The 7 Step Korean Skincare to Beautiful Skin

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Jeon Ji Hyeon

“How I wish that I had a daughter that had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony.”

Snow White. I was seated across Snow White one such afternoon in a cafe along Samcheong-dong, a hilly neighbourhood filled with trendy cafes and art galleries. Snow White had flawless, poreless fair skin, red lips that looked like she had just bitten into a cherry and long black hair. I must have stared for a second too long, before my companion asked me, “What are you staring at?”

“How do Korean women all have such beautiful skin?”

“We take very good care of it,” my companion – a 59 year old Korean lady whose own skin was spotless and translucent, replied, “and exercise.”

Skincare in South Korea is serious business. Amorepacific Corp – the country’s largest beauty product producer, home to brands such as Sulwhasoo, Laniege, innisfree and Etude House, saw a 127% increase in its consumer stocks last year. Such is the extent of the influence of the country’s beauty trends! With the increasing popularity of K-dramas and growing interest in Korean beauty trends on the Internet, this phenomenon has also reached our sunny, tropical island. It is hard work and takes a lot of discipline to follow through especially after a tough day in the office, but the results will leave you wanting more! The best thing about this skincare routine is that you don’t have to break the bank on expensive products, there are many affordable skincare available on the market to get you started.

Step 1 – Double cleanse 

Use a good makeup removing wipe (Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissue) to remove eye makeup and stubborn lipsticks. Be very gentle on your skin, so no tugging and rubbing away stubborn mascara stains here!

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The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil

Next, use an oil-based make up removing cleanser, and gently massage it over your entire face. Do not mix the oil with water, massage directly onto dry skin. This massage also improves blood circulation to the face. This should take you at least 5 minutes, keep massaging your face to remove all traces of makeup. Rinse with warm water.

Lastly, use a foam cleanser (Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleasing Foam) to remove anything that has not been cleansed off. Your skin should not feel tight after cleansing, if it does, your cleanser is too drying.

In the morning, I only use a foam cleanser. Unless you go to bed with makeup (which should never happen!), you don’t need to double cleanse in the morning.

Step 2 – Toner 

The last time I spoke to a friend about her skincare regime, she told me she used a facial wash and toner. When I asked her what she used after her toner? She said nothing! A toner preps and soothes your skin for what you are going to put on after. Pick a toner that suits your needs. My current favourite is the Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Moisturising Lotion because it is deeply hydrating, and also because Jeon Ji Hyeon is on it. Pour some of it on a cotton pad and gently wipe this across your face and neck. If you’re feeling even more hardworking, use the 3 minute lotion mask method by Japanese guru Chizu Saeki! I tried this method for an entire month and I must say the results were amazing.

Step 3 – Essence 

This step is the big game changer for me. Your skin feels significantly different when this step is included – visibly brighter and more even toned. I am a big fan of the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, which I feel, when used regularly makes my skin clear, plump and noticeably softer. On a trip to Korea last year, I discovered the IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning which has also worked relatively well for me. Pour some on a cotton pad and gently wipe it on your skin before patting it in with your fingers.

I O P E Bio Essence intensive conditioning

Step 4 – Serums/Ampoules

Here is where it gets complicated. I have a drawer full of serums and ampoules that each promises to do something different – pore tightening, whitening, firming, moisturizing. Most serums and ampoules target specific problem areas that you want to work on. On days, where I don’t get enough sleep and my skin is looking dull, I pick a serum like the Laniege Bright Renew Original Serum.  You can also choose to layer different serums following the general rule that the more watery product goes on first. To help you get started, I’ve listed some of my favourite, pocket friendly serums below:

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  • PureHeal’s Propolis 90 Ampoule has a slightly thicker consistency, but once rubbed in, does not leave a sticky residue. It is highly moisturizing and I also found that I woke up to brighter skin the next morning. I brought this with me on my trip to Seoul in Winter and must say it worked really well. You can get this in Sephora Singapore.

Innisfree - Green Tea Seed Serum 2t

  • Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum is one of the hottest products in Korea right now, it was actually sold out in the Myeongdong outlet I went to. According to the sales assistant, it is most effective to use the serum right after cleansing before your toner.

Step 5 – Eye Cream

This step is pretty self explanatory. There are many kinds of eye cream on the market that promises to deliver different results. The key is to rub the product on your ring fingers and gently tap them onto the eye area. I usually put my eye cream right at the start after my toner.

Step 6 – Moisturiser/Emulsion 

[ARITAUM] Aritaum baby face all in one cream _ Ultra Vita C 120ml_T

I know by now you are wondering exactly how many more layers do we need to put on our face? The moisturizer or emulsion is usually a lightweight cream or gel product. Massage the cream in a outward and upward direction over your entire face, as well as your neck area. (I’ve included a link on how to do this, so click away!) I am liking the Aritaum Baby Face Cream but it can be a little too heavy to be used daily. If you don’t sleep in air conditioning, then I would recommend picking something like the Hada Labo Whitening Perfect Gel or Innisfree White Tone Up Cream.

Step 7 – Sleeping Pack

I know there are many articles that go on to recommend night cream at this step, but I personally prefer (and find more suitable for local climate) to end off the night routine with a sleeping mask. This comes in tons of options depending on what you need. The most popular one of course is the Laniege Sleeping Pack EX which hydrates and brightens your skin over night. My favourite has got to be the Tony Moly Intense Care Dual Effect Sleeping Pack which targets wrinkles and has whitening effect. I cannot seem to find a link for it, and the packaging has changed since I last bought it. This is my go-to sleeping pack when I know I am only going to have a few hours of rest. I wake up to refreshed and brightened skin the next morning!

This routine, of course, is not set in stone and I make several variations to it myself, depending on the condition of my skin. I believe that if we make some time (just 15 minutes every night) for our skin, you will learn to understand it and listen to what its trying to tell you. Afterall, your skin is the clearest indicator of your health and moods. Just remember, no matter how tired you are never sleep with your makeup on and always go out with your sunscreen.

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