The Real 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

As the obsession for healthy glowing skin continues to make waves across the globe, it’s no surprise that the 10-step Korean skincare routine has become a worldwide phenomenon. Unlike any other beauty trend, Korean skincare emphasizes the value in promoting a lifestyle that’s deeply rooted in the appreciation for self-care and using innovative K-beauty products to achieve naturally radiant skin.

Step by step

Step 1. Makeup remover and oil cleanser

The 10-step skincare routine begins with a double cleanse. Begin your double cleanse by using an oil-based cleanser to remove all makeup and any other impurities from the surface of skin, such as sebum and SPF. Not removing your makeup properly can contribute to acne or breakouts, or even fine lines and wrinkles.

Step 2. Water-based cleanser

The second step in the double cleanse is to use a water-based cleanser to thoroughly cleanse skin. This ensures that there isn’t any makeup left behind and it helps to dissolve any other impurities from the surface of skin, such as dirt and sweat.

Step 3. Exfoliator (Face scrubs and peels)

No matter your skin type, regular exfoliation is a key aspect in any skincare routine – but don’t overdo it! When it comes to exfoliation, you have the option between physical and chemical exfoliation. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, along with any dirt or debris inside the pores.

Step 4. Toner

Toner works great for clearing away any lingering residue on the surface of skin, whether it’s from your makeup or your cleanser. It also restores moisture to the skin’s barrier, which helps facilitate better absorption of other skincare products.

Step 5. Essence

Known for their thin and lightweight consistency, essences contain a highly concentrated blend of nourishing ingredients to provide ultra-hydrating or anti-aging benefits to skin.

Step 6. Treatment (Serum, booster, ampoule)

Also known as serum, booster, or ampoule, treatments are potent formulations that contain key ingredients to tackle specific skin concerns, such as blemishes, hyperpigmentation, or the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Step 7. Sheet mask

Sheet masks are beneficial for all skin types – giving skin an extra boost of hydration and essential nutrients. These masks are soaked in a highly concentrated serum, and the mask itself acts as a physical barrier to lock in the moisture and enhance absorption.

Step 8. Eye cream

Eye cream helps reduce or diminish the appearance of crow’s feet, dark circles, and any sort of puffiness around the eyes. Because the area around the eyes is extremely delicate, the best eye creams are formulated with non-irritating and gentle ingredients.

Step 9. Moisturizer (Face cream)

The best skincare routines involve moisturizer – day and night. It comes in many different forms, from face cream and lotion to gel formulas (it all depends on what works best for your skin type). Keep in mind that dehydrated skin makes skin more susceptible to common skin problems, along with making fine lines and wrinkles appear more obvious. Moisturizer nourishes skin while acting as a barrier to seal in the rest of your products.

Step 10. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a complete non-negotiable – rain or shine. SPF is vital for protecting skin from the harmful effects of sun exposure, which includes visible signs of premature aging and skin cancer. Applying sunscreen in the morning is huge in Korean skincare, since the best sunscreen products are formulated with skin-supporting ingredients.

The main benefits of the 10 step routine

Committing to a 10-step skincare routine can seem daunting at first – but it’s really not that bad once you understand the value in each step. The entire K-beauty routine emphasizes the importance of cleansing, nutrition, hydration, and SPF.

Step 1-4: Cleanse

The first four steps of the 10-step skincare routine focuses on cleansing skin properly to set up the perfect foundation for the remaining steps. Removing all traces of makeup and clearing away other impurities ensures that our skin is in the best state to receive the benefits of all our skincare products.

Step 5-9: Nourish

A key aspect of the Korean skin care routine is to achieve naturally radiant skin through maintaining the harmony between oil and moisture. Dehydrated skin is the leading factor in the most common skin problems, such as excessive oil production and a decrease in the skin’s elasticity. Step 5-9 focuses on improving the condition of skin through nourishing and replenishing moisture.

