My Intro to Korean Skincare and my current Routine

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A few of the items from my initial collection

I’ve been a skin care junkie for as long as I can remember. I can vividly recall spending hours on my skin “regimen” back in middle school which consisted then of aloe vera plant bits and my trusty face cloth; you couldn’t tell me anything! Fast forward to today and I’m still as addicted to researching and trying new products. It hasn’t always paid off but getting into Korean skin care has definitely been a highlight in my skin care game. I had long heard random bits about Asian skin care and cosmetics in general being miles ahead of other markets but I honestly never pursued it. However, my interest was piqued to finally research this market after I saw a forum thread with users discussing Korean beauty products like snail serum and donkey milk (umm say what now?!) which had given them glowing and unicorn like skin.  At the time, my super oily and acne prone skin was extremely dull looking and also broken out in a weird rash so that spurred me to delve into research mode over the next few days.

I soon discovered that the products were just the tip of the iceberg as the Korean beauty routine itself, often including as many as 10 steps, was crucial to the magic. The basis of this routine is to get the skin effectively cleansed, treated and then layered with lots of hydrating products to ensure that it stays plump, healthy and dewy. After assessing the needs of my skin, I adopted a modified routine and ordered 4 new products from good old Amazon to ease myself into it; a cleanser , a toner , an exfoliating mask  and  an essence . The steps I adopted in my modified routine are detailed below:

1. Double cleanse: This means that you cleanse first with an oil based cleanser which effectively dissolves and takes off your makeup and sunscreen. Next, you use a foam, gel or cream based cleanser to take off any remaining residue and deeply cleanse your skin.

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I honestly wasn’t too sure about this step because I felt that it would “over clean” my face and just dry it out but my experience couldn’t have been further from that. My Sephora oil cleanser/ makeup remover combined with the Innisfree cleanser referenced above have been an awesome combo! My skin feels clean after a wash and yet still soft to the touch; no tight feeling or white cast.

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Th best part of it all?! My acne has been effectively reduced to little to none! Deep cleaning my skin this way causes my breakouts to just shrink and vamoose with a quickness which is so satisfying to watch *deep sigh*. The downside however has been that when I do breakout; it leaves a scar 🙁 I guess you can’t have it all. Please note that I only double cleanse at night.

2. Use a toner: Korean skin care, I thought toners were just supposed to be the alcohol laden liquids which dried out your face so imagine my surprise when toners in this market were instead multi-functional and mostly hydrating! I chucked my Witch Hazel out the door and have since tried out two toners. This first step of adding some moisture back into my skin has been such a refreshing step. After trying out two toners, I’ll have to admit that I’m still on the hunt for my ride or die toner. I have a review coming up shortly on what I’ve been using for the last 6 months; Beauty Water by Son & Park .

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3.Layer on an essence or ampoule: These terms were so confusing when I started my research about Korean skin care because they were used interchangeably at times but also separately sometimes. My understanding now is that these are normally concentrated products that are focused on accomplishing a specific task for your skin. This is where products like snail essences which are awesome improving skin texture and healing blemishes or first treatment essences usually laden with fermented goodness come in to play. Because of my skin’s needs, I went with Benton’s Snail and Bee high content essence referenced above and I haven’t looked back. It’s now one of my favorite products and I should have a full review up shortly.

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4. Top up with an emulsion or cream: Again, as a beginner, I was so confused by these terms! I searched high and low for moisturizers and that got me nowhere. Turns out that creams are mostly what we would liken to moisturizers in Western skin care. However, that single moisturizing step is eliminated by the multi-step approach to hydration used in the Korean skin care routine. Emulsions are normally lightweight, liquid consistency products that moisturize or have a multi task purpose. Sleeping packs are essentially thick moisturizers or occlusives that seal everything in. I just finished up the Belif moisturizing bomb  and it was an awesome cream for the winter! I just ordered something more light-weight for the summer and will have a review up once I test it.

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5. Use a sunscreen: Yes I have fleeky levels of melanin but I’m not about to let the sun catch me slipping. Previously, I was never interested in wearing sunscreen because all the ones I tried had high levels of zinc or titanium dioxide which left the dreaded white cast. However, I reconsidered sunscreens once I got into Korean skin care because there was such a big variety of them available and I haven’t been disappointed. I got the cult favorite, Biore Watery Essence and it’s been smooth sailing since then. Wearing sunscreen has also helped me to speed up the fading process of the afore mentioned dark spots since they are now protected from getting darker in the sun. Win-win all around!

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6. Sheet masks: Whenever I feel like my skin needs an extra pick me up, I slap on a sheet mask. I honestly believe that there is a sheet mask for skin concern under the sun from rejuvenating needs to glow inducing to pimple busters. They’re normally quite cheap as well and can normally be found at the local Asian stores.

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Whew, this turned out to be quite a long post! Thanks for sticking with me 🙂 As you can see,  my routine is very simple but it has worked wonders for my skin. My acne and breakouts have been completely minimized and my skin is no longer oily because it’s better hydrated! The big takeaway for me has been that you don’t need to get all the 10,000 products that are being raved about and don’t let the multi-step routine dissuade you either. Just assess what your skin needs and modify your routine accordingly with products formulated and well proven to help tackle these concerns one at a time.

Have you considered experimenting with or are you already familiar with any K-beauty items? If so, let me know you which products you’ve tried and what your experience has been in the comment section below!  Keep your eyes out for my upcoming posts in my K-beauty series as well 😉





Hey there! My name is Nana and welcome to my blog. I talk about a plethora of things here and I'm excited to share all those musings with you! Stop by often ;)


  1. Loved this post Nana! I died laughing at the tidbit about donkey milk–the heck? But if it gives you unicorn skin ?, hand it over please ??. Thank you for including product links!

  2. Loved it!!! Lol I could hear your actual voice as I was reading it! You know struggle with the skin too! This really helped

    • Aww yay!!! This makes me so happy Kobe, thank you!! And haha I’m glad it comes across that way, that’s what I was going for!I definitely know the skin struggle so I’m really happy this helped. I have more skincare posts coming up as well so stay tuned 🙂

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