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The 10-Step Korean Skincare for Pristine Skin

Long live the 10-step Korean Skincare Routine – you won’t need anything else. South Korean skincare products still dominate the market, with Korean brands sitting right beside the Western cosmetic behemoths in beauty retailers like Watsons and Guardian. Tropika Club explores the famed skincare routine to show you why you won’t need anything else.



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1. The First Cleanse  

If you’re not sure what we’re going on about, double cleansing involves using a cleansing oil, balm or micellar water to break down make-up, SPF and sebum on the surface of your skin first, then following it with a deeper water-based cleanse. You start by washing your face with an oil-based cleanse. If you have oily skin, you might be wondering if the oil-based cleanser is a good idea. Well, the oil-based cleanser is actually effective clearing oil-based impurities, such as sebum, some pollutants, and SPF.  

2. The Second Cleanse 

The second cleanse clears the rest of the sweat and dirt on your face. Try and use products with lower pH levels. Your face pH level is probably at 5.5. Which means that you have to use products that aren’t too acidic or alkaline. Otherwise, you may get acne, irritation, and blotches on your face.  Because of the way the follicles are oriented on the face, it’s best to wash upwards and outwards in order to get a deeper cleanse.

To make sure you don’t damage your sensitive skin when you’re done, splash your cleansers off with lukewarm water rather instead of drying it with a towel. According to the experts, there are two major benefits to the technique. First up, when you wear foundation, double cleansing scores you a better clean. “Double cleansing with a micellar water can be helpful to remove the layer of makeup to then let the cleanser truly clean the skin,” explains Shani Darden, a licensed aesthetician in Los Angeles.


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3. The Toner  

Toners prepare for the preceding steps by providing a thin layer of moisture to maintain the pH balance on your face, softening your skin in the meantime as well. The moisture helps your skin absorb the products in the next few steps as well.  For this step, you can use toners that contain AHAs and/or BHAs as well. Most Korean skincare toners have bonus botanical ingredients to freshen your skin too. You can apply the toner directly on your skin with your hands, a cotton ball, or a pad. Toner removes any last traces of dirt, grime and impurities stuck in your pores after you wash your face. When added to your daily skincare routine and used regularly, it can have major positive impact on the appearance and tightness of your pores.

Read:

Korean Beauty Secrets for your Perfect Skin

4. The Essence 

Essences are typically a blend of a toner and a serum. This also keeps the moisture on your face, allowing the better absorption of the other products. This is how you get your glow. By layering a variety of products, some Korean beauty experts think that it doesn’t clog your pores and allows your skin to breathe. An essence is applied to a clean face, prepping the skin to effectively absorb subsequent products, like serum and moisturizer. Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist who is the vice president for sales and innovation at Aware Products, likens the essence’s role to loosening garden soil before watering it. They usually aren’t as light and watery as toners, but they aren’t as ultra-concentrated as serums. Since a main goal of an essence is to nourish skin, they are usually formulated with ingredients that are safe for regular, everyday use, unlike some, more targeted toner and serum formulas.

5. The Emulsion 

Customary to the modern Korean skincare routine, this packs another dose of moisture for your skin, so you can achieve the ‘glass skin’ look that so many covet. The emulsion is especially effective for oily skin, allowing the skin to get hydrated without using heavier products. Emulsions allow for products that can be used to moisturize, nourish and protect the skin and also can be used to deliver active ingredients or other components. Because emulsions are metastable, they can exist for a period of time without separating into their oil and water components.

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6. The Serum 

In the halfway mark, you’re supposed to apply more concentrated products. But you have the space to make your own decision on what’s best your skin needs. You can try on other products like ampoules or essences in this step as well.   Serums with ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, green tea, resveratrol, and astaxanthin help prevent oxidative damage from ultraviolet (UV) light and pollution, which can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkles.

7. The Sheet Mask

It’s so ubiquitous even BTS has its hand on its own line of it with Mediheal. You can use most brands, but if you can afford it, it’s best to sheet masks with better ingredients. After all, you have to put it on your face for around 15 to 20 minutes. Korean face sheet masks are the gateway item into the world of Korean beauty and skincare. Acting as inexpensive mini facials, sheet masks give the skin intense hydration, suppleness, and brightening effects in less than half an hour! Sheet masks can range in functions, materials, and ingredients. However, the majority of sheet masks are typically made for brightening, moisturizing, acne control, pore care or anti-aging effects. Most cotton sheets are soaked in essences containing nourishing active ingredients ranging from tea tree for acne control and ceramide for moisture retention. The essence is kept from evaporating by the sheet mask which locks in all the moisture and protects it from being exposed to the air. With such close contact to the skin, the essence forces the antioxidants and vitamins to penetrate into the skin’s top layer more effectively than if the essence was applied without a protective barrier such as a sheet mask.

Read:

The Amazing Benefits of Salicylic Acids to Your Skin

8. The Eye Cream 

The skin around your eyes are especially thin and delicate, so a little extra care will go a long way. Though you need to apply just the right amount; try to apply the eye cream with your ring finger so you get just the right amount of pressure. Eye creams can address some of these issues. Fine lines and wrinkles come from both sun damage and your skin making less collagen as you age. Collagen helps maintain skin’s elasticity. Vitamin C, peptides, and retinol have boosted collagen production, studies of skin creams show.

9. The Moisturiser 

A face is the most important part of the body. It is the first thing that people see and it should be well-maintained. One of the ways to maintain a good face is to moisturise it. Moisturising a face has many benefits, including: making the skin look younger, reducing wrinkles and fine lines, and keeping the skin hydrated. Applying your moisturizer correctly, on the other hand, boosts hydration in your skin, prevents flaking and dullness, and creates a protective layer of moisture that lasts all day. Plus, proper application of a face cream will help anti-aging ingredients work better — increasing the odds that they’ll work.



10. The Sunscreen/The Sleeping Mask 

If you’re doing this routine in the morning; you can’t miss putting on sunscreen. You’ve probably heard the drill before – you have to wear sunscreen every day, even you if are indoors for most of the time. If you’re doing this routine before you sleep, just end the routine off with a sleeping mask. Research from 2010 has shown that the use of eye masks can result in more REM time, shorter REM latency, and elevated levels of melatonin. This helps to promote healthy sleep patterns and hormone balance.

The 10-step Korean skincare routine sounds like a lot, especially if you’re leading a busy life. You can always be flexible about the steps, and even take some of them out if you feel like you don’t need it.


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Terence is Tropika Club Magazine's deputy editor who loves learning about animals and their behavior. He is also an anthropologist, so he is very interested in how different cultures interact with animals. He has worked in the publishing industry for over 10 years, and have been lucky enough to work with some amazing authors and editors.