How to nail the 10-step skincare routine like a Korean girl with drugstore products
One step at a time
More is more when it comes to skincare in Korea. The comprehensive 10 step regimen has been hailed as the reason so many Korean women boast poreless and glowing glass-like skin. With seven more steps than the routine you may be used to, the 10-step Korean skincare routine may sound intimidating and expensive. While it definitely takes more work than your average “cleanse, tone, moisturise” routine, once you know the steps and understand the needs of your skin, you can tailor it according to fit your lifestyle.
Which is why we have curated a list of Guardian Health and Beauty Awards 2018 winning products that will help you to nail that 10-step routine without breaking the bank (check out the full list of Guardian Health and Beauty Awards 2018 winners here).
If you’ve been marinating in makeup, you certainly need more than a quick splash of water at the end of a long day to get rid of the build-up of dirt, oil and grime.
To truly remove your makeup, soak cotton pads into some micellar water like the Eucerin Dermopuriyer Makeup & Acne Cleansing water ($27.90) that will not only remove even waterproof makeup effectively, but also has ingredients that will unclog pores and fight acne, so you don’t have to worry about breaking out after a long day out in a full face of makeup.
Step 2: Double cleanse with a cream or foam type cleanser
This second cleanse ensures that you remove every last lingering scrap of dirt, oil and makeup from your skin. Formulated with moisturising hyaluronic acid, this Sha Hydrating Face Wash from Hada Labo ($13.50) is gentle enough to whisk away any last traces of dirt without drying out your skin. Just remember, though, to apply it in soft, circular motions to prevent tugging at the skin.
While you don’t have to exfoliate daily (especially if you have sensitive skin), sloughing off dead skin at least twice a week is essential for a clear and polished complexion.
When you remove all of the dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, the rest of your skincare products will be able to penetrate better into your pores to work their magic. Gently massage a gentle exfoliating gel like the CNP Invisible Peeling Booster ($48.90) onto your face to reveal smooth and supple skin. This no-rinse exfoliating gel boasts Polyhydroxy Acids (PHA) as it star ingredient which makes it a great alternative to scratchy scrubs as it loosens up the gluey gunk of dead cells without irritating the skin.
Toners help to dampen your skin and balance its pH levels. You can sprinkle some toner into the palm of your hands and tap it directly onto your skin or dispense it onto a cotton pad before gently swiping around your face (working outwards).
We recommend applying toner on a damp face instead of a dry face. Your face is like a sponge – when it’s dried up and hardened, it’s more difficult to rehydrate it. Stay hydrated with one of Japan’s beloved drugstore stalwarts, the Super HA Hada Labo Lotion ($22.90) – a weightless lotion that is made with skin-plumping ingredients like hyaluronic acid that will pull moisture in like a sponge.
This step is of the essence to any Korean skincare regimes. An essence is a hybrid of a toner and serum that hydrates the complexion and encourages cellular turnover. For bouncy and radiant skin, tap a few drops of the ultra-nourishing essence like the L’oreal Youth Code Skin Activating Ferment Pre-Essence into you onto your skin.
As we age, our metabolism weakens, our skin’s ability to repair and rejuvenate itself weakens. This is further affected by external aggressors like UV rays, pollution and stress. The Youth Code Ferment Pre-Essence gets to the root of the problem by stimulating skin metabolism and accelerating the skin’s ability to renew itself so you get younger-looking skin.
These serums typically contain active ingredients that address skin concerns like hyperpigmentation, discolouration and wrinkles. They come in varying consistencies and textures – think or thick, oil or gel-like.
This step of the routine will target dehydration, wrinkles or hyperpigmentation when worked into your specific area of concern. Try the Neostrata Bionic Face Serum ($89.90) that is formulated with a chock full of potent ingredients like lactobionic acid to help restore radiance and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
You can use sheet masks two to three times a week, or more if your skin is very dry. You’ll never be short of options – there is a sheet mask for everyone – regardless of your skin type or concern and the results are instant.
After just one use, your face will be slightly more plump and brighter due to the surge of moisture. The Crystal Moist Hydra Ion+ Moisturising Facial Mask ($19.90 for 7 sheets), which has bird’s nest extract, has been said to keep the skin looking soft and feeling supple.
The area around your eyes is extremely delicate because the skin is at its thinnest and there are no sebaceous glands to produce natural oils, so it’s important to keep your eye area hydrated and protected all day long.
In addition to an eye cream, go for targeted care like the Guardian Black Pearl Butterfly Mask ($2) to keep pesky eyebags at bay. Shaped like a butterfly, this eye mask clings closely to the contours of the eye area and promises to reduce the appearance of crow’s feet and expression lines.
Whether you are using a gel-textured or water-based moisturising cream, this is the final step and most important step in your nighttime routine so make it count.
To get the most out of your moisturiser, apply your cream or gel moisturiser with upward stroking motions to prevent jowls and improve skin elasticity. For those with oily or combination skin, go with a lightweight gel-textured moisturiser like the CNP Laboratory Waterlock Moist Cream that seals in plenty of moisture with ingredients like glycerin and sodium hyaluronate. There is also an anti-irritant complex in it that makes it suitable even for those with sensitive skin.
Even if you’re just stepping out for a couple of minutes, you have to wear sunscreen. Protecting your skin from harmful UV rays will not only prevent premature signs of skin ageing like dark spots and wrinkles but also protect you from skin cancer.
You should apply sunscreen every morning and reapply throughout the day as needed. The La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light SPF 50 ($46.50) is a silky, liquidy sunscreen that dries to a velvety matte finish (with no white cast) so it’s perfect under makeup. For such high SPF protection, this sunscreen still feels lightweight and grease-free, making it great for those with oily to normal complexion. The mineral formula makes it the perfect choice for those with acne prone or sensitive skin.