Style & Beauty

Your Introduction to Korean Skin Care

You’re just 10 steps away from glowing, hyper-moistened skin

By Katrina Caruso


The North American beauty and skin-care market saw the rise of the Korean skin-care regimen in 2017. Koreans have come to be known for the “dewy” look in makeup and beauty: glowing, flawless, hyper-moistened skin. To get the glow, many follow a 10-step skin-care regimen, twice a day (morning and night).

While it may sound daunting, the whole process doesn’t often take much more time than a regular face wash, toner, and moisturizer regimen—it’s all about layering. In some cases, such as with face masks, there’s a bit of waiting involved. Consider it an act of self care.

Step 1. Makeup Remover + Oil Cleanser

An oil cleanser can be as simple as using olive oil, but there are many others on the market. Oils are great for removing makeup, and this first step preps the skin.

Step 2. Water-based Cleanser

Koreans prefer to double clean, so after Step 1, they use a water-based cleanser, which is most likely what you’re already using. This step helps to get rid of any residue from Step 1.

Step 3. Exfoliator

Exfoliation is recommended at least twice a week to get rid of dead skin cells. Look for an exfoliant like an acid (such as AHAs or lactic acid) rather than one with microbeads, as the latter can damage your skin.

Step 4. Toner

Toners help to rebalance pH levels, which is very important after washing your face, especially if you use water.

Step 5. Essence

Somewhere between a toner and a serum, an essence helps promote skin skin cell regeneration.

Step 6. Treatments

Here is where serums, boosters, and other treatments come in, depending on what you’re targeting (fine lines, sun spots, acne, etc).

Step 7. Sheet Masks

This step can be done once or twice a week, but it’s perhaps the most fun. Put on a sheet mask for 15–20 minutes—enough time to pop on a Netflix show. Sheet masks can be found at pharmacies, Amazon, and Korean beauty stores.

Step 8. Eye Cream

Eye creams are different from other skin care, as they’re formulated for the delicate skin around the eye.

Step 9. Moisturizer

There are many moisturizers on the market, in many consistencies for you to choose from: emulsions, lotions, gels, or creams. For a nighttime moisturizer, find something that you skin absorbs fully overnight—if your skin is slick the next day, stop using it.

Step 10. Sun Protection

This is the most important step of all. Applying sunscreen as the last step allows for the most UV protection. Sunscreen should be reapplied throughout the day.

Photo: iStock/RyanKing999.