How To

The Real Deal on the Korean Skincare Routine

Written by: Susan Hang

As you know by now, I’m one of those incredulous people where if you tell me something’s going to be good for my skin, I’ll watch it promptly, but discreetly, and once I’m in, I’m all over it! No doubt K-beauty blew up over the last 3 years and I did exactly that – watched the market, explored the ingredients, and then went all in. I started with snail cream and became obsessed with it along with sheet masks – my trek didn’t stop there. I’ve been back and forth with my favorite K-beauty vendor, Peach & Lily, to get the low down on the Korean skincare routine and they were kind enough to talk me through it. Now the real deal was me putting it to the test and I’ve been at it faithfully for the past two weeks.

The nice thing about the Korean skincare routine is it’s completely customizable.

Although it’s commonly referred to as the “10-step Skincare Regimen”, there is no set number of products you’re obligated to and it’s more about devising the ingredients that are best for you. In saying that, Peach & Lily has an amazing team of experts that make insanely powerful recommendations – they did that for me and I couldn’t be happier with the personalized picks they proposed. Now onto the ritual I customized for myself inspired by K-beauty and the brains at P&L…

Step 1: Remove Makeup

For lazy girls like me that find too much effort required to properly remove makeup, a cleansing balm is a genius option. Banila Co Clean It Zero Purity quickly melts into the skin and effectively removes makeup fuss-free. It’s super fast and requires little to no effort. It looks like coconut oil and comes with a spatula so you can easily scoop it out.

best k-beauty cleansers

Step 2: Cleanse

A few months ago, I had been wanting the Mizon Egg White Bubble Cleanser, but they were sold out so I was overly excited to finally get my hands on it. I NEVER use foaming cleansers because they tend to strip my skin, but this one is off beat! It’s become my favorite cleanser to date. My pores look so much better (though I’m sure that can also be attributed to everything else) and my face feels so much cleaner. This plus the cleansing balm above is a real #dreamteam!

Step 3: Exfoliant (optional)

Exfoliating after cleansing is a standard – that’s simply the best way to rid excess skin buildup. I exfoliate 2-3x a week, but have not had the chance to trial any K-beauty exfoliators. I really want this seaweed one – unfortunately, they’re sold out.

Step 4: Toner

Korean toners are all about hydration unlike American versions, which are highly astringent influenced. The Aromatica Sea Daffodil Aqua Toner was probably the one thing I was least excited about, but it’s been a massive revelation. After using American ones for years, there’s an obvious difference between the two and no way I’m ever abandoning this aqua toner. It feels that much more rejuvenating while doing everything else a toner is expected to do.

korean skincare routine essence

Step 5: Essence

I’ve talked about the Cremorlab Mineral Essence before and I continue to use it, except I recently adopted the venerated SK-II Facial Essence (this starter kit is an amazing value). Essence is one of those things that are so subtle you’re fooled into believing it makes no difference, but you notice the effects immediately once you stop using it. Currently, I alternate between the Cremorlab and SK-II. It really plumps the skin up, making it more receptive the goodies that come next.

k-beauty ampoules serums

Step 6: Treatments

Now’s the time for serums and ampoules. These products can be layered to address multiple skin concerns. They’re highly concentrated and your best bet for the best possible complexion. I’m using both the Mizon Peptide 500 and Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM. More to come on anti-aging. At this time, I’ll also apply my acne treatments though I think most estheticians would recommend using them after moisturizer…

Step 7: Sheet Mask (optional)

After Steps 1-5, a sheet mask can be introduced, which I’ll do a few times a month when my skin is really barren – they’re absolute necessities.

korean skincare routine sheet masks

Step 8: Eye cream

The Cremorlab Wrinkle Off Eye Cream is the BEST eye cream I’ve ever used for Spring/Summer. It probably won’t be moisturizing enough in the winter when my skin is radically dry. But anyway, this is EVERYTHING a gel eye cream should be – hydrating, delicate, and nourishing! It’s amazing under makeup!

Step 9: Sealant

After applying serums, your skin is not to be left alone. You need to seal it with a moisturizer. I’m still loving the Mizon Snail Cream, which I’ll use alone at night. For the day, this Caolion Pore Care Hydration Cream is gold! The snake and bee venom, which are supposed to improve skin texture, blemishes, and pores, really work their claims. It’s got an impressive texture, feeling like jello, yogurt, and pudding all in one, and then blends out like a dream. Definitely my moisturizer of choice these next few months as it’s really light and works gloriously as a base for makeup.

Step 10: Protection (for daytime)

And finally, you should know by now, SPF is mandatory during the day, rain or shine.

So if you can’t tell, I’m HIGHLY satisfied with my Korean skincare routine and I’m obsessed with all these products recommended by the P&L team. And just so we’re clear, this is NOT sponsored content…I’m overly excited (and maybe sound slightly exaggerative although I promise I’m not). I haven’t been this happy with my skin over the last 3 years! If you think the routine is too expensive, adopt one or two products at a time – perfect for testing.

I agree with Alicia Yoon, the mastermind behind Peach & Lily, that if there’s only 3 things you get, let it be the sheet masks, this oil-based cleanser to ignite your double cleansing, and the beloved snail cream!

korean skincare regimenkorean skincare routine review

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