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The Beginning Struggles I think I was in 7th grade when I started getting acne. It was devastating. All my friends barely had any skin issues, and I think acne played a huge factor in how I interacted with people. I would always have my […]
What is Whitening? Koreans, and Asians in general, are obsessed about whitening products. Contrary to popular belief, whitening products aren’t designed to actually “whiten” your skin. They’re not- I repeat- they’re not the bleach products that you use on your load of whites. Instead, the […]
What makes Korean skincare so special
A phenomenon that’s been sweeping the country lately is the 10-step Korean skincare routine. Something that I’ve noticed is that Asians as a whole really take pride in taking care of their skin. Growing up, my mother always shared Asian philosophies and skincare secrets with me.
Asians have continually wowed the world with their innovative techniques and advanced skincare technology. For centuries they used natural remedies like green tea or fermented yeast to achieve their clear and perfect skin.
I remember when I was in Korea, I barely saw anyone with acne- it was astounding. Everyone, even the men, had glowing, well-moisturized, and smooth skin.
Not only is the 10-step Korean skincare routine supposed to be enjoyable, it also places emphasis on what your skin needs. Each subsequent step prepares your skin to absorb the nutrients from each product.
How Korean skincare compares to American skincare
My experiences with American and western skincare have not been enjoyable, to say the least. Although more and more brands are becoming mindful of the ingredients that they place in their products, I remember looking at ingredient lists as a teenager and questioning what I was putting on my face.
Each product claimed to be the next holy grail- get clear skin, fight anti-aging and hyperpigmentation, cleanse your skin while exfoliating for a brighter complexion- all in one!
In fact, many ingredients that are FDA approved in America are actually banned in other places like Korea or Europe. For a long time, cosmetic companies stood behind their high prices and powerful branding without anyone really questioning what they put into it.
The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine
I’ve come to appreciate each step of this revolutionary process, where each product focuses on treating your skincare issues one by one. Korean skincare products feature a beautiful blend of ingredients and formulas.
Luckily, I’ve found that a lot of Korean products are very minimal and safe for sensitive skin (yay!).
Now, let’s dive in!
Step 1: Makeup Remover & Oil Cleanser
If you wear waterproof mascara and liquid eyeliner on a daily basis, be sure to use an oil-based cleanser specifically formulated for eye makeup. If not, you’ll be tugging unnecessarily at your sensitive eye area and lashes. The skin around your eyes is among the thinnest out of your whole body, so you want to treat it with care!
I like to dampen a cotton pad with my favorite eye makeup remover and set it on my eyes for a bit to breakdown the makeup. Then swipe away gently.
Then use an oil-based cleanser to wash the rest of your face.
(Oil cleansing method)
You might be thinking, “Won’t splashing oil onto my face make my oily skin break out even more?!” I know, it’s a scary thought. But rest assured, after I began oil cleansing, my face is now more moisture-regulated and thus, it doesn’t overcompensate with more sebum.
These oil-based cleansers attract dirt, impurities, and excess oil (because oil dissolves oil and oil doesn’t mix with water!) to leave your skin comfortably clean. Remember to never skip this step and never go to bed with your makeup on.
Step 2: Water- Based Cleanser
A gentle water-based cleanser then whisks away any remaining residues and dirt left over from oil-cleansing. Be careful not to use a cleanser that is too harsh and disrupts your skin’s pH level.
Step 3: Exfoliator
Exfoliating is necessary for clearing away dead skin cells, especially if you have acne- prone skin. It allows your skin to renew itself more quickly instead of remaining on the surface and clogging your pores.
A popular method of exfoliation lately has been using spinbrushes like Clarisonic or Vanity Planet, both physical exfoliators. If you have acne- prone skin (which, at this point, you should assume you have sensitive and hyper-reactive skin), physical exfoliators may be too abrasive. They might cause your skin to feel irritated and inflamed.
Physical exfoliation can lead to an unstable and damaged skin barrier, which then contributes to your skin not functioning to its full potential.
My preferred method of exfoliation is by chemical exfoliation, using ingredient’s like Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) or Glycolic Acid.
Step 4: Toner
After washing your face, toner re-balances your skin’s pH levels. The skin’s optimal pH level is from pH 5-6.
You can compare your skin to a sponge; it absorbs products and nutrients better if it’s moist than if it’s dry as a rock. Toner is also useful for this reason. It softens your skin to be able to fully absorb all the products following this step. It is the lightest product in this sequence and therefore you need to use it first in your routine.
Step 5: Essence
This is my favorite step! Using essences is also at the heart of Korean skincare and not used much in Western skincare.
An essence is a hybrid of a toner and a serum, with a slightly more gooey texture than a toner. Essences help to repair the skin at the cellular level, by injecting extra hydration and encouraging cell turnover.
Pour the essence into your palm and pat onto your face. Wait until the product is absorbed and is not tacky on your skin before moving onto the next step.
My skin glows after using essences.
Step 6: Serum
Serums, also referred to as boosters or ampoules, are the highly concentrated versions of essences. This is the step where you can target your specific skin concerns, such as hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, acne, or dull skin.
Serums add an extra boost of vitamins and seal in the goodness of your essence.
Step 7: Sheet Masks
You’re almost done! Sit back and pop on your favorite TV show while you sheet mask. I love sheet masks because they’re handy and mess free. Since they’re safe to use weekly or even daily, you can switch it up based on your skin’s condition that day.
There’s so many different types of masks: brightening, soothing, moisturizing, firming…the list goes on. Before you throw away the sheet mask pack, you can also pat the remaining essence onto your face and neck.
Step 8: Eye Cream
Treat your eye area with the extra hydration and protection it needs. This is a very delicate area so only use your ring fingers to tap the product around your orbital bone.
Never tug your skin!
Step 9: Moisturizer
Hydration, hydration, hydration! This is the key to dewy and healthy skin. You can use a lotion, gel, or emulsion in this step, depending on your skin type. These will definitely seal in moisture as you sleep (especially if you sleep with air conditioning) and as your skin regenerates through the night.
Be sure to moisturize your decollete too (neck and chest). Use a more occlusive sleeping pack if your skin is extra dehydrated.
Step 10: Sun Protection
SPF is so, so important! You might as well throw away all of your anti-aging, anti-acne products if you don’t use sunscreen to protect your skin.
Applying sun protection is the easiest (and most often forgot) step to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every. single. day. Even if you’re working at your office desk or driving around, the sun rays can reflect off surfaces and reach your skin.
This is the last and most important step. 🙂
As someone who’s had acne since the ripe age of 13, it’s hard to imagine a life without pesky, painful bumps, enlarged pores, and a skillet’s worth of grease on my face. Acne controlled my life, and I tried everything to get rid of […]