By Kathleen Braine
Oct 23, 2018 @ 10:45 am
Copyright 2018 BONNINSTUDIO/Stocksy

Think your cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize routine is extensive? Think again. Korean skincare routines are notoriously lengthy, averaging in at about 10-steps a night, but for good reason. It follows the idea that investing time in your skin with a lineup of cleansing, hydrating, rejuvenating, and protective products will yield better skin health.

But listen, I get it, there is a ton of information about your own Korean skincare routine out there, and figuring out what 10+ product to add to it is understandably confusing. So, I’ve simplified the process for you with a breakdown on my own personal Korean skincare routine. Read on for my step-by-step and more on my all-time favorite products. 

Step One: Cleanser

Seems obvious, but I always wash my face before I apply any makeup or products. Most Korean skincare routines recommend that you cleanse and then re-cleanse (in other words, double cleanse) when you're removing makeup, so start with an oil cleanser to remove makeup like Shu Uemura's Whiteefficient Clear Brightening Gel Cleansing Oil, and follow with a gentle cream cleanser that doesn't strip your face of any moisture, like Clinique's Wash Away Gel Cleanser. If you're acne prone you might also want to use a cleanser with acne-fighting ingredients, like Peter Thomas Roth's Beta Hydroxy Acid 2% Acne Wash.

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Step Two: Exfoliator

Eliminate dull or rough skin by exfoliating gently post cleansing, but look for scrubs or cleansers that don't injure the skin (believe me, I love sugar scrubs because I want to eat them directly from the jar, but they're usually too harsh for daily use). Try Amarte Daily ExfoliPowder, or Philosophy's Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash if you're prone to acne.

Step Three: Toner

Toners may seem just like an extra step in the cleansing process, but they actually offer tons of benefits in addition to taking any extra dirt of of your mug. Toners can act as humectants, fight acne, and restore the balance of your skin post cleansing. Try Fresh's Black Tea Age Delay Instant Infusion Toner.

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Step Four: Essence

I'll admit, when I first tried an essence I was very much in the "why is this at all useful" camp. However, after only a few months using SK-II's Facial Treatment Essence, I'm a believer. Essences essentially prepare your skin for moisturizer, but they also are jam-packed with moisturizing and brightening ingredients to basically make your skin look as good as it possibly can. Try essences from SK-II or Tata Harper if you don't believe me.

Step Five: Serum

According to dermatologist and president of Amarte Skincare, Dr. Craig Kraffert, "serums deliver optimal levels of hydration directly into the skin...and when applied on just cleaned skin, the serum will penetrate more deeply." I love Amarte Aqua Veil Hydrator for moisture, and DERMAdoctor's Kakadu C Serum for firming and anti-aging.

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Step Six: Eye Cream or Serum

It's counter-intuitive, but you don't just have to apply eye cream at night. Try lighter serums or creams like Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue or Bioxidea Outline Saver Eye and Lip AntiWrinkle Serum.

Step Seven: Face Mask

You don't need to use a face mask every single day, but adding one to your skin care routine 1-2 times week can give your skin the mini-boost it needs. Try face masks from Dr. Jart or SkinCeuticals.

Step Eight: Night Cream

Conventional wisdom asserts that night cream is too rich for daytime use, hence the "night" descriptor in the title. However, with your personal skin care routine, feel free to throw all arbitrary distinctions right out the window. I love using my CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion in PM during the day because it's rich and doesn't contain any skin-irritating ingredients.

Step Nine: Moisturizer

If you haven't already applied a night cream, finish your skin care ritual with a hydrating and effective daily moisturizer. I've already admitted that I'm obsessed with Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, but if you're not planning on applying makeup with SPF you should look for a moisturizer with sun-protection Bioelements Sun Diffusing Protector.