Step 10: Protect

Applying sunscreen in the morning is one of the most important steps in K-beauty skincare. It protects our skin from the negative effects of sun exposure while providing additional benefits to support healthy, glowing skin from within.

FAQs about Korean skin care routine - answered!

Q. Do I need to do the entire 10-step routine every day?

A. No, you don’t need to do the entire 10-step routine every day! The number of steps you complete will depend on your skin type and what time of day it is. For example, if you have oily skin, you may want to focus on cleansing and exfoliating more often than someone with dry skin. And if you’re doing your skincare routine at night, you may want to skip sunscreen since you won’t be exposed to sunlight.

Q. What order should I apply my skincare products in?

A. The general rule of thumb is to apply products from lightest to heaviest. For example, you would apply toner before essence, essence before serum, and serum before moisturizer. This allows each product to be properly absorbed by your skin for maximum efficacy.

Q. Can I use my regular cleanser in place of a Korean double cleanse?

A. While you can technically use your regular cleanser in place of the first step in a double cleanse, we don’t recommend it! The point of double cleansing is to thoroughly remove all traces of makeup and impurities from your skin, which requires two different types of cleansers.

Q. What are some good Korean skin care products for beginners?

A. If you’re just starting with Korean skincare, we recommend products like the COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, Klairs Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser, and Mamonde Rose Water Toner. These products are gentle yet effective, and they’re perfect for normal to dry skin types.

Q. Do I need to use all 10 steps in the Korean skincare routine?

A. No, you don’t need to use all 10 steps in the Korean skincare routine! The number of steps you complete will depend on your skin type and what time of day it is. For example, if you have oily skin, you may want to focus on cleansing and exfoliating more often than someone with dry skin. And if you’re doing your skincare routine at night, you may want to skip sunscreen since you won’t be exposed to sunlight.

Q. I don’t have time for a 10-step skincare routine. What should I do?

A. If you don’t have time for a 10-step skincare routine, don’t worry! You can still reap the benefits of Korean skincare by focusing on the most important steps. For example, cleansing, toning, and moisturizing are key to any good skincare routine, so make sure you’re doing those on a daily basis. You can also add other steps as needed or desired.

Q. How to incorporate Korean skincare into your daily beauty routine

The best way to incorporate Korean skincare into your daily beauty routine is to start with the basics and work your way up. If you’re new to the world of K-beauty, begin by introducing a double cleanse, essence, and moisturizer into your regimen. Once your skin has adjusted, you can add in other steps as needed or desired.

Remember – less is more when it comes to layering skincare products if this is your first time trying out this routine. When in doubt, always consult with a dermatologist or esthetician to get tailored recommendations for your specific skin type!

While the 10-step Korean skincare routine may seem daunting at first, it’s definitely worth a try if you want to achieve healthy and luminous skin. By following this guide, you can customize the steps to fit your own skincare needs while enjoying all of the benefits that come with incorporating K-beauty into your daily routine. Have you tried the 10-step Korean skincare routine?

Day And Night 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

The famous 10-step routine is heralded by people with all different skin types as a way of comprehensively resetting and building your skin with rich nutrients and multi-step cleansing processes to ensure no pore is missed and no product is too harsh. Here’s your guide to this potent skincare regimen for both the morning and evening.


Step 1: Oil-Based Cleansers

Korean skin care is all about incremental, balanced steps that achieve essentially one benefit at a time without disturbing the skin’s natural balance and protective barrier.

The first step in a good K-Beauty skincare routine is with an oil-based cleanser. This is different than your normal morning cleanser, because it won’t strip all the oils your skin naturally produces away at this point. An oil-based cleanser focuses on heavy products or dirt while firmly protecting your skin from moisture-stealing compounds that can dry it out before it’s truly cleansed.

