Korean Skincare Routine

As any cleansing routine goes, we cleanse, tone and then follow with a moisturizer, whether it be day or night. Simple, right?

In western cleansing routines, the most common products used are a foaming cleanser, with tiny exfoliants within the product, a generic “oil free” alcohol bases toner, general purpose facial wipes to remove makeup and an “oil free” generic face or all over body moisturizer. These products are seen to be used, both day and night. Four easy steps; but is it as thoroughly cleansing as you think, and does it actually have any benefits to your skin at all?

The population of Asia; Koreans being the top in my personal opinion, are skincare fanatics. They assess their skin type, visit their, and i quote, “personal, professional” dermatologist on the regular, and include up to TEN different steps in their skincare regiments. Talk about crazy for beautiful skin.

I say seeing their dermatologist on the regular, because they do, quite literally, visit their dermatologists very regularly; my friends go at least twice every three months. Here in Australia, dermatologist visits are pretty expensive, you’re looking at hundreds, even thousands of dollars per visit. In Korea however, you’re looking at a few hundred dollars per consultation; it’s a hell of a lot more cheaper than here. But enough about that, lets talk about the routine they swear by.

1) Oil Cleanser.

Lets ditch the makeup wipes, as they do nothing but smear makeup residue along your face at the expense of irritating your skin and shifting the natural pH balance in your skin.

Korean women (and men) use a cleansing oil to remove every trace of makeup on your face (and yes, this includes all that stubborn, hard to remove waterproof mascara too.) What an oil does, is it breaks down all the makeup as well as moisturize the skin. Using an oil is more beneficial than wipes as more makeup comes off using this cleanser than wiping a wet wipe all over your face, which doesn’t even do much in the first place.

Korean women even use the oil as a lubricant on the face to perform 5 minute facial massages along your cheeks and down your neck for a more slimmer, defined face.

As far as application goes, you apply the oil to your face, as you would, a normal cleanser, and rub gently in circles along your skin texture, down your eyelids etc for a minute or so. Apply a bit of water to your face to allow the oil to breakdown and emulsify; it becomes cloudy in appearance and water based. Massage again for a minute or so, and then rinse off.

2i) Foaming Cleanser.

As opposed to western cleansers; the one with the beads and stuff, foaming cleansers don’t have this, as the beads should be used in an entirely different step altogether.

Just like you would any other cleanser from any other market, you gently rub the cleanser in the palm of your hands with lukewarm water, until a foam is produced, then you apply the foam to your dampened face and gently massage for a minute, focusing on your forehead, cheeks, nose and chin areas. Remove all product off your face with water and pat skin dry.

2ii) Exfoliator.

This, is where the scrub part of the cleansing comes in. Most exfoliators in the western markets come in a foam cleanse type. NO. DO NOT USE THIS. Why?

Over exfoliating is not good for your skin, and its very damaging too. You only need to exfoliate twice, to three times a week at maximum, so buying a cleanser with exfoliants in it isn’t suitable for your skin at all. Instead, use an exfoliator separate to your facial cleanser.

Personally, I enjoy using sugar scrub exfoliators, but if you’re tight in budget, I suppose I can overlook you purchasing a cleansing foam exfoliator. Just promise you only switch to it two to three times a week.

Same as a cleanser, gently massage on your face for a minute and rinse off.

3) Essence.

This is a really liquid product used before a toner but essentially, is pretty much similar to a toner. Most essences are targeted to promote younger looking skin by adding hydration and other benefits to your skin. Apply about four to five drops and gently swipe across your face following your skin texture and contours.

You can apply it using a cotton pad, or, as a lot of Korean women would do, apply directly onto your palms and slap your face until the product is absorbed into your skin. I like to do both; applying it with a pad and then slapping my face. Fun fact, slapping your face actually promotes healthy blood circulation, and allows products to absorb better into the skin rather than the product just sitting on your face.

4) Toner.

Lets say you didn’t listen to me at product one and you’re secretly using makeup wipes on your face (I really should smack you for it, but we all have our lazy days; I’m guilty for it too,) well, toners restore the balance of pH in your skin and help to keep your skin fresh and hydrated after cleansing. Application of toners is exactly the same as an essence.

5) Ampoule.

As the name suggests, it makes your skin ampoule; good, great. It’s a high potent potion applied before your serums that delivers benefits to your face whilst restoring your skin back to the skin you had as a child, in laymans terms. Ever wanted to be 50 years old, with skin as perfect as baby skin? Well include an ampoule in your routine and watch your skin transform before your eyes. No, joke. But it’s true that your skin will become better in appreance, and texture with an ampoule, whilst promoting anti-aging.

For application, you take a few drops or a pea sized amount to the palms of your hands and apply to your face, pressing against your face with your palms for easy absorption.

6) Serums

Creams that pack a punch; serums inject nutrients and benefits to your skin to target a specific skin problem, ie, wrinkles, skintone, acne etc. Some people layer serum upon serum, and I’m not saying this is wrong or right, it does come down to what you want to apply and how many layers you really want to add to your routine.

Just as an ampoule, apply a pea sized amount to your palms and press against your skin texture until the product has absorbed.

7) Eye Creams

Basically, a moisturizer for your delicate eye areas, to replenish the balance of moisture-oil ratio in your skin, and prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Some eye creams even go that step further to brighten the eye area, to help lighten dark circles too.

Apply as you would, a serum, using your ring fingers as they are your weakest finger on your hand, and pat gently on the under eye and sides of your eyes. You can also drag the cream down your laugh lines to treat that particular area too.

8) Lotion

Another name for a moisturizer, lotions come in different forms, but all do the exact thing; re-moisturize your skin. Most lotions are cream based, but you can get some lotions that are more fluid than creamy. Rule of thumb; the more oily your skin is, the more fluid your lotion should be. Apply as you would a serum.

9) Night Cream

As the name intends, you use this as night. A night cream is basically a thicker, more heavy version of a lotion to inject moisture into your skin as you sleep. There is no problems using your night cream as your daily moisturizer, but personally, I prefer using the night cream at night as my skin gets oily throughout the day, and I dislike using thick layers on my face during the daytime.

10) Sheet Mask

I’m not sure how the Western culture goes about using masks, but I surveyed a group of people, and they don’t use masks very often, if, at all. Korean skincare lives for masks in all types and forms, particularly, sheet masks.

With your average mask, you’d open a jar or bottle, scoop out the contents then apply to your face and wash it off. A sheet mask however, is, as its name intends, a sheet, made of cotton to sit on your face. Sheet masks are soaked in essences and deliver nutrients to your skin the longer you leave it on for. Think of it as a serum in mask form.

You can apply sheet masks right after you cleanse your face, but some people prefer to use them after the essence or toner. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know, both these times to use the mask aren’t wrong and comes down to personal preference. Leave them on for about 10-15 minutes (I usually forget about them, and end up leaving it on for half an hour) Word of advice; don’t wear the sheet mask while you have people over, you’ll scare them.

Okey, so that sums up a Korean skincare routine, and of course, you don’t need all these steps in your daily routine. For the daytime, all you need to do is cleanse, tone and moisturize, because the other steps aren’t very necessary throughout the day, and besides, who wants to apply ten layers of crap to their face before going out? As for night time goes, you can pick and choose steps to cater to your personal skin needs, or you can do them all, or none. LMAO, whatever you prefer, you do, because nobody knows your skin like you do yourself.


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