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Korean Skin Care Routine: All the Steps from A to Z

Published : April 15, 2024 11 mins read Updated On : Apr 16, 2024

“Obsessed” doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling we have towards all things Korean! Right from its amazing culture, delectable food, BTS and of course the one industry that has taken the world by storm and continues to dominate it with its sheer success— Korean Skincare!

The immediate association of Korean skincare with glass skin is a testament to its capabilities. In 2020, South Korea was in the third spot globally for being the biggest cosmetic exporter (1)

So say goodbye to your old routine and join us as we take you step by step into the glorious Korean Skincare routine, that can be adapted for any skin type!

● What is Korean skincare all about?
● Notable Korean skincare trends
● 10-step Korean skincare routine

Before we get into the routine let’s understand—-

What are Different Types of Skin?

● Normal skin: Balanced skin with adequate moisture, minimal sensitivity, and few imperfections.
● Dry skin: Lacks moisture, often feels tight and may appear flaky or rough.
● Oily skin: Overproduces sebum (oil), leading to a shiny complexion, enlarged pores, and a tendency for acne or blemishes.
● Sensitive skin: Prone to irritation, redness, and reactions to various skincare products, environmental factors, or ingredients.

What is Korean Skincare all about?

Koreans have always had very high beauty standards, even back thousands of years a very prominent phrase was coined that proceeded to set a precedent for the industry that goes “Within a beautiful body, rests a beautiful soul”.

In Korea, skincare is for everyone regardless of gender, status or wealth. There isn’t a stigma attached to skincare as much as it is in some places around the world.

Their skin care products are highly in demand globally and here are some of the reasons why:

● The Korean skincare focuses on eliminating the problem instead of minimising it.
● Prioritises the health of the skin.
● Affordable and effective at the same time
● Works for all skin types
● All natural and organic ingredients

Korean skincare dabbles in natural ingredients such as snail slime (popular as snail mucin), bee venom and volcanic ash. While Western cosmetics focus on the use of Vitamin C, retinol and acids, they can cause inflammation if overused despite their great results, however, Korean skincare is specifically developed for long-term use.

Korean skincare comes with its 10-step routine which may seem excessive to a beginner but it has shown definitive results that have caused it to become the focus of the entire world.

Notable Korean skincare trends

• Glass skin

If you ever wondered how to get Korean glass skin? Well, the answer is in the multi-step skincare routine that includes toning, moisturising etc.

The term “Glass Skin” is used to describe the clear, poreless, luminous skin that looks like glass.

• Centella Asiatica

It is a popular plant, also known as gotu kola, and has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for centuries. It has now become a popular ingredient in Korean beauty products.

Its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing and anti-cellulite properties have made it a significant ingredient in cosmetics. (2)

• Microbiome Skincare

It is a bacteria that lives on our skin and protects it from damage while keeping it healthy. K-beauty products are now integrated with Microbiome to support the skin’s microbiome and improve the skin’s overall health and performance.

A study conducted on 25 Korean women found that daily use of the microbiome showed significant changes in the hydration of skin and improvement in overall texture. (3)

• Vegan and sustainable beauty products

There is an increased demand for ethical and cruelty-free beauty practices and hence, k-beauty has developed products that are completely free of animals and has resorted to packaging that is sustainable for the environment.

Korean skincare routine: A-Z

Every beauty influencer has hopped onto the 10-step Korean skincare routine that is created to cover every need of the skin from moisturization to clean & clear skin.

And if you’re still on Google frantically searching “How can I get white skin like Koreans?” Or “how to do the Korean skincare routine” then look no further because here is the Korean 10-step skincare routine and everything you need to know about it:

1. Oil-based cleanser

If you have never tried cleansing oil before, you probably are under the impression that it is only for removing makeup or that oil cleansers cause breakouts in oily skin types.

But oil cleansers can efficiently remove makeup and effectively remove blackheads as well. Yes! Tweezers and nose strips are an old-fashioned and painful way to go about getting rid of your blackheads.

Oil-based cleansers are extremely important in Korean skincare routine and greatly contribute to the hydration of your skin.

And remember oil-based cleansers go before water-based cleansers.

