Korean skincare routine: mother daughter face mask

Tula Exfoliating Mask

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Korean skincare is a HOT topic right now (and with good reason!)  Knowing that you my friends love clean yet clinical skincare I decided to dive a little deeper. From essences to the “Ten Step Routine” (yes, that’s TEN steps), I’ve learned that following a Korean skincare routine is a must.

Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Byrdie Beauty, and more all reported that Korean skincare products are the latest and greatest for fabulous skin. Each of these trustworthy publications all sought out two leading ladies in the U.S. beauty industry when reporting on Korean skincare: Charlotte Cho, native Californian who moved to Seoul and founded the website, “Soko Glam” (a resource for Americans that announces new and exciting Korean products) and Alicia Yoon, esthetician and founder of “Peach and Lily,” another fabulous e-commerce beauty site, famous for being super picky with the products she chooses to feature (only 5% of all products make it to her site.)  

Amanda Montell, writer for Byrdie Beauty, shared a key fact in explaining where the Korean skincare craze comes from:

Just as we Americans consider fitness and nutrition important for our overall health, Koreans think the same of skincare.”

And I agree. Especially because our face is something we’re always showing.

So no, it’s not about vanity or just a passing trend in South Korea, it’s a total part of their culture (and has been since 700 BCE!)…now that’s a serious commitment. But how did it come to popularity here in the U.S.? Think BB and CC creams, sheet masks, foundation cushion compacts, as well as the dewy skin trend…all straight from South Korea! And while the products themselves are amazing, they also have added benefits since Korean skincare products more often than not are completely natural, made entirely with plant-based ingredients, and have a much wider variety in the lower-priced range- nope, you didn’t read that wrong, by turning to Korean beauty products, you have access to the widest range of quality ingredients that also don’t break the bank. You can kiss those hundred-dollar face creams goodbye (and put that money towards new shoes instead…I won’t tell on you.)

When picking your Korean skincare products, a great guide to follow is the infamous “Ten Step Routine.” I’ve included two types of products for each step (a splurge and a steal option)-ones that Charlotte Cho and Alicia Yoon have made known as their favs.  And yes, I totally know what you’re thinking, “ten steps…?! I barely have enough time (and energy) to drag a makeup wipe across my face.” Well fear not, mama! It’s a lot simpler than you think. I’ve listed the ten steps down below, but read on for a more simplified version (so that when you’re busy taking on the world, you have a routine that gets you all the benefits, without the time commitment!)

Also, here’s some tips to keep mind as you work through the routine:

  • Use light tapping motions! This helps your skin absorb the product without pulling, therefore avoiding any trauma to your skin.
  • Work product with your fingers in gentle, upward, circular motions- rubbing pulls at the skin causing premature wrinkles (and I know you totally want those…)

The Ten Step Routine

  1. Cleanse number 1: First, you use the oil-based face wash – This initial washing gets rid of grime and makeup.
  2. Cleanse number 2: Second, is the water-based foam face wash – The second wash is the chance to gently clean and nourish your bare skin.
  3. Exfoliate – focus on areas that need it and no need to do a full face scrub every single night- hooray! So, that means focusing on trouble areas like blackheads on your nose or the pores on your cheeks…only when necessary.
  4.  Toner – the goal here is to tighten skin with a product that balances the pH levels and soothes your skin.
  5.  Essence – the second BIGGIE in this routine after the double-cleanse, this step moisturizes your skin via a watery, thinner version of a serum.
  6.  Treatment – Think serums, ampoules (an extreme and condensed version of a vitamin-rich essence) as well as face oils.
  7.  Sheet Mask – (only two to three nights a week is necessary!)
  8.  Eye cream
  9.  Moisturizer
  10. Sun Protection 

Korean sheet mask for Korean skincare routine

Facial Treatment Sheet Mask by SK-II

Okay, so maybe we don’t always have time to hit steps 1 through 10. But fear not! Your skin will still thank you if you’re getting through these essential foundations of the routine:

  1. Cleanse (and bonus points for the double-cleanse!)
  2. Exfoliate (only needs to be done a few times a week- hooray!)
  3. Moisturize
  4. Sunscreen (day)
  5. Sheet mask (night)

So there you have it! Another benefit aside from the amazing products, one thing I love about this routine is that it’s an opportunity to give myself some love. Following either the full or shortened routine is a great start to the morning.  It’s also a peaceful (and healthy!) way to wind-down from a long, busy day.  So enough chatting…someone pass me my sheet mask.


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