If you’re relatively new to the world of skin care—especially Korean skin care and the 10 or 12 steps involved—you may be a little overwhelmed. If you’re feeling like it’s all just a lot, don’t worry! Here are the most important steps of the Korean routine.
The truth is that a highly regimented, step-by-step routine is actually considered therapeutic by those who follow one, and seeing the visual improvements in your skin’s texture and clarity can motivate you to stick with it! But with that said, we do understand that starting with 12 products right off the bat isn’t everyone’s ideal.
With that in mind, we’re presenting a four-step Korean routine, as well as giving you advice on how you can customize your routine to your skin type. We’ll also provide suggestions to help you build off the four-steps should you wish.
Laying the foundation:
First things first, you need to determine what skin type you have. The four types are: dry, oily, combination, and normal. After establishing your type, you can get even more specific. For example, if you have fine lines and dry skin, you will benefit from anti-aging products that plump and moisturize. If your skin is reactive and oily, you should seek acne and oil-zapping products for sensitive skin.
This is the foundation for all skincare, so once you understand this, you can begin researching specific ingredients. For example, moisturizers with hyaluronic acid are ideal for anti-aging since they plump the skin, and clay masks are great for oily skin since they suck up excess oil from your pores.
The 4 most important steps of the Korean routine:
Now that you know what kinds of products to look for that’ll cater to your skin type, it’s time to build your arsenal. In our opinion, the four products everyone should own and use are a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
Cleansers come in all shapes, sizes and forms. There are foaming cleansers, oil cleansers, water cleansers, gel cleansers, stick cleansers, cream cleansers, and beyond. Some people even combine two or three cleansers in one routine, but we recommend starting with one and building from there.
Figuring out what type of cleanser is best for your skin may take some time, but a safe option is a foaming, gel, or a stick cleanser that’s made for your skin type. We are partial to the Neogen Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick and the Klavuu Pure Pearlisation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam, which are approved for all skin types (including sensitive). Another great option is the D’Alba Piedmont Peptide No-Sebum Mild Gel Cleanser. It’s a light and mild gel cleanser that deeply cleans pores while also providing anti-wrinkle and brightening properties.
But in order to remove all impurities from your skin, we strongly recommend doing the double cleanse. Once you have a routine you’re comfortable with, make sure to add an oil cleanser to see a real difference in your skin.
Toners are a little less varied, but there are still many types choose from. Toners reset your skin’s pH level, which should be right around 5.5. They also nix anything left behind by your cleanser, and help prepare your skin for a moisturizer.
Choose a toner that targets your skincare needs. For example, the Neogen Dermalogy Pore Refine Toner is great for oily skin and for those who want to reduce their pore size. And the Klairs Supple Preparation Toner is a toner that’s best for dry, normal, combination, or sensitive skin types. Plus, the Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner which is great for almost all skin types!
Moisturizers are perhaps the most complicated category out there, only because there are just so many to choose from! Like cleansers, they come in many forms, including gel, water, oil, cream and more. To help narrow the selection down, go back to your skin type and choose a moisturizer that will help your specific issues. And yes, all skin types (even oily!) desperately need extra moisture!
For a lighter cream—ideal for oily skin types—we recommend the Missha Super Aqua Ultra Water-Full Clear Cream. It’s an oil-free cleanser that absorbs quickly into the skin. For dry or mature skin types, we recommend a heavier cream, such as the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream. Combo or normal skin? Check out the SKINRx LAB MadeCera Cream.
Sunscreen is really the most important product of all, as it’s single handedly the most effective way to prevent and combat signs of premature aging, dry skin, and age spots. You should wear a layer of SPF in addition to any and all your other products, even if they also contain SPF.
Try the Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen or the Thank You Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence.
Once you’ve established this four-product regimen, you may be eager to jump into the world of multi-layer moisturizing (serums, ampoules, oils, creams and masks) and treatments (peels, exfoliating, pore-minimizing). The secret is that… there is no secret! Simply research a product that sounds like it fits your needs, and then give it a go. Check out our 10 step skin care regimen for more info on building up your routine.
There can be some trial and error when it comes to finding the perfect products, so don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work for you. Many of the products on Soko Glam’s site have reviews from other users, or we often review them here on The Klog. By reading reviews from others, you’ll be able to get a better idea of whether the product will work for you.
And finally, developing and sticking to a skincare routine isn’t about trying to achieve the impossible (AKA perfection). Nobody’s skin is perfect—including celebrities and models who look poreless and wrinkle-free in magazines. Your goal should be to treat your skin well, protect it from the elements and sun damage, and to nourish it daily.