(Guide to) The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

As a lover of everything Korean, I joined the bandwagon and tested out the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine! Anyone who has watched Korean dramas would know of the skin envy for the ever flawless female leads—be it Song Hye Kyo, Lee Sung Kyung, Gianna Jun, Park Bo Young, …—I mean, even the guys have blemish-free skin that I will forever long to have. 

Finding the right skincare that fits you takes so much work, time, and omg: money! I personally used to hate placing anything on my face (I think I still do but I get used to it by now). My previous routine would just include cleanser and sleep, lol. And I don’t wear any make-up aside from the occasional powder or tinted cream. I love lip balms and always have that in my bag, though. But that was when I didn’t break out yet. I am swearing to the gods I’m just starting to experience puberty with the mood swings and my constant break outs in last year. I hate it! What’s worse is every time I get a pimple, a blemish would be left on my skin like a lingering horror show!

A skin condition history: late 2016, I had a bad case of bacterial infection which consumed my face and that’s when things started to fall apart (I may be over reacting here, but it really was bad). Ever since then, I’ll have the same pimples in the same spot and decided I’m doing whatever I can to stop it—including trying out this Korean thing. Btw, I have combi skin now for reference: oily on the nose area and dry patches everywhere else.

Cut down to the chase, here’s a quick run through slash guide slash intro if you want to try out the K-skincare yourself. I’m listing down products I’ve tried and my faves, sort of like a mini-review. Right now, I’m not completely invested and doing the whole 10-steps per se everyday/night. I usually do cleanse-tone-serum/actives-moisturize + sunscreen if it’s in the morning, and it took some time before effects start showing up, but it does the trick! And I’m now writing this with my face mask on, lol.

Korean Skincare Step 1-2

1. Oil Based Cleanser

Get rid of all that gunk! You might have gotten tired of hearing all those beauty blogs and magazines telling you to not sleep with makeup on, but it’s so real and will never be said enough. The first thing to Korean beauty is double cleansing. The oil based cleanser is supposed to break all the makeup and melt it away.
Products: Banila Co. Clean It Zero (Php 890 from Beauty MNL), Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Blackhead Out Balm (Php 280 from Althea Korea)

2. Water Based Cleanser

Wash off any remaining residue with a mild cleanser or foam. Squeaky clean!
Products: Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam (Php 480 from Althea)

Korean Skincare Step 3

3. Exfoliate

Not to be done daily but I do try to do so once a week. Exfoliating removes your dead skin cells and very recommended for when you want to lighten dark spots or even your face as a whole. I use a variety of wash-off masks. Gently massage (don’t rub roughly!) the products right before rinsing it all off.
Products: Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask (Php 560 from Althea Korea), Onsaemeein Carbonated Scoria Bubble Mask Pack (Php 360 from Althea Korea), Skinfood Black Sugar Mask (Php 330 from Althea Korea)

Korean Skincare Step 4

4. Tone

I didn’t believe in toning and prepping until recently! Toners balance out the skin pH levels so your skin absorbs the next products in your face well. If you want your products to work, do tone before using them; works wonders! Use a cotton pad or just tap the product evenly all over your face. Some toners even have ++ treatments now (for pimples, extra hydration, …)
Products: CosRX One Step Pimple Clear Pad (Php 900 from Beauty MNL), CosRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner (Php 657 from Beauty MNL)

Korean Skincare Step 5

5. Essence

They say this is the heart of Korean skincare but I’ve only tried samples so far so I can’t attest to that yet. I use serums more because they’re cheaper. I do like though that essences are very lightweight and the ones I’ve tried feel like water!
Products: Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Deep Essence (Php 1400 from Althea Korea), Laneige Water Bank Essence (Php 1540 from Althea Korea)

Korean Skincare Step 6

6. Serum / Ampoule / Actives

There’s a lot of variety of serums out there and the key is looking for the one with actives that suit your needs: hydration, fine lines, pimples, hyperpigmentation.
As for me, I target my dark spots left from my bacterial infection thingy so I use ones with Vitamin C. I was honestly scared of using Vit C actives at first because I didn’t like using whitening products—I am white and pale enough. But these ones I’ve tried are proven to work well for scars and hyperpigmentation and don’t really whiten your entire skin but just the marks.
Products: Dear Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum (Php 1010 from Althea Korea), It’s Skin VC Effector with Vitamin C (Php 390 from Althea Korea)

