Korean Skin Care Regime

korean skin care routine

Korean Skin Care is said to be 12 years more advanced than North America’s. There has been a lot of buzz about it lately, so during my visit to Hong Kong this past April, I decided to pick up some stuff and give the much talked about Korean skin care regime a try. The regime can range from 8 to 15 steps twice a day. It seems daunting, but after seeing the results, I actually enjoy the me time. It’s also a great way to wind down before going to bed.

I noticed results within two weeks of starting this regime. My acne has significantly subsided, my skin is glowing, smoother, more even and my pores are visibly smaller. I believe my acne has subsided due to multiple reasons in addition to this regime, however, that’s for another blog post.

What’s important to note about this regime is that you need to observe and listen to your skin. You customize it to your skin as you go. You don’t have to completely abandon your current skin care regime, or the non Korean products you’ve grown to love. I do a combination of Korean, Japanese, Swiss, French and North American brands, as required. To me, the Korean Skin Care Regime is a guideline on good skin care practices, regardless of where the actual products come from.

My current skin care regime is as follows.

Step 1: Eye Make Up Removal

I inter change between Innisfree’s Apple Juicy Lip & Eye Remover or Neutrogena’s All-in-One Make Up Cleansing wipes. If the rest of this regime sounds intimidating, do yourself a favour and at least do this step. Never, ever go to sleep with make up on.

Step 2: 2 Step Cleansing

Oil Cleansing to Remove Make Up

Oil cleansers are pre-cleansers that lift dirt and make up from your face. However, residuals from the oils can block the absorption of serums and creams (that you use later on in your regimen), so it’s important to wash your face again with a gentle cleanser. I only do this step at night, when removing my make up.

I’m currently using Banila Clean it Zero Balm.

Banila Clean It Zero Balm

Foaming Cleanser

I wash my face using a gentle foaming cleanser twice a day, gently massaging the cleanser in circular motions for about 30 seconds.

I’m currently using Origins’ Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash.

origins checks and balances

Step 3: Exfoliate

Exfoliating can help your skin look brighter and improve the penetration of the active ingredients in the products you use later on in this regime. It also helps people with dry skin to shed dead skin cells and people with oily skin to unclog pores. I do this once a week.

I’m currently using Skinfood’s Black Sugar Scrub.

skin food black sugar mask

Step 4: Refresh

Refreshers aka “toners” help rebalance our skins’ pH levels after cleansing. In Korea, they gently massage the toner using their hands. I apply it using a cotton pad – North American style.

I recently tried Etude House’s Wonder Pore Freshner and Sasa Tinnie’s Pure Care Perfect Balancing Toner. I prefer the latter as it’s more gentle and moisturizing. The key here is to avoid astringent toners, and try more gentle toners that refresh and moisturize the skin.

what's the best toner

Step 5: Essence

Essences are unique to the Korean Skin Care Regime and many say this is the step where they’ve noticed the biggest difference. It’s a cross between a serum and a toner and are packed with anti-aging ingredients that increase the skin cell turnover rate, boost collagen production and other anti-aging miracles. Although it’s not used as the primary anti-aging component in the daily skin care routine, it’s an extra step to give the your skin an additional shot of antioxidants, moisture and fatty acids.

I’m currently using Suisse Programme’s Cellular Boosting Solution which apparently rivals the holy grail of essences, SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. Another popular choice is Missha First Treatment Essence.

Suisse Programme Cellular Boosting Solution

Step 6: Serum

Serums are a concentrated version of the essence and are loaded with anti aging ingredients. They typically go on before day/night creams as they absorb better into the skin.

I’m currently using La Colline’s Cell White – White C Serum. This line is targeted for people with spots and blemishes.

La Colline Cell White White C Serum

Step 7:  Blemish Correct Spot Treatment

This is optional and unique based on every one’s skin care needs. Since I recently battled a bad bout of acne, I’ve been left with scars on my cheeks. This step helps with lightening the scars. I simply dab the spot treatment on my blemishes.

