Koreans are known for their glowing skin, which is achieved through a unique regimen. It’s a bit more extensive than what you’re probably used to, which can seem daunting at first. But we’re here to break it down for you, helping you understand the steps so you can customize them to fit your needs. It’s all about achieving healthy radiance from within, and while it may take a little longer, the lasting results are worth it in the long run.
Step #1: Cleansers
Korean women typically use two cleansers, starting with an oil-based cleanser like Aromatica Natural Coconut Cleansing Oil to remove oil-based makeup, SPF and other impurities (since water repels oil). This allows for effortless cleansing rather than tugging at your skin to remove that last bit of mascara. Following with a gentle, sulfate-free water-based cleanser like Peach & Lily Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser removes any remaining residue and leaves skin hydrated. The key is to find a non-stripping, low pH formula that won’t strip or dry out your skin.
Step #2: Toners
Korean toners differ from other toners because they’re meant to hydrate, moisturize, and balance your skin’s pH level after cleansing. No alcohol-based products or astringents here! This reflects the Korean beauty heritage, which is steeped in natural ingredients passed down from generation to generation. This tradition continues today with formulations that tend to shun harsh chemicals and draw from the Earth instead. We recommend Be The Skin Botanical Nutrition Power Tonerand the Peach & Lily The Good Acids Pore Toner.
Step #3: Essences
Though formulated with varying viscosities, essences tend to be a bit more fluid and less concentrated than serums. Their main purpose is to moisturize the skin and make the most of the serums that follow. Think of your skin as a sponge: once it’s plumped up with water, everything else absorbs more easily. Try Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence and The Pure Lotus Essence with Lotus Leaf.
Step #4: Serums & Ampoules
These products are formulated with active ingredients that target specific needs by skin type, such as fine lines, loss of firmness, hyperpigmentation and dehydration. You can customize your regimen here, adding or removing products as you see fit. You can use them in any order, but generally thicker, more viscous products go on later. Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum makes skin look poreless, luminous and translucent, Miwali Hyalu Serum Veil binds moisture to skin with hyaluronic acid, and Shangpree Marine Jewel Capsule protects skin from the damaging effects of harmful UV rays and fights the formation of wrinkles.
Photos provided by Shangpree brand study for those using the Marine Jewel Capsules
Step #5 & Step #6: Moisturizers
A Korean moisturizer designed for your skin type creates a barrier that will lock in all the beneficial ingredients you’ve just applied, instead of letting them evaporate out of your skin (try Troxederm Repair Moisture Cream if you have sensitive skin and Mizon All-in-One Snail Repair Cream if anti-aging is your focus).
Don’t forget about your eye area! The skin around your eyes is thinner and more easily dehydrated, so it should be treated with a cream specifically formulated to protect, nourish, brighten or de-puff. We love Shangpree S-Energy Repair Eye Cream and Eco Your Skin Volufiline15 Eye Essence.
Step #7: Sunscreens
Sunscreen is huge in Korea, and rightly so. Every morning, finish off your skincare regimen with either a dedicated sunscreen or a BB cream or cushion compact that includes SPF. We recommend Village 11 Factory Daily Mild Sun Cream Pair. This SPF feels completely weightless and airy, leaving zero white cast behind no matter your skin type. Finally, an SPF you can look forward to using bare-faced or under makeup with zero pilling.
The next steps are optional and don’t have to be part of your daily routine, but can be done a few times a week or whenever you need an extra skincare boost.
Step #8: Exfoliators
Use a gentle, non-irritating exfoliator like Be The Skin Non-Stimulus Face Polisher2-3 times per week to promote cell turnover, unclog pores, allow for better product absorption and keep skin looking youthful. Koreans often use gommage peels that allow dead skin to simply roll off with a mix of botanical and fruit extracts.
Step #9: Sheet Masks
Single-use sheet masks are formulated with the same active ingredients as serums, but are more of an “a la carte” version that you can use as necessary. A good arsenal of sheet masks enables you to customize your routine depending on how your skin is feeling. Peach & Lily Original Glow Sheet Mask lives up to its name and makes you look radiant in seconds. Peach & Lily Chubby Cheeks Lift + Plump Sheet Mask plumps fine lines and wrinkles.
Step #10: Sleeping Masks
Skin regeneration goes into overtime while you sleep, and no-rinse sleeping masks like the Peach & Lily Overnight Star Sleep Maskand Eco Your Skin Lavender Bedside Mask make the most of this process. Packed with active ingredients, they feel like creams and stay on your skin all night. Use them 2-3 times per week in lieu of your regular moisturizer to get your beauty sleep (literally).