Korean Beauty or K-beauty and the 10-step beauty routine

If you are a true beauty lover you probably already know that Asia pretty much rules the skincare industry, with South Korea being amongst the leading countries. It can’t be a coincidence that Marie Claire addresses South Korea (or SOKO) as the new skincare superpower, 12 years ahead of skincare innovation globally.

SOKO really is the hot market for innovation and many Korean products prove this. Remember the BB cream, the hybrid moisturizer and foundation?  Korean women had been using it for years and it wasn’t until 2011 that it was first launched in the US. And let’s not forget the snail as an ingredient for skincare products! This now “it” ingredient has long been a Korean secret! And of course the ever so popular Korean sheet masks and eye patches; the trendiest and easiest remedy for any skin issue!

South Korean women are very much held up as the standard of beauty across Asia. You would hardly ever come across a Korean woman who doesn’t have flawless skin, not to mention the fact that they seem to remain “frozen” in time.  That is because Koreans tend to care for their complexion and treat it as the ultimate investment; not only worthy of their money but also of their time.  According to a recent research, Korean women spend twice as much of their income on beauty products and make-up than their American counterparts.  Meanwhile, South Korean men spend more on skincare than men from any other country. The reason for this is the South Koreans’ “obsession” with skincare.  People are definitely groomed from birth on how to eat, wash, and care for their skin. It’s just part of the Korean beauty culture, which isn’t about products at its core, but about skin-preserving methods and techniques.

Korean women work hard for their flawless glowing skin, following a unique beauty regimen that has garnered a ton of beauty industry buzz. The famous 10 step routine is all about achieving healthy radiance from within! We are huge funs of K- beauty and we tried this 10 step routine. Yes, it seemed a little daunting at first. And yes it took a little longer. But – trust us – the results are so worth it!

What follows is a breakdown of all 10 steps of the routine. The best part is, once you have that down, you can customize and choose the steps that fit your needs. After all, a skin care routine is and should be super personal!



Using your makeup remover on a cotton pad can do the hard work but to truly remove ALL makeup, reach for an oil cleanser.

  1. 2.WATER BASED CLEANSER – It’s called double cleansing for a reason. Wash your face with a water-based cleanser to whisk away any remaining residue and impurities from your oil cleanse.
  1. 3.EXFOLIATOR – A must for healthy skin.

Exfoliating at least twice a week is crucial for clear, polished skin, free from dead skin cells.

  1. 4.TONER – Balance First. 

The toner removes any residual residue from the prior three steps, it balances your skin’s pH levels and prepares it to better absorb what comes next. Sprinkle one into your hands and tap it directly onto your skin or dispense it onto a cotton pad and gently swipe around your face working outwards.

  1. 5.ESSENCE – The heart of the Korean skincare routine.

An essence (a toner/serum hybrid) effectively enhances the skin’s cellular renewal process, increases elasticity and firmness, as well as a brighter complexion. Apply it to a freshly toned skin and pat it in.

  1. 6.TREATMENTS – Boosters, Serums or Ampoules.

They directly treat the issues you’re most concerned about (dull skin, large pores, pigmentation, wrinkles, or acne). Gently tap these onto your skin!

  1. 7.SHEET MASKS – Our Latest Addiction!

Sheet masks have long been a staple in Asian skin care. It just took us a while to figure out how awesome they are and now that we know, we’re obsessed! If you want to kick start on the sheet mask trend try Mask You so that you can stock up on these skincare goodies.

They are the soul of the Korean skin care routine. All you have to do is put one on and chill for 15-30 minutes (and probably take a selfie). Sheet masks provide you with a quiet, meditative, and skin-nourishing ritual that imparts maximum treatment to your skin.

Sheet masks, wrinkle-fighting collagen eye patches or adorable hydrating lip masks, are targeted treatments that can consistently help brighten, tighten and hydrate the appearance of the skin, leaving you looking beautiful in a flash.  Plus, anyone can use them! They can be used anytime, anywhere and as often as you want, even every single day if you’d like.  Our recommendation is applying a sheet mask two to three times a week for maximum effectiveness.

  1. 8.EYE CREAM – Treat Your Fragile Flower.

It provides the delicate eye area with extra helpings of hydration and protection. Use your ring finger to very gently tap (never rub!) eye cream around the entire orbital bone, avoiding the water line.

  1. 9.MOISTURIZER – Your express lane to dewy, glowing skin.

Pat a moisturizer into your face and neck morning and night every single day. On days when your skin feels extra parched, swap your regular moisturizer for a sleeping pack – another K-beauty must-have.

  1. 10.SUN PROTECTION – Last but not least!

It’s the easiest and most effective way to prevent premature aging (and skin cancer!). Even if you’re stepping outside for just a couple of minutes, you must wear sunscreen, especially in countries like Cyprus where the sun is kissing your skin 365 days a year. Apply every—and we mean every—morning, reapplying throughout the day as needed. It’s important to put this on last so it can fully shield your skin from UV rays without being diluted by prior products.

Does all of this seem too extreme?  For Korean people it’s just a standard procedure.

“We’re taught at such an early age to constantly moisturize, apply SPF rain or shine, perform stimulating facial exercises, and most importantly—how to cleanse our skin the right way so that we can reap the flawless rewards later in life. In a nutshell, our process is actually very simple.” says Charlotte Cho, a K-beauty pioneer. 

Written by Florentia Savvidou – Curator and Co-founder of Mask You*, an ecommerce destination based in Cyprus, that retails popular premium Korean sheet masks.

*Mask You will be collaborating with Form Activewear to introduce some of it’s new skincare product range.

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