All The K-Beauty Skincare Steps You Need For Ageless Skin

Be ready to commit some serious time and budget in your quest to beautiful skin

By E! Asia Staff 25 Mar, 2019 3:41 AMTags

With the influx of K-beauty brands all over the world, it's no wonder we are all fascinated and fixated with the emphasis that Korean women (and men) place on the meticulous care for their skin, and how amazing their skin look.

So now whenever someone utters "K-beauty", the first thing that springs to our minds is inevitably, skincare.

Sure, we've all heard of the extensive regimes that the Koreans commit to, and thanks to them, we no longer flinch when we hear of someone talk about their 10-step routine. So what steps actually go into their daily routines?

Here's everything you need to know.

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Step 1: Makeup Remover

Your skin won't be able to fully absorb the goodness of the skincare products you apply if it's not first thoroughly cleansed. And to do so, the Koreans have long practiced double cleansing, where a cleansing oil, milk or balm is used to remove makeup before following with a regular cleanser. Try Mamonde Petal Spa Cleansing Oil, $28 for 200ml, which creates a warming sensation as you massage it into your skin to melt away stubborn makeup and dislodge impurities from the pores. It also contains floral essential oils that nourishes and hydrates skin at the same time.

Step 2: Cleanser

After rinsing off your cleansing oil, it's time to follow up with a regular foaming cleanser to further eliminate any leftover traces of dirt, grime and sebum. We like Innisfree's Green Tea Foam Cleanser, $14 for 150ml, which has a dense foam that deep cleanses pores effectively while amino acids ensure that skin's moisture level is maintained. It also gives skin an antioxidant boost for a brighter, more energised look.

Step 3: Exfoliator

Another key step in keeping skin smooth, plump and dewy is to make sure that dead skin cells are regularly swept away from skin surface. And Korean skincare brands take a different approach from its Western counterparts, adopting a gentler method by using mild peeling products more regularly to support cellular turnover. Try the Su:m37 Amazing Peeling Smoother, $47 for 160ml. All you have to do is saturate a cotton pad with it and wipe all over your skin. This infuses your skin with wine ferment that slough away dead skin cells that cause skin to look dull and feel rough. At the same time, skin is doused in polyphenols, which support healthy skin function by neutralising free radical damage.

Step 4: Toner

After removing all the unwanted gunk from your skin, it's key to restore skin's moisture and pH levels so that the products applied after can be effectively absorbed into your skin. And that's where the toner comes in. Opt for a lightweight, refreshing toner like the Laneige Perfect Renew Skin Refiner, $55 for 120ml. It is made with sodium hyaluronate, which instantly replenishes skin with moisture and reinforces its moisture barrier to prevent dryness.

Step 5: Essence

Next, it's time for essences, which are essentially lightweight moisturisers that are packed with hydrating and anti-ageing ingredients to set the foundation of healthy skin in order to optimise the efficacy of your other skincare products. We love Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX, $115 for 60ml. And even though it's called a serum, it's technically a booster essence which infuses skin with rejuvenating herbs to kickstart its self-regenerating mechanism. Over time, skin is plumper, brighter and absorbs other skincare products better.

Step 6: Treatments

This is where the serums and ampoules come into play, as they are known to contain high concentrations of active ingredients for targeted action. How you choose your treatment serum depends on your top skincare problem, so if you're most concerned with wrinkles, you should use a firming serum like The History of Whoo Bichup Self-Generating Anti-Aging Essence, $212 for 50ml. Referencing ancient skincare expertise trusted by the royal court, it is packed with traditional Korean herbs that help revitalise cellular function to improve skin elasticity, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and boost skin hydration.

Step 7: Sheet Mask

It's all about strategic layering when it comes to building a K-beauty routine. So what do you do after you've massaged a concentrated blend of active ingredients into your skin? You slather on another layer, of course? But this time, in a sheet mask format as it forms an occlusive layer over your skin to really push all the serums and essences deep into your skin. We like Leaders Insolution Amino AC-Free Mask, $5, a mask designed to be gentle enough for daily use, thanks to its carefully calibrated blend of 17 amino acids, natural moisturising factors, AHA, BHA and Snail Secretion Filtrate. When left on the skin for 15 minutes daily, this synergistic blend of ingredients replenishes skin with moisture and supports skin's self-renewal capacity while ensuring that pores are kept clean and clear.

Step 8: Eye Cream

The skin around the eyes is the thinnest and most fragile. This means that it's the most vulnerable to damage and wrinkling. Which is why you need a specific product dedicated to this particular area. Go with Erborian Ginseng Infusion Total Eye, $69 for 15ml, which is a good product to try if you're only starting to use eye creams. Made with herbs that are used to boost vitality and support longevity, this eye cream nourishes and protects the delicate skin around the eyes to combat signs of ageing like dark circles, fine lines and puffiness.

Step 9: Moisturiser

Now that you've layered on multiple products into your skin, it's time to seal it all in with an emollient face moisturiser. And with the variety of textures available, like gel, emulsion or cream, feel free to choose according to your skin type and preferences. For those with combination-oily skin types, we recommend CNP Laboratory Aqua Soothing Gel Cream, $48.90 for 80ml, an oil-free moisturiser that hydrates and strengthens skin's barrier function to improve its ability to retain moisture. Plus, it also contains allantoin and portulaca extracts which soothes irritation and instantly cools skin - perfect for those living in the hot tropics.

Step 10: Sunscreen

Finally, no skincare routine, Korean or not, should be complete without suncreen application in the day. Even on a cloudy day, or on days when you're mostly indoors, you should still apply sunscreen before heading out. This is because UV rays can still penetrate clouds and windows to reach your skin and cause damage. So simply out, it's the easiest way to protect your skin from environmental hazards like UV rays and pollution particles. We like Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish, $22 for 55ml, for its non-sticky finish so it's perfect on its own or under makeup.