A Look at the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

A Look at the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

Whether you realize it or not, the Korean beauty industry has undoubtedly made its way into mainstream Western beauty culture and the hands of so many consumers. For more about the history of how Korean beauty brands have influenced the global beauty industry, read this.

However, you’re probably here to learn more about what a 10-step Korean skincare routine looks like. Fortunately for you, my sister Azadeh has been a loyal follower and subscriber of Korean beauty long before it’s gone mainstream. She put together an amazing 10-step Korean skincare routine for you below.

Remember, the standard Korean skincare routine generally encourages the use of over 10 products daily or twice a day. To achieve that signature glowy, radiant “glass skin” at home, you would need to incorporate the following steps into your routine:

10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

1 – Oil Cleansing

Start your double-cleanse with an oil-based cleanser.

Dear Klairs Gentle Black Fresh Cleansing Oil, which retails for $24.

2 – Foaming Cleanser

Next, cleanse with a foaming cleanser like this dokdo cleanser from the Korean company Roundlab, which retails between $10.50 and $26, depending on the size.

3 – Exfoliator

The third step of the skincare routine is a gentle exfoliator. I have heard good things about this green tea bio-peel one from Neogen Lab. Remember. green tea is a powerful antioxidant that has been known to help with anti-aging.

4 – Toner

The next step is a toner, which I have to say, is one of my favorite steps of this skincare routine. I just love the way it feels to swipe a toner across my skin! A Korean toner that is pretty popular is this Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner, which is fairly inexpensive and easy to get online.

5 – Essence

Next is the essence, which is great for brightening dull skin. It also provides long-lasting hydration and “plumps” up the skin! Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is a good one. It contains 96% snail mucin, which is a powerhouse ingredient that you’ll find in many Korean skincare products.

6 – Serum

You’re probably already pretty familiar with serums, and probably use one or two in your current skincare routine. This is something that’s probably worth spending a little bit more money on if you can, because the ingredients really matter. The MISSHA Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule 5X is a best-selling K-beauty serum that costs about $50 for a 50 ml bottle.

7 – Sheet Mask

Sheet masks are almost synonymous at this point with K-beauty. I am not a huge fan of them because of the waste factor. I would rather just apply the product to my skin rather than have a disposable mask, but if you want to do the 10-step Korean beauty routine, sheet masks are a part of it. You can find these pretty much anywhere, even at many popular and mainstream drugstores!

8 – Eye Cream

The skin around your eyes is SO important to take care of, so I love that one of the 10 steps is dedicated to this area. The skin is extra thin, so it’s more prone to wrinkles. Keeping it really nice and hydrated is key to appearing more youthful. There are so many options when it comes to good eye creams, but the Fermentation Eye Cream by the brand Benton is a popular Korean product and the price point is really good.

9 – Moisturizer

Next, you need a separate moisturizer for the entire face, neck, and décolletage area. So many people are under-moisturizing, and it’s not just those with dry skin. You don’t have to spend a lot, either. There are great drugstore (and drugstore-priced) options out there that do a great job. The cult-favorite MadeCera cream by SKINRx LAB is great for all skin types, even acne-prone skin. You should be moisturizing twice per day to keep your skin hydrated and happy!

10 – AM Sunscreen / PM Night Cream, Night Treatment, or Sheet Mask #2

The last step of the 10-step beauty routine is kind of a choose-your-own-adventure. If you’re doing this skincare routine in the morning, you should definitely be applying an SPF as the last step in the process. If you’re doing it at night, think about what your skin needs most. It might be a night cream, some kind of mask or treatment, or some people do a second sheet mask at this point. I would personally go for a night cream or overnight mask.

K-Beauty and Active Ingredients

Taking a cursory glance at some of these products, you may notice another trend that has very recently infiltrated skincare and makeup: active ingredient focused marketing. Instead of buying a “miracle cream” from some high-brow brand, people are starting to look for key ingredients in order to make purchasing choices. Something entirely unique to Asian beauty is Ithe use of ingredients that most Western audiences may not have previously been exposed to.

