10-step Korean facial care: what to apply, why and when

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The 10-step Korean facial is a step-by-step beauty guide. But it’s not easy to figure out all the steps on your own, and it’s easy to step in the wrong place at first. That’s why I’m presenting you with a guide to the steps of applying Korean makeup. You’ll learn about each step and learn how to tailor products to your individual needs.

What is 10-step Korean facial care and why you need it

Why did the Koreans come up with all these steps? You don’t have time to trim your nails, and all you have to do is wash your face for a half an hour.

The point of 10-step Korean facial care is to prevent skin problems. It’s like a long-term deposit. You spend 10-20 minutes on your face every morning and evening.

Each step includes the steps of basic skin care:

  • cleansing
  • toning
  • nourishing
  • hydration
  • protection

Why 10-step Korean facial care?

The obligatory facial ritual has only five steps. So why are there 10 steps in a Korean facial? Because each step is broken down into several parts.

To fully understand 10-step Korean facial care, think of your skin as a sponge. When it’s dry, it absorbs moisture worse, but if you moisten it a little bit, the situation changes. It’s the same with skin. Each step softens it, makes it more receptive and able to absorb much more nutrients.

Believe me, with the Korean approach, you will be happy with your reflection in the mirror. Instead of rushing around the bathroom wondering where that pimple or wrinkle came from that didn’t even exist yesterday. The only thing you need to do is overcome your laziness. If you’re ready, then let’s start with the very first step: cleansing.

10-step Korean facial care: step 1 – double cleansing

Cleansing is the stronghold of 10-step Korean facial care. It is the most important step and the foundation that should never be neglected. Simply washing with water is sacrilegious to Koreans.

Is it really necessary to wash your face in the morning and evening and is it beneficial for your skin?

To really get rid of all the dirt, dust, germs and other stuff on your face the Koreans have developed a double cleanse:

  • cleansing with hydrophilic oil/balsam;
  • cleansing with foam or cleansing gel.

Cleansing oils and balms in the Korean system

How can oils remove oily shine and sebum? I didn’t understand the idea of putting something oily on my face and expecting it to cleanse my skin. But actually, cleansing, or hydrophilic oils are manna from heaven for oily, combination skin. It’s also the best way to cleanse pores.

To see how cleansing oils work, pour a few drops of sunflower oil into a container of water. You will see how the oil collects into a film and does not dissolve.

The fat molecules are attracted. Therefore, hydrophilic oil does nothing to remove excess grease, decorative cosmetics and other “greasy” impurities. And also, this product has a secret.

The Koreans are masters of invention. When creating the oil, they used a tricky technology. If you moisten the oil with warm water, it turns into an emulsion that foams pleasantly.

When you decide to try oil-based products, you need to do the following:

  • Take a few drops of cleansing oil on your DRY hand;
  • Rub a little between the palms of your hands and apply to your face;
  • Slowly massage your skin for at least 3-4 minutes (this is very important). This way you get a double effect – you are cleansing your face and doing a lymphatic drainage massage, so take your time;
  • splash your face with a few drops of warm water and massage for a few seconds;
  • Rinse MUST with warm water.
  • Continue rinsing your face with warm water for 2 minutes.

Your skin will be left with an incomparable magical sensation. In the entire 10-step Korean care routine, this is my favorite step. But you have to apply the oil exactly as I described. If you slack off, you won’t get results.

If you are new to Korean cosmetics, I suggest you try cleansing with hydrophilic oil. Your skin will love it.

What hydrophilic oils I suggest you try:

Erborian’s Hydrophilic Oil with Charcoal for deep and gentle cleansing. The oil is suitable for all skin types, but I especially recommend it to owners of sensitive and problematic dermis.

Water-based products

These are our familiar foam cleansers. They definitively wash away the dirt molecules from your face that the cleansing oil didn’t get to.

10-step Korean facial care involves double cleansing. This means that you first remove the decorative cosmetics, sebum, residues of BB, CC creams and cushions. And only then do you wash your face with foam.

What foams I recommend:

The therapeutic tea tree foam comes first. The foam maintains pH and takes care of the health of your skin. If you are worried about acne, oiliness, rashes – this foam is for you.