Korean Skincare Step 7-1

7. Sheet Masks

I feel like sheet masks give me life on a bad or tiring day. They just make you feel so pampered! You leave it on for 15+ minutes and they’re like special services you give yourself weekly or more if preferred. Treat yo self like a queen! I’ve actually tried a variety (Myeongdong shops just give them away like they’re candy!!) and I think I have enough supply because I hoarded this in Korea and also back here in the Philippines whenever they’re on sale. I like the effect of Snail masks on me the best!
Products: variety of sheet masks from brands like seaNtree, Innisfree, Klairs, Esfolio (Php 55 from Beauty MNL or Esfolio.ph), Skinlite Collagen Eye Zone Mask (Php 100 from Beauty MNL: So cheap for 15 pairs, I always keep stock of this in our fridge)

Korean Skincare Step 7-2

I recently bought a lot of masks from this new brand Esfolio and tried some of ‘em already. They’re surprisingly good and cost only Php55 each!! Super steal! Thought you should try ‘em out. I often don’t even do the other steps anymore when I use sheet masks. (+ Esfolio’s packaging is so cute, I got so sold at that! And they have several variants to choose from.)

Korean Skincare Step 8-9

8. Eye Cream + Add-ons

I have dark undereyes but I often skip this step because sometimes, I just can’t be bothered. Skin around the eyes are very sensitive so make sure to massage the product with your middle finger because that provides the least pressure. I also use add-ons on this step like scar creams and all that.
Products: Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream (Php 294 from Beauty MNL)

9. Moisturizer

Seal everything in and hydrate! I really hate heavy creams and one of the main reasons why I skip moisturizers before. But I now have dry patches on my cheeks so I’m a changed person, lol. I like watery ones still and barely use creams. I just pat the products on right before going to bed and it became a habit now.
Products: Celeteque Facial Moisturizer, Nature Republic Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel (Php 180 from Althea Korea: Love!! I get sunburn easily and this is so good for that + it moisturizes at the same time + it feels like very cool water! Perfect for humid weather!), Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Cream

Korean Skincare Step 10

10. Sunscreen

For morning use! If you don’t want to age like your fave Kdrama actresses, then this is your best friend! Reapply throughout the day, everyday! I see personalities like Liz Uy endorsing sunscreen as a must daily even when you won’t leave the house, and I believe them. UVA/UVB/SPF and all that! I will be lying if I say I do use one daily though, but let’s just say I’ve been trying hard to do so anyway. I know 40 year old me will thank me.
If you’re still not into sunscreen and it’s smell or thickness, there’s a number of primer/bb-cream/cushion incorporating sunscreen into their formula so you’ll hit two birds with one stone.
Products: Etude House Sunprise Mild Sunscreen (Php 400 from Althea Korea)

Korean Skincare Step 11

+Add-On Product

CosRX Acne Pimple Master Patch (Php 180 from Beauty MNL: This is one thing that I make sure I always have stocks of. It sucks the pus out of a ripe pimple and reduces swellness bigtime! And for Php180 for 24 stickers, they’re a total steal!)
If you’ll be using this, stick it to your troubled spot after your toner completely dries up, remove the next day with all the white pus glory!

You have to wait out a few minutes (2 to 3) in between steps—just so the products sink in your skin and work its magic! I know it’s very time consuming but a tip would be to do the routine in between your normal activities (a.k.a. watching YouTube videos, browsing the web, Kdrama, etc.). That way you won’t even notice you’ve completed everything and won’t find it exhausting.

I was supposed to write this months ago. I’m actually testing out the products I hoarded from Korea from my trip last year and rotating through them—I still have a few samples. But for favorites like CosRX and Innisfree that I often repurchase, I stock up via BeautyMNL and Althea Korea. They’re my go-to beauty shopping sites.

Thoughts on the 10-Step Korean Skincare? Have you tried it? Recommend your HG products because I would LOVE to try ‘em out!

Stay Gold Lou

Louise Ramos

In a constant state of latte high: searching for new places to wander, and new things to wonder----follow as she tries to make things happen.

