Korean skin care has taken over the beauty world. From the famed 10-step routine to the coveted dewy, glass skin, anything and everything K-beauty has become a global sensation. And, really, what’s not to love?
If you’re a late adopter thinking about switching to a Korean skincare routine or a newbie looking for more guidance, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate the different steps and products that can lead you to that healthy, illuminated glow.
What’s so Special About Korean Skin Care?
So, why does everyone seem to be nuts about Korean skin care? If you’ve ever watched a K-drama, chances are you’ve noticed how all the characters boast ultra-hydrated, almost translucent skin. They even have a name for it. Chok chok, which translates to “moist” or “damp,” describes this juicy, dew-saturated look. Who wouldn’t want that same glowing, glass-like complexion?
Also, what sets Korean beauty standards apart is the holistic approach to skin perfection. Rather than merely addressing specific concerns, K-beauty prioritises early prevention. There’s also no one-size-fits-all approach here. Instead, you’ll need to create a routine that works best for your unique needs.
Step-by-Step Korean Skincare Routine
Pioneered by Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon, the term “glass skin” refers to skin that’s crystal-clear, translucent, and luminous, just like glass. Achieving this look doesn’t require an exact number of steps. But there are specific measures you can take to give your skin smoothness all around. The idea is to apply multiple lightweight layers of hydrating products so your skin can look dewy and plump.
Sometimes, after a long day out and about, it’s not enough to wash your face with your regular cleanser. Cleansing once won’t get to the layers of makeup you piled on, let alone the dirt and grime accumulated with it. Not only will double cleansing effectively remove all that, but it will also prevent your skin from drying out.
For this, always go for an oil-based cleanser. Micellar water or a cleansing balm or oil are terrific options for this first wash. Simply rub it on your face with a cotton pad to cut through all the thick foundation, dirt, and other pollutants. After rinsing off, follow up with your regular cleanser and wash as usual.
Exfoliate twice a week.
For maximum glow, give your skin a boost of radiance through exfoliation. Use a mild exfoliator twice a week to remove dead skin cells and achieve a brighter, even complexion. You can choose between a physical or chemical exfoliator but always consider your skin type. If you’re looking to banish blackheads and peeling skin, a gentle scrub should do the job.
Hesitant about using a chemical exfoliant? This option employs gentle acids that penetrate your skin on a deeper level. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are terrific choices. These exfoliants target anything from fine lines to blemishes. Go ahead and try them!
Consider a toner.
In recent years, many have removed hard, astringent-like toners from their routines because of the stigma around them. Korean skin care, however, has revolutionised the toning game with its mild formulations that offer a host of benefits, from hydration to anti-acne. After cleansing or exfoliating, soak a cotton pad with your chosen toner and sweep it across your face for an extra refresh.
Use a serum or essence.
In the K-beauty sphere, you’ll discover the benefits of varied products. Meet the serum, a.k.a. essence, a highly concentrated formulation of one or more active ingredients. Many consider it the heart of Korean skin care as it can deliver nutrients to your skin on a deeper level.
All set and ready to build your K-beauty skincare arsenal? When shopping for a serum or essence, look for natural ingredients such as snail mucin, rice extracts, green tea, and fermented botanicals. Then make sure to add a few drops of the product into your foundation for a healthy, hydrated glow.
Apply eye cream.
Because the skin around your eyelids is delicate, it deserves some extra TLC. To help prevent signs of ageing in this area, consider incorporating an eye cream into your routine. Science will back you up on this decision.
Research from the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology discovered that the retinoids in eye creams can significantly improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. So, before getting your beauty rest, slather on some cream to wake up looking like you’re living the skincare dream.
Moisturise like there’s no tomorrow.
Moisturising is essential to any skincare routine, Korean or otherwise. This step prevents a host of issues that contribute to your skin looking dull and drab – a look not worthy of K-beauty standards. Besides quenching dry, thirsty skin, an effective moisturiser can address concerns like acne, fine lines, and wrinkles.
When selecting moisturisers, opt for those that promise maximum “glowiness” for full “glassification” instead of mattifying ones. Consider also an SPF that can double as your daytime moisturiser. Then look for those with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, a humectant that can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Simply put, this hydration hero is a shoo-in if you want plump, dewy skin.
How to Apply Korean Face Products Correctly
When applying skincare products, the rule of thumb is to layer by order of consistency. Start with the thinnest products, like your toner, immediately after cleansing. Since moisturisers are the thickest, save them for last to seal in all the layers applied prior. Remember: a pea-sized amount should do the trick. And make sure to apply a product evenly across your face and neck.
Korean skin care isn’t a magic solution for a perfect, pore-less complexion. Instead, it focuses on understanding individual needs and customising routines to address them. It’s an art that involves layering innovative ingredients to target specific skin concerns – an empowering self-care philosophy that goes beyond aesthetics.
How to Glow From the Inside Out
You can also illuminate your glowing skin even more with a brilliant smile. Practise good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly. If you’re dealing with crowded or crooked teeth, inquire about aligner treatment through ClearCorrect. It’s a subtle and comfortable approach to straightening teeth worth investing in.
As you begin your journey with Korean skinc are, keep in mind that there’s no single way to achieve glass skin. Nor will you get results overnight. Yes, the pursuit of a near-perfect complexion through a seemingly endless number of steps may seem overwhelming. But be patient and stay committed to your routine. Before you know it, you’ll be glowing from within like a K-beauty queen.
JDDonline – Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. (2022, September 1). Efficacy and tolerability of a retinoid eye cream for fine to moderate wrinkles of the periorbital region – JDDOnline – Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.
Peach & Lily. (2019, August 16). Peach & Lily Founder’s glass skin routine | Alicia Yoon [Video]. YouTube.
The History of Korean Beauty Part 3: Joseon Dynasty. (n.d.). Asia Society.