The Korean 10-step skincare routine has become a huge beauty trend, and the Koreans have definitely shown western women that taking care of their skin is a serious business. In fact, according to Korean beauty specialists, getting the makeup off and preparing the skin for the night is more than just a simple hygienic need: it is a ritual.
Although a 10-step skincare routine might seem complex, the multiple phases included in this regime can make all the difference. Korean skincare focuses on prevention and finds that its best weapon is consistency. In fact, to fully understand why this 10-step routine has such an articulated practice, it’s important to understand the eastern Zen viewpoint, keeping in mind that in skincare there are no quick fixes or miracle products. And because the epidermis takes (at least) 28 days to renew itself, smooth and glowing skin is most certainly a result of long-term good skincare choices and practices.
In this article, I have adapted the Korean 10-step skincare routine to fully embrace the natural-green philosophy, showing you how organic and natural products, as well as some DIY’s may be the best option for a radiant complexion.
The first step of the Korean 10-step skincare routine is to cleanse the skin. For the cleansing step, makeup wipes are banished, as the Korean method encourages the use of an oil-based cleanser. “Like dissolves like” is the science behind the choice of oil cleansers instead of traditional one in this 10-step routine. Oil-based cleansers are great for breaking down dirt, waterproof makeup and sun block leaving your skin feeling smooth. In order to adopt a green/organic lifestyle, it is important to avoid using products that contain mineral oils and instead choose cleansers that are made with vegetable, possibly organic oils. The best (and budget-friendly) oil cleanser options are sitting right there in your kitchen cabinet. Olive, Coconut, Sesame oils (for normal-to-dry skin) and Grape seed, Hemp oils (for oily complexions) are great green alternatives to traditional cleansing products. A bonus here is the opportunity to indulge in a face massage while applying the oil cleanser.
Now that the oil has melted all the grime, a foam cleanser is required to clean up all the mess. Opt for a gentle foam cleanser that’s free from SLS (Sodium lauryl sulfate) and SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), the harsh chemical foaming agents that are responsible for skin irritation and dryness.
The use of chemical or facial scrubs is a must in Korean skincare to ensure glowing skin after the exfoliation process. Technically both exfoliators, whether in chemical or scrub form, do the same thing: allowing the epidermis to get rid of dead skin cells helping with skin renewal. Chemical exfoliators use acids like AHA (glycolic acid and lactic acid) and BHA (salicylic acid), while the other uses scrubbing agents. Face scrubs are easy to replicate at home with green and organic ingredients: one of the most effective DIY scrubs is made from two simple ingredients, honey and sugar and it’s a miracle worker to refine pores!
A step that should never be skipped is toning. Toners are designed to rebalance the skin PH and give your skin the moisture it requires, while simultaneously removing stubborn makeup leftovers. If you suffer from oily or acne prone skin, raw apple cider vinegar mixed with floral water would work as a good home made toner.
Step 5, the top-rated step in the 10-step Korean skincare routine is all about ‘essence’. Essences are basically hybrids between a toner and a serum. Lightweight but packed with concentrated hydrating, repairing and anti-ageing ingredients, essences are key for youthful skin. To commit fully to the Korean beauty regime it’s essential to apply essences multiple times, actually up to seven times to be exact! I’m not joking here, the Seven Skin Method (essences in Korean beauty are also known as “skins”) is not a negligible part of the 10-step Korean skincare. In fact, by layering the essence, you will significantly increase the absorption of all the active ingredients (beware of nasty preservatives as your skin will ingest those as well), so keep this step natural by making your own DIY essence. Try pure un-refined aloe vera juice as an essence, as aloe vera is well known for its hydrating benefits and for being a great source of antioxidants that your skin will love.
In step 4, adding a serum on top increases the effect of the essence. This is a step that should be tailored according to the need of your skin. Asian women maximise serum absorption by using a massage tool. Revived from the ancient Asian medicine, Jade or Rose Quartz Rollers or Gua Sha are a huge part of recent beauty and skincare trends. By massaging the skin with gentle strokes you increase blood circulation, get rid of stagnant energy, drain fluids and allow the products to be absorbed into your skin more effectively.
In order to make the most of the hydrating and anti-ageing treatments, including sheet masks is a must in the 10-step Korean skincare routine. These sheet masks are made with a face-shaped cloth soaked with highly functional hydrating and antiaging ingredients, to effectively improve the appearance of the skin. The serum contained in these sheet masks have the benefit of reaching the deeper layers of the skin and their prolonged application is key for boosting hydration.
The use of facial oils is a huge trend in Korean beauty as it plays a viral role locking in moisture and protecting the skin from harsh cold climates. Natural non-processed organic vegetable oils are always the best choices for facial oils. For added benefits, you can choose to add some essential oils to the mix: lavender and tea tree are ideal for oily skin, chamomile for sensitive complexions and frankincense and rose essential oils for dry-mature skin.
Step nine in this 10-step Korean skincare routine lays emphasis on the under eye area. The skin in this area is so fragile and delicate as the epidermis is at its thinnest and, since there are no sebaceous glands, chances of wrinkles and fine lines are very high. To prevent premature aging, it’s important to treat under eye area with specific creams. For maximum hydration, apply an extra layer of shea butter at night as an eye mask. Doing this will help smoothen the under eye area, making it easy to apply your concealer the morning after.
The last step in this articulated skincare routine is moisturising. Now that the skin has been cleansed, treated and hydrated, it’s important to add that extra dose of moisture to protect the skin from external damaging factors. For a natural alternative to store-bought moisturisers, try organic shea butter (or any vegetable butter of your choice). Rich in beneficial nutrients and well known for its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory proprieties, shea butter provides a protective moisturising coat that restores and repairs the skin at night.
So that’s the 10-step Korean skincare routine for you. Do you think this is a skincare routine you’d be interested in trying or is it just too much? Share your thoughts with us over on Instagram or Twitter; we’d love to know what you think.