  • Hello Louise! I’m a new reader. I love your blog! Everything is sooo cute!
    Anyway, I’ve been loooooooving Korean skincare lately and COSRX are the best! The way you explained the ten step skincare is very is very simple and understandable, i love it <3


  • ALTHEA is dangerous for me. I end up on a shopping spree haha! I’m using the same serum but I will be moving on from this serum once I run out to try out other ones. It’s so hard to perfect your skin care! I admire your patience with actually going all the way to 10 steps!

    Teesh ♥ || Adventures of Cupcake Girl

  • All your pictures are so cute oh my why did i just discovered your blog. And yes, I have tried this 10 step routine for a month or two, but maybe because my skin is just so stubborn and I kept getting my acnes I stopped using it and went back to the doctor :”( It’s too bad I couldn’t try any of the products because who can resist all those adorable packagings and endless variety of face wash, sleeping mask, moisturizer etc etc though?!?!?!

  • okay first and foremost, all these images and edits are so adorable i can’t. i’ve always loved all your blog images ugh

    moving on, i personally don’t follow the 10-steps skincare regime because a). i’m too lazy for that, b). ain’t got all the money for all those complicated jazz of serums, essences, yadda yadda yadda and c). i prefer the less is more approach. not saying the korean 10-steps regime sucks or anything because if it works on someone then that’s great. i just don’t see myself following them. i mean, yeah sure i probably use a lot too – for instance, i have 3 face masks, 1 exfoliating scrub and i enjoy buying sheet masks – but on day to day basis, i’m a believer of less is more. my skincare routine is basically cleanser, toner and then moisturizer + spf (if i wanna go out during the day) and that’s practically it. i think one of the reasons why i don’t follow this whole 10-steps trend is because i also don’t like waiting for products to sink in which is kind of a contradiction since i love how cleansed and pampered skin feels but you know what i mean, i just don’t feel like waiting for serums or essences or both to sink in before applying moisturizer! :))

    when i think about it, these are basically the products i use too except for essences & serums so maybe, in a way, i myself am doing the 10-steps skincare regime unconsciously lol cmiiw but i think people use essences and serums to add more hydration and since i have normal/combination skin (oily T-zone ugh), i don’t wanna be too intensely hydrated. sounds insane, i know. i spent years not using moisturizer because i was so scared of my face producing more oils but now i either use aloe vera gel as my moisturizer or the innisfree green tea balancing lotion (daytime moisturizer) and cream (night time moisturizer) – sometimes, i actually skip them because aloe vera gel alone is enough for me.

    a few years ago i was scared by toner because this particular one from amway broke me out but after i tried the hada labo gokujyun lotion, my belief towards toners is restored. the hada labo one is really, really good. i’d go to the extend of calling it my holy grail tbh. it’s water based and contains hyaluronic acid, makes my face feels so plump and supple, i love it! also very safe for sensitive skin which is something i sooo appreciate since it’s soooo annoying and quite difficult when you have both combination oily AND sensitive skin (i have rosacea so the areas around my nose are always red, so is my chin. my cheeks also show some veins, like spiderwebs – ugh disgusting)
    i’m currently using the hatomugi skin conditioner and it’s a good toner especially for that toner face mask trick where you soak face cottons and use them as sheet masks. i still think hadalabo is the best though since it’s really simple and free from harsh chemicals like alcohol, colorants, etc.

    speaking of eye creams, most of the time i skip it tbh. i think it’s because eye creams are expensive that i kinda avoid using them every single day. i only use eye cream when i need to apply makeup so my concealer glides smoothly though, lol. whitening eye creams that really work for dark circles are so expensive i can’t even. ugh.

    i also envy people who can go bare faced with no makeup at all. i mean, it’s not like i have to wear makeup EVERY TIME (i don’t care about my bare face when i only need to go to the nearest grocery store or something lol) but i just can’t stand not wearing anything if i’m out in the mall, meeting people, etc. the redness on my nose and the veins on my cheeks make me look like a mutant i have to at least use concealer to cover em up – that no makeup makeup trick, yea? xD

    • I honestly also can’t (and won’t) do most of these steps on a daily basis, lol. It’s too time consuming but I’m more concerned about my skin now than I was before. (Mostly because I don’t like wearing make-up so oh Lord pls bless me with better skin hahaha) And same!! So envious of people who can just wash their face and go about their day! I’ve heard about that Hada Labo Lotion and want to try it because there’s just so many good reviews!