The 10-Step Korean Beauty Regimen

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One thing I noticed while in Seoul is the beautiful complexion Korean women have. Their skin is like porcelain: clear, flawless and milky. Skincare is a big deal in Korea and they take every precaution to protect themselves from the sun with hats, gloves, long sleeves and an assortment of beauty products. I must admit, I had skin-envy while I was overseas.

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Beauty stores, one after another, line the streets. There are so many options (with stores, I’m not even talking about the products yet), it is a bit overwhelming.
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On this trip I was determined to stock up on beauty items that would hydrate, lift, firm, brighten, whiten and de-wrinkle my skin. The Korean skincare regimen is an 8 to 10 step process and it is believed that you should spend as much time removing your make-up as you do applying it. As for taking care of your skin, in addition to the obvious one like avoiding the sun, you must cleanse, double cleanse, exfoliate, use toner and a mask, then apply essence, serum, moisturizer, night and eye creams. Sounds easy, right?
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I’ll explain a bit further…

Step 1: Cleanse. By the end of the day, my face feels like an oil slick and I can’t wait to wash my face. I actually start by removing all make-up with a face towelette (Yes to Cucumbers). These are so easy to use and come pre-moisturized.

Step 2: Remove Eye Make-up. I wear waterproof mascara, which stays put nicely during the day, but is stubborn to remove. I have tried many different eye make-up removers and the two that I think work best are: Make-up Forever Sens’Eyes and Pond’s Cold Cream (yes, the same stuff your mom and grandma probably have on their nightstand).

Step 3: Cleanse again. It’s likely I didn’t wipe off every ounce of make-up with the face towelette, so I wash my face again with a cleansing oil (Face Shop Rice Water Cleansing Oil). About 6 months ago, I actually switched from using lotions to face oils for moisturizing and cleansing. I can’t tell you how much it’s made a difference in my complexion and I stopped breaking out!!! Since I have oily/combination skin, it always seemed counterintuitive to put more oil on my skin. However, I think the natural cleansing and healing properties in Aragan oil actually helped balance and eliminate the “bad” oils I was producing which caused the breakouts.

Step 4: Exfoliate. Think of this step as a deep cleaning, which needs to be done only once or twice a week. After I exfoliate, my skin instantly looks brighter and smooth. I alternate between using a mask (Skin Food Black Sugar Maskhighly recommend!) and my Clarisonic with a little cleanser.

Step 5: Apply Toner. Toner is great for removing the last bits of residue from my face. I apply a few drops to a cotton pad and run it over my face and around my nose. Many toners contain alcohol, which can dry skin out so it is important to find one that is either water or cream based (TONYMOLY Floria Nutra-Energy Toner).
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Step 6: Apply Essence. Unsure of what this is? I was too at first. Think of this as vitamins for your skin, which you can spray onto your face then tap into your skin with clean fingertips for a “dewy” look (Etude House Collagen Moistful Essence)

Step 7: Paper face mask. If you’ve watched a Korean drama, then you’re familiar with these paper masks. These face masks are soaked in concentrated ingredients like blueberry, pomegranate, collagen, avocado which are meant to address specific skincare concerns and combat things like anti-aging, dehydration and skin dullness. The masks are only meant to be applied 2-3x per week, but some women use them daily.

Step 8: Moisturize. Despite using essence and a face mask, it’s still important to apply a cream to seal in all the moisture (TONYMOLY Nutra-Energy Emulsion).

Step 9: Apply Eye Cream. A good eye cream is critical, especially one with retinol to combat fine lines, dark circles and dehydration that appear around the eye area (Restorsea Revitalizing Eye Cream). I also apply an eye mask for extra hydration 2x a week (TONYMOLY Intense Care Snail Hydro Gel Eye Mask).

Step 10: Vitamins. While applying topical creams and moisturizers can help improve the appearance of your skin, it is also very important to have a healthy, balanced diet. I take Omega 3/Fish Oil capsules every day for skin, hair and heart health.

Since I’ve introduced these products and steps into my nightly skincare routine, my skin looks brighter, feels smooth and is closer to the porcelain complexion of the Korean women I envy. This daily routine does take longer and there are certainly nights when I want to skip steps 3 through 10, but I have to remind myself, “No pain, no gain!”

Is your nightly regimen as thorough (or obsessive) as what I’ve described? Which products do you recommend?