Looking to learn more about this extensive Korean skincare routine? Here’s all you need to know about the step-by-step process…
It’s no surprise that the sheer number of products can be daunting (wait, a serum and an essence are different things?) but with Hong Kong’s weather being all over the place, my skin has been acting up in ways that I’ve never had to deal with before – dry patches, random zits, uneven tone and the likes. Realising my normal routine of face wash, eye cream and moisturiser wasn’t cutting it, I turned to the internet’s worst kept secret: the 10 step Korean skincare routine. I buckled down, took a hard look at my existing products to figure out what else I needed, and dove right in. Popularised in the United States by aesthetician Charlotte Cho, founder of Soko Glam, the routine does feature ten different products, but Cho ensures that “it’s a misconception that you’re supposed to be doing all 10 steps every single day”, meaning that you can customise the routine to suit your particular needs. Despite having this “opt out”, I somehow managed to end up with a 7-10 step routine everyday anyway. Go big or go home?
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So here’s what I learned in this process: will I be doing a 10 step skincare process every night for the rest of my life? Realistically, no. On nights when I got back home late from events or plans with friends, it was difficult to force myself to get through all of the steps, especially if my skin didn’t feel very dry or in need of some TLC. I do think that I’ll be incorporating some of these products (like the serum) into my daily routine because at the end of the week, my face looked a lot more even-toned and bright than it did at the beginning of the week. It was also great to take out 20-30 minutes a day for some self-care. Checking out (and checking in) and getting some mental space whilst taking care of your skin is a great habit.
Whilst it’s easy to get bogged down in the myriad of products available on the market, shop your collection first and use what you have. It’s important to only supplement things you really need. Just because you’re taking on a new routine, you don’t have to substitute out the face wash that you have in your bathroom for something shiny and new – at the end of the day, you know your skin best, so do what it tells you to do and don’t go overboard. Start small, and you’ll see the changes slowly but surely!
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Now, let’s really get into the thick of things with what each step actually is, and how I felt about them…
I swear on boscia’s MakeUp-Break Up Cool Cleansing Oil (HK$250) for my oil cleansing needs. Not even the toughest of setting sprays can stand up against this (surprisingly light) oil, and two pumps of this breaks down all the makeup on my face, from contour to mascara. The best part is that it doesn’t leave any residue after you rinse it off, so even outside of the ten-step routine, this is a great way to get rid of the daily grime.
For this one, I cheated a little bit. My skin historically has not reacted great to foam washes, so I switched the step out for my usual face wash – philosophy’s purity made simple cleanser (HK$200). I’ve been using it for over a year and am obsessed with it, as it leaves my skin moisturised and clean without feeling overly “squeaky”. I even carry a mini bottle in my gym bag because no other cleanser has been able to compete. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked doing a double clean in the evening, since I thought it was going to feel like a chore.
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Used: Day 2 and 5
I’ve heard about the dangers of over exfoliating your skin, so this is something I only did twice in the week for fear of rubbing my skin raw! I’ve been using St.Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub for years, and it’s always been great to my skin. The scrub is gentle enough that it sloughs away the dead skin but doesn’t leave you with red, dry or sensitive patches. I was pretty happy with only doing this twice in the week, as my skin didn’t really need it any more than that.
Since this was a Korean skincare routine test, I thought it only fitting to turn to Korean beauty experts Innisfree for my toner. Over the week, I became a massive fan of their Jeju lava seawater skin toner (HK$190) – it soothed, cooled and primed my skin for the next steps without drying it out or stinging. It took care of any leftover residue from my double washing and exfoliating, and made sure my skin was a smooth canvas, ready for the serums.
Used: as needed
I wasn’t sure how much I would need an essence every day, so I went for a specific type to address my biggest skin concerns: random zits and blemishes popping up when they were least wanted. The Innisfree Bija trouble spot essence (HK$150) was a perfect fit for my needs, and I could dot the essence onto whatever blemish had showed up that evening. The formula was light and watery so it was absorbed very quickly. This is key because you don’t want to have to wait for the formula to settle in for ages before moving onto the next step.
This was one of my favourite parts of the routine, despite me thinking it would be a pain. The Innisfree Green tea seed serum (HK$220) is a beauty world fave, and for good reason. It smells fresh, feels light but still moisturizing and dries almost instantly, without leaving your face sticky in the slightest. It was visibly noticeable how plump my skin felt and looked after I used this! I didn’t personally feel the need to get any specific boosters or ampoules, but there are so many out there on the market to get you the skin you want.
Used: Day 2, 4, 7
This was the longest part of the routine (you leave a mask on for between 15 and 20 minutes) and so I only did It three times over the week. I turned to Innisfree again (at HK$9 a sheet mask, the brand cannot be beaten!) and decided to go for the Second Skin Oil Serum Mask in Green Tea (HK$33), Serum Mask in Olive (HK$33) and the My real squeeze mask in Manuka honey (HK$9). I was a fan of the Manuka honey mask already, and any leftover product on my face after I took the mask off sunk in quite quickly. The Second Skin Oil Serum Masks were definitely more saturated, and despite leaving my skin to absorb the product, it didn’t dry down for quite a while. With this step, make sure you’ve got enough time to put on a TV show (thanks Netflix) and chill out.
The best cure for wrinkles is prevention, ladies! I’ve been religiously using an eye cream under my eyes since I turned 21, and so far my favourite has been the Keihl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado (HK$270). I have incredibly dry skin under my eyes and this adds the perfect amount of hydration every day and is easy to pat into the skin (use your ring finger with a light touch for best results!). This step is essential, with or without the additional steps, so definitely don’t give it a skip!
The final step (for me) each night was moisturising my face to lock in all the products and let them work their magic overnight. This Aveeno daily nourishing moisturizer (HK$83) has been my go-to for years and has never let me down. It even has SPF 30 so is great to pop on before you leave the house. This is where your final layer of hydration comes in, so pick a product based on your skin type and how the products prior to this step leave you feeling!
I used the Innisfree perfect UV protection cream as my daily sunscreen for the week, and I am never going back. With SPF50, this powerhouse product will make sure your skin is well and truly protected. It leaves absolutely no residue or white sheen, common to sunscreens. The consistency is watery, but don’t be fooled – this product works. I used to skip sunscreen a lot before this routine, but it really should be an essential step before leaving the house.
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