10-step Korean Skincare Routine: is it worth it and how to do it properly

10-step Korean Skincare Routine: is it worth it and how to do it properly

If you are reading this article, you for sure have already heard about the famous 10-step Korean skincare ritual that took us by storm a few years ago. Many celebrities and skincare influencers have claimed to swear by it and point it out as the reason for their youthful, glowy complexion. However, there were also many voices claiming that it is a marketing gimmick, forcing consumers to buy excessive amounts of products, bringing little actual improvement to the skin. The topic has divided the skincare community and to this day, there is no clear conclusion.

Whether you believe in the magical effect of the full ritual or not, it’s good to get acquainted with its steps, as picking and choosing individual stages and adapting them to your skincare routine can be very beneficial. This is why we prepared a short guide, explaining each and every one of them – without any further ado, let’s get started!

Step 1: Oil cleanser

A thing that is definitely worth adapting from the 10-step skincare regime is the big emphasis on proper face cleansing. You are supposed to cleanse your face in two steps, the first one focused on getting rid of dirt, grime, sunscreen, makeup residue and any pollution that might have sat on your face throughout the day. It works on the rule “alike attracts alike”, binding to all the pore-clogging substances, and breaking down any products you have on the skin. Oil cleansing is also very gentle, allowing you to clear your skin deeply without aggressive pressure or scratching with cotton pads.

Mind that oil cleansing should always be performed with a dedicated product, not just any cooking oil you’ve found in the kitchen cabinet! It’s also crucial to follow oil cleansing with the next step, which is…

Step 2: Foaming cleanser

A foaming cleanser – known also as a “water-based cleanser” – is supposed to get rid of the residue from the previous step and gently clear your skin as a whole. Choosing the right product is essential – foaming cleanser should have a pH level between 4.7-5.7, mimicking one of human skin. It shouldn’t foam too much, as it is an indicator of an overly harsh formula. The cleanser shouldn’t leave your face tight and dry – the goal is to clean it thoroughly without stripping off natural oils.

You should always mix your cleanser with a tad of water and massage it gently into the skin. Avoid rapid movement and too much pressure! Wash the formula off with lukewarm water and dry your face off by gently patting with a clean towelette.

Step 3: Exfoliant

Exfoliating is a step that should be repeated only 2-3 times a week. Exfoliation means removing dead skin cells, which may sound aggressive, but is actually a gentle process that leaves your skin smoother and brighter. Besides visibly improving tone and texture, exfoliation allows other products to absorb better and causes makeup to look much more refined.

You can exfoliate your skin both physically and chemically, though the 10-step Korean skincare regime strictly recommends the latter. This method utilises different acids, enzymes and retinoids. The most popular ingredients are AHA and BHA acids (such as widely known salicylic acid) and low-concentrated retinol. You should always choose the right product depending on your skin type and condition.

Step 4: Toner

The most important task of toner is to balance the pH levels of one’s skin. The additional perks vary depending on the product you choose – you may go for toners with hydrating properties, ones that reduce inflammation or work as an antioxidant. When choosing a toner for yourself, always consider your skin type and individual needs.

Avoid alcohol-based toners – they used to be recommended for acne-prone types, but currently, we are more aware of the fact that such aggressive actions only worsen the problem, as irritated skin may react with yet another breakout. Go for more gentle solutions with anti-inflammatory ingredients instead – such as Centella Asiatica or tea tree oil.

Step 5: Essence

Essence is the most versatile out of all the steps, oftentimes delivering some more hydration, brightening or rejuvenation. Depending on the product you choose, it may be closer in formulation and effect to a tonic or a serum. It tends to have a lower molecular weight than a moisturizer and therefore penetrates the skin deeper. It’s a step that can be a great addition to a skincare routine but is arguably the least necessary one.

Step 6: Serum

A serum is usually a very concentrated formula focused on delivering a very specific result, let it be addressing blemishes, fine lines or uneven texture. Again, serums have a lower molecular weight and absorb better, targeting specific areas with a maximum capacity. This step may be completed not only with products marked as “serums” but also “boosters” and “ampoules” – usually the name indicates the concentration of active ingredients. If you have a specific problem you would like to address, this step will be the crucial one.

Step 7: Sheet mask

We love them for both their effectiveness and the way they make us look! Sheet masks seal in the beneficial properties, as you layer them on top of your skin so that you get the most of the product. Most masks focus on moisturising, nourishing and brightening your skin, although you can also find ones that are supposed to help you with blemishes or fine lines. They are easy to apply, fun to wear and do not require a long time to perform their magic. Nevertheless, they are not a necessity and definitely do not require daily use – once every week will be more than enough.

Step 8: Eye cream

Have you ever wondered whether or not you need a different cream for the face and eye area? Well, eye creams are said to be formulated to address the needs of the delicate skin under the eyes better. They do not include more harsh ingredients that may be helpful when fighting acne or blemishes and are packed with heavily moisturising and nourishing ingredients instead. Some are also designed to prevent signs of ageing around the eyes and make the area seem brighter. Overall, it’s up to you to decide – if your favourite moisturiser can be safely used around the eyes and works for you, you are good skipping this step. However, if you are looking for extra firmness and some serious plumping action, getting a good eye cream is definitely worth it.

Step 9: Moisturiser

If there is one step other than cleansing that is absolutely necessary no questions asked, it’s moisturising. No matter if your skin is dry or oily, combo or even perfectly normal – all types need their healthy dose of moisture. Once your skin is off its balance, going into any of the extremes (too dry or too oily) it starts getting overly sensitive and may react with an acne flare, redness or even peeling. A good cream or lotion that fits your skin needs will allow you to keep things in harmony, giving you a healthy glow and preventing premature ageing.

Step 10: SPF/Night cream

Depending on the time of the day, you want to finish your routine with either an SPF or night cream. SPF does not require any further explanation – protecting your skin from the harmful sun rays that accelerate ageing and may cause skin cancer is a must, especially in the summertime. Never skip on the SPF if you are going outside and make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF at least 30. When it comes to night creams, they are usually richer and/or include ingredients that should not be used when skin is exposed to the sun. If your skin is in need of some extra love you will benefit from using one – if not, your usual moisturiser, applied more generously, should be enough.

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