Like bee venom, which is marketed as anti-aging or for problem-prone skin.

Snail secretion, used like a humectant.

Rice water or sake is a traditional clarifier.

Fermentation is a popular process in formulation to boost ingredient properties.

Ginseng is often used like caffeine.

The list can go on forever. Many of these ingredients are especially Korean, and it makes sense. Korea is extremely culturally homogenous, and its economic decisions are usually in favor of promoting domestic goods over foreign imports. Why buy an expensive Western foundation that isn’t necessarily made for your skin and doesn’t really fit the standard of beauty where you live? Why not use the historical or cultural remedies that are available, especially if it helps your local economy, it works well, and it’s affordable?

I can’t help but feel like Korean beauty is an equal and opposite reaction to the growing trend of beauty interest on the internet. Yep, the internet. You’ve probably noticed that the internet is not shy when it comes to excess in order to supply endless amounts of content. We have ALL seen influencer after influencer promoting beauty routines that only look good on camera in front of a harsh ring light.

And I’ll say it again – skincare is the true foundation of makeup.

Don’t know your skin type or where to start? Take my skin type quiz and get my detailed skin type guide!

Korean skincare routine: every single step explained

Korean skincare: we've become just a little bit obsessed, tbh. With innovative technology harnessing ancient traditions - not to mention mind boggling results - it's easy to see why the weird-but-wonderful Korean hacks and 10-step skincare methods are all the rage. But where do we even start if we want in on the K-pie?

Korean beauty and lifestyle blogger of Vicky Lee, has the brains - she founded a software company in Silicon Valley - as well as the beauty. Her native knowledge of Korean skincare means she defies her 40 years and 4 children and luckily the skin-sider has shared her tips with us. Here she explains the 8 and 10-step beauty rituals (plus how to do it in 5 steps if you're busy) and her ultimate tips for ageing well. All hail.


"It may sound extensive, but most Korean women use an 8 and 10-step skincare routine each and every day to help keep their skin looking healthy and beautiful" Vicky explains. "Although it's quite a bit of work compared to the average skincare regime, their effort does not go unnoticed – these women take pride in knowing they have some of the best skin in the world!" These are her key steps for morning:

Step 1: Wash with water

First thing in the morning, cleanse your skin with only water, not cleanser. Water removes the few impurities that settle on the face during the night, and keeps skin hydrated, too.

Step 2: Toner

Courtesy of brand Jeju Aloe Aqua Toner Skin79 US$15.00 SHOP NOW

To balance the skin's pH levels, it's important to apply toner; otherwise the skin can become dry and dehydrated. Toner further helps to absorb the next products you apply.

Step 3: Essence

Courtesy of brand Snail Bee high content essence Benton £29.50 SHOP NOW

Essence is a hybrid between a toner and a serum. It works perfectly to hydrate the complexion, aiding cellular turnover for a youthful appearance.

Step 4: Ampoule

Courtesy of brand Hydrium Triple Hyaluronic Moisture Ampoule COSRX US$30.25 SHOP NOW

Similar to serums, ampoules actually comprise an even higher number of active ingredients to target specific skin care concerns. They're used for a finite amount of time as a booster when your skin badly needs the extra help.

Step 5: Serum

Courtesy of brand Bright Potion Probiotic Power Serum Saturday Skin US$38.00 US$22.95 (40% off) SHOP NOW

Concentrated formulas with an unprecedented amount of active ingredients, serums target specific skin concerns like wrinkles, dark spots, and dehydration.

Step 6: Eye cream

Courtesy of brand Starting Treatment Eye Cream Secret Key £30.00 £15.00 (50% off) SHOP NOW

Smooth a light eye cream across both the brow and socket bone moving from the inner to outer corner of the eye. Here, the skin is at its thinnest as there are no sebaceous glands to produce natural oils, so it's important to keep this area hydrated and protected all day long.

Step 7: Moisturiser

Courtesy of brand Water Drop Hydrating Moisturizer DR JART+ £27.00 SHOP NOW

Next apply a soothing moisturiser in a light layer across the skin for long lasting all-day hydration.

