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.

This post contains affiliate links.

Snail Bee Essence – Major New Skincare Product!


This post contains affiliate links

sanil bee high content essence

I want to tell you about a new Korean skin care product that I am obsessed with!

Actually it’s not a new product,  it’s just new to me. It’s called Snail Bee High Content Essence, and it is a powerhouse product with a serious wow-factor!

I’ve been told that essence is the most important step in Korean skin care and that it is the secret to Korean women’s flawless skin.

Essence treats skin on a cellular level, diving down deep, deep, deep to deliver powerful ingredients that revitalize your skin, hydrate, brighten, and prep your skin to receive and maximize the benefits of your moisturizer. Essence is applied after cleansing, before moisturizing.

The Snail Bee High Content Essence combines snail mucin and bee venom to boost hydration, boost collagen production, increase elasticity and brighten your complexion while rejuvenating and promoting cell renewal. It is very concentrated, a small amount goes a very long way, and it really delivers the goods.

It took me a long time to get on board with using a product called snail mucin on my face! In fact I went out of my way to avoid it, right up until one of my aesthetician friends got some and raved about how amazing it was. Her skin looked better than ever, so I decided to try it out. I started with Scinic’s All In One Snail Ampoule ($22), which was perhaps the most life changing skin care product I have ever used. And costs a mere $22!!! Recently one of my girlfriends told me she had added the Snail Bee High Content Essence into her daily skin care, and her skin has never looked better, so I had to get some too! I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I love it.

I order both these products from Memebox, which is wear I buy all my Korean skin care products. Memebox is based in Palo Alto California, so each order arrives in 3-5 days. The cost of these products is unbelievable – they are so inexpensive!







The Modern Girl’s Guide To Korean Skin Care

I talk about Korean skin care all the time.
I just taught another Beauty 101 class, and all the ladies were asking me about K-Beauty and which products I used and what all these things men, so in their honor, here is a blogpost dedicated to breaking down the parts of Korean Skin Care.


Korean women are considered to have the best skin in the world, and obsess over which products they use.
Making the change to Korean products has been the best thing I have ever done for my skin and it has never looked better.

South Korea is not only the mecca of skin care it is actually the world leader in research and development of skin care products. Korean skin care utilizes technologies we don’t have yet in America, so these products are really high performance and give you absolutely amazing results.

The Korean skin care system is based on layering products and targeting very specific skin concerns. I added each category of product in one at a time so that I could see if they made a difference, and if layering them was worth it. It was.

The following post is a break down of each of the main components that make up the Korean skin care regimen. You can use them all, or if that is too overwhelming just pick and choose the parts that work for you.

You can find Korean skin care in various stores (such as Sephora), or you can order them online. I buy online from Memebox, the largest purveyor of Korean skin care products. They are based in the San Francisco area so everything ships out quickly and arrives in 3 – 5 days.

I write about Korean skin care and Memebox often, and normally post about my orders when they arrive. If you go to the search bar and type in either Memebox or Korean skin care you will get a list of them all.

West Face East, How To Layer Your Skin Care Korean-Style

Korean Skin Care – Where Do You Begin??

Disclaimer: Memebox does not sponsor this blog and does not give me free product. I buy every product I talk about, show you, or use. 
I do have affiliate marketing with Memebox through a third party. This means that if you order from any of the links in this post my blog may earn a few cents.

One of my recent Memebox orders. All these amazing products for around $100!


1. The Cleanse

The Korean skin cleanse is actually a two step process. One cleanse to dissolve makeup, the second to clean the skin.
Personally I just do a single step cleanse, using a cleansing oil. I use I’m Cleansing Oil from Memebox. It dissolves makeup (even waterproof mascara!) and leaves my skin feeling super soft and supple.
You should cleanse your skin with a product designed for your skin type. If you have oily skin or get breakouts you need cleansing products designed to lift away excess sebum and help deep cleanse the complexion.
If you have dry, irritated or sensitive skin you need very gentle cleansing products.
Find Korean cleaning products here.

2. The Exfoliation

The next step in the Korean skin care system is the exfoliation.
From scrubs to enzyme masks to peels, the pathway to smooth, glowing skin is exfoliation. Be careful not to exfoliate too frequently or too aggressively, and choose the formulation you need to meet your skin type.
Sensitive and irritated skins need to be especially careful because aggressive or abrasive exfoliators can make skin even more sensitive and irritated. Exfoliating every couple of weeks is ideal for most skins.
Explore Korean exfoliators here

3. The Refresher

After cleansing your skin the next daily step is a refresher. That can be a facial mist (my favorite) or a softening toner. The refresher softens and prepares the skin for the treatment and moisturizing products that follow.
See Korean refreshers here

4. The Essence

Korean women consider this to be the most important step in their skin care regime. Essences combine multiple intensive ingredients into a super concentrated form (you really only need one drop) and then transports them deep into the skin. They are lightweight in texture, so the surface of your skin doesn’t feel slimy or oily, and they are skin concern specific, so you target the issues that you want to work on. Aging/dehydration/acne/excess oil/lightening and brightening – you name it there’s an essence for it. You can also layer essences and tackle multiple skin issues at the same time.
Find essences here

5. The Ampoule

An ampoule is a super-charged, highly concentrated serum that again you only need a tiny amount of and that go super deep into the skin (much deeper than the average serum or moisturizer).
Again this product is skin concern specific. You look at what you want to fix about your skin, whether its smoothing the texture, brightening, super hydrating, anti aging – you name it there’s an ampoule for it.
The results are sensational and your skin will love you for adding ampoule into daily routine! If you are using both an essence and an ampoule the essence goes on first.


6. The Emulsion

So far if you are doing all the steps in the Korean system you have been targeting skin concerns and deep treating them. Now it’s time to start moisturizing the skin. Emulsions are lightweight moisturizers. You can use them alone, or as the next step after your ampoule. They give you all the moisturizing that you need without being really heavy on the skin.
During the day you would follow this with an SPF product and then put on your makeup. (but when your skin gets all glowy and healthy from using this skin system you will find that you both want and need much less makeup than you currently wear!)

Find Creams, Emulsions and Gels here

7. The Sleeping Pack

Korean women really understand the importance of super moisturizing the skin to keep it soft, supple, glowing and healthy, so at night after all these steps they apply a sleeping pack, which seals all the prior products in for the night. A sleeping pack has a similar texture to a night cream, but is slightly more gel-like. It doesn’t leave a film on your skin, doesn’t mess up your pillow case, it just absorbs in and makes the magic happen!
Find Sleeping Packs here.


8. Sheet Masks

Every week you should do a mask, whether it’s for hydration, brightening, clearing blackheads, cleaning your skin, or whichever issue you want extra help with.
Sheet masks are great because they get a completely even coating of product and seal it into the skin. Also they’re not messy, which I love.
If you are not a sheet mask girl Korean skin care is full of regular mask options too.
See Korean skin care masks here


Find Korean skin care products for oily skin and breakouts
Find Korean skin care products for normal and dry skins