The Super Easy Korean Skincare Routine (For Glowing Skin)

The Super Easy Korean Skincare Routine (For Glowing Skin)

09.29.2014    |    
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Last week I randomly stumbled into cult Korean beauty store Tony Moly, which sits right in the heart of New York, in Koreatown to be exact. The walls are lined with more BB’s, sheet masks, moisturizers and crazy snail infused sheet masks than you could possibly imagine and the makeup aisles feel like Willy Wonka’s candy shop. The colorful cutesy packaging (look for containers shaped like apples, pandas and golden eggs) are just waiting to be Instagramed. Based on my newest beauty discovery, I was inspired to research and discover the true magical secrets behind Korean skincare.

Do you ever notice how Korean women have the most beautiful, porcelain skin? If you assume this is all because of genes than you are totally wrong. They actually work quite diligently to achieve that perfect skin, and take a different approach to makeup than we do on the Western side. In Eastern cultures, skincare is a part of their culture, and while the American approach to skincare is more reactive (like, “Oh my god is that a wrinkle forming!? I need a eye cream!”), Korean women start being proactive from a very young age and treat their skin and complexion like the ultimate investment. It is not just financial investment but a time investment. So although you might be following a strict cleansing and moisturizing regime every night before going to bed, but you are still not even coming close to some important steps that Korean women use to help them achieve that spotless, beautiful skin.

Now, I am sure you have heard of the famous “million-step” skincare routine when it comes to Asian beauty. Fear not. It’s actually made up of about 10 steps, and while this might seem like a process that would take up your whole morning and evening, it actually only takes about 15 minutes, and leaves your skin glowing.

This is how the Koreans do it, so read and learn.

1. Pre-Cleanse: Step one is part of the ever-popular “double cleansing.” First, use a good eye makeup remover or towelette (like Tony Moly Panda’s Dream Eye Makeup Remover Pad or Koh Gen Do Cleansing Cloth) to rid your skin of any liner, mascara, lipstick and even that tinted moisturizer around your hairline (my problem). Next, loosen the face makeup and buildup from the day with an oil-based cleanser (I love Amore Pacific Treatment Cleansing Oil). Tata Harper even launched a Face Cleansing Oil.

2. Cleanse: Next clean the pre-cleansed skin with a water based cleanser. Tata Harper has a “2nd step” cleanser that I really like, Tata Harper’s Purifying Cleanser.

3. Exfoliate: Use a soft exfoliating cleanser (like Be the Skin Face Polisher) and only focus on the areas that really need special attention like the t-zone or around the nose. Make sure to only exfoliate a few times a week, so think of this step as optional.

4. Tone: Toner is the step that gets your skin squeaky clean. We all know about toning from our teen years, am I right? Make sure to avoid alcohol-based toners, and look for something mild like Aromatic’s Lavender Relaxing Toner which smells like the real thing.

5. Essence: The main difference between an essence and a serum is that while the toner cleans and preps the skin, the essence improves the skin. Skin becomes breathtakingly crystal clear. I can’t like without SK-II famous Facial Treatment Essence (that I have decanted into a spray bottle, just like Cate Blanchett herself!) and Cremorlab’s Mineral Treatment Essence.

6. Serum: Curious about what a serum really is? Read my explanation here. These babies brighten, lighten and plump skin, improve texture, reverse the signs of UV damage and more with cutting-edge technology and powerful vitamins, minerals and botanicals. Sulwhasoo Ampules are super divine.

7. The Sheet Mask: These masks are basically super-charged sheet laced serums. I suggest using them as often as needed. My favorites are by SK-II (I know, this brand is Japanese, but I’m just saying). The cool thing about these masks is that there are hundred of different kinds that target a variety of concerns, and even sensitive areas like the lips, eyes, chin and neck. I love Dr. Jart+ and he recently launched a whole variety of masks each geared towards a specific concern. Check them out here.

8. Eye Cream: A thick eye cream, like Amore Pacific Time Renewal Eye Cream (that my facialist Dangene swears by), should be applied twice a day, morning and night. I do this religiously anyway, so this step is my favorite.

9. Face Moisturizer: During the day, try to use something lightweight, like Amore Pacific SPF 30 Future Response Age Defense Cream, that blends into skin really fast without leaving it greasy. Also don’t forget about neck when you are blending into your face. At night, use a cream that lets your skin breathe yet at the same time, locks moisture in the skin throughout the night, so you wake up looking fresh and beautiful. I love the feeling and texture of Dr. Jart+ Time Returning Cream.

10. SPF (AM only): Now you have finally arrived at your last and final step! Make sure that the SPF is all natural and Zinc based. I love Tatcha’s Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen, another Japanese favorite, that was inspired by the Geisha’s iconic makeup.

Remember, the most important Korean beauty makeup secret is less makeup, more skincare. You don’t need to exfoliate and mask every day, but whenever you can give your skin an extra boost.

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  • tricia

    your skin is so gorgeous! u look like one of the model in victoria secret!

  • Emily Tibs

    Great tips, thanks for sharing

    • anabel_atkinson

      Thank you. Let me know if you tried practicing these steps. I would to see pictures and hear about your results after trying these products.

  • I really enjoyed this post!

    • anabel_atkinson

      Thank you. xoxo

  • Alexia

    How does your morning routine differ from you night time routine or does it?

    • anabel_atkinson

      For my night time routine, I apply richer products because that is the time when your skin really absorbs the products. Sheet masks, eye creams, moisturizer, and essence are products I have to use before I go to sleep. As for morning, I use cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Also, I dab eye cream under the eye to make concealer apply on more smoothly.

  • Sandi Tin Tun

    Please suggest me the morning skin routine.This is my morining routine.Cleanser>Toner>Essence>Ampoule>Emoulsion>eye cream>Moisturizer

    • Annie Atkinson

      Checkout my latest post on my Winter Skincare Routine!! There you go!

    • anabel_atkinson

      Good job. I think your skin care routine is perfect; however, I would add more product to your routine: SPF tinted moisturizer. I love the Estee Lauder Advanced Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant & UV Defense SPF 50. Hope this helps. xoxo

  • lol wow. I thought my 3-5 product skin routine was a lot.
    I absolutely LOVE Korean cosmetics….There’s a Holika Holika store near. Wish there was a Tony Moly!

    • anabel_atkinson

      I love Holika Holika! You can find Tony Moly products at Sephora. I feel the same way. I thought my skincare regime was long, but after comparing it to Koreans, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese, oh boy, was I wrong.

  • Fran P

    Thanks for the tips! I think I’ll try this one.. I’ll post a link to your blog when I do! 🙂

    • anabel_atkinson

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, please let me know if your skin improved after practicing these steps.

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  • Loved this post! Sheet masks are one of my favorite skincare products to use, thanks for reminding me that I need to do a blog post on them! 😉

    Stephanie | Girl Powder

  • Kristy Ross

    Hi, best I have ever used is Monsia.

    • anabel_atkinson

      I have never heard of this brand before. I will have to add it to my Korean beauty collection. Thank you for the suggestion. Do you have a particular favorite?

  • Hessa Af

    When is the right age to start using this skincare routine?

    • anabel_atkinson

      Whenever! It’s always good to start early than later. You need to set a good foundation, so it stays healthy longer!

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  • Penrose Hazel

    Great post! Just started a blog about skincare and products as well 🙂 you are more than welcome to take a look and comment

  • Lysis Vennin

    Really like this post, lovely and very informative x

    • anabel_atkinson

      Thank you! Have you tried the skincare routine yet? Although there are a lot of steps, the result is so well worth it. A flawless makeup begins with a flawless face.

    • anabel_atkinson

      I would love to hear your thoughts on any of the products you tried!

  • charlotte

    Sounds like the article I wrote for into the gloss…

    • anabel_atkinson

      Hi. There are so many posts out there regarding Korean skincare, but why wouldn’t there be? Korean skincare regiment is all the rave right now. I’m a huge fan of all things Korean beauty. That being said, similarities between our articles are bound to happen. However, I wrote this post based upon my interpretation of Korean skincare and personal skincare brand preference. I truly love all the products I mentioned above and have continued to use them up to this day. I enjoyed reading your article and cannot wait to get my hands on the products you mentioned.

    • Angeline

      Wow it does sound very similar huh? I read your article last night and subscribed to your blog. Love it and plan to purchase some products off your site! Thank-you!!

      • anabel_atkinson

        The concept is the same; however, the products are completely different. Each person has his/her favorite skincare. But honestly, Koeran skincare can have same or different interpretations.The ones I listed are my favorite Korean skincare products. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. xoxo

  • Raluca Deea

    Wow, DermalMD Glowing Serum is simply amazing!!! My skin has felt more moisturized and youthful since using this than it has since I was 20. A little bit goes a very long ways, so I have no doubt this bottle will last me a very long time. I use it twice a day, both in the morning and night, and will continue to do so FOREVER!!!! Can’t tell you how much I love this stuff!!

    • anabel_atkinson

      This sounds unreal. You have totally sold me! I need to buy this stuff today, thank you for you great tip! Xx

  • Your post is so informative. I love love lovee the Korean skincare routine! Wish essences and sheet masks were available here in India too.

    • anabel_atkinson

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the posts. Honestly, who isn’t a fan of Korean skincare?! They really understand how to treat their skin from underneath and they don’t mind investing time and money on skincare. I just love their approach to beauty.

  • Dallanna Lopez

    I love this post and the products you used. I have a skin care routine, but a bit more lengthy than this one, so I’m glad I could see how to simplify it when I don’t have a lot of time to do every step at night. I love the Amore Pacific Eye Cream and one of my favorite for a long time now. I have never used any Dr.Jart + mask sheets, but they seem pretty interesting so hopefully I do soon. I agree, skin care is best rather than trying to use more makeup, How you look always starts with how well you take care of your skin. Any other mask sheets you can recommend ? I am always looking for new ones I haven’t tried yet.

    • anabel_atkinson

      The Sk-II sheets masks are probably my favorite! I already really love the Tatcha ones.

  • I really need to develop my own skin care routine. I have sensitive skin and lately it starts to disturb me. I love hearing new experiences from others although the secret for all skin care is understanding what works best for you.

    • Annie Atkinson

      Have you found a brand that works for sensitive skin? Sheet masks are super moisturizing yet gentle enough for skin thats super sensitive…

  • Katy

    This is a great breakdown of this routine! It definitely seems manageable for everyday use. One big question – I’m on a pretty strict budget, could you recommend some more affordable substitutes for these products? Or maybe your one or two absolute must haves that are worth a big investment?

    • anabel_atkinson

      Ok the only thing you need investment wise is SK-II facial essence. Otherwise checkout peach and lily. Their products are affordable are
      Really nice.

      • Jessie

        Anything specific you would recommend to replace each of these steps/products..i want to buy,the whole regimen but trully need guidence the Peach and Lily would be a great sub for me…but again need guidance for the products that would replave one with the other..thank yoj in advance.:)

        • Annie Atkinson

          What you do mean exactly? You want different product recommendations?

  • flyfreebyrd

    Hi! Love this post; looking forward to trying some of your product recommendations. How long do you suggest waiting between applications of the essence, serum, and moisturizer?? I always wondered if they need to “set” for a minute or so. Thanks!
    – A

    • Annie Atkinson

      No not at all. I just apply one right after the other, no wait time needed. Also when apply makeup on top of the skincare, I usually wait about 10 minutes or so to let everything set!

  • Teleri

    I’ve always had good skin (heredity) but I found out about Korean skin care about a year ago & started using it (yes I found out watching KDramas, to which I’m TOTALLY addicted LOL). I really love the way my skin FEELS now 😀

    • Annie Atkinson

      Me too! I am right there with you. I like their sheet masks, eye masks and their skincare from a treatment perspective. Also how can you not love the packaging?

  • L.

    Are these products for sensitive combination skin, which becomes fast oily, with really big pores too? My skin is so bad. It’s on some parts of my face more bright on some more dark. Mostly a brighter yellow tone(I’m half Asian). I don’t know what to do. I can’t go out without make-up.

    • Annie Atkinson

      Have you tried p50? It’s great for acne and balancing the skin out. Also helping with the oil and larger pores… Check it out.

    • Debbie

      You probably should go without makeup once in a while. Its better for your skin in the long run

      • Annie Atkinson

        Couldn’t agree more. I try to go without makeup during the day usually…

  • I really like Korean Cosmetics and especially their sheet masks and BB creams. My favorite masks are from Missha. Have you tries something from this brand?

    • Annie Atkinson

      That is so funny that you say this! I just started a). using cushion compacts (I know, I am lightyears late) and b). from Missha, and I have to say that I am in love. You skin looks dewy – not greasy. You have to try it!

  • Nikita

    how old do you have to be to pull of the routine

    • Annie Atkinson

      You can do this at literally age. Just make sure that the serums, lotions and masks are geared towards your specific age range. 😉

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  • sandy

    I use the Missha Time Revolution is the equivalent to SK II but less pricey.

    • Annie Atkinson

      I really like them too. They also have o one of the best cushion compacts.

  • Lyla

    I understand that you do all of this before bed. So do you wake up in the morning and apply the products all over again, or just put makeup on!? If you do apply them again, could you explain why? I just started this routine and I have lots of questions!

  • Dominique Versteeg Knijnenburg


    I saw you were in Japan a few days back. Could you do a post about the new ¨holy grails¨ in asian skincare? I will be visiting Japan shortly and would also love to read about places, restaurants, tips etc.


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  • Rick Jones

    I’m not a Korean woman, but I’ve always strived to have similar such skin. Thanks for this info!

    Also, quick question. Do you ever buy whole sale skin products, like ? I’m looking for ways to cut spending on my elaborate beauty routine.


    • anabel_atkinson

      You’re welcome! I don’t buy wholesale products because I’m always trying new products. I recommend finding specific products from different price ranges so you don’t have to splurge on everything.

  • Janice Vanhouten

    I love these Korean skin products! I particularly enjoy their night creams which is why I pair up with Solvaderm. In fact, I buy them by the box and hand it out to my girlfriends as gifts.

  • Diane Wright

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this website. I really hope to view the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own blog now 😉

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  • Donna Oliver

    Good tips! Also, check these healthy tips for glowing skin

  • I just bought 16 Korean face masks from Amazon to try. Will look for other products you recommend here.

  • Laura C Rogers

    I am loving the products you recommended. loving these Korean skin product. Amazon

  • I really have to be compelled to develop my very own tending routine. I even have sensitive skin and of late, it starts to disturb Maine. i really like hearing new experiences from others though the key for all skin care is knowing what works best for you. Check out my beauty related website:

  • Aakash Dubey

    Really very nice post thank you Shesintheglow for sharing about THE SUPER EASY KOREAN SKINCARE ROUTINE 🙂