2. Water-based cleanser

Water-based cleansers are the most common type of cleansers that primarily remove dust, sweat and impurities that are left behind by the initial oil-based cleanse.

Water-based cleansers fall into two types: gel-based and foam-based.

People with dry and sensitive skin should opt for gel-based cleansers, and for oily and combination skin types a foam-based cleanser is a better option.

When choosing a water-based cleaner look for the active ingredients like low pH cleanser this will help maintain the skin's barrier without drying it out.

Double cleansing is vital to start the Korean skincare routine so do not skip over oil & water-based cleansing.

3. Exfoliation

While this step isn’t supposed to be done every day, it is an essential step.

Our skin is protected by a barrier to prevent any external irritants. It is made up of corneum and stratum which goes through a constant process of shedding which is then replaced by new skin cells or as well like to say “barrier”.

When this process happens organically without any disruptions your skin will be good and radiant, however, if the cycle goes a little bit off for example your skin replaces cells faster than it can shed you end up with extra dead skin cells.

If they pile up the skin starts to become dull and flaky, which will prevent any cream from fully absorbing. Hence, exfoliating is done to remove these excess dead skin cells to make space for newer ones creating healthier skin.

There are two types of exfoliants:

Physical exfoliators- Sugar-like substance that can be rubbed onto skin to remove the cells and dirt.

Chemical exfoliators- a liquid substance that peels off the dead cells right off the skin.

Preferably exfoliating once or twice a week should help prevent accumulation of dead skin cells.

4. Toner

Generally, once you have cleansed and exfoliated, toner helps in restoring the skin’s pH levels.

However, in the K-beauty skincare routine, toners are focused on hydrating skin and replenishing what was lost in the process of the first two steps.

Toners that you need for this routine need to be able to provide the base layer of hydration the Korean skincare demands, hence toners that have ingredients like hyaluronic acid, and sodium hyaluronate should be preferred.

These ingredients are ultra-hydrating and moisturise the skin while providing additional benefits like healing and anti-ageing.

5. Essence

Unique to Korean skincare, Essence comes in two formulas—

The first type is highly concentrated with fermented ingredients and needs to be applied right after cleansing, as the watery formula is perfect to prep the skin for better absorption of other products.

The second essence type is like a hybrid of toner and serum, it is targeted at providing functions that are similar to both while keeping the skin hydrated.

Essence contains ingredients like saccharomyces ferment filtrate or galactomyces, which are yeast-based filtrates that deal with several skin conditions such as acne, uneven texture, oiliness and ageing.

This is an unmissable step in a K-beauty skincare routine that addresses every skin type from oily to dry.

6. Serums

Face serums contain higher concentrations of active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, etc) that manage skin conditions such as acne, dry skin, wrinkles and dullness.

They bring brightness and hydrate the skin while providing several benefits (based on the serum you use)

Serums come in two formulas, gel and oil. While serums do provide moisturization to the skin they are not moisturisers or a replacement for one.

7. Sheet mask

Undoubtedly one of the most popular K-beauty skincare products is the sheet masks.

Without a sheet mask, there is no Korean skincare routine, they are extremely hydrating and have anti-ageing benefits.

These sheets are single-use and are made of thin, cotton-like material that is soaked in serums or essence.

The formulas vary based on your needs but there is a vast variety to choose from like botanical extracts, vitamin C and several other beneficial acids.

8. Eye cream

Notice how our under eyes tend to get darker than others? It is because the skin around it is thinner than our face which tends to dry out quicker and is very vulnerable to external irritants like UV rays, or constant blinking and facial expressions that lead to fine lines and wrinkles.

The under-eye also lacks sebum, a natural moisturiser which is why under-eye creams are specifically formulated to be thicker and tend to contain more conditioning agents and emollients than facial lotion.

These creams also come in under-eye masks that go hand in hand with the sheet masks and can be used simultaneously in the routine step. They reduce puffiness, and dark circles and protect against UV rays.

9. Moisturiser

There is no such thing as too much moisturisation when it comes to a K-beauty routine. Choose a moisturiser that suits your skin type and a formula that aids your skin condition.
Despite being the simplest step it is crucial to achieve the “Korean glass skin” look.

