Korean Skincare 101

Korean skincare has been all the rage in the beauty world for a few years now, ever since BB Creams came en vogue and changed the game for moisturizer and makeup. BB Creams are just the most recent in a long line of innovative products to come out of South Korea. In fact, Marie Claire dubbed South Korea the “new France” because of its cutting-edge skincare research, high-quality ingredients and extremely effective products.

One of the reasons Korean skincare is so highly regarded is because of its focus on gentle, natural ingredients. This quality makes Korean skincare popular with not only the beauty-conscious community, but also the the health-conscious community. Natural beauty lovers have flocked to Korean skincare, making it one of the biggest trends in holistic living. If you’re interested in incorporating Korean skincare products into your beauty routine, here’s what you need to know:

Naturally Inspired Ingredients

Korean skincare is known for its proud use of very natural ingredients, but it also embraces science. This is why I use the term “naturally inspired.” Let’s take, for example, the perfectly natural yet somewhat terrifying ingredient snake venom. Korean skincare promotes the use of syn-ake, which is a synthetic snake venom meant to paralyze the muscles around the eyes, much like a topical, more mild version of Botox.

“Korean beauty products utilize the most effective Western ingredients—and so much more,” says Korean beauty source Peach + Lily. “With an impressively large repertoire that includes ground-breaking ingredients such as snail mucin and bee venom, their compellingly fresh formulations can deliver results you could never achieve before.”

This emphasis on natural ingredients, along with the marriage of science and nature, sets Korean skincare apart.

“Korean beauty heritage is steeped in natural ingredients passed down from generation to generation,” Peach + Lily continues. “This tradition continues today with formulations that tend to shun harsh chemicals and draw from the Earth instead.”

A 10-Step Routine Rooted in Culture

Much like the French view eating a meal as a long cultural tradition meant to be savored, so do Koreans view their beauty routines, according to beauty expert Charlotte Cho from Into the Gloss.

“Thorough skincare is really just a part of Korean culture—it’s completely ingrained in your life since early childhood,” she writes.

So what does this intense yet lovingly ritualized tradition entail? Roughly 10 steps, morning and night. Cho explains that the steps of a Korean skincare routine boil down to these 10 steps:

  • Makeup Remover: Even before cleansing the skin, Korean beauty fanatics remove all their makeup. This is generally done with an oil-based product and rarely involves the use of water.
  • Cleanse: Next up is cleansing. A gentle, non-abrasive cleanser applied with a light touch clears the skin of dirt and grime.
  • Exfoliate: Gentle exfoliation is the name of the game. “When it comes to facial exfoliation, Korean women often believe less is more,” Cho writes. She advises only completing this step roughly twice a month.
  • Tone: You know the drill with toner. A good toner balances your skin’s PH, allowing it to absorb the rest of your beauty products with greater efficiency.
  • Essence: Essences are the most important step in any skincare routine according to Korean beauty philosophy. Similar to serums in Western culture, essences treat your skin’s most pressing problem, whether that’s dullness (with vitamin C), aging (with AHA or other cell turnover-encouraging ingredients) or acne (with tea tree oil and other balancing oils).
  • Ampoule: An ampoule is a super-concentrated product used to treat problems when crises arise, such as when you have a huge breakout or your skin is in intense need of moisture.
  • Sheet mask: Also applied only once in awhile, sheet masks are used to target problems related to your particular skin type.
  • Eye Cream: This is another familiar ingredient for those of us in the West. A good eye cream is seen as an important part of a Korean skincare routine.
  • Moisturizer: This one’s also a no-brainer, as we’re already accustomed to moisturizing at night.
  • Night Cream: At night time, Korean people add even more moisture to the skin.

The Importance of Skin Type

As you can tell from the 10-step process, Korean skincare focuses on intensely treating whatever problems ail you, from acne to wrinkles.

This means that to really delve into this beauty routine, you’re going to need to identify your skin type as well as your skin problems. Once you know that information, you can proceed to research high-quality, natural-inspired ingredients to treat your personal skin type and keep your skin looking great.


mac C
mac C2 years ago

I don't think I could ever spend so much time on skin care, but interesting to know about. I know some of the steps are done only once in awhile, but my routine is fast and I think effective for me. I really enjoyed your article on "5 healthy things you should do every night for glowing skin". Thanks for both articles.

Philippa P
Philippa Powers2 years ago


Laura A.
Laura A2 years ago

We as humans are naturally attracted to beauty. It is in fact engrained in our DNA. A person that possesses beauty is a sign of a healthy genetic structure which aids in selecting a life partner that will result in a healthier genetic mixture. Well sorry about the excessive science and stuff, for the more laid back reader I say that our culture is structured in such a way that beauty and physical attractiveness are rated very highly and people love to see and admire as what they perceive, beautiful people. This is a list in my opinion of the top 10 most beautiful women in the world at this moment. Well, each and every one of you has their own opinions and likings, but well you’re reading this for a reason weather to get my opinion or just to admire the beauty you get to see. I hope you enjoy this small piece I have to offer you.

Now we are off to a journey to see and find out a little about what in my option are 10 most beautiful women in the world.
most beautiful women

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Nina S.
Nina S2 years ago


Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago


Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

The true beauty lies in the heart... Work on that instead

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Debbi -.
Debbi -2 years ago

i can't imagine spending that much time treating my face. What a laborious routine. One thing for dieter to think about: if you lose weight to rapidly, your skin will sag, and you're likely to get more lines and wrinkles on your face. Lose the weight slowly so the elasticity in your skin won't droop so badly.

Flagged Tina H., many times this evening.