BEAUTY | I Tried (and Love) the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

December 5, 2016

I Tried (and Love) the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

If you ask me what’s the one thing I wish I had more of these days, #1 is sleep. I read somewhere recently that sleep is like oxygen: you don’t realize how much you need until you don’t have it. My new #LifeWithMayaLauren means I’m up every two-and-a-half hours at night soothing, changing diapers, and nursing. I don’t really know what sleep is anymore.

If you ask me what’s another thing I wish I had more of these days, I’d have to say time. There is no time. When I do end up having an extra hour, I spend 15 minutes figuring out how to spend it. Should I wash my hair? Or do the dishes? No, maybe I’ll get this laundry done. Then again, this email won’t check itself. Oh, wait…maybe I should sleep?

I Tried (and Love) the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

So where do I find the time to maintain a 10-step skincare routine? I make time. Because the 10-step Korean skincare routine is probably the most amazing thing I’ve done for myself and my skin, and I need to keep doing it. Because remember, I don’t get any sleep, and the only thing worse than not getting any sleep is looking like I don’t get any sleep.

I do a version of this routine at least four times a week to keep my skin hydrated and supple as the weather gets colder, and healthy-looking even when I’m running on just a few hours of sleep. And I don’t exfoliate or use a sheet mask every single week…so most nights I’m doing about 6 steps or so, which cuts down on time. But even 6 steps get the job done. My skin is softer, brighter, more supple and more hydrated than I ever remember!


My 10-Step Korean Beauty Routine

Step 1: Remove Makeup

When I’m feeling fancy, my go-to makeup remover is the one by Eve Lom. It’s the best-feeling thing you’ll put on your face, I promise. But I don’t usually have the time for fancy these days, so instead I’ve been using Neutrogena’s Ultra Light Cleansing Oil to take my makeup off before I wash my face. It does a really good job, and it’s inexpensive. You can also use coconut oil for this step!

Step 2: Cleanse

A good cleanser gets your skin clean without feeling like you just removed the first layer of your skin in the process. I used to use Cetaphil Antibacterial Bar Cleanser for years. Then I tried a sample Fresh Soy Face Cleanser and fell in love with it. But just a few weeks ago, my mother-in-low introduced me to another cleanser, Acure Organics Facial Cleansing Gel. I bought two tubes after I tried it. It’s so good. It’s totally replaced my Fresh cleanser, and I’m slowly but surely falling in love with the entire brand.  I use my Foreo LUNA 2 to gently remove dirt and oil from my pores, and my skin feels amazingly clean and refreshed as a result, and with ZERO irritation (unlike using a face brush).

I Tried (and Love) the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

Step 3: Exfoliate

I use a few different exfoliators. When I want to indulge and feel instant results, my go-to is Tatcha’s Polished Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder. I don’t know how a powder gets my face feeling so smooth and soft, but it does. I also like the Acure Organics Pore Minimizing Facial Scrub, and once a week I’ll use Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Original Formula Alpha Beta Peel (I make sure to use an SPF the next day and avoid direct sunlight).

Step 4: Tone and Refresh

I use a toner and a “refresher” on my skin every single day. Toner removes any dirt my cleanser didn’t pick up and tightens my pores. I used to use regular ol’ witch hazel to tone my skin. I recently started using KORRES Pomegranate Toner, which is a natural astringent and has moisture-boosting properties (sodium hyaluronate is one of the ingredients). After toning I “refresh” my face with Caudalie Grape Water; it instantly cools and soothes my face, which can feel a little sensitive after toning.

Step 5: Soak Up an Essence

I think the secret to healthy skin is moisture. First and foremost, you have to drink enough water, especially in the winter (the air is drier, and the heat from your office radiator isn’t helping either). But then infusing our skin with moisture is also key, and essences do just that. They also do a lot more. Read this from Into The Gloss

The easiest way to define essence is first to figure out what it is not. This is not toner, but you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that it is. They’ve got a similar slip to them. But unlike your drugstore bottle of witch hazel, essences by and large come in beautiful (often glass) bottles that look excellent on your countertop. They are also not meant for cleaning. With higher doses of active ingredients, essence is meant to deliver those deep into the skin after you’ve gone through the process of cleansing (two or three times, if you’re thorough). It’s got your hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and other natural extracts for an immediately hydrated and comforted feel, according to Janet Pardo, senior vice president of product development at Clinique, who helped create Clinique’s Even Better Essence Lotion. It also balances pH once you’ve stripped the skin of oils.