Step 8: Sunscreen

Courtesy of brand Aloe Soothing SPF50 PA+++ Sun Cream COSRX £18.00 £12.06 (33% off) Shop now

Applying sunscreen shouldn't be reserved for the summer holidays. Protecting the skin on a daily basis from UV rays will avoid the development of dark spots, wrinkles and fine lines.


"As a Korean woman and beauty expert, I can attest that our extensive routine is definitely worth trying out. After testing many different techniques and products over the years, I have found that this process has provided me with the most hydrated, healthy skin I could ever have hoped to achieve" Vicky explains. However, if you have a busy schedule like her, or if you are new to the idea of a Korean skincare routine, it can be a little intimidating. "This is why I have created a condensed version of the classic 10-step regime below, which saves time and still yields amazing results." Using the same techniques as above, try this simplified version:

Step 1. Wash with water

Step 2. Toner

Step 3. Serum/Ampoule

Step 4. Eye Cream

Step 5. Moisturiser with SPF

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.


Vicky says, "Korean skincare is all about layering. Toner, essence, serum, ampoule, moisturiser… 10 steps sound like a lot, but each one has its own important job to do to keep skin young, healthy, and glowing." This is her full routine for night:

Step 1: Oil-based cleanser

Courtesy of brand Klairs Gentle Deep Cleansing Oil Klairs £22.00 £15.00 (32% off) Shop now

For the evening, select an oil based cleanser to start with as this will work to remove oil- based makeup and impurities from the skin.

Step 2: Double-cleansing

Courtesy of brand Low pH Good Morning Cleanser COSRX £13.99 £9.37 (33% off) Shop now

Following the oil cleanser, use a water-based cleanser to gently remove the oil residue and water-based impurities from the day.

Step 3: Exfoliate

Courtesy of brand Grapefruit Vita Peeling Gel G9 £14.00 £7.00 (50% off) SHOP NOW

Twice a week use a gentle enzyme or bead-based exfoliator to remove the dead skin cells that can make the complexion appear lack-lustre whilst blocking pores and preventing key product ingredient absorption

Step 4: Toner

Courtesy of brand Neroli Skin Clearing Toner Skin79 US$28.00 SHOP NOW

In the same morning manner, next apply a toner to balance the skin's pH levels.

Step 5: Essence

Courtesy of brand Brightly Ever After Essence Huxley £38.00 SHOP NOW

Apply your essence to hydrate the complexion…

Step 6: Ampoule

Courtesy of brand Bee Pollen Renew Ampouler Missha £46.00 £36.80 (20% off) SHOP NOW

By applying this super charged serum at night, your skin will be able to absorb all the hydration it needs following a long day's work.…

Step 7: Serum

Courtesy of brand Pore Corset Serum SKINMISO £25.00 £12.50 (50% off) SHOP NOW

Following which the serum should then be worked into the specific areas of concern.

Step 8: Sheet mask

Courtesy of brand The Fresh Mask Sheet Olive It's Skin US$5.50 SHOP NOW

The sheet mask is a Korean beauty favourite – a cloth saturated with skin loving ingredients! Perfect for all skin types, everyone can benefit from these masks which deliver a deeply hydrating and anti-ageing treatment.

Step 9: Eye cream

Courtesy of brand Fermentation Eye Cream Benton £25.00 SHOP NOW

Once the skin has absorbed the ingredients from the sheet mask, apply an eye cream to protect and hydrate the delicate eye area.

Step 10: Moisturiser

Courtesy of brand Super Aqua Ice Tear Cream Missha £19.00 SHOP NOW

Lastly, select a night time moisturiser to keep those skin loving ingredients locked in, allowing you to wake to a beautifully rejuvenated complexion.


Whether you employ the full 18-steps a day or not, try and remember Vicky's skin rules: to hydrate, exfoliate, never skip suncare and think holistic. She explains below...

