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Ten Easy Steps for the Skincare Beginner

by Sabrina Lu

In recent years, Korean skincare has become a global phenomenon. Innovative, advanced skincare technology and a cultural obsession with clear skin has brought Korean skincare products into the spotlight, and the ten-step routines have surged in popularity overseas. This is a basic guide to each of the steps, along with some popular, well-loved product suggestions.

Makeup Remover & Oil Cleanser

The very first step of a ten-step routine is an oil cleanser. A powerful oil cleanser breaks down other oil-based debris, such as makeup, pollution and sunscreen.

Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm: The unique oil formula of this product brightens and exfoliates the skin without stripping it of its natural oils. This cleansing balm is gentle on the skin and effortlessly removes stubborn makeup.

HANSKIN Pore Cleansing Oil: This cleansing oil is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin. It clears blackheads and prevents future breakouts while softening skin.

Water Based Cleanser

The second step of the double cleanse is a water-based cleanser. Water-based cleansers will dissolve impurities on your skin that the oil cleansers didn’t pick up, such as dirt and sweat.

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser: This is a three-in-one wash that removes makeup, cleanses skin to remove impurities and tones skin to promote an even complexion. It’s a bestselling product known for its lightweight gel formula.

COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser: This cleanser is the perfect addition to any morning routine, although it’s recommended for sensitive and dry skin.


An important aspect of the routine is exfoliation. Far from the gritty apricot scrubs found in American pharmacies, Korean skincare focuses on gentle exfoliation. There are two types of exfoliators: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliators include gentle black sugar, while lactic acid and salicylic acid are popular chemical exfoliators. With proper exfoliation, products will absorb more effectively into the skin, and the face will appear brighter and smoother. However, it is important to avoid over-exfoliating and damaging the skin’s surface.

Cure Natural Aqua Gel: This popular exfoliator will remove dead skin cells to help soften and smooth out the skin. The ingredients include Aloe Leaf Extract, Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract and Rosemary Leaf Extract.

Klairs Youthful Glow Sugar Mask: This mask is made with fine sucrose granules that buff away dead skin cells and liven up the skin. It can be used as a ten-minute moisturizing treatment or a scrub.


After the skin has been properly cleaned, it’s important to tone. Toners remove any residue from cleansers while balancing moisture and restoring the skin’s pH level. Some popular toner ingredients are aloe, citric acid and liquorice.

Some By Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner: Three chemical exfoliators work together in this toner to boost cell turnover and create a fresh, lively looking face.

Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner: This toner balances the skin’s pH level and leaves the skin feeling clean and smooth. It includes natural brighteners like peony extract and liquorice water, as well as green tea that helps soothe the skin.

Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner: This classic Korean toner removes dirt and excess oil from the skin, allowing pores to better absorb serum treatments.


After toner, we begin to move into the nourishing aspect of the ten-step routine. Essences are a lightweight serum that have highly concentrated amounts of hydrating and complexion-enhancing ingredients. Rice extract, hyaluronic acid and birch juice are effective ingredients in essences.

Innisfree Soybean Energy Essence: This product is a unique six-in-one essence that helps to improve skin's firmness, brightness, tone, smoothness, dewiness and moisture barrier.

Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Essence Mist: This mist has a milky texture that eliminates dryness and dullness in the skin. It includes soothing bamboo water and licorice root extract.


Serums, ampoules and boosters are treatments that target specific skin concerns such as hyperpigmentation, acne and fine lines. For acne, tea tree oil is widely used. Hyperpigmentation is effectively treated with vitamin C, and soybean is popular for fine lines.

Neogen Dermalogy Real Ferment Micro Serum: This intensive serum treatment absorbs quickly into the skin to improve elasticity and deliver hydration.

Sheet Masks

Sheet masks allow for longer periods of direct contact of product, which helps the skin fully absorb the ingredients. Not only are sheet masks relaxing and indulgent, but regular sheet-masking also infuses the skin with a concentrated essence to target skincare concerns and rehydrate.

NMF Intensive Hydrating Mask: This mask brings moisture to the skin and creates a healthy glow. It can be used for fifteen minutes to liven up dull, dry skin.

Leaders Amino Moisture Mask: Seventeen different amino acids are included in this mask to provide nutrients, protection and hydration to the skin.

Eye Cream

Since the skin around the eyes is much thinner and more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face, eye cream can help prevent puffiness, dark circles and crow’s feet.

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream: Eye cream is helpful for promoting youthful, well-rested skin. It uses red ginseng to firm under-eye skin and soften wrinkles.

Etude House Moistfull Collagen Eye Cream: This product uses collagen to help brighten, firm and smooth skin under the eyes. It leaves skin looking younger and healthier, and its lightweight formula does not weigh down the skin.


Moisturizer, as the name implies, moisturizes the skin and seals in the previous products applied to achieve plump, smooth and bright skin. Moisturizer comes in many different forms, such as lotion, cream, gel, emulsion and sleeping mask. Depending on skin type, different formulas are appropriate. For oilier skin types, a lotion, gel or milk is beneficial in preventing extra shininess. For drier skin types, heavier creams and sleeping masks are key. However, regardless of any skin type, a moisturizer must be applied.

Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream: The nourishing formula of this cream helps soothe irritated skin and build up the skin’s protective barrier.

Minon Amino Moist Moist Charge Lotion: This product deeply moisturizes the skin without leaving a sticky residue.


The final step of the routine is sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied in the morning every day, regardless of weather or the amount of time you spend outside. It is the most effective way to prevent premature aging and wrinkles, as well as skin cancer. Layering sunscreen on top of your other skincare ingredients prevents it from being diluted by other products and allows it to protect your skin from damaging UV rays.

Shishedo Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+: This ocean-friendly product protects the face and body against sun damage and becomes even more effective in heat and water.

Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk SPF 50+/PA++++: This water-resistant sunscreen has a delightful citrus aroma and powerfully blocks sun damage. It can be worn on any skin type to promote a youthful glow.

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