Step 2: Water-Based Cleansers

Once your oil-based cleansing has cleared your skin of the worst impurities, you move on to a water-based cleanser to flush out unwanted dirt and oils from deeper in your pores. While it’s helpful to start with an oil-based formula to protect your skin, the goal now turns to cleansing gently but deeply. This is where you should be wary of too-harsh cleansers that contain sulfates or high pH that can disrupt the skin barrier.

Step 3: Toners

A gentle toner has its place in a K-Beauty skincare routine. As well as helping seek out and dissipate the last traces of oil, this is also the beginning of the hydration process, as products like our Colostrum Hydrating Mist prepare the pores to accept the hydrating, nourishing compounds that are coming in the following steps.

Step 4: Essences

We love our pure Noni Fruit Noni Skin Elixir at this point in the morning routine to begin hydrating the skin with the purest, vegan, cruelty-free ingredients. This extract feels soothing and lusciously thick and helps tighten skin to help it look firmer as we continue building on this foundation with additional serums.

Step 5: Serums & Ampoules

Dehydration is just one of the three major causes of the signs of aging, with damage to skin from free radicals and UV rays also causing long-term conditions such as wrinkles and volume loss. Help the skin and moisturize it further with our ORAC Age Protect Serum that lays a foundation of potent antioxidants that compound the benefits your sunscreen will have for your daily routine. Due to the high effectiveness of this product, it’s recommended to only use it every other day.

Step 6: Eye Creams

Fight the look of fatigue under and around your eyes with our rich Eye Cream for daily use as part of your Korean skincare routine. Formulated with our powerful Metadermabolic Protein Enzyme Complex, this moisturizing cream can be used before or after your moisturizer to brighten the look of your eyes and diminish fatigue for a lifted look to your eyes.

Step 7: Moisturizers / Oils

Our recommended daily moisturizer seals your skincare products into place for long-lasting benefits while drenching your skin in nourishing compounds. Hydro Plus Moisturizing ingredients allow this rich hydrating formula to sink in for a soft yet lightweight fullness.

Step 8: Exfoliators

Although the Korean 10-step skincare routine focuses on gentle, multi-step processes, there is always a need for regular exfoliation to prevent the most stubborn debris and dead skin cells from dulling your appearance and preventing your favorite products from absorbing into your skin. Our physical and chemical exfoliants are tailored to each skin type to ensure no matter your level of oil production or sensitivity to abrasive products, you can find an exfoliating solution to keep your skin looking bright and smooth.

Step 9: Sheet Masks

When you don’t have the minutes in the morning to apply a long-lasting moisture-drenching sheet mask, turn to our Moisture Surge Hyaluronic Acid Gel serum. This oil-free and lightweight gel absorbs quickly and goes to work immediately to help your skin look even smoother and more deeply hydrated.

Step 10: SPF

As one of the most important steps in protecting your skin from the daily wear and tear of the environment, we recommend our hydrating X-Treme Cream Propolis Sunscreen to provide SPF 45+ throughout your day. Remember to reapply if you are in direct sunlight during the day.


Step 1: Oil-Based Cleansers

An oil-based cleaner is a perfect start after a long day, while effectively wiping away the heavy lipids and oils that your makeup is made of.

Step 2: Water-Based Cleansers

Follow your makeup removal and initial cleansing with your normal face wash for a 10-Step Korean skincare regimen. Our Apricot Cream Cleanser is a rich, non-foaming cleanser with a luxurious scent that will help you wind down without stripping away all your skin’s helpful oils.

Step 3: Toners

This comforting mist Soothe Dermal Repair Mist is great to prepare your skin for the hydrating experience of your overnight packing mask and other hydrating products.

Step 4: Essences

For a pure foundation of hydration and further calming aromas, use our Aloe Vera Calming Gel made from whole aloe vera leaves and gentle botanical ingredients. These ingredients help keep the skin feeling soft as we continue leaving room for the most nourishing formulas to come.