1. Hydrate

"Hydration is the key to flawless, radiant skin. Layering hydrating products helps them better penetrate the skin, making them more effective. You will instantly see the results: plumper, younger-looking skin and a natural glow exuding from within. To keep hydrated, firstly only was your face with water. The reason being is because the natural oil generated by the skin has moisturising properties that play a vital role in keeping skin looking glowing and dewy. Secondly, keep a water-based mist spray in your bag - an easy way to make sure your skin stays well moisturised throughout the day. Thirdly, use a cushion foundation. Korean beauty experts invented cushion applicators in order to allow for extremely even and natural-looking coverage and because cushion foundations are very watery, they don't dehydrate your face, like traditional foundations can. Lastly, use a facial sheet mask to maximise hydration. Some Korean women even use more than one mask a day no matter how busy they may be!"

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

2. Exfoliate

"Korean women religiously scrub their bodies and faces. Koreans tend to go to saunas or take long baths before exfoliation in order to open the skin's pores and optimise results. It is also a common technique to peel away dead skin cells and impurities using exfoliating mitts. It is important to use both cold and warm towels in order to open or close the pores prior to exfoliation and product application."

3. Skincare means suncare

"Korean women know that appropriate protection against the sun is vital for great skin health. Putting an SPF of 50 or higher every three hours is common among Korean women, even when relaxing at home or on a rainy day. Some Korean car companies have even started to introduce windows with SPF for those who are very serious about sun protection!"

4. Eat and sleep well

"Korean women believe in a holistic approach to skincare, which is why healthy eating and proper sleep are considered to be just as important as the use of skincare products in their daily routines. We believe food is medicine, even when it comes to the skin, and if there is any skin trouble it can be treated by skincare products as well as food. For instance, in Korean culture, if you have a spot on your forehead it is said to mean that your heart has been overworked, and so Korean women will drink green tea or date tea, which are meant to improve heart health. We also value good sleep as much as we value skincare. It is a must to be in bed by 10pm, since 10pm to 2am is considered a 'golden time' for skin rest and revitalisation.

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Korean Skin Care Routine For Morning & Night – A Complete Guide

Korean skin care routine is what most of us are obsessed with now. K-beauty care tips claim to provide perfect skin with a flawless and porcelain look. And it is true! Their 10-step skin care routine is an effective solution to achieve radiant and flawless skin.

Though the 10 elaborate steps can be time-consuming and achieving this Korean beauty may not sound practical, you will know how good they are once you start. Following these steps will be worth it in the end, and you will not regret spending your time doing this. Interested to know the steps? This article discusses the complete 10-step Korean beauty secrets you can follow day and night to achieve that perfect look. Keep reading!

Before that, let us discuss how it helps your skin. The Korean skincare routine is all about improving your skin health by moisturizing, keeping it hydrated, and offering the essential ingredients the right way (1). You can flaunt your natural skin without putting on any makeup.

Do you have to follow all the steps every day? No, it is not compulsory to follow all the 10 steps every day. You can skip some steps but ensure your skin receives all the necessary ingredients. Let us discuss the routine now! Scroll down!

The 8-Step Korean Morning Care Routine

Note: The morning skin care ritual has 8 steps (without double cleansing steps). However, if you want, you can always use a mild cleanser to clean your face.

Step 1: Wash Your Face With Water

Use water to wash your face after you wake up. Do not use any cleanser. Water not only makes your skin feel refreshed, but it also removes impurities from your face that may have settled down on the skin during the night. It also keeps your skin hydrated.

Step 2: Apply Toner

After washing your face with water, apply toner. You may dab the toner on a cotton swab and apply it in a sweeping motion or pour the toner in your palms and pat it lightly all over your face. A toner helps to balance the pH level of your skin and ensures proper absorption of the next skin care products.

Step 3: Apply Essence

An essence is a blend of serum, toner, and moisturizer and is a crucial part of the 10-step Korean skin care regimen. It hydrates and primes your skin and nourishes the skin cells. It also prepares your skin for the next steps. Pour a bit of it on your palm and gently press it all over your face. Do not sweep your fingers.

Step 4: Apply Ampoule

These are similar to essences and serums. However, compared to both products, ampoules contain a higher concentration of active ingredients. Ampoules usually come in a glass bottle with droppers. Use the dropper to apply a few drops on your face. Use your fingers to tap and press it all over your face gently.

