K-Beauty 101: Your Ultimate Guide to the 10-Step Skin Routine
While most Pinays are still dipping their toes in the world of skincare, Koreans have been mastering the art for years. It’s not just a routine—it’s a lifestyle. Which begs the question: what exactly do they do? We’re about to let you in on their (not so little) secret.
Flawless skin requires no sorcery—just a 10-step skincare regimen.
Yes, we were overwhelmed too. But building a customized routine is the only way to address concerns specific to your skin. There’s no one-product-fits-all solution. Take the plunge with our ultimate guide to the 10-step skincare regimen, below!
STEP 1. PROTECT
Koreans go above and beyond to avoid harmful UV rays. Daily sun protection prevents a plethora of future skin problems: hyper-pigmentation, dehydration, cancer, and premature aging.
LOOK FOR: At least SPF30.
TRY: Innisfree’s’ Perfect Waterproof Sunblock for no-budge protection, Nuganic’s moisturizing Sunblock for dry skin, and Laneige’s Sun Block Supreme for a matte finish.
STEP 2. REMOVE MAKEUP
An emulsifying oil or balm is your first gateway to spotless skin. These luxurious formulas power through makeup like nobody’s business—including waterproof products.
LOOK FOR: A silky consistency that won’t clog pores.
TRY: Banila Co.’s Clean It Zero cleansing balm is our personal HG. If you prefer an oil, opt for Mizon’s hydrating No. 1 Cleansing Oil or YET Korea’s gentle I’m 7 Berry Cleansing Oil for reactive skin types.
STEP 3. RINSE
For the last step of the cleansing process, facial wash flushes away any remaining impurities from your pores. Take your pick between foam, milk, or gel formulas.
LOOK FOR: A mild lather that won’t strip your skin dry.
TRY: COSRX’s low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser for sensitive skin, Aromatica’s Sea Daffodil Cleansing Mousse for combination types, and Tony Moly’s affordable Aloe Foam Cleanser for drier complexions.
STEP 4. TONE
Prep time! While toners are often misunderstood, they play the crucial role of balancing pH levels and preparing skin to fully absorb your products.
LOOK FOR: A clarifying and mildly exfoliating formula.
TRY: COSRX’s world-fave AHA/BHA Clarifying Toner to smoothen skin texture, Innisfree’s Jeju Volcanic Toner to control oily t-zones, and Banila Co.’s It Radiant Toner to liven up dullness.
STEP 5. BRIGHTEN AND SMOOTHEN
Acids and actives are the first serious steps in achieving your skincare goals. Formulated with high-efficacy ingredients, they target the most common skin problems: fine lines, large pores, acne, and pigmentation.
LOOK FOR: Formulas containing Vitamin C, AHA, or BHA.
TRY: It’s Skin’s bestselling Power 10 VC Effector for spotty complexions or COSRX’s BHA Blackhead Power Liquid and BHA Skin Returning A-Sol for acne-prone skin.
STEP 6. NOURISH
Before moisturizers, essences provide the first layer of hydration and nourishment. Their light formulas quickly sink into the skin to precede the more intensive products that follow.
LOOK FOR: Watery formulas with fermented ingredients.
TRY: Dewytree’s Cell Essence to calm sensitive skin, Banila Co.’s diamond powder-infused It Radiant Essence for brightening, and COSRX’s Hyaluronic Acid Essence for an intense moisture-boost.
STEP 7. TARGET AND TREAT
Now comes the fun part—personalized treatment! Serums, ampules, and sheet masks all fall into this category. They deliver a high dose of active ingredients that usually focus on one specific problem. Rule of thumb: layer in order of thickness, starting with the lightest.
LOOK FOR: Specialized formulas that cater to your concerns—whether it’s to soothe irritation or lighten dark spots.
TRY: Innisfree’s bestselling Green Tea Seed Serum to relieve troubled complexions, COSRX’s Propolis Light Ampule to rejuvenate damaged skin, and Nuganic’s Pure Snail Masks for daily pampering and healing.
STEP 8. MOISTURIZE
Skin needs moisture the way lungs need oxygen—24/7 and in copious amounts. (Even if you’re oily!) A cream or emulsion provides that necessary all-around hydration. Though it’s not intensive, it’s a basic you can’t afford to skip.
LOOK FOR: Rich textures that won’t break you out.
TRY: Mizon’s cult-status Black Snail All-in-One Cream for troubled skin, Banila Co.’s decadent Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Cream for extra-parched complexions, and Aromatica’s Rose Absolute Vital Fluid for mature skin.
STEP 9. PAMPER EYES
According K-beauty experts, eye cream is an absolute must for anti-aging purposes. The skin around your eyes are delicate and prone to wrinkles, so they deserve extra attention.
LOOK FOR: An anti-wrinkle blend that won’t sting or irritate.
TRY: UGB’s Rejuvenation Eye Cream for sagging undereyes, Farmstay’s Snail Eye Cream for dark circles, and Mizon’s top-rated Snail Repair Eye Cream to reduce fine lines.
STEP 10. SEAL
Once you’ve absorbed all those layers of skin-loving goodness, lock them down with a sleeping pack. It ensures nothing goes to waste and will bring plumper, glowing skin come morning.
LOOK FOR: A moisture-loaded yet non-greasy formula.
TRY: Holika Holika’s Honey Sleeping Pack for aging skin, Laneige’s world-famous Water Sleeping Pack_EX for dehydrated pelts, and COSRX’s Rice Overnight Spa Mask for fatigued complexions.