You might have heard of the Korean 10-step (or even 11 or 12-step) skin care routine. If you haven’t, you might be thinking, “ten steps sound incredibly overwhelming!” The truth is, while 10+ steps certainly sounds over the top in comparison with standard Western skincare routines which consist of three to four steps, not all ten steps are to be followed twice daily. You might even find that some products you will use only weekly or monthly.
The key to the 10-step routine is customizing it to your specific skin concerns; this means that what’s working for your best friend might be completely different for you. We’ve outlined a guideline to help you understand the steps so you can customize your own skincare routine. The rule of thumb here is to apply your skincare products from thinnest to thickest consistency.
1. + 2. Double
Double cleansing is a two-step cleansing process in which the first cleanser used is an oil-based cleanser, and the second used is a water-based cleanser
Because oil attracts oil, oil-based cleansers help draw out and dissolve makeup, sunscreen, and excess sebum. Don’t be alarmed by the word oil—oil cleansers are great for all skin types including (and especially!) oily and acne-prone skin. Apply oil evenly on dry face using gentle, circular motions. Add a little bit of lukewarm water to emulsify it. Continue to massage gently in circular motions, and rinse away.
A water-based cleanser, such as a gel or foam cleanser, removes any remaining residue that your oil cleanser may have left behind. It’s important to use a cleanser with a proper pH so that you aren’t stripping your skin of its essential oils and natural moisture. A good cleanser should never leave your skin feeling tight or dry!
1-3 X / WEEK
Slough off those dead skin cells that are clogging your pores! Regular exfoliation not only improves your skin’s texture and promotes skin turnover, but also helps your skin better absorb products. Use a gentle mechanical exfoliator like a sugar scrub, or a chemical exfoliator like an AHA or BHA.
The most underestimated step! Use after cleansing (preferably within 30 seconds) to reset your pH balance and restore moisture to your skin. Toners sweep away any residues your cleanser may have missed while also prepping your skin to effectively absorb the products you apply after.
Thicker than a toner, but more fluid than a serum, essences moisturize your skin and help your skin better absorb the serums or ampoules that follow after. Think of your essence as the ‘oomph!’ step in achieving that ooey dewy glow. Lightly pat in essence with your hands to help absorption.
6. Serums & Ampoules
Serums and ampoules are treatment products that contain high concentration of active ingredients to target specific skin concerns. While ampoules are usually denser in comparison to serums, these two terms are often used interchangeably. Here is where all the mixing fun comes along—you can customize your serum step by using one or more products to target different skin concerns. Just remember, the rule of thumb is to apply products from thinnest to thickest consistency. Lightly pat in your serum or ampoules with your hands to help absorption.
7. Eye Cream
The most delicate part of your face is the skin around your eyes. Keeping your eyes moisturized is the secret to looking youthful. Eye creams are formulated with concentrated ingredients that are nourishing and gentle for your delicate skin. Eye creams can be targeted to hydrate, brighten or de-puff. Using your pinkie or ring finger, gently tap in your eye cream to avoid wrinkles and help absorption.
Hydration, hydration, hydration! Hydrated skin is the route to achieving that ooey dewy glow. Whether it’s an emulsion, lotion, gel, cream, or oil, there is a moisturizer that works for your skin. Applying moisturizer not only keeps you hydrated, but also seals in all the prior products you’ve applied.
Often disregarded (especially during those cloudy winter days), sunscreen is the most important step in your routine. Regularly applying a nickel-size amount of sunscreen will help prevent UV rays from damaging your natural collagen and elastin, and significantly delay the effects of pre-mature aging. Unless you’re using a nickel-size amount of SPF foundation (which is a lot, and we wouldn’t recommend it!), makeup products with SPF should not replace but be used in conjunction with a regular sunscreen.
10. Extra care
SHEET MASKS: 1-3 X / WEEK
Does your skin feel dehydrated, dull, or just needs a quick pick-me-up? These single-use masks are drenched in essence to provide your skin with maximum hydration and nourishment for that ooey dewy glow. Apply a sheet mask after cleansing and toning, and relax for 15-20 minutes. Once you’ve removed your sheet mask, pat in the essence to help absorption and follow with a serum (optional) and moisturizer.
SLEEPING PACK: PM 1-3 X / WEEK
Sleeping packs (or sleeping masks) are overnight treatments that, depending on your skin needs, can be used as a replacement or after your regular moisturizer. These masks offer a boost of hydration, letting you wake up with brighter, plumper skin. Worried about sleeping still with a layer of goop on your face? Don’t fret—sleeping packs usually have a gel-like consistency that absorbs right into your skin.
WASH OFF MASKS: 1-3 X / WEEK
These not so foreign masks come in a range of targeted treatments from moisturizing, pore cleansing, exfoliating, and brightening masks. Apply and rinse according to instructions, and follow with the rest of your routine.