The Korean 10 step skincare routine has become an extremely popular practice if you have the patience and the time to do it. There’s no denying that Korean women have some of the most flawless skin in the world and when you realise the extent of their skincare routines, you start to understand why. So seeing as I like to experiment when it comes to skincare, I thought it would be interesting to give this routine a try and see if it would make any kind of substantial difference to my skins appearance.
I decided to dedicate a full week to it because honestly, it sounded pretty exhausting. I figured anything more than a week would have probably made me abandon my entire skincare routine and made me never want to look at another skincare product ever again but it turns out it was nowhere near as extensive as I first thought.
How Extensive Is The Korean 10 Step Skin Care Routine
It actually sounds much harder than it really is because a lot of these steps you’re probably already doing and some of them are only once or twice weekly steps too. Although with that being said this is a twice-daily routine so, in theory, it’s more like an 18 step routine on the days when you’re incorporating your once/twice weekly steps as well.
Now I know what you’re thinking, an 18 step routine is sheer madness and only a die-hard skincare addict with a whole lot of spare time on their hands would be able to commit to such a routine but it truly is doable even for the busiest of bodies and it doesn’t take a long as you might think. Plus if you’re already into your skincare then chances are most of the steps are already a part of your usual routine.
The Night Routine
Step 1 – Cleansing with an Oil Cleanser
I’ll start with the night routine because it is the more extensive of the two. So the first step is part of a double cleanse which should begin with an oil cleanser to remove all traces of makeup and dirt. This is probably already something that most of us already do although I have to say that I’m new to oil cleansers (micellar cleansers are my go-to product for this step) but I have to say that oil cleansers are actually pretty effective and very moisturising too.
Step 2 – Cleanse again with a water-based foam cleanser
So cleansing again with a water-based foam cleanser is the second part of the double cleanse which should remove any last traces of dirt and makeup that may be left behind after the first cleanse. It also removes any traces of oil left behind from the oil cleanser.
Step 3 – Exfoliate
The next step is to exfoliate to remove any dead skin and unblock pores so that your skin can absorb all the beneficial ingredients that are present in the products you are about to apply. This is the first step that you won’t need to do every single day. Most people recommend exfoliating twice a week so that leaves 5 days a week where you can omit this step from the routine.
Step 4 – Apply Toner
Toner is an extremely important step in any skincare routine but unfortunately, it’s commonly skipped for one reason or another. Applying toner not only balances the skin’s pH level after cleansing but also ensures that all traces of the previous products have been removed. It’s also an important preparation step to prepare the skin for any products that you’re about to apply to it. Toners are not rinsed away and remain on the skin leaving it moist. This then helps the following applied products penetrate the skin deeper making them even more effective.
Step 5 – Apply Essence
Essence is a new one for me and I’m actually loving everything about it. It is one of the most important steps in the Korean skincare routine and considered to be the very heart of it. Its main purpose is to hydrate the skin and target the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone but there are essences that are formulated to target pretty much every skin concern you could possibly imagine.
It is basically a watery formula that is a hybrid of toner and serum and it too also helps the absorption of the products you apply after it so when you combine that with the toner you’ve just applied, your next few rounds of products are about to do some seriously heavy duty skin penetrating. Simply apply it to the skin, then using your fingers, pat it in until it’s completely absorbed.
Step 6 – Apply Ampoules
At this point, you’re probably wondering, what the hell are ampoules. This was another new one for me and I’ll probably have to dedicate an entire post to them but basically, they are more potent serum-like products that are used for a certain period of time as a booster or treatment to address certain skin concerns. If you do need one, this would be the time to apply it.
Step 7 – Apply Serum
Most of us already know what serums are and what they can do and this is now the time to apply them. Although I’m calling this step 7 suggesting that this is just a one-step process, if you’re anything like me, you probably have more than one serum to apply at this point making this more of a multi-step situation.
Technically this means that this 10 step routine could actually be more like a 12 or 13 step routine depending on how many serums you’re using. I currently use two but I’m about to start testing a third (apparently 3 at one time should be your limit) so step 7 could take some time compared to the rest.
