Korean skincare has been a hot topic for years, but it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. Why? The Korean focus on active ingredients – without prestigious packaging or spa-approved price tags – gives ordinary women access to a luxurious skin regimen that gets results. And in our current self-care craze, who doesn’t love a good, relaxing facial before bed?
While I can’t dedicate quite enough time to do a full #10step every day, there are aspects of a Korean routine that have captivated even a minimalist like me. I appreciate the focus on healthy skin over heavy makeup, and spending most of your time and beauty budget on taking care of your skin rather than covering it up. So by the time the glass skin trend reached peak Instagram and Twitter saturation, I was 100% on board. For anyone who hasn’t heard, “glass skin” refers to a clear, luminous complexion that looks almost transparent. So how do you get it? Regular, gentle exfoliation and lots and lots of hydrating!
Step 1: The Double-Cleanse
Double cleansing may sound #extra, but it’s the only way to cleanse your skin from makeup, dirt, and oil. An oil-based cleanser breaks down your makeup and excess sebum that’s built up over the course of the day. I like plain organic almond oil, which is super hydrating but doesn’t clog my pores. Work the oil into your skin and give yourself a little face massage. Work in some warm water to rinse the excess oil and makeup off.
The second step of the cleanse is a water-based cleanser or micellar water, which removes any leftover oils from the cleanser, and picks up any dirt and pollutants on your skin. My favorite micellar water is Buly 1803’s Eau Superfine, which I discovered in Paris. It contains rose extracts, so it’s super hydrating and smells heavenly.
Step 2: Exfoliate
Twice a week in the evening, exfoliate with a physical or chemical exfoliant. Be choosy when selecting a physical exfoliant – if the granules are too large, they can tear your skin and cause more problems. My skin is pretty sensitive, so I prefer a chemical exfoliant, like the Glossier Solution or the famous Biologique Recherche Lotion P50. Look for active ingredients like AHA (glycolic acid) and BHA (lactic acid).
Step 3: Toner, Toner, and More Toner
This step made the biggest difference in my routine. I used to think of toners as drying and harsh, but modern toners serve to rebalance the pH of your skin after cleansing and provide the first layer of hydration. My go-to’s are Khiel’s Calendula Toner and Mario Badescu Facial Spray. A full Korean Skincare Routine calls for seven layers of toner, but I’ve found that three is usually sufficient for me. I start by spritzing the toner directly on my face, then pressing it into my skin with a soaked cotton pad, and finish by patting the toner onto my face with my hands and tapping to stimulate circulation. At this point I can already see the glow!
Step 4: Extras
This step is for specific treatments depending on your skin type. Treatments can come in the form of serums, essences, ampoules, etc. My skin is fairly normal, but if I’m feeling extra dull I might use a vitamin C serum from The Ordinary. If I have a pimple forming, I’ll treat it with straight-up tea tree oil.
Step 5: Moisturize!
Seal in all that hydration with a layer of your favorite cream. A glass skin look calls for a moisturizer that is lightweight, but still super hydrating. My skin prefers a gel moisturizer like Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer or Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb. If that isn’t enough hydration – which is sometimes the case in this harsh winter we’re having – I follow it with a few drops of rosehip seed oil, warmed in my palms and patted onto my cheeks.
Step 6: Protect
Especially on days you exfoliate or use vitamin C, sunscreen is essential! There are plenty of modern formulations that still provide plenty of protection without ruining your glow. I reach for Farmacy Green Screen or Bioré Watery Essence.
On the weekends, I like to indulge a little more and treat myself to a face mask. If my skin is craving hydration, I’ll reach for a sheet mask. K-beauty brands like TONYMOLY and Innisfree have options for every skincare need at reasonable prices.
PS – Drink Lots of Water
What you feed your skin is just as important as what you put on it. For a clear complexion, avoid greasy, salty foods, and too much sugar or alcohol. Eat your fruits and veggies, and drink lots of water. Staying hydrated will keep your body and your skin feeling fly!
This routine works well to keep my skin happy, and I am happy with how minimal I’ve been able to make it. What are your skincare hacks? Help a girl out!