser
  3. Exfoliator
  4. Toner
  5. Essence 
  6. Treatments
  7. Sheet masks
  8. Eye cream
  9. Moisturizure 
  10. Sunscreen

**For a detailed explaination into each step, click here** 

At the surface level, this regimen looks overly excessive; however, it really works. Koreans are globally recognized for having beautiful skin and that's because they truly take care of their skin. They treat their skin like a baby. Having healhty skin is the main focal point of what is considered "attractive" in Korea. 

While this routine is extensive and may seem overwhelming to those of us who simply cleanse and moisturize, it can be simplified and manipulated to meet your individual needs to achieve a glowing complexion. 


Because I don't have the time to do all of these steps every morning and night (yes, they do this routine twice a day), I created a skincare routine based off this idea, but suited best for my needs. 

Here's my skincare routine:

  1. Makeup remover
  2. Water-based cleanser
  3. Exfoliator/scrub
  4. Toner
  5. Essence
  6. Acne treatment
  7. Moisturizure
  8. Radiance serum (morning only)

If your skin is sensitive and acne prone like mine, take out the oil-based cleansing step. As long as you exfoliate and cleanse, you skin will get the double cleansing it needs to get all the dirt, makeup and pollution out of your pores. I don't know anyone who has the time to apply 20-30 minute face masks on twice a day so instead, I apply these moisturizing face masks 2-3 times a week, depending on how dry my skin is that week. 


The order you do these steps in is really the key to achieving "honey skin." You may not think it's important whether or not you do your acne treatment before or after you tone, but switching the order of those steps completely changed my skin. My skin would become so red and irritated after using my treatment without the use of toner beforehand, simply because my skin wasn't mositurized enough for the treatment to sink into my skin, so it would just sit on top of my skin causing irritation. 

As for toner and essence, they are my holy grail, can't live without them, stranded on a desert island products. Before this year, I thought toner was only a product old people used that died off in the new century, but I couldn't have been more wrong. After researching Korean skincare and trying toner first hand, i'm kicking myself for not using toner my whole life. 


Essence is a product that I have only heard about from Korean skincare. This product hasn't really reached over to the states and it's a damn shame because I could go on and on about how crucial essence is in achieving a radiating complexion. Essence is toner-like, but contains specific ingredients that target areas of your skin you want to inhance or fix, rather than hydrate like toner does. I chose an essence that brightens my skin because my face would sometimes look red after washing, and I still have some residual acne marks. After using essence for a few weeks now, I can't even recognize my skin. My skin is bright, hydrated, and on it's way to achieving "honey skin" level.

If you want to try Korean skincare products, you can buy the entire 10-step regimen here, as well as individual products. You don't have to buy Korean skincare products in order to achieve a dewy complexion, you can go to your local Sephora and drug store to get your hands on the products that will transform your skin into a pot of golden honey. 


I highly encourage any and everyone to try this routine and make it your own. "Honey skin" is absolutly achievable, all you have to do is put in some effort. So the next time you're traveling to Seoul, you don't have to hide your skin under a black medial mask. 


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