Mastering The Korean Skincare Regime: Lots & Lots Of Steps!

And there are many steps! There are so many steps that I’ll settle for competency instead of mastery!  LOL! When I fell down the international skincare rabbit hole, I noticed that Koreans really do have amazing skin.  Unless the magic of airbrushing is afoot.  Since I am on a fabulous skin quest, I decided to give Korean products and a Korean skincare regime a trial run.

The many steps of the Korean skincare regime!

The many steps of the Korean skincare regime!


It is reported that the average Korean woman uses about 20 different products each day and it seems as if  there are as many steps in the Korean skincare regime as well!  In designing my Korean skincare regime, I ended up with 17 steps!  🙂  Below is my understanding of the steps involved in Korean skincare.

Basic steps are done everyday.  Special steps are done as needed to treat a specific skin problem.


Basic Step 1: Remove makeup and sunscreen – Day & Night. This step is done using either: an oil cleanser, cleansing balm, cold cream, cleansing water, or a cleansing tissue soaked with oil or water.

Basic Step 2: Cleanse skin – Day & Night.  This step thoroughly cleans the skin.  You can use a cleansing milk, a foaming cleanser, or even a cleansing cream.  Tip #1: I think you can use whatever products you wish for steps 1 and 2.  The crux of the Korean skincare regime is that you cleanse twice.

Basic Step 3: Exfoliate – Twice a week at Night.  Exfoliants can make your skin photo sensitive hence, nightly use.  Exfoliants can be chemical or physical such as: peeling gels, peeling pads soaked in AHA’s or other acids, massage creams, and wash off masks that contain fruit enzymes or acids, sugar scrubs, gommages, and microdermabrasion creams or wands. I also assume that you could give yourself a TCA or other acid peel at this step.

Special Step 4: Nose, pore, or chin patches and packs – Twice a week at Night.  I would imagine that these would be used at night as well due to the risk of irritation.  Nose, pore, and chin patches are sticky rip off strips that remove blackheads, whiteheads, and excess sebum on the nose, cheek, and chin area. Nose, pore, and chin packs are highly penetrative creams designed to dissolve blackheads, whiteheads, and excess sebum.  Tip #2:  Don’t use on nights you exfoliate because it may cause irritation.

Special Step 5: Apply the “First” Essence – Day & Night.  This special step is done only if you have a “first” essence product.  Some Korean skincare product lines have products labeled “first” essences or “first” care serums.  These are to be used immediately after cleansing.  If you are not using a “first” product then move on to step #6.

Basic Step 6: Tone – Day & Night.  This step adds moisture and helps subsequent products penetrate the skin.  The Korean products used to tone may be called booster, refiner, skin, softener, toner, or even water.

Special Step 7: Eye patches, eye goggles, and smile line patches – Day & Night.  Eye and smile line patches can be used in the day, at night, once a week, or multiple times a week.  These patches reduce eye bags, brighten dark under eye circles, minimize fine lines, and treat deep facial wrinkles.

Special Step 8: Sheet mask and neck patch – Day & Night.  Some people use sheet masks daily, nightly, a few times a week, or everyday.  A sheet mask is like a facial in a bag.  They can add moisture, firm skin, or soothe irritation etc.  Some sheet masks include the the neck area. If it does not and you wish to treat your chin or neck area you can use chin and neck patches.

Basic Step 9: Eye cream or gel – Day & Night. This step treats eye issues such as wrinkles or dark circles.

Basic Step 10: Treatment – Day & Night.  This step consists of applying a treatment product of highly concentrated ingredients all over your face. Some people use more than one of these products simultaneously (applied one after another) for a specific concern i.e. moisture, lightening, or acne etc. A Korean skincare treatment may be called an ampoule, concentrate, or serum. Ampoules and concentrates have more potent actives than serums.

Basic Step 11: Essence -Day & Night. This step involves applying a product that is likened to both a toner/softener and a light lotion all over your skin. Essences are less potent than serums.

Special Step 12: Spot treatments and spot patches – As Needed, at Night.  This is a special step that uses products in tiny tubes or needle less syringes that are squeezed directly onto small treatment areas – such as pimples, hyperpigmentation spots, or wrinkles.  It can be an ointment, gel, or serum. Spot patches are small circular patches that are left overnight to treat the same type of areas. In Korean skincare both product types will have the word “spot” somewhere in their names.

Basic Step 13: Moisturizer – Day & Night. This step moisturizes the skin.  A Korean skincare moisturizer is often called an emulsion, lotion, or a gel.

Special Step 14: Oil – Day & Night.  This step consists of applying an oil or mixture of oils to your skin.

Basic Step 15: Sunscreen – Day.    Tip #3: If your skin is dry sunscreen can be applied after step #16.

Basic Step 16: Night Cream.   A night cream is a richer, heavier moisturizer applied at night. Tip #4: Can be used in the day if your skin is very dry.

Special Step 17: Sleep Pack – As Needed, at Night.  A sleep pack is a special nighttime treatment applied over all previous steps.  It may be used to brighten, firm, or moisturize etc.

 My Thoughts

I never would have considered 2 step cleansing in a million years.  If anything, I have often heard that Americans wash their faces too much.  Now I feel like my new regime is incomplete because I did not order a step #1 cleanser. I will buy one soon though.

I am also intrigued at the thought of layering multiple products in order to enhance effectiveness. I can’t wait to see if layering improves my skincare results.  I am super excited to try a sheet mask for the first time, a wash off mask, and a sleep pack.  Just the idea of a mask seems so luxurious.


  • Shopping for Korean skincare products was hard.  I couldn’t tell whether something was for dry skin or oily skin, or what exactly, the skin benefits were because often enough, that information was not listed. Or if it was listed – it was unclear.
  • Sometimes you can get an idea about a Korean skincare product by looking at its ingredients, but many times there were no full ingredient lists.  If you are lucky you can find a list of a Korean product’s major ingredients, but you need the full list in case there are ingredients you are allergic to, for example.  In my case, that would be citrus.  Or if there is a full ingredient list, it is in Korean.
  • There is the “free system” where some products are labeled to tell you the harmful ingredients it does not contain, but some products labeled “free” may be free of some undesirable ingredients and yet contain others.
  • Another peeve of mine is that I desire to use a product’s entire line to see how it performs, but I found that a few products in the line may have ingredients that I want to avoid whereas, the other products were good.  For example, the emulsion may have alcohol, but the serum from that line contains great ingredients.
  • My last issue is fragrance. I prefer fragrance free products as perfume can be an irritant and I just dont like scented products.


  1. Korean skincare products use cutting edge ingredients.
  2. Korean skincare products use advanced technology such as nano encapsulation.
  3. Many Korean skincare products take the “kitchen sink” approach and use a ton of active ingredients in a single product.
  4. Many Korean skincare products have high concentrations of active ingredients.
  5. Some Korean skincare products are certified by the KFDA for their purposes, such as an antiaging.
  6. Some Korean skincare products use glass packaging instead of plastic.  Plastic bottles and jars contain hormone/endocrine disruptors.
  7. Korean skincare products have really cute names and adorable packaging.
  8. Finally, Korean skincare products are a great value.  High quality Korean products cost a fraction of what similar would cost in the U.S.

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