Korean Skincare Routine


When will my skin be like hers? Hmmm.. maybe when pigs learn to fly. LOL.

Do you ever notice how Korean women (not only the celebs) have the most beautiful, glowing and flawless skin? If you think it is all because of beautiful genes (duh!), you are absolutely wrong. Korean women actually take care of their skin diligently to achieve that flawless complexion. They also take a completely different approach to skincare and makeup from what most of us do.

Skincare and make up are just a part of modern Korean culture. Korean women (and some men) consider them as basic needs. It’s common to see old ladies in full make up too. When I say old, I mean 75-80+ years old. Koreans are also obsessed with ‘beauty food and drinks’. They eat or drink whatever is good for the skin and general health.

Perhaps you have heard of the “million-step” skincare routine when it comes to Korean beauty. Fear not. It’s actually made up of just several steps. While this might seem like a long process that would take much of your time, it actually takes only about 20-30 minutes, and leaves your skin healthy and glowing. This special routine basically boils down to cleansing, exfoliating, treating and INTENSELY moisturizing.

Here are the steps in a nutshell: Complete Skincare Routine

Prep & Pre-cleanse (make up remover)

This is the first step of the ‘double cleansing’ method which most Korean women follow. Remove every trace of make up by using a wet facial tissue,  cleansing oil or cleansing water. I use the cleansing oil to remove waterproof eyeliner and mascara. On ‘light make up’ days, I just use cleansing water.


Products I currently use:

  1. Missha Perfect Water Deep Cleanser
  2. Etude House Lip and Eye Remover
  3. The Face Shop Herb Cleansing Tissue
  4. Etude House My Beauty Tool Round Clear Cotton Pad

Facial Cleanser

Wet your face with warm water to open the pores, then wash with a gentle facial foam. Use a cleansing brush to remove dirts and unclog the pores. Then, rinse your face with cold water to close the pores.


Products I currently use:

  1. Etude House AC Clinic Bubble Cleanser -harsh to pimples but gentle to the skin
  2. Shiseido Perfect Whip – makes skin smooth and soft (New fave!)
  3. Missha Cleansing Brush

Peeling gel or cream

After few days of wearing BB cream, foundation or other make up products, you will feel your skin getting rough. It is important to exfoliate your skin once or twice a week to get rid of dead skin cells that cause skin discoloration or uneven skin tone. Exfoliation keeps the pores from clogging and it also helps your toner, moisturizer and other products penetrate deeper into your skin. Just don’t overdo it to avoid irritation.


Products I currently use:

  1. Etude House Magic Bubble Creamy Peeling Wash
  2. Etude House Magic Bubble Peeling Foam


Sometimes even when you have already washed your face, there are still dirt remaining on your skin. So finalize the cleansing process with a toner. It also resets your skin’s PH balance. Put some product on a cotton swab and gently wipe your face to get rid of the make up or cleanser residue.

2015-06-27-22-24-06_deco Product I currently use:

  1. SK II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion -it has water consistency


Essence is the heart of  Korean skincare. Unlike toner, it is applied by putting some product on your palm, rubbing it gently (to make it warm) and pressing it on your skin in upward direction.


Product I currently use:

  1. SK II Facial Treatment Essence

2015-08-02-22-20-12_deco Skin Softener (Liquid moisturizer)

No cotton swab is needed when applying Korean skin softener, also called as ‘skin’. Put some product on your palm, rub it gently and pat on your face. Massage your face by moving your fingers like you’re playing the piano.

Product I currently use:

  1. IOPE Intense Moisture Vitalizing Softener


This is a lightweight lotion-type moisturizer. Put a little amount on your palm, rub it gently and pat on your face. Then massage your face in upward direction for a few minutes. Don’t rub too hard.

Product I currently use:

  1. IOPE Intense Moisture Vitalizing Emulsion

Serum / Ampoule

I actually prefer using ampoule than serum. It is usually used by make up artists for weddings to make the make up last long with a smooth and healthy look. Serum is thicker than essence and it has a more concentrated ingredients to treat a more specific skin issue -whitening, firming, deep moisture, wrinkle care etc. Ampoule is quite similar to serum but is more concentrated and more lightweight. It also gets absorbed by the skin faster.


Products I currently use:

  1. Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule
  2. Nature Republic Original Power Argan Oil Ampoule
  3. Nature Republic Real Nature Acai Berry Ampoule

*I use different ampoules depending on what treatment I want. 🙂

Eye Cream This step is meant to hydrate and protect  the area around your eyes. 2015-08-02-22-24-53_deco Product I currently use:

  1. IOPE Essential Tone and Wrinkle Eye Cream – has dual effects (brightening + wrinkle care)

Night Cream

This cream helps lock moisture in the skin throughout the night, so you wake up looking fresh and beautiful. This is a must for me especially in winter since my skin gets extremely dry.


Product I currently use:

  1. IOPE Anti-Wrinkle Intensive Cream -forehead, side of the eyes and neck (wrinkle prone area)
  2. IOPE Intensive Moisture Vitalizing Cream – cheeks and chin (dry area)

Sheet Mask

It hydrates your facial skin, helps repair skin cells damage, and intensively nourishes your skin. After 20 minutes, take off the sheet mask and apply the remaining serum on the face and neck. Use twice a week or more if you can swing it. Other women do this step after applying toner but I prefer doing this as the last step of my routine because I can’t wait for 20 minutes before proceeding to the next step. And I like to keep it on my face until all the essence gets absorbed by my skin. Most of the time, I just sleep with it on my face.


Products I currently use:

  1. SK II Facial Treatment Mask
  2. Random Korean masks (Missha, Etude House and The Face Shop are my favorites)

Other types of products that I use on my face:

  1. nose strip – to remove the disgusting blackheads
  2. eye gel / lip patch – to moisturize the under eye area and lips during cold season
  3. wash-off masks – just because I love trying out random beauty products. Haha. I rarely use wash-off masks because I don’t like waiting for the product to dry up on my face and wash it off.. Call it an excuse, but I don’t have the luxury of time. Haha!

My Morning Skin Care Routine: Before Applying Make Up

  1. Facial Wash (Just water in winter to avoid cleansing away the natural oil on my skin)
  2. Toner
  3. Essence
  4. Liquid Moisturizer
  5. Emulsion

Just remember that to maximize the benefits of the products in your regimen, you should apply products with a thinner/lighter consistency before the thicker, creamier ones. It’s because the products with heavier consistencies can block lighter weight ones from penetrating the skin and doing their job. Korean skin care is about layering of beauty products. Remember it’s layering, not mixing. So, wait for each product to be fully absorbed by the skin before moving on to the next step. 🙂

Koreans are one of the most hardworking people in the world, not just in their careers but also in their health and beauty. In this country, beautifying one’s self is a way of life. And I must say, it is hard work. Well, doing Korean beauty routine is not really that hard. What’s hard is doing it every single day. Twice a day, to be exact. I always arrive home from work very late and doing my complete skin care routine is really a big challenge. *Sigh* Honestly, I skip some steps sometimes. Haha! ^_______^



5 thoughts on “Korean Skincare Routine

  1. Dear Lanie,
    What do you think about Missha black and white konnyak sponges?
    I would like to order, but in Hungary…maybe ten people knows this item. But i dont know them 🙂
    Sorry, but i lost your facebook response today (you replied to my question…), i lost your whole fb page ( page not found) 😦
    Have a beautiful day,
    Eszter from Hungary


  2. Wow thank you for this 언니!! I never knew Koreans are this meticulous to their skin care. No wonder they have beautiful, flawless skin. 😭😁


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