Step 5: Serums & Ampoules

Nighttime is a good time to experiment with various potent serums that can be tailored to address needs such as anti-aging or skin tone-evening. As long as you use each serum and ampoule as directed (and they are usually pretty potent), you can boost your Korean beauty skincare routine to new arenas.

Step 6: Eye Creams

A blend of potent serum and nourishing moisturizer, our Eye Alive Serum is a perfect complement day or night to our Eye Cream, providing brighter-looking skin whenever you use it, with active ingredients like Vitamin C.

Step 7: Moisturizers / Oils

Given its name, our Evening Emulsion Enzyme Moisturizer is the perfect choice before settling down to bed in a sleep mask, as it’s enhanced with our Metadermabolic Protein Enzyme Complex. This nutrient-rich and lightweight formula sinks in quickly to lock in the serums and essences used in previous steps for a hydrating sleeping mask.

Step 8: Exfoliators

Some exfoliants can leave your skin thirsty for rich hydration, which is why it’s often a better idea to use your weekly or bi-weekly exfoliators at night, before nourishing your skin with a rich sleeping mask.

Step 9: Sleeping Masks

The best hydrating overnight mask we offer requires no sheets or removal in the morning, adding convenience to its potent active ingredients. Our Hydrating Mineral Mask has been used since its introduction as an overnight packing mask that nourishes skin throughout the night while giving it a rosy glow in the morning. See and feel the difference our professional-quality skincare products can bring to your K-Beauty routine.

Step 10: SPF

There’s usually no need to reapply sunscreen if you’re heading to bed after your nightly routine, but if you’re headed out for the night, we recommend continuing to use SPF until the sun is totally set.

High-Quality Products for Your Korean Skincare Routine

The 10-step method for Korean skincare is methodical and well thought-through. Focusing on hydration ensures your skin never loses the natural moisture that keeps it looking smooth, healthy, and radiant, even while making room for necessary cleansing and exfoliating on a regular basis. Try our recommended K-Beauty skincare products or browse our site to find other professional-grade skincare solutions. We also offer a convenient way to find products that are tailored to your skin type and goals with our Skin Quiz.

Read More Reviews »

I Tried a 10-Step Korean Skin-Care Regimen for a Week, and Here Are the Results

Purpose: Exfoliation not only cleans out clogged pores, but it also sloughs off dead skin cells. When you remove this dull layer of cells, brighter skin is revealed. This step is not recommended for daily use. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll only want to exfoliate once a week. If you have a tougher complexion, you can do it more regularly (about three times a week).

My Experience: I’m all for lazy exfoliating options like wipes instead of scrubs, which is why Cho’s recommendation of Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine ($21, was perfect for me. I could easily exfoliate away, while watching The Bachelor on my couch. The double-sided wipes were packed with red wine (which you could seriously smell, but in a nonalcoholic stench) and lactic acid. The gauze side was bumpier allowing you to really feel as though your sloughing away any gunk clogging up your pores. Then the quilted side gave you a gentle finish to the process. I did this three times during the seven-day trial.

I had a breakout under my jawline that I was really hoping would clear up with my new exfoliation routine. And while the bumps definitely decreased in size, the discoloration never completely faded.

Step Four: Toner

Purpose: “After you cleanse so many times, your skin is in a fragile state,” explains Cho. “So you want to really hydrate it.” She also explains that toner acts as a way to prep the skin, so it’ll absorb the following treatments better.

My Experience: Toner was always a skin-care step I skipped. It was after talking to Cho that I really came to appreciate this part of the routine, especially when partaking in such extensive cleansing. I tried Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner ($40, At the beginning of the week, I used a cotton round to pat the product into my skin because the consistency is very runny. But by day five, I was just pouring the liquid into my palms. Once I realized that it wasn’t just water (which is how it seemed at first) I didn’t want to waste any of the product that would soak into the cotton.

Maryan Barbara
Maryan Barbara

Leave a Comment