I went back and forth about whether to invest in a pricier essence, like the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, but since essences are still new to me, I decided to ease my way into using them. The essence I use is May Coop Raw Sauce, which relies on teeny tiny molecules of tree sap to get moisture deep into skin and prepare it for other moisturizers. I’m on my second bottle of Raw Sauce, and I admit that putting on my essence is my favorite part of my beauty routine; the formula is super silky, and my skin feels so plump and nice after using it.

I Tried (and Love) the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

Step 6: Wear a Sheet Mask

This is one of the 10 steps that I frequently skip, mostly because I like to get through my routine fairly quickly so that I can do other things (like sleep). I have some Tony Moly masks that I picked up at Urban Outfitters, but I rarely get the chance to use them (Sephora also has a line of sheet masks you may want to try). Instead of wearing a sheet mask, I wear a creamy mask to bed overnight. I alternate between Skin Inc’s Pur Deepsea Hydrating Mask and my Fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask. Or in the mornings, I love using the Caudalie Instant Detox Mask. I can’t even describe how it makes my skin feel. It’s one of my holy grail products!

Step 7: Use a Serum

My serum is the anti-aging bridge between all the previous steps in this routine, and my moisturizer. I’ve been using Lancome’s Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Serum for a while, and I still really like using it. It makes my face feel brighter and firmer, and it’s the perfect base for my moisturizer.

Step 8: Tap On an Eye Cream

I have not found an eye cream that I really like. I don’t have dry eyes, so overly moisturizing eye creams make my eyes puffy, which is not the look I’m going for. Thanks to refinery29, I feel like I have a few options to choose from; I’m “eyeing” (sorry…I had to) Kiehl’s Eye Alert and Tammy Fender’s Awakening Eye Gel. For anti-aging, Drunk Elephant’s Shaba Complex Eye Serum looks promising too.

I Tried (and Love) the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

Step 9: Moisturize

For years the only moisturizer I used on my face was lotion. Yikes. Things are much better now. I love using La Mer Moisturizing Creme in the winter, when it’s snowing and the wind is bitter cold. But for most days, a lighter moisturizer (I’m using Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream) works just fine. At night I love Josie Maran 100% Argan Oil as a moisturizer after my serum. It locks in all the moisture from the previous steps, and I wake up with skin so nice, I could just walk out the door without doing anything to my face.

Step 10: Sleep On It

The last step in the Korean skincare routine is the night cream. I don’t wear one. I find that sleeping in moisturizer or wearing an overnight mask is enough; but if I was going to wear a night cream (and after writing this post…I’ll probably try something), it would be something with lots of natural ingredients, like the Kale + Spinach + Hyaluronic Acid Age Prevention Cream by Youth To The People, or the Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm by Farmacy.


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If the 10-step Korean skincare routine looks like a lot, that’s because it is! It took me a little while to get used to using so many products (and remembering how to use them in the right order), but now it’s second nature, and I get through my routine pretty quickly. Between caring for an infant, working full-time, and building this brand in my “spare time,” I don’t really have a lot of opportunities to treat myself, so I enjoy spending a little extra time each day on my skin. I think of my beauty routine as a daily facial, and I think it’s important to take care of myself whenever I can.

What about you: is the 10-step Korean skincare routine seem like too much, or are you intrigued? Do you already follow this routine? If so, what products do you swear by? Share in the comments!





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  • Just bought the little book of skin care by charlotte cho a couple weeks ago, and i finished it in about two days. I’ve definitely upped my skincare game as a result. I have yet to jump on the essence bandwagon though. Even without it, my skin has drastically improved.

  • Keisha O.

    I started doing a version of the Korean skincare routine a few months ago and I love it! I do oil cleansing (occasionally now, but everyday in the summer), foam cleansing, toner, an all-in-one ampoule, and a vitamin c serum and whitehead liquid thing that’s also a chemical exfoliant twice a week each. I also use sheet masks when I remember. I’ve never had bad skin at all but especially in the summer my skin is doing great!

    Also! Instead of getting the expensive SK-II essence, the missha time revolution essence has been famous for being a cheaper dupe of the SK-II. I’ve never tried it but people love it!

  • Ramona Flowers

    Wow Korean products! I love these things! I think I could mix my Solvaderm with it, It would be like “The East meets the West” I cant wait to buy some of this, I hope it is available in walmart

  • Olivia Stone

    Wow Korean products! I love these things! I think I could mix my
    Solvaderm with it, It would be like “The East meets the West” I cant
    wait to buy some of this, I hope it is available in walmart