Glow + Behold: The Korean Beauty Regimen
As seen in Volume 10, Issue 2
I have been utterly obsessed with Korean beauty regimens for years. The more I researched about what some call "glass skin," the more I wanted in. I’m not a big fan of a matte skin tone and heavy makeup, so I'm more than intrigued by a skin routine that can make my skin need less makeup at forty-four. I was completely sold on the routine when I was face-to-face with a microblading client and she blurted out, "Okay! What are you doing to make your skin look like that?"
Hold on to your hats, friends. This basic regimen has roughly ten steps, day and night. I know, it sounds like a total career move, but I've found that it doesn't take that much time and it evolves into something you can customize. Some days you can do less depending on your time and your skin needs and some days you can do more because you've found something amazing that you want to throw in. I did it for thirty days and I can wholeheartedly say that it's amazing. As an esthetician, I can tell you that it feels like a mini-facial at least once daily. Most importantly, it feels like "me" time for mental health.
Before you start worrying that I'm suggesting you spend hundreds of dollars on products, know that most of these items were already in my own beauty bag. Don't get me wrong, I did have to hunt for a few things (like the Galactomyces 95 by Cosrx and the Laneige Sleeping Mask), but they were the most interesting additions to my skincare routine and I won't be abandoning them anytime soon.
While researching K-Beauty staples, I discovered that the "essence" step is key. Essence, as it was explained to me, is somewhere between a toner and a serum. I looked into the ingredients for this much-adored product and found that the most popular was "galactomyces" (also known as Pitera), a nutrient dense yeast that is a by-product of fermented saké (yeah, the rice wine you order at your favorite Japanese restaurant). Studies show that after using an essence product, the tester's skin is significantly improved. The improvements include a measurable reduction in oil, keratosis, and comedones while also having a marked improvement in overall hydration.
Step One: Cleansing Oil
In Korean skincare, being gentle is everything. Makeup is removed first with a cleansing oil or balm and there's no tugging or pulling of the skin. I skip this step if I haven't worn makeup.
Step Two: Cleanser
After you rinse your face with warm water, you follow up with a foam or cream cleanser. I use my Luna Fofo! I love sonic cleansers. If you don’t have one, get one!
Step Three: Exfoliate
This step is only done once or twice per week. I generally don’t use mechanical exfoliators on my face, so nothing with beads or scratchy pads. Enzyme and fruit peels are wonderful. I love this step. I feel especially glowy after exfoliating.
Step Four: Toner
Rebalance your skin's pH with a toner.
Step Five: Essence
Remember how important this step is? This product is a very good dupe to much more expensive essences and it has a little more of the active ingredient. Essence, as well as the remaining moisturizers and serum, should be patted on until absorbed. Never rubbed in.
Step Six: Serum
This step is where you can treat your specific skin issues like acne, dryness, pigmentation, etc.
Step Seven: Mask
This is another step that you only need to do once or twice per week. I keep my sheet masks in my fridge so they’re nice and cold when I use them. Because of this, I generally save this step for mornings that I feel a little puffy.
Step Eight: Eye Cream
Eye creams will generally have higher concentrations of active ingredients and they're thicker in consistency. Again, gently apply in a patting motion using your ring fingers.
Step Nine: Moisturizer
Do you feel like you've been kind to your skin yet? Even after the first day of this regimen, you should feel like you've been real good to yourself. This step is about using a moisturizer to suit your skin needs.
Step Ten: Sunscreen + Sleeping Mask
Coola is the first sunscreen that I like enough to double as my moisturizer. It’s lightweight and works well under my makeup with no beading. As for the Laneige mask, I’ve never used a sleeping mask until now and I won’t likely stop. One word: Dewy!