What's Special about the 10 Step Korean Skincare Approach?
Trying to wrap your head around the long and baffling 10 steps Korean skin care routine that's a hot topic in all beauty circles? Well, you are in the right place. Get to know what this seemingly complicated skincare routine is all about and the best products to try out.
While the rest of the world has been stuck on the mantra of CTM(Cleanse-Tone-Moisturize) Koreans have followed a much more nuanced approach to skincare, which has been credited for the famed flawless 'glass skin' of Korean women (and men). Here are a few reasons why the 10-step process has become popular:
Comprehensive Yet Flexible
The 10-step process seems over the top, but it comprises all the critical aspects of skincare necessary for ensuring superb skin all your life. From hydrating to caring for your eyes, this routine includes everything. But at the same time, it is flexible so you can pick and choose depending on your needs and preferences.
Principle of Layering
The idea of 10 separate steps is built on the foundation of layering . Rather than slathering 1-2 heavy products and hoping that they take care of your skin issues, in Korean beauty you add separate products that specifically tackle different issues, and which when layered, give a multiplier effect.
Specially Formulated Products
As mentioned earlier, each of the products is formulated with a specific objective. Ingredients are carefully selected drawing from the traditional and scientific knowledge base. So instead of an all-in-one approach, you can create a personalized routine. For instance, if you are acne-prone you can look for a product that controls oil on your skin, and another one to reduce hyper-pigmentation or acne marks.
The 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine
Step 1: Oil Cleanser
Double cleansing is a distinguishing feature of Korean skincare and one of its cornerstones. The idea behind this is that the skin needs to be clean so that pores are not blocked and the skin is ready to properly absorb the products that follow. It involves two steps - first involves oil-based cleansers while the second is the usual water-based cleansers. Let's begin with the first step -
What's it about: Oil cleansers make use of the principle that oil best dissolves oil, so oil-based cleansers remove oily layers including residual cream from your face in a gentle manner. These cleansers contain typically an oil base along with a regular cleansing ingredient, and is particularly great for removing makeup, as you don't have to scrub or rub off the products. They are suitable even for oily and acne-prone skin, just lookout for the right oil.
How to use: Take a pea-sized drop of cleanser and apply it all over your face, - your face need not be wet. Massage the product across your skin slowly in circles for a few minutes so you remove sebum and makeup residuals thoroughly.
- Try The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil (Rs.999)
- or Heimish Cleansing Balm (Rs. 1,550)
Step 2: Water Cleanser
Next up is the usual step of water-based cleansing. A big issue often with regular cleansers is that they are too strong or harsh, which can damage the skin's delicate balance. This can be counterproductive and cause irritation.
What's it about: Water cleansing products use regular surfactants to clean out dirt and grime. However, the main difference is that K-beauty product formulations are gentle and don't strip your skin of all oils. These cleansing foams help clean out pores effectively without causing harm.
How to use: This is just a simple process - just take a bit of the cleanser and use it once you wash off the oil cleanser.
Step 3: Exfoliator
Exfoliation is an important step that helps removes dead skin cells and promotes the growth of new skin tissues. As a result of which, Skin looks radiant and brighter. However, it is not a part of the daily routine, with experts advising that typically exfoliation be done just twice-a-week.
What's it about: Primarily there are two forms of exfoliation - physical which refers to masks, peels or scrubs etc, and chemical wherein products use mild acids like glycolic acid. Given the importance of this step in K-beauty, there are a host of options to choose from. Be careful both while choosing products and while using them as overdoing exfoliation can damage your skin by irritating it or drying it out too much.
How to use: For scrubs and wash-off masks, use them once a week. If using liquid exfoliates, gently massage the product it or tap it in. You can also try exfoliating pads for easier application.
Step 4: Toner
Traditionally toners are meant to "dry" the skin and close up pores, often using alcohol-based ingredients. However Korean toners are focused on soothing and clarifying the skin.
What's it about: K-beauty toners are typically thin formulations that try to balance the skin and clean out any residual products after the cleansing process. These products aim to reset the pH value, moisturize and hydrate the skin. Toning also helps in preparing the skin for the other products that follow. Toners are available with a mind-boggling range of ingredients, customized for every skin type and every skin issue.
How to use: Since the products are usually pretty watery inconsistency, you can either splash some in your palm and then apply the product onto your skin using gentle taps with your fingers. Alternatively you can use cotton pads to apply the toner.
Step 5: Essence
Typically packed in elegant and eye-catching bottles, essences are light-weight products that are intended to be the first layer of moisturization after the cleansing and toning routine and are choc-a-bloc with awesome ingredients.
What's it about: Essences are a hybrid of power-packed ingredients and moisturizing/hydrating elements that help boost your skin appearance. They are highly beneficial in making your skin moist and plump and provide the right ingredients to address your issues. Essences can be thin lotions or have a more viscous consistency.
How to use: Let your face absorb the toner and then take a little bit of the product onto both your palms. Gently press your hands to face, and pat so that the product penetrates the skin well.
- Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence (Rs. 1,450)
- and Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive (Rs. 2,000)
Step 6: Serum/Ampoules
Most often people wonder about the difference between serums and essences. Indeed, they are often clubbed together as treatments but in the traditional k-beauty regime, serums and ampoules are different from essences.
What's it about: Serums and ampoules are highly concentrated solutions that typically feature one-star ingredient (or perhaps two). They are hyper-focused products that help address specific issues such as ageing, hyper-pigmentation, redness etc. So if you are focused on anti-ageing, then you can look for ingredients like ceramides in your serums /ampoules. You will also notice that most serums/ampoules come only in small quantities, and are much thicker in consistency.
How to use: As concentrated products, you need only few drops of the product. While some apply only to problem areas, others prefer applying a thin layer to the entire face. Use your fingertips and press it into your face. You can also gently apply with your full hands, starting at your chin and move up.
Step 7: Sheet Mask
Fundamentally a K-beauty concept, sheet masks are an amazing way for your face to soak in the good ingredients, though they are quite strange and scary looking.
What's it about: These are full-face thin fabric sheets soaked in fantastic ingredients that are good for the skin. Delivering it in a concentrated form, these sheets let the skin take in all the good stuff! The sheet masks are one-time use and offer different ingredients.
How to use: Typically included in the night routine. Cleanse your face and place the entire sheet onto to your face. Let it remain for 30-40 minutes and remove it. A great opportunity to relax!
Step 8: Eye Cream
The sensitive and delicate skin around the eye is where you are likely to see the first signs of ageing. Fine lines, wrinkles, loosening skin around the eyes are some of the issues that show up very quickly. No wonder that Korean beauty places a whole lot of focus on paying attention to this area.
What's it about: Eye creams are used regularly to keep the thin skin plump and hydrated while tackling problems like dark circles, puffiness and fine lines. Korean eye creams are formulated specially to give the necessary nourishment and support so your eyes are cared for.
How to use: Take a little bit of cream onto your fingertips. Gently tap it onto the entire area under the eye and sides as well, and massage till it gets absorbed.
Step 9: Moisturizer/Sleeping Mask
Here's a familiar step! Moisturising is where all the stuff you have put on your face gets sealed in. The right moisturizer goes a long way in giving you clear, glowing and dewy skin.
What is it about: In K-beauty, moisturizers are not very heavy. This is important and a good thing because it reduces the chances of clogging pores and also eliminates the greasy look. The uniqueness of K-beauty shines here as there is an incredible range of options that range from lightweight creams/gels for oily skin folks or heavy creams for those with dry skin, each with a unique set of ingredients. Take the time to research out the ingredients and to read reviews while picking out your moisturizer. If you are wondering about sleeping masks then these are heavy products that nourish your skin overnight.
How to Use: Once the serum and the eye cream is absorbed, apply a thin layer of the cream all over your face. Sleeping masks are of course used overnight -apply as a thick layer for best results.
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
Innisfree Orchid Enriched Cream (Rs. 2,000)
Dear Klairs, Midnight Blue Calming Cream.
Sleeping mask - Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask (Rs. 1,929)
Step 10: Sunscreen
The final step of the Korean skincare routine is applying sunscreen to protect yourself from the harsh UV rays of the sun. This is a step that has a lot of importance in Korean beauty as it is believed that sun damage can cause premature ageing and damage the skin. So don't miss it even if you spend all day at your desk or even inside your home.
What's it about: Many regular sunscreens feel heavy and oily and worse, often leave a white cast. but you will find that those from Korea are light and non-greasy while providing full protection. Sunscreens are formulated especially for different skin types so yet again you can get something that just right for your skin needs.
How to use: sunscreen is the last product to go on your face (before makeup obviously!). This ensures that your other skin products are not disturbed. Apply in a thin layer and wait for it to be absorbed before you start applying makeup.
Overwhelmed? Don't Give Up Yet!
Seeing all the ten steps laid out may feel a little too much, isn't it? If it seems like overkill and you want to drop the idea, wait. Consider the following tips so you can take the best of this unique approach while saving on time and money and avoiding the long-drawn affair of all the 10 steps.
You Don't Need all The 10 Steps
Yes, all the 10 steps are just the ideal scenario, and in fact, many might not be following it all. The wonderful aspect of K-beauty is that you can pick and choose as per your skin needs. Customise your skincare regime by picking exactly the products you want, the ingredients you want and the steps you want. You can adjust as your skin changes so it always gets what it needs. You can also vary by time of day - have a simpler routine in the morning and a longer one in the night.
Go for Combo/All-in-one Products
Understanding that not everyone has the time nor the inclination to buy all these products, Korean beauty companies come up with combo/all-in-one products that combine the benefits of different products into one magic formula. So if you think the 10-step process is silly, give these combo products a try before skipping the Korean beauty trend.
Remember: Experimentation Is the Name of the Game
Give the One Stop K-Beauty Solution a Try in 2019 and See Visible Changes!
We hope we have helped you in starting your K-beauty journey to achieve that flawless glow. Do note that if you find the process cumbersome, you can go for other alternatives to keep your skin healthy and nourished.