I was wondering how to get to grips with the post on Korean vs. Western skincare and I thought instead of writing a long article on it, I could put it in a more comprehensible way with the use of graphics. 🙂 So there it is, below you can see a very brief and general comparison between Korean and Western skincare. I hope you like it.
The second part of this post is going to be about the 10-step Korean skincare routine. I’ve been asked a million times already what it consists of and what step follows which. I’ve also seen many questions on Facebook and Quora on that topic so I thought I’d scribble a short guide (based on my knowledge and experience) for people who are new to k-beauty or still feel lost despite being in it for a while. I hope this mini-guide helps!
Oil cleansers contain oil particles which help to break down make-up and any other impurities. The oil cleansers are usually applied on a dry face and are rinsed off with water. This type of cleansing can replace make-up removing in that you don’t need any kind of special make-up remover to get rid of mascara or eyeliner (e.g. micellar water) – the oil in the oil cleanser does it for you. Although for the heavier/waterproof make-up I’d recommend adding an extra make-up removing step, such as makeup wipes.
Water-based cleansing (foam/gel cleanser)
In this part of a double-cleansing routine you should use a water-based, or in other words, foam cleanser (or gel cleanser) to deal with any residues left after oil cleansing. It helps to ensure that your face is thoroughly cleansed and ready for the following steps.
Exfoliating (optional, usually not done every day)
After you got rid of your make-up and dirt that piled up throughout the day, it’s time to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores, accelerating skin renewal process and making it easier for the following skincare products to do their wonders. However, exfoliating isn’t a daily step and should be used 2-3 times a week (or once a week if you have particularly sensitive skin).
Using a toner after cleansing the face prepares it for the following products and makes them absorb more easily. The toner hydrates the skin and brings its pH levels back to normal after cleansing. It can be sprinkled into the hands and gently tapped on the face or, alternatively, it can be applied with the use of a cotton pad.
This kind of product is rather unknown in the Western skincare routine. In texture, an essence is like a combination of a toner and a serum- it’s usually as watery as a toner but targets more specific skin problems, just like the serum. It hydrates the skin and enhances its repair.
Serum/Ampoule is a concentrated treatment that targets a particular skin problem (e.g. acne, pigmentation, dullness, etc.). It’s not a necessary step in a daily skincare routine. The rule of thumb for incorporating this step is that if you have a particular skin issue, go for it.
Sheet mask (optional)
Sheet masks are soaked in essence/serum (sometimes even emulsion). There are loads to choose from and each and every one of them is different, addressing different skin concerns. Sheet masks can be a great addition to your skincare routine, especially if you want to add that healthy glow to your skin instantly.
Usually, you should apply a sheet mask 2-3 times a week; however, it’s up to you and your skin to decide how often you should do it. It can also serve as a replacement for a serum/ampoule application.
The skin around the eyes is the thinnest and the most fragile area on your face. And that’s why it requires special treatment. A tailored eye cream can provide you with extra hydration, and protection of this important and easy to omit part of the face. You just need to gently tap the cream under your eyes. And avoid rubbing!
And finally- moisturizer. Usually the last step in a PM routine that is supposed to lock in everything you’ve applied so far. Moisturizers come in a variety of forms from emulsions to lotions, gels and your standard creams. Up to your which form of a moisturizer serves you best.
Sunscreen (only AM routine)
This is the final step but only in the morning skincare routine (the night skincare routine would end with step 9). Wearing sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UV rays that damage your skin and make it age faster. An absolute must, even if you don’t plan to go outside. The UV rays can easily penetrate the window glass! And don’t forget to re-apply throughout the day!
As you can see, it’s called a 10-step routine but not all the steps are to be followed every day and not all at the same time. One thing to add is that there’s a lot of variation of how 10-step Korean routine is ”executed”. Some people exfoliate their skin daily with gentle exfoliators, some people use both serums and ampoules in one go and some people follow a moisturizer with a sleeping mask. There are so many ways in which you can tweak this routine. The one thing to remember is it’s always up to you to find ways that work best for you (and your skin!). 🙂