While the main skincare regimen of the West contains the steps of Cleansing, Toning, Moisturizing and Exfoliating, the Koreans of the East follow ten steps. With that much procedures, it’s no surprise therefore why their skin is as flawless as we see it.
Skincare in Korea is a somewhat exhaustive multi-step process, a fact which seems to have sparked a ton of intrigue in the beauty world as of late. To outsiders looking in, the “million-step” Korean skincare regimen sounds a bit extreme, but it all boils down to cleansing, exfoliating, treating, intensely moisturizing and applying plenty of SPF during the day. I guess the real differentiating factor between how Koreans take care of their skin and more Western routines is that in Korea, you’re programmed to start early— well before your first training bra—while our more American version of skincare tends to be a sudden mad dash to Nordstrom to buy $100 eye cream, hoping it will reverse some of the teenage UV damage when we hit the age of 30. Thorough skincare is really just a part of Korean culture—it’s completely ingrained in your life since early childhood, when you’re dragged along to the communal bathhouses by your mother to have your dead skin sloughed off with bright green viscose cloths.
When I first got to Korea, I was motivated to start up with a Korean-style routine because my coworkers thought I was so barbaric for my complete lack of one. They would say (rather bluntly) in passing, “I could see your dark circles from way over there,” or, “What is growing out of your skin?” or my favorite, “ P lease brush your hair.” So they obviously didn’t get the whole wavy California beach hair look, but their well-intentioned rudeness did get me thinking about my skin. And I’ll admit, I was (still am) shallow enough to be influenced by the flawless-faced actresses in Korean dramas—and I watch them all in HD! How Jun Ji-hyun has better skin in My Love From Another Star than when she starred in My Sassy Girl 13 years ago is just beyond my comprehension.
To those who believe they aren’t high maintenance enough for that bright, dewy skin: I didn’t either. But, like our American moms always said while shoving (their version of) Korean stir-fry into our mouths: just try, you might like it!
Step 1: The Eye Makeup Removal
Remove your eye makeup gently with good makeup remover or Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissues, because expecting a normal cleanser to do a detailed job is what leaves you with week-old mascara on your lashes. And the last thing you want to do is tug the skin around your eyes, because, like most things in life, it will hold up better if you treat it gingerly. Also, use it to remove any long-wear lipstick.
Step 2: The Cleanse
Rule of thumb is, if you’re going to spend 30 minutes putting on your face, you should spend the same amount of time are take the same amount of care when cleaning it off. Use an oil cleanser like The Face Shop Rice Water Cleansing Oil and use gentle, circular motions with your fingers to massage and clean off that foundation and BB cream. Koreans (and Into The Gloss) believe that massaging the face increases circulation, which equals brighter skin.
Step 3: The Exfoliator
Exfoliating with a natural scrub like the Skin Food Black Sugar Wash Off Mask really brings your skin back to its glory days when it was as soft as a baby’s butt. Twice a month is plenty, just concentrate on the t-zone or where blackheads frequent. When it comes to facial exfoliation, Korean women often believe less is more.