Water-based products do a jewel-like job of cleansing. They wash and get all the dirt deep from the pores and exfoliate the dead fibers. That’s why Korean women use foams and gels paired with hydrophilic oil.

10 Step Korean Skin Care: Step 2 – Exfoliation

Exfoliation, or exfoliation, is the second step in 10-step Korean facial care. This step removes dead cells from the stratum corneum.

After exfoliation, the skin is much softer. This step also triggers the cell renewal process and facilitates the absorption of beneficial ingredients. For the exfoliation procedure, choose a scrub, a peeling gel or a peeling cream.

There is no need to peel every day. Once a week is enough. But if you have a problem with clogged pores, exfoliate twice a week.

In such cases, pay particular attention to the T-zone. That’s where blackheads and blackheads tend to settle. By the way, they are now releasing peeling toners in Korea that combine step 2 and step 3.

Although, I’ll tell you, I don’t do peels. I can’t stand it. Scrubbing peels have been a huge disappointment to me in general.

So I take acid toners, use a sponge when I wash my face, or the wonderful acid pads. They can be used as a peel and as a toner.

10 Step Korean Skin Care – Step 3: Toning


This is exactly the step in 10-step Korean facial care that I’ve always been afraid of. I remember when my skin was abused by an Oriflame toner. I was covered in crimson streaks, like a spotted hyena, and couldn’t go outside for hours.

For about 10 years I avoided tonics and crossed myself at their sight, until I was introduced to Korean cosmetics. Unlike the ruthless Western toners, Korean toners are primarily designed to hydrate the skin.

Korean toner removes residual foam or gel particles and lint from the towel after washing. It also gently exfoliates and tones the skin. But most importantly, it restores the skin’s protective barrier and prepares it for further skin care.

A toner is a must in any Korean 10 step oily or combination skin care regimen. It protects pores from impurities and controls sebum production.

For me the best toner by far was and still is the one with ceramides from Holika Holika. The convenient dispenser, instant effect. The skin is transformed. It is suitable for all ages and types, does not cause stickiness, I recommend it.

For girls with hypersensitive skin, I recommend Dr. Jart+ CiCapair therapeutic anti-stress toner.

10 Step Korean Skin Care – Step 4: Essence

With this step in the 10-step Korean care begins cosmeceuticals, that is, therapeutic and functional cosmetics. You have already cleansed, toned and prepared your skin to take in the serious nutrients.

Essence is a highly concentrated beauty product native to Korea. For me, it is the antidote to aging. It was after the essence that I began to believe in the wonders of Korean cosmetics.

The saturation of essences is much higher than creams and they are designed to solve the following problems:

  • cell regeneration
  • nourishing deep layers of the dermis
  • healing of microcracks and restoration of the skin

I use the Holika Holika Prime Youth Black Snail Essence. Thanks to black snail mucin and red ginseng stem cells, it smooths the skin and reduces wrinkles.

If you’re like me and you’re in the pursuit of eternal youth, make sure you use the essence. You can apply it twice a day, right after your toner, or just in the evening.

My first essence was with snail extract and I think it’s the essences and serums that give you a taste of the power of mucin.

What I recommend:

Corx snail mucin essence. Suitable for all ages and skin types. The essence helps with acne and rashes as well as fighting age-related changes.

For combination skin that tends to be oily, I recommend Laneige Essence. This is a very light and weightless product that gives your skin an amazing feeling of freshness, helps to narrow pores, and makes your tone bright and even.

10 Step Korean Skin Care – Steps #5 and #6: Emulsion and Serum

It was with emulsions that I started my misunderstandings with Korean cosmetics. I remember finding myself completely confused. Juggling all those bottles, I couldn’t figure out what to apply and when.

Before that, 10 Step Korean Skin Care lent itself to logic. But the emulsion and serum threw me off. But more importantly, how do these two products combine with the essence?

What is a facial emulsion

Emulsion was introduced by Korean beauties. For them, it’s one of the pillars upon which skin care is based. Just like the essence, the emulsion treats, nourishes and restores the skin. Read more about what Korean facial emulsions are here.

Emulsion is so versatile that in Korea they