StyleCraze Says It is recommended to apply and massage Korean ampoules on your face only once or twice a week as they are highly concentrated and active.

Step 5: Apply Serum

Use a serum that addresses your skin issues. Serums are best for anti-aging benefits and can reduce skin issues, such as dark spots, hyperpigmentation, dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles (2). Take a pea-sized amount of serum (or two pumps) and press it gently all over your face with your fingertips.

Step 6: Use An Eye Cream

The area around your eyes is super delicate, and your regular face cream and serums are not going to work. You need an eye cream to keep the area hydrated and protected throughout the day (3). Take a little amount of eye cream on your fingertips and apply it from the inner corner of your eyes to the outer corners.

Step 7: Apply Moisturizer

After you have applied eye cream, apply a layer of moisturizer on your face. A moisturizer keeps the skin hydrated, nourished, and radiant all day long (4). If you have oily skin, use a water-based moisturizer, and if you have dry skin, use a cream-based moisturizer. Massage the moisturizer gently all over your face and neck.

Step 8: Apply Sunscreen

Protecting your skin from UV rays is a must. Once you have completed all these steps, apply sunscreen. This prevents dark spots, tanning, sunburn, fine lines, and wrinkles (5). Use a product with at least SPF 30.

This was the elaborate 8-step Korean morning skin care routine. These products keep your skin hydrated and healthy throughout the day.

Once you are back home, it is time to let your skin breathe and prepare it for its night-time restoration process. A proper skin care routine makes sure that the skin heals and repairs itself properly.

The 10-Step Korean Night-time Routine

Step 1: Clean Your Face With A Cleansing Oil

You have to take off the dirt, sebum, and impurities accumulated on your face. Using a cleansing oil binds the dirt with the oil and makes it easier for you to clean your skin thoroughly (6). Massage the oil thoroughly all over your face and neck. Wipe your face with a wet cotton wipe. You can see your makeup and dirt coming off your skin.

Step 2: Double Cleanse With A Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Once you have oil-cleansed your face and removed all makeup and dirt, use a gentle foaming cleanser to clean your face. Pour some cleanser on your palm, add water, and rub your palms together to generate lather or foam. Apply it on your face and wash off.

Step 3: Exfoliate Your Skin

This step should not be repeated more than two times a week. Exfoliation helps in scraping the dead skin cells and impurities from your face. This evens out your skin tone and promotes cell regeneration (7). You may use a chemical or enzyme-based exfoliant or a physical exfoliator (scrub) on your skin.

Step 4: Apply Toner

This step is similar to the step mentioned in the morning skincare routine. Even at night, you will need a toner to maintain the pH levels of your facial skin.

Step 5: Apply Essence

The essence always follows the toner. Never miss this step as the essence is needed to keep your skin hydrated for the entire night.

Step 6: Apply Ampoule

Right after hydrating your face with the essence, apply an ampoule. The super ingredients and active agents in the product will help your skin regenerate and recharge itself throughout the night (8).

Step 7: Apply Serum

After you have applied the ampoule, apply serum on the specific areas of concern. For instance, if it is an anti-acne serum, apply it on the affected areas. However, you can apply the serum all over your face and neck. This depends on whether you are using a serum for specific skincare issues or overall nourishment.

Step 8: Apply Sheet Mask

This is an absolute favorite of K-beauty followers. The sheet masks are saturated with serum that contains essential active agents. These are suitable for all skin types. They provide deep hydration to your skin and also offer specific benefits, such as anti-aging, anti-acne, hydration, collagen-boosting effects, depending on your skin requirements.

Step 9: Use An Eye Cream

Once your skin has absorbed all the goodness of the sheet mask, it is time to take care of your eye area. Apply an eye cream to keep the delicate skin around your eyes hydrated and nourished.

Step 10: Apply Moisturizer

Finish off with a night moisturizer. Applying moisturizer at the end seals all the ingredients and helps your skin soak up everything throughout the night. You will wake up with soft and supple skin.

