The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine: How to + Viral Products

By Katarina V.| Last updated on March 14, 2024
cover image featuring a girl holdings ome korean skincare products
⏱️ 7 min read

If you scroll through beauty content on your TikTok or Instagram, there’s a fair chance that a good chunk of it will be inspired by Korean skincare trends.

K-beauty is all about youthful, glowing, well-aging, and super-hydrated skin. So if that’s what you want to achieve — you’re at the right place.

Here’s the ultimate guide to the 10-step Korean skincare routine, with a full tutorial, beauty tips, and the best products to try out at home.

Before Getting Started, Make Sure You Know Your Skin Type

Knowing your skin type is important because it helps you choose the best products that match your skin’s specific needs.

There are five common skin types — normal, dry, oily, combo and sensitive — and each of them requires different care.

That said, before you even try to dip your fingers into the viral K- skincare, make sure you determine your skin type and learn more about it.

Korean Skincare Steps

The classic Korean skincare routine features 8 to 10 steps designed to make your skin healthy and radiant.

This may seem a bit extra compared to your usual beauty regimen, but once you learn more about the steps, it’ll all make sense.

Now, let’s break down the 10-step Korean skincare routine and see how it works:

Step 1: Oil-Based Cleanser

So, your first step is going to be an oil-based cleanser or a balm cleanser because these are better at removing your makeup, SPF and debris than water-based cleansers.

Also, oil-based cleansers don’t strip your skin dry. They actually help you keep your skin hydrated and healthy.

These are the best cleansers for the instant glass skin look:

Warm the product up between your palms and massage it all over your face to literally melt away any makeup residue or dirt off your face.

Then, wash the cleanser off with lukewarm water and just pat your face dry with a clean towel.

Step 2: Water-Based Cleanser

Here, you have a number of options to choose from — a foaming cleanser, a gel, or a cream cleanser. Just pick the one that works best for your skin condition.

With a water-based cleanser, you’ll remove any remaining impurities and make sure that you have a clean canvas to work from.

Once you finish your little face wash (with a massage included), wash off the product and pat your skin dry.

Step 3: Exfoliator

After you double-cleanse your face, it’s time to exfoliate the skin to remove any excess oil or product build-up.

Basically, exfoliation will remove anything that’s congesting your skin and help it resurface. So, this is the point where you get that really glowy, bright, and gorgeous skin.

Exfoliation isn’t something you have to do every single night, in fact, it’s best if you don’t.

If you have more sensitive or even dry skin, use your exfoliator once or twice a week to promote skin regeneration and cell turnover.

Step 4: Toner

After cleansing and exfoliation, treat your skin with a toner or a facial mist to maintain skin pH levels, hydrate and allow other skincare products to be absorbed more easily.

Here’s a toner that will leave your skin feeling really soft and healthy:

Pat the toner in with your fingers or a cotton pad. Spread it evenly all over your face and let it sink into your skin.

Step 5: Essence

Next is the essence, which is somewhere between a toner and a serum, with a thicker consistency and powerful hydrating effect.

It works to hydrate, brighten dark spots, boost your complexion and aid in cellular turnover for a youthful appearance.

That’s why this step is considered to be the most important step in the Korean skincare routine and you definitely shouldn’t skip it!

Choose the essence tailored to your skin type, pour the product into your palms, and then pat it onto your face and neck.

Step 6: Treatment

Whatever your skin condition is, there is a Korean serum, ampoule or booster to help you fix the problem, regenerate and recharge your skin.

These are more concentrated than essences and have powerful active ingredients targeting acne, wrinkles, redness, large pores, and pigmentation.

Here’s what we found to be the favorite K-treatments on Amazon:

This is the step where you’re using a targeted treatment, so it’s important to pick the ingredients that will help heal and improve your skin from within.

For example, if you have dryness, go for a product with hyaluronic acid. Or, if you have texture, pick a treatment with niacinamide.

Whatever you choose to treat your concerns with, just stick to the options that can protect and boost your skin’s natural barrier.

Step 7: Sheet Mask

At this moment, sheet masks are an integral part of every K-beauty routine.

They are soaked with rich serum containing essential ingredients that provide deep hydration and offer great benefits, such as anti-aging, anti-acne, collagen-boosting, or whatever it is that your skin needs.

Plus, they are easy to use, suit all skin types, and allow your skin to absorb precious nutrients and moisture.

You don’t have to put a sheet mask on every day, though. Once or twice a week will do just fine to instantly brighten and soothe your skin and you enjoy an extra bougie self-care moment.

Also, it’s best to limit your wear time to 10–15 minutes only. If you wear your sheet mask for too long, it’ll dry and start sucking moisture from your skin.

Once the time is up, remove the mask and then pat the serum onto your skin. It may take a minute, but it’s totally worth the wait.

Step 8: Eye Cream

Of course, this step is optional because not everyone is going to need eye cream.

However, if you’re dealing with puffiness, dark circles, or just general dryness or dehydration, this step is all about putting that moisture into the delicate eye area.

Eye creams are also great for treating and preventing fine lines and wrinkles and they keep your skin looking young, bright, and bouncy.

Make sure you apply your eye cream gently, with minimal pressure, with your ring finger.

And, since eye creams serve as a great target, you can also use them around your mouth, where fine lines and wrinkles are more likely to appear.

Step 9: Moisturizer

Korean skincare, and especially moisturizers, are all about hydrating, nourishing, damage-repairing, and supporting the skin barrier.

Obviously, this is the key step in achieving that plump, juicy skin from your dreams. It’s because moisturizers draw moisture into the skin and seal in all skincare products you applied in the previous steps.

Here are some really nice and popular Amazon finds that deserve a chef’s kiss:

Pat your moisturizer of choice gently into the skin and seal in all the wonderful ingredients.

If you like to be extra with your skincare, you can use a separate moisturizer for the entire face, neck, and décolletage area.

Step 10: SPF, Night Treatment or Sleep Mask

The last step of the 10-step beauty routine is where it gets really fun for you, as you’re free to choose how you’d like to finish your beauty marathon.

If you’re doing your morning skincare routine, you should definitely be applying an SPF as the last step in the process.

This one will protect your skin from harmful UV rays and slow down the skin aging process:

If you’re getting ready for bed, go for a night cream or an overnight treatment to prep your skin for the next day.

If you’re dealing with dryness or dehydration, put another mask on and get the skin of your dreams while you snooze.

Korean Skincare Routine: Final Thoughts

The 10-step Korean skincare routine may seem like a lot of work now, but once you see the results, you’ll realize it’s worth the time and effort.

Another great thing is that you can personalize each step to match your skin concerns and your skincare style.

That way, you can achieve the desired results faster and easier, while also giving your skin exactly what it needs to be healthy, juicy and glowy.

Just be consistent and stick to the routine for at least four weeks, and can guarantee you won’t regret giving it a try!

Cover image source: Freepik

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