Step 8 – Use a Sheet Mask
This is another key part of the Korean skincare routine although it doesn’t necessarily have to be a nightly step, not unless you want it to be that is. Sheet masks are taking the world by storm and they’re a great way to get an extra boost of skin benefiting ingredients. These can be used anywhere from once weekly to every day if you so wish and there’s a whole bunch of different ones to choose from depending on what you feel your skin needs at the time.
Step 9 – Apply Eye Cream
The next step is to apply an eye cream. Up until recently, I wasn’t a religious eye cream wearer and there’s actually a whole debate on whether we even need to use one or not. But while testing a few, I came across an awesome one that I now can’t be without. Just be sure to only apply a tiny amount and dab it in gentle with just your fingertip.
Step 10 – Apply Night Moisturiser
Finally, to lock in all the goodness that you’ve just applied to your face, apply a night time moisturiser. Now you can hit the hay safe in the knowledge that your skin is well and truly taken care of for the night.
How Are We Feeling After All That
As much as that may seem like a lot when you read it on screen, it actually isn’t. Before I undertook this challenge, I decided to count how many steps I was currently using to see how it compared and apart from the essence, the sheet mask (although technically I kind of do this step because I do indulge in regular face masks) and the ampoules, I was already doing all of the others.
If you break it down even further, many of us might not need the ampoules unless we’re trying to address an issue that needs some extra attention and even if we do need one, it’s only for a short period of time anyway. Take away the exfoliating and the sheet masks which are only a twice-weekly occurrence (although you could sheet mask every night if you really wanted to) and the common nightly routine for the remaining nights ends up looking more like this:
- Step 1 – Double Cleanse
- Step 2 – Toner
- Step 3 – Essence
- Step 4 – Serum
- Step 5 – Eye Cream
- Step 6 – Moisturiser
Bar the essence, that’s a pretty standard night routine for anyone who’s already really into their skincare. And if you want to add the sheet masks more often, you could always try the FOREO UFO Mask which is a sheet mask device that I’ve just bought and fallen seriously in love with, which actually uses Korean sheet mask formulas but the whole treatment only takes 90 seconds.
What About The Day Routine
The daytime routine is a little shorter, not by much but a little shorter nonetheless and some of these steps can be combined for an even quicker routine.
- Step 1 – Single Cleanse (some say even a splash of water is all that’s needed here as your skin is so thoroughly cleansed from the night before).
- Step 2 – Toner
- Step 3 – Essence
- Step 4 – Ampoules
- Step 5 – Serum
- Step 6 – Eye Cream
- Step 7 – Moisturiser
- Step 8 – Sunscreen
Again bar the ampoules which many of us might not need and the essence, this is very similar to a standard daytime routine. You could also use a moisturiser with built-in SPF to combine steps 7 and 8 together turning this into a 6 step routine if you don’t need the ampoules. So as you can see, the Korean skincare routine is nowhere near as extensive as you probably first thought. Don’t get me wrong though, if you’re only a splash and dash type of skincare person then yes this routine would probably be exhausting.
Did It Make A Difference To My Skin
Yes, it did make a difference to my skin and I’m guessing that it must have been down to the essence and the sheet masks because really they were the only new steps I added to my existing routine. The products I used for the nightly double cleanse where also different (oil and foam instead of micellar and cream) but I’m pretty sure that it was the extra products that made the difference.
The essence and sheet masks are considered to be the defining parts of the Korean skincare routine and I think I’d be inclined to agree. I really like the extra addition of both of these products (although I’m seriously cheating with the sheet masks and using the UFO instead, it’s all about the time saving after all) because they do seem to make my skin clearer, brighter and smoother.
Will I continue with the routine? Yes, I will because with my sheet mask cheat I’m only really adding essence to the mix which doesn’t really add that much extra time on to my routine. Plus I’m really happy with the results the extra products are giving me. What about you? Have you tried the Korean skincare routine and what did you think of it? Please feel free to share your thought below.