Korean Skin Care Routine Breakdown

Hi All!

I can’t tell you how much the Korean skin care routine has helped my skin.  I recently got on medicine for acne and was on some harsh chemical exfoliants. It really ripped up my skin and during the winter I suffered from really dry skin. I gave the Korean skin care routine a go on a whim and it really transformed my skin.  It is now hydrated and makes me feel great.

The Korean skincare routine is finally taking hold in the USA, so I’d like to share what each step does!  Feel free to optimize to your specific skincare needs! Check out my Korean Beauty Favorites post for more on my loves and lusts! A general rule of thumb when designing your own Korean Skin Care routine is to remember that the process in moisturizing goes from thinnest consistency to thickest! Remember that and you will be set!


  1. Makeup Removal: This step is necessary after a long day of wearing makeup! I recommend an oil based makeup remover wipe it really melts off the eye makeup. I recommend giving the Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissue 2 Pack a try they are my favorite!
  2. Oil Cleansing: Believe it or not, makeup removing wipes simply aren’t enough to cleanse the face properly! Use an oil based cleanser on dry skin and rub in circular motions to disrupt the makeup and break it up then wash it off with washcloth or under the faucet. I like using Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Oil with Coconut and Argan Oils because it is sold at your local stores in the US plus it is for both Normal and Dry Skin!
  3. Water Based Cleansing: That’s right, we still aren’t done cleansing!!! This technique is referred to as double cleansing and this removes any oil residue from the previous cleanse along with any other stubborn stuff still left on the skin! For a gentle cleanser I recommend The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam it is creamy and great for sensitive skin.
  4. Exfoliate: Don’t do this step too often, twice a month is plenty! Check out scrubs by Skin Food, their Black Sugar Wash off Mask really treat the skin to a mask and scrub all in one! I plan on trying the Skinfood Black Sugar Strawberry Mask because I have tried the regular one and loved it!
  5. Tone: Unlike in the US, Korean version of toners are much less harsh on the skin and don’t dry the skin out. In fact it is typically applied with the hands in a patting motion to absorb it into the skin, rather than swiping the US alcohol based version with a cotton pad. The Korean toners are designed to prep the skin for absorbing all of the moisturizing steps to come.  No sense in putting all of the moisture on the skin if it isn’t ready to absorb it! Big Sellers include Skinfood Peach Sake Toner and Son & Park Beauty Water
  6. Essence: This is the step that really transforms your skin over time.  The center of the Korean skin care routine, the essence is both a toner and serum hybrid that hydrates skin and effects the skin at a cellular level, repairing and creating new skin cells. Apply with hands and pat into the  skin. I use Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence because it is for sensitive skin and makes my skin feel tight.
  7. Serum & Ampoules: Also tapped into the skin, these products can cover specific issues for your skin in addition to hydration. They can help with:
    • Dull skin
    • Pores
    • Pigmentation
    • Wrinkles
    • Acne prone skin
  8. Sheet Mask: These are my favorite part of the routine! These can be done anywhere from twice a week to once a month depending on the season and dryness of your skin. My skin tends to be dry, especially in the winter months so I usually try to do one once a week or once every two weeks.
    • They come in a variety of styles and materials. The more inexpensive ones are usually made of a paper soaked in a variety of skin boosting ingredients.
    • Higher end ones are made of hydrogel and are gelatinous in nature and adhere much better to the skin. Some are even made of lace!
    • There are so many of these out there and not just for the face either! There are ones for certain areas like the lips, eyes, hands, and nails! Here is a good place to start!
    • Keep them on for about 15-30 minutes or if you are like me as long as you can stand to reap the benefits!
  9. Eye Cream: Since the eye area is the most sensitive and delicate, extra hydration is needed. Using the ring finger to tap the product around the eye can give some much needed gentle hydration. Check out these eye creams!
  10. Moisturize: Apply a thicker moisturizer at night to absorb into the skin! Pick one that will suit your skincare needs, here is a good place to start!
  11. Sleeping Pack: A sleeping pack is basically a thick jelly like moisturizer that you slather on the skin before going to bed where it will absorb all night. In the morning you rinse it off and then begin your morning routine. One of my favorites is the Etude House Bubble Tea Sleeping Pack. Not only is the packaging adorable, it smells great and has different flavors for different skin concerns. I recommend using this once a week or if you notice dry patches of skin!


  1. Water Based Cleansing: To wash off the previous nights sleeping pack or to start off the routine, use a water based cleanser to cleanse and prep the face!  In addition to The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam I mentioned earlier, I also love the Etude House Baking Powder Pore Cleansing Foam because it gently exfoliates my dry skin and makes my skin feel super clean!
  2. Tone: Again, bust out that toner and apply to your face to prep the skin for hydration! Here are some more toners to try!
  3. Essence: As we talked about above, the essence is an essential part that gets patted into the skin. Check out more essences here.
  4. Serum & Ampoules: As I mentioned above, these can address certain concerns. Serums are more concentrated versions of the essence. Here are some to check out!
  5. Moisturize: Pick a lighter moisturizer for during the day! Find one that is best for your skin type! Take a look here for a good place to start!
  6. Sunblock: Before applying your makeup, apply a sunscreen, or use a foundation that has a sunscreen in it! Here are some primers, sunblocks, and foundations with SPF!

Let me know in the comments your fave product (because I want to try it!!!) or if you have tried the Korean Skincare routine before and your thoughts!

2 thoughts on “Korean Skin Care Routine Breakdown

  1. Pingback: 10 Sheet Mask Packs Under $30 | Cupcake's Makeup Blog

  2. Pingback: Korean Skincare: What is a Sleeping Pack? | Cupcake's Makeup Blog

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