I’m currently using La Colline’s Anti-Spot White Corrector.

La Colline Spot Treatment

Step 8: Sheet Mask

I love mask days! I loaded up on sheet masks when I was in Hong Kong and have bought a few from the online stores I provide below. I apply sheet masks 2-3 times a week and you usually leave them on for 15-25 minutes (depending on the mask). There are sheet masks for every skin type – acne prone, aging, dry, etc. I’m currently using a combination of Charcoal, Green Tea and recently ordered some Snail Masks. My skin thanks me for it the next day. I don’t recommend any specific mask as I’m always trying new ones.

Korean Sheet Masks

I also throw Glamglow’s Supermud Clearing Treatment into the mix from time to time. It’s a Hollywood favourite that does wonders for my skin. I usually use it right before a special event or if I feel my skin is really acting up. For this particular mask, I use it right after Step 2 – 2 Step Cleansing.

Step 9: Eye Cream

This is nothing new and everyone over the age of 25 should be using eye cream twice a day. I’m in love with Caudalie’s Premier Eye Cru eye cream. For tips on picking a good eye cream for you, check out a previous post I did on eye creams here.

Caudalie Preimer Cru Eye Cream

Step 10: Eye Mask

I do this about once a week and similar to a sheet mask, this is a mask for your eyes. It helps with anti wrinkling, puffiness and dark circles.

I’m currently using Petitfee’s Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye Patch.

Petitfee Hydrogel Eye Patch

Step 11: Moisturizer

I apply a light weight, oil-free moisturizer day and night. This is the first step of moisturzing. The key to the Korean Skin Care Regime is to keep your skin as hydrated as possible.

I’m currently using First Aid Beauty’s Skin Rescue Daily face cream.

First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Daily Face Cream

Step 12: Sunscreen/Night Cream


I apply SPF 60 daily over my moisturizer in the day. For more details on the importance of sunscreen and some good options, check out my previous blog post here.

I’m currently using La Roche Posay’s Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60.

La Roche Posay Sunscreen

Night Cream

More cream? Like seriously? Yes! Koreans believe that your skin needs to stay hydrated as you recharge overnight. Night creams are typically filled with anti aging ingredients, giving you that last burst of anti aging goodies to keep your skin looking youthful beyond your years. I’m actually in the market for a night cream so I don’t have any suggestions at the moment, but again, if you already have a night cream you love that isn’t a Korean brand, stick to it.

Step 13: Apply Dr Sebagh Breakout Powder and Cream

This is unique to my regime as I have acne prone skin. I apply this as required to help control breakouts in my problem areas. For more details on this product, check out a previous review I did on it here.

Step 14: Maintenance Facials

Korean women go for facials once a week. It’s part of their culture. I go every two weeks. I really believe in facials. My mother in law has been getting a facial once a month since she was 19 years old and at over 55, if you look at her skin, you’d be a believer too! For my facials, I like to focus on deep cleansing, exfoliating, extractions and hydration. The week I get facials, I don’t exfoliate (see above).

Facials sound costly but don’t have to be. There are plenty of places that offer packages where if you pre purchase a package, you’re saving hundreds of dollars. Also, don’t hesitate to ask a spa owner what kind of deal can they make for you if you come in for regular facials. Spas love regular clients more than once in a blue moon high paying clients.


Since Canada has a trade agreement with Korea, I have never paid duties on anything I’ve ordered online and shipping is minimal. Do allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. Check out the following links where I’ve purchased from before. There are plenty of options, but as the choices are endless, I’ll leave you with four to start.

Tester Korea 

This is a great site to try samples of various products.


Beautynet Korea

This one has free shipping, but I find the prices incorporate shipping.



Significantly cheaper than Beautynet Korea, but shipping is extra.


Sasa Online

This one has a lot of variety and where you’ll find coveted Swiss made products and other very good quality brands you can’t find elsewhere. I’ve never tried buying online, but this is where I got my products in person in Hong Kong.


6 Comments on “Korean Skin Care Regime

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