10. Sun Protection

We cannot stress enough how important it is to wear your sunscreen!

All the steps were a process to remove damage caused by UV rays and if you end up leaving home without wearing one all of that skincare means nothing.

Sunscreens act as a defence against UV rays by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. It absorbs, scatters or reflects the rays and prevents them from penetrating the skin causing harm.

Koreans are extremely particular about their skin being exposed to the sun along with sunscreens. They also put on all the necessary gear to redirect the rays off their body.

Morning Skin care routine

● Cleansing: Start your day by cleansing your face with a gentle facial cleanser suited to your skin type. This removes dirt, oil, and impurities accumulated overnight.

● Toning (optional): Some people choose to use a toner after cleansing to balance the skin's pH levels and remove any remaining traces of dirt or cleanser. Opt for an alcohol-free toner if you have dry or sensitive skin.

● Moisturizing: Apply a lightweight moisturizer to hydrate and protect your skin throughout the day. Choose a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type, whether it's oily, dry, combination, or sensitive.

● Sun Protection: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to shield your skin from harmful UV rays. Sunscreen is essential even on cloudy days or when staying indoors for extended periods.

● Eye Cream (optional): If you have specific concerns such as dark circles, puffiness, or fine lines around the eyes, consider using an eye cream tailored to address these issues.

● Lip Care: Don't forget to apply a lip balm or lip sunscreen to protect your lips from drying out and sun damage.

● Makeup (optional): If you wear makeup, apply it after completing your skincare routine. Look for makeup products that contain SPF for added sun protection.

Night Skin care routine

● Makeup Removal: Start by removing any makeup or sunscreen with a gentle makeup remover or cleansing oil. Ensure that your face is thoroughly clean before proceeding with the next steps.

● Cleansing: Wash your face with a gentle facial cleanser suitable for your skin type to remove any remaining dirt, oil, and impurities accumulated throughout the day.

● Exfoliation (optional): Use an exfoliating product (such as a chemical exfoliant containing AHAs or BHAs) a few times a week to remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover. Avoid over-exfoliating, as it can lead to irritation and sensitivity.

● Toning (optional): Apply a toner if desired to balance the skin's pH levels and prep it for better absorption of subsequent skincare products.

● Treatment Products: Apply any treatment products such as serums or spot treatments targeted towards specific skincare concerns, such as acne, hyperpigmentation, or aging. These products typically contain active ingredients like retinoids, vitamin C, or hyaluronic acid.

● Eye Cream: Gently pat on an eye cream specifically formulated for the delicate skin around the eyes to address concerns like dark circles, puffiness, or fine lines.

● Moisturizing: Hydrate your skin by applying a nourishing night cream or moisturizer suited to your skin type. Night creams are typically richer and more emollient than daytime moisturizers, providing intense hydration overnight.

● Lip Care: Apply a hydrating lip balm to keep your lips moisturized and prevent dryness while you sleep.


While all of these steps may seem intimidating to a beginner, we assure you that with time and patience, you will adapt to it like it’s always been a part of your routine.

The Korean skincare routine is tried & tested worldwide by individuals with every skin colour and type and is a foolproof method to ensure healthy and hydrated skin.

These Korean skincare products are now abundantly available in India by our home-based brands that have done an excellent job customising the requirements to our skin type and can be easily purchased online.


1. How to get Korean glass skin?

A 10-step Korean skincare routine that includes steps like Double cleansing, exfoliation, hydration sheet masks, and sun protection will help you achieve glorious Korean glass skin.

2. How to get white skin like Koreans?

Koreans are extremely particular about having their skin damaged by sun, consistent use of sunscreen will protect your skin from pigmentation and keep your skin light.

3. Where to buy Korean beauty products in India?

You can buy Korean beauty products in India at Chicnutrix.com.

4. How to do a skincare routine?

The basic skincare routine includes cleansing, toning, treating, moisturize, and sunscreen.

5. Why do Koreans have glass skin?

Koreans prioritise their skincare. They always hydrate, nourish and protect their skins. They layer their skincare meticulously to achieve the best results.

Dr Nalla Rakesh
Consultant Dermatologist and Hair transplant Surgeon

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