The 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine

10 step korean skin care

If you have been following this blog for a while then you probably already know that I have been using Korean skin care (also referred to as K-Beauty)  for a few years now.

South Korea is the mecca of skin care. The Koreans are the world leaders in skin care research and development as well as scientific advances in skin care. They have technologies we can only dream of!

As a general rule I couldn’t care less about what claims a skin care company makes about their products. All I care about are results that I can see in my skin, quickly. Since changing over to Korean skin care my skin has never, ever looked so good in my entire life, even in my wild youth! My skin actually looks younger now than it did 15 years ago.

Recently I have had a few friends and acquaintances ask me if I could slip them the name of my doctor, so they could go for a tune up too. The hilarious thing is that there is no doctor! My skin is firm and radiant and glowing because I changed over to the Korean system of skin care, and to Korean skin care products. The exceptions are when I add in or use Tatcha products or SK-II, both of which are Japanese luxury skin care lines, and to a degree share similar philosophies and some product categories, such as oil cleansers and essence treatments.

For many girls and ladies, especially here in America, the thought of doing 10 steps skin care at night is just too overwhelming. Personally I love skin care regimens that involve lots of steps, so this is right up my alley, but if 10 steps are too many for you, don’t do them all. Or don’t do each step every night.

I am attaching affiliate links to some of the products that I use myself, mostly to help out my friends who keep asking me. Memebox now routes their shipping through Amazon, you can also buy Korean skin care at Sephora, and through websites such as SokoGlam and Peach and Lilly. K-Beauty is generally very inexpensive, so you win every which way!

So let’s look at the steps:

Step One: The Oil Cleanser

Oil cleansers have been a game changer for me. Using a cleansing oil is the most fabulous way to dislodge and then dissolve even the most stubborn makeup. What I love is that you can clean away every last trace of makeup while softening your skin. Your skin feels so lovely after cleansing and doesn’t feel tight or stripped or dried out.

You can find K-Beauty Cleansers at

Step Two: The Water Based Cleanser

This step is just being added to my routine. The theory is that an oil cleanser removes makeup, but you follow it with a water cleanser to remove any traces of debris, residue or impurities. I had been beyond happy with just the oil cleanser, but one of my Korean Skin Care loving friends added in this step a couple of months ago and cannot stop raving about it! Throughout her conversion to Korean Skin Care her once problematic skin has turned into one of the most beautiful, clear, radiant complexions I have ever seen. So if she says I need to add in the water based cleanser step then I am all in!

Step Three: The Exfoliator

I don’t exfoliate every day, and I refuse to use exfoliating scrubs. I am 100% all about enzyme exfoliators. Here is my personal theory which has zero basis in science but is 100% based on my experience. I believe that exfoliating scrubs scratch away the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, but also scratch the baby skin underneath, perpetuating a cycle of rough skin. When I converted to enzyme exfoliators I found that I got absolutely glowing skin that maintains it’s glow all week. I normally exfoliate once per week with SNP Advanced Peeling Gel, (Sunday nights) and then once or twice per week as needed with Tatcha Polished Rice Enzyme Powder. I use both because I have both, but the Tatcha is fine without anything else. It is such a beautiful product and I wish everyone knew about it!

Step Four: The Toner

Forget about the old school, skin stripping toners that left you skin feeling tight and dry. The Korean toners are designed to balance the skin’s pH, dampen and soften your skin and make it ready to receive all the nutrients that are about to follow. I have been using [Ariul] SPA Water 24 Hr Moisturizing Refreshing Mist for several months now. I love the concept of using a mist toner, but there are so many to choose from. If it gets confusing you can start by looking at K-Beauty on

Step Five: The Essence

Essence is the backbone of Korean Skin care. You choose an essence that is specific to your skin care needs. Maybe your skin is congested and needs more support with blackheads and breakouts, or maybe your skin is dull and needs lightening and brightening, or maybe it is dry and needs extra hydration help. Essence is a toner and serum styled hybrid that is super powerful, penetrates deeper than your moisturizer can and yet is as lightweight as water. I use [Cosrx] Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

After using essence I cannot imagine not using it! Give it a couple of days and you too will be hooked!

Step Six: The Ampoule

Ampoules are supercharged treatments that are as concentrated as essences and directly treat the skin issues that concern you the most. They are more concentrated than anything I have ever used before. You can target hyper-pigmentation, dull skin, anti aging concerns, large pores, acne, wrinkles – they seem to have an ampoule product for everything you can think of.

I have been using Scinic Snail All in One Ampoule  for more than a year now, probably closer to two years in fact, and I would have to say it is my single favorite product. It is madly concentrated so you really use a very small amount. It is so powerful and makes such an enormous difference to my skin’s moisture balance that I really can’t do without it. A jar lasts forever too!

Step Seven: The Moisturizer

During the day I use a lightweight yet powerful moisturizer called an Emulsion. Again I’m only using a small amount, much much less than a regular moisturizer. Even though it is layered over my essence and my ampoule, my skin isn;t weighed down at all. It just looks really gorgeous.

At night I use a moisture cream instead of the emulsion. My favorite is MIZON All In One Snail Repair Cream, (linked here on Amazon). I have been using it for more than a year now too. I don’t quite understand how they are able to make something so brilliantly effective, so concentrated and yet so light weight. Korean skin care puts huge focus on keeping the skin really beautifully hydrated. It slows the aging process and keeps the skin so incredibly healthy and radiant.

Step Eight: The Eye Cream

Morning and night you need to keep the delicate skin around the eyes hydrated, but because this skin is so thin and fine it needs its own special product.

Step Nine: The Sleeping Pack

At night, once you have layered on your toner, your essence, your ampoule, your eye cream and your moisturizer you seal it all in with a sleeping pack. This has the consistency of a night cream, but isn’t thick or heavy. It’s just the final layer that holds all these products against your skin and puts them to work. As with all the other products, sleeping pack is really hydrating and nourishing. It is also a total game changer in terms of how your skin looks and feels, which is ultimately what it is all about!

I have tried several different sleeping packs and every one has been brilliant. Currently I am using SKIN CERAMIC Donkey Milk Celluminator Mask Pack (Donkey Milk Yogurt Sleeping Pack)


Step Ten: The Mask

As many days per week as you want to you can use Korean masks. My personal favorites are sheet masks. I buy boxes of them at a time. I use them once or twice per week, they are both inexpensive and really effective. There are sheet masks for every skin concern under the sun, from blackheads and congestion to brightening to nourishing to soothing to hydrating.

You can use them weekly, or if you get up in the morning and your skin looks blah, or before going out at night or any time you feel like it. I do one every Sunday night after I have used my Advanced Peeling Gel.


If you are thinking about trying Korean Skin Care you don’t need to start with all 10 steps. You can add pieces in one at a time which is what I did, way back when I was first starting. It’s also a cool way to see how powerful each step is, and helps it all make sense.

Also don’t be put off by some of the very unusual names! It took me over a year to wrap my head around the concept of using something called Snail Mucin on my skin. But then one of my friends used it and her skin looked incredible, so I got some too! Now I’m also using something called Donkey Milk Yogurt. Go figure., Inc.

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