Ever wondered what a Korean skincare routine actually is? Well, we're here to explain it all, and break it down so you know exactly what each step does, and how to incorporate them into your beauty regimen - even as a simplified version.
The market of Korean skincare is still growing, and it's one of the most widely followed skin routines out there. It comes down to Korea's cultural interest in healthy skin and years of scientific discoveries, mixed with natural ingredients. It's said this Korean beauty trend is less of a routine, and more of a lifestyle.
A 10-step routine can seem pretty daunting if you're new to it, so we've broken it down and included a more simplified version for the money and time conscious among you, too!
1. Wash your face with water
The first thing to do when you wake up is to wash your face with just water. No need for soap. The clean water helps to get rid of any impurities that your skin has collected while you've slept, while making sure your skin is hydrated and refreshed.
The reason why it’s better to wash your face without soap is because it strips off your natural oils, which is why your skin feels tight and dry afterwards. So especially if you have problem skin, it’s worth cutting soap out of your routine, because it’s probably doing more harm than good.
Toner is an important part of the routine as it balances the pH level of your skin. Washing your face with anything other than just water can change your skin's pH, which is normally fairly acidic. This causes your skin to work overtime to get it back down the scale, causing your skin to produce too much oil. Toner also makes sure the products you apply next will be adequately absorbed and work to their greatest effect.
Essence is a hybrid between a toner and a serum. It will work to hydrate your skin and encourage a high cell turnover, preventing the onset of fine lines and wrinkles. It prepares your skin before moisturizer, as your skin can soak in more of the product if it's already hydrated.
Ampoules are within the same family as essences and serums, but they're highly concentrated. Think of it like a booster shot. They have a high concentration of active ingredients which are meant for a finite amount of use. Switch them round for whatever skin issue you're experiencing.
Serums are great at targeting specific problems, like wrinkles, dark spots or dry skin. Again, switch them round as you need them. They work well as they’re made up of smaller molecules that can get deep into the skin and deliver a high concentration of active ingredients. So whatever specific skincare issue you’re facing, it’s easy to find a serum to suit you.
6. Eye cream
The skin around your eyes is very delicate and it doesn't have any sebaceous glands to produce natural oils. This means it's important to keep them hydrated and protected throughout the day but be sure to be gentle on application.
Almost there. A layer of moisturizer to keep your face hydrated all day long. Good moisturizers have ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or glycerine which naturally occur in the body and can help continually keep your skin hydrated by bring water up from the dermis. This means your body won’t over produce oil or dry out over the long term.
8. Sun screen
Sun screen should be applied every day, not just for vacation. Protecting your skin from UV rays prevents ageing by stopping the development of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s been suggested that upwards of 80% of all skin ageing is down to sun damage, from pigmentation to wrinkles and even dark spots.
Night time routine
1. Oil-based cleanser
Oil-based cleansers will make sure you've removed oil-based make up and impurities from the day.
A water-based cleanser means you can really make sure you get all of your make-up off. This one will also get rid of the oil residue from the oil-based cleanser.
It's important to exfoliate twice a week, whether with a gentle enzyme exfoliator or a bead-based one to remove dead skin cells. Not exfoliating can cause the skin to lack lustre and block up your pores, preventing key products getting absorbed into the skin.
8. Sheet mask
The heart of Korean skin care, the sheet mask is a cloth saturated with highly hydrating ingredients, making sure your skin is deeply well moisturized for the night ahead.
Our own Nanotech Stem Cell Face Mask works to brighten your skin and encourage the rapid rejuvenation of new skin cells, keeping wrinkles at bay. It'll leave your skin hydrated and gives you a bit of down time at the end of the day, too.
9. Eye cream
Last step is to moisturize, to really lock in that hydration all night long.
A 10-step routine might not be much of a step-up for some, but for others it can seem a little overwhelming. So we've also cut down the routine to 5-steps, which you can stick with, or use it to gradually get you up to a 10-step routine.
1. Wash with water
3. Serum/ Ampoule
4. Eye cream
5. Moisturizer with an SPF
Introducing the new products into your routine slowly is probably the best way to approach it, otherwise it can turn into a bit of a slog. But realistically, it only takes around 15 minutes of your morning and evening (exfoliating and sheet masks are not an everyday thing) and it can be therapeutic way to wind down before bed. The key idea behind Korean skin care is looking after your skin every day so you can avoid expensive facials later on in life and prevent aging as early as you can. And if you're stuck for time before bed, at least make sure you've cleansed and moisturized at a bare minimum, because sleeping in your makeup in a skin care sin we should all avoid.