10 step skin care routine from Korea. K-beauty Europe.

10 step skin care routine – Korea

A Korean skincare routine can include 5 steps, or 12, or 15. All depends on your skin’s needs and what you want to achieve with your skin care.

If you are interested in Korean skin care and the 10-step skin care routine, then try some of the following steps with your current skin care products as a start. You don’t need to buy products from Korea to try the 10-step skin care routine. Below, information about all the steps in a Korean skin care routine and in which order to apply products. You don’t need ALL the steps to create a good skin care routine, but use this list as a guideline.
Also read this article on Korean bestsellers and award winning products.

Korean 10-step skin care routine

1. Double cleansing

The double cleansing is essential in Korean skin care. Start with an oil-based facial cleanser that melts away and removes most of the dirt and makeup off your skin. Follow with a water-based foaming facial cleanser that removes the last residues of dirt. In this step you can also use a cleansing device such as Clarisonic or Foreo Luna.

2. Exfoliator / exfoliating

Exfoliate your skin about 1-3 times a week using a classic facial scrub, a facial peeling or an acid peel. It is important to exfoliate and deeply cleanse the skin to remove all the dead skin cells on the surface.

3. Toner

A Korean toner is not quite the same as your regular toner in Europe. A Korean toner is used to restore the PH balance of the skin after cleansing and preparing the skin for the skin care products followed. A Korean toner rarely contains large amounts of alcohol and is often patted into the skin using your hands.

4. Essence

An essence is somewhere in between a toner and a serum. Almost like a light serum and more nourishing than a toner. The essence is patted in to the skin using your hands. Some essences are thin like water, some are gel like and some looks like a regular serum. Use the thinnest essence first, and the thickest last.

5. Treatments, serums and ampoules

Serums and ampouls are basically concentrated skin care often targeting different skin concerns. 2-3 drops is usually enough and different serums and ampouls can be layered on top of each other. An ampoule is an even more concentrated serum. Step 5 also includes special treatments like pore minimizers or vitamin C serums, and certain AHA and BHA products. The order of the products in step 5 should be:
1 Treatment
3 ampoule / serum

6. Sheet mask

Korea is known for their sheet masks available in huge quantities of different variations, scents and ingredients targeting every skin type and skin concern. Sheet masks are used about 2-3 times / week for about 10-20 minutes. This step also includes facial oils like argan or jojoba oil. Step 6 also includes the emulsion, a lighter type of moisturizer used in the night routine.

7. Eye Cream

Korean eye creams works just the same as in Europe. Eye creams are specifically formulated for the delicate and sensitive skin in the eye area. An eye cream is used daily.

8. Day cream, night cream and lotions

Continue with a moisturizer suitable for your skin type. It could be any hydrating face cream, day cream or night cream depending on the time of the day. This step also includes the lotion which is a lighter type of moisturizer and can be used alone during the day.

9. Sleep pack / sleeping mask

A sleeping mask, or a sleep pack is typical in Korea, and used ones or more every week to maximize and “lock in” all creams and serums applied for the night. A sleeping mask is absorbed into the skin as a protective layer. Wash your face as usual in the morning.

10. Sunscreen SPF

In Korea, sunscreen or SPF is a must during daytime, even if it´s a cloudy day or you are staying inside. SPF protects the skin from harmful sun rays causing premature aging. SPF is therefore always always  included in a Korean skin care routine. Apply in the morning as the last step in your morning routine.


If you are unsure of the order in which to apply skin care products, a good rule is to always apply thinnest to thickest. Find out more about the best korean products in this article: award winners and bestellers.