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The Famous 10-Step Korean Beauty Routine: Do I Really Have To Do All 10 Steps?

By Rachelle D. | September 12, 2015 07:10 AM EDT

The Korean 10-Step Beauty Routine. It's famed for helping K-pop stars keep their faces flawless and bright, and for helping women across Korea seem a decade younger than their true age. It's backed up by both anecdotes and science - whatever the Koreans are doing to their faces, they're doing it right.

The question remains, though: do I really have to do all ten steps to get the same results?

The short answer: no, of course not! You don't have to do anything you don't want to do.

But, if you are interested in taking 15 minutes at the beginning and end of the day to invest in your skin and overall wellness, or are just interested in learning more about what goes into each step, let us break it down for you here.

Step 1: Remove Makeup

If you've worn makeup throughout the day, you want to make sure that's all off your face before you put any product on it. If you wear heavy eye makeup, you'll want to get that off first, and then use a cleansing tissue or wipe to free your skin from all the makeup.

Step 2: Cleanser

The second step is a no brainer: use a good cleanser to get rid of those layers of grime that build up throughout your busy day. Many Koreans do two cleansers here. The first is a gentle oil cleanser like the Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Oil that really removes dirt, sweat, and products. The second is a more foamy cleanser like The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam. Whether you use one or two cleansing products, make sure to deeply massage your skin throughout and rinse well.

Suzy from miss A has been vocal about the importance of cleansing. She uses both an oil and a foam cleanser, but she stresses it's not only about the product, it's about the massage. She cleanses for six minutes total, and then rinses for four, and is massaging and hydrating her face that entire time. She claims those motions, which help to activate good skin cells and get rid of the old ones, are what keeps her face looking so flawless and fresh.

Step 3: Exfoliate

Now you beef up the cleansing with an exfoliating product. This step doesn't have to happen twice or even once a day - if you have sensitive or dry skin, or haven't sweat much because it's a winter month, for instance - you can save the exfoliator for a few times a week.

When you do exfoliate, there's a few options. You can use an exfoliating cleanser like the Goodal Phytowash Yerba Mate Bubble Peeling product. Or, you could also do an exfoliating mask like Skin Food's Black Sugar Wash Off Mask. Either way, exfoliation is important at least a few times a week to dig into your pores, ridding them of any dirt that is clogging the way for new, refreshed skin cells to pop through and give you a glow.

Step 4: Toning or "Refreshing"

Toning, or refreshing, as is the more popular and more accurate description of the step, is up next. A lot of Westerners think of toning as wiping a super acidic, harsh formula over their face - one that might even make them red and blotchy or dry and irritated.

The Korean toner, or refresher, is different. A product like Skinfood's Royal Honey Toner is a more gentle product that has two purposes. First, it gets rid of any grime that is still left on the skin after the cleansing and exfoliating. Secondly, and more importantly, it restores the pH balance of the skin, which has increased on the pH scale after a healthy cleansing. With a restored pH balance, your skin will be more ready to absorb the moisturizers and masks that are coming up next.

Step 5: Essence

Here's a step that has been a no-brainer to many Koreans for years but is still a bit of a foreign word to many Westerners. Once they've started with an essence, though, many non-Koreans feel like there's no turning back.

An essence is not meant to be a cleansing product, so don't think you can skip the first steps and go straight to the essence. Instead, essences like the Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Exin have high concentrations of ingredients like glycerin, ingredients that rejuvenate skin, give it a dewy glow, and sometimes provide anti-wrinkle effects.

Koreans apply to this to the face by pouring a little of the thin, watery liquid into the hands and then patting it upwards.

If you have super oily or acne-prone skin, this is a step that you can do this step just once every few days for a little refresher.

Step 6: Ampoule or Serum

An ampoule, or serum as it is more commonly known in the U.S., is basically an amped-up essence. A product like the mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule has many similar ingredients to an essence, all designed to provide a moisturizing, invigorated skin, but in a more concentrated product.

Nowadays, more companies are providing a kind of middle-of-the-road product, something of a juiced up essence or watered down serum, that does double duty as both an essence and a serum and allows users to add one less layer to their face.

(Photo : isoi)

Step 7: Sheet Mask

The mask sheet is the quintessential Korean beauty product that is starting to make major inroads into the Western beauty scene. Virtually every big idol has advertised a brand of mask sheets before, or posted photos of themselves and their friends using the Halloween-like masks after a big concert or shoot.

The moist, cooling masks might look funny on the face, but their power for rejuvenation is no joke. Whether it's a refreshing cucumber mask or one with a hint of collagen to tighten up sagging eyes and cheeks, these hydrating masks are the key to that highly sought after luscious, dewy skin. The brilliant part about it is that the effects last for at least a few hours, and more often an entire day or night. Put one of these on before a big night out, and you've got both a cheap facial and luminous skin all night long.

Masks range in price, from cheap ones that go for about one dollar a pop to more expensive specialty ones, infused with products like gold and caviar, that are meant to bring serious healing, firming, and brightening effects to even the most tired of faces.

This is one step that isn't meant to be done every morning and every night. Instead, use a mask when you feel like your face needs a little recharge or you want that dewy glow before a big night out.

Step 8: Eye Cream

A good eye cream may claim to do several things, but most Koreans use this for one purpose only: to keep their eyes looking young. These creams are often infused with collagen and other products that life the eyes, help to reduce wrinkles that are already there, and prevent new ones.

Because these are so plentiful in Korea, you can eye creams that are high rated and super affordable, like the Etude House Shea Butter Nutrifull Eye Cream.

Step 9: Moisturizer

Now that your skin is cleansed, exfoliated, and juiced up a little, it's time to give it a layer of moisturizer that will keep it hydrated and looking fresh.

There are plenty of moisturizers made for dry skin, like the Nature Republic Argan 20 real cream. If you have more oily skin or problems with acne, blackheads, or blotchy skin, though, you might want to use a lighter moisturizer like the Innisfree Jejubija Anti-Trouble Lotion.

Step 10: Night Cream

Skin not feeling like it has enough products on it? Need another layer? Great, it's time for your sleep mask. This is another step that doesn't necessarily have to be done every night, although on most skin (especially dry) it doesn't help to put on this mask while you sleep and wash it off first thing in the morning. Goodal has some great night masks with different benefits, like Anti-Wrinkle or Brightening.

Got it? Ten steps per night might take a little getting used to, especially if you're used to just splashing water on yourself and heading to bed. But if you're serious about investing in yourself, the Koreans have it figured out. Try it out little by little and let us know what you think!

Tagged :  Korean Beauty, beauty, makeup, mask, SHINee, Suzy

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