The Korean skincare routine is all about nourishing the skin and providing it with the right ingredients, both externally and internally. Here are a few additional tips that you may follow to keep your skin as healthy as the Koreans.

Korean Skin Care Routine: Additional Tips

1. Stay Hydrated

Keeping your body and skin hydrated is essential. Though topical ingredients will help your skin stay hydrated externally, you also need to provide internal hydration. Drink plenty of water in any form. You may drink flavored tea (mainly tisanes or herbal teas, minus the caffeine) or flavored water (naturally flavored with lime and cucumber slices).

2. Rest And Relax

Do not strain yourself. Give yourself a break and relax. When you are stressed, it reflects on your skin. The best way to relax is by sleeping. When you sleep, your body restores and repairs itself. This improves your overall health (both physical and mental) and also benefits your skin.

3. Eat Well

Consume a lot of fresh vegetables, grains, meat, dairy, and fish. Include fermented and pickled foods in your diet. Such foods contain essential vitamins and probiotics that are beneficial for both the skin and gut health. Fish and meat broth contain collagen, which keeps your skin youthful and healthy. If you love having a dessert after meals, pick any fruit instead of baked and sugary delights.

StyleCraze Says It is recommended to follow a Korean dietary plan including soybean paste or doenjang to improve blood pressure (which is believed to enhance skin texture) ( 9 ), ( 10 ).

4. Exfoliate Your Skin

This is applicable for not just your facial skin but your entire body. Try to rid your skin of dead skin cells by exfoliating it at least once or twice a week.

5. Never Forget Sun Protection

Never forget this even if it is cloudy and raining outside. UV rays can damage your skin and speed up the aging process. Hence, carry your sunscreen along.

Infographic: Insider K-Beauty Tips Korean skin care is making waves in the world of makeup and beauty with its refreshing aesthetics and effective methods. It sure looks like this trend is not dying down anytime soon. While you try out all kinds of beauty products from your nearest K-beauty outlet, why not check out a few tips recommended by the natives themselves? Check out the infographic below for some lesser-known, insider K-beauty tips.

The Korean skincare routine is popular across the globe for hydrating your skin and imparting a natural glow to your skin. The simple step of washing your face with water gets rid of the grime and prepares your skin for the next steps of the routine. Toner, essence, serum, eye cream, ampoule, and moisturizer, each play an equally important part in hydrating your skin, slowing down aging, and preventing sunburns and acne. Even though the ten-step routine may not seem practical at times, if you go through all the steps with patience and love, you will surely see the results over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is rose water a toner?

Yes, rose water is a natural toner. You can apply it to your face to tone and hydrate the skin.

Is Korean skin care better than Japanese skin care?

Both are good skin care practices. However, their effectiveness will also depend on your skin type, preferences, and lifestyle. If you want to follow a quicker routine, then the Japanese routine is for you. If you want to follow a more intensive routine, the Korean routine is the right choice.

Is Korean skin care safe?

Yes, the majority of the ingredients used in Korean skin care products are safe.

Is aloe vera gel a toner?

Yes, aloe vera gel is a natural toner that can soothe your skin with its cooling properties.

Can I sleep with rose water on my face?

Yes, rose water can help in skin rejuvenation and make your face look radiant the next day.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more. Different Cosmetic Habits Can Affect the Biophysical Profile of Facial Skin: A Study of Korean and Chinese Women

Efficacy and Tolerability of a Facial Serum for Fine Lines Wrinkles and Photodamaged Skin

Global periorbital skin rejuvenation by a topical eye cream containing low molecular weight heparan sulfate (LMW‐HS) and a blend of naturally derived extracts

Moisturizers: reality and the skin benefits



Exfoliative Skin-peeling Benefits from This Procedure and Our Experience

Topical formulation containing peptides and vitamin C in ampoules improves skin aging signs: Results of a large international observational study

Effects of Doenjang, a Traditional Korean Soybean Paste, with High-Salt Diet on Blood Pressure in Sprague–Dawley Rats

Correlation between Blood Pressure and Skin Health in Korean College Female Students

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