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How to Layer Your Skin Care Products, According to Koreans

There has been a lot of buzz around the concept of Korean skincare for the last few years. However, all the buzz seems to come with a lot of confusion. Most articles I’ve read on how to layer Korean Skincare feel daunting and overwhelming, especially for newcomers. Well, I am here to tell you it’s a lot simpler than you think! There are 10 ( I know, but stay with me) main steps in the Korean skincare regimen that are easy and take little to no effort on your part. Here we go: 

Step 1: Makeup Removal

Remove your makeup every night! Yes even if you are tired or drunk or whatever the case may be. Sleeping in your makeup is considered the ultimate skincare sin!  I consider this the most important step in any skincare routine because old makeup causes clogged pores, thus ACNE and we don’t want that. Use a good makeup remover or cleansing wipes to gently take off the day’s foundation and mascara. I buy my Korean makeup remover from the Korean dollar store. Take extra care around your eyes and avoid tugging at the delicate skin. You can go back over your eyelids with a cotton ball or q-tip dipped in makeup remover to wipe away excess eyeliner.

Step 2: Cleanse

Koreans believe massaging the face increases circulation, which makes skin appear brighter. Wash away any remaining makeup and oil from your face with a good cleanser in gentle circular motions. I use Dr. Jart DERMACLEAR™ MICRO FOAM CLEANSER. It’s perfect for anyone, but for those with oily skin especially. 

Step 3: Exfoliate

Exfoliating only needs to be done once a week or a few times a month depending on your skin’s condition. Exfoliation takes away dead skin cells and blackheads built upon the face and neck. Please don’t Over-exfoliate. The NeoGen Canadian Clay Pore Cleanser is my favorite Korean product for exfoliating. Your face initially feels a bit dry and red after each use but after toning and moisturizing, my face feels smooth the following day. 

Step 4: Toner

Toners were once used in the West to restore the skin’s pH balance after cleansing. However, today’s toners are made to prep skin for the following serums and treatments that come after cleansing. My favorite Korean toner is the Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner. I love it because it is for people like me with sensitive skin. Also- because of the hyaluronic acid and beta-glucan, you’ll get a strong boost of hydration right away in preparation for the rest of your skincare routine. 

Step 5: Essence 

Korean skincare considers this step to be the most important step in their skincare regimen. Essence promotes the speeding up of cell turnover rate, making skin smoother and brighter. The Amorepacific Vintage Single Extract Essence is perfection because it is a powerful anti-aging product. I actually was lucky enough to attend one of their masterclasses and learned that this product is handpicked green tea leaves on their own green tea fields, which means it’s pure green tea! No unnatural additives! I love that its fragrance-free for my sensitive skin. Truly, the ONLY essence on the market right now that works impeccably well. 

Step 6: Ampoule

Often confused with serums or even essence, think about them as a perfect mix of both. Ampoules are super-concentrated versions of essences. They can help to brighten skin, fade sun spots and acne scars and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Innisfree Ginger Honey Ampoule is great because it helps maintain moisture in the skin, makes the skin feel bouncier, gives you a touch of that luminescent glow and the best part?? smells amazing! Ampoules are great for major skin crisis, so not necessary to use all the time. 

Step 7: Sheet Mask 

Now, off to the fun part. Sheet masks if nothing else are such fun. Sheet masks can be used every day, every other day or just a few times a month - whatever you prefer! There are hundreds of different types of masks designed to target multiple skin problems. The cotton fabric forces your skin to absorb the nutrients and moisture before they have a chance to evaporate. Your skin will appear more plump and brighter after one use, making this beauty trend addicting! I personally love this particular mask. My skin is super hydrated and prepped for makeup application after using it. However, do choose ones that will most benefit your personal skincare/problems and have fun with it! They are definitely an instant mood-lifter.

Step 8: Eye Cream

The skin around our eyes is the thinnest and most fragile. Therefore, it’s one of the fastest ways to tell someone’s age. I've tried many eye creams but as far as Korean Brands go, I love the Mamonde Floral Hydro Gel Cream’. Gently tap the cream under and around the eye area. This eliminates the tugging that causes wrinkles and lines. It’s perfect for under concealer because of it's consistency. 

Step 9: Moisturizer 

A good moisturizer is necessary to lock your whole skincare routine in. I love the CosRx Oil-free Moisturizing Lotion. Use gentle strokes to rub emulsion into your skin. Korean women are all about layering product and this is just as important as the other steps. Moisturizers keep the skin from developing dry patches.

Step 10: Night Cream / SPF

By this point, your skin has major shine and feels heavy. Korean women call this a “dewy” glow and it’s considered healthy-looking. If it’s time for bed, choose a heavier cream for your skin to soak in as you sleep. I love the Elemis plumping pillow facial In the morning, opt for a light moisturizer or BB cream with SPF. The Murad Day cream with SPF 30 is perfect for melanin skin. I can't stress enough how important daily sun protection is. 

This routine may seem exhausting but the whole thing takes only 20 - 25 minutes. The amazing results will have you running back for even more products to try! Besides everything, Korean skincare is all about pampering and taking care of yourself. Have fun with it and enjoy your clear, glowing skin! As always, thank you so kindly for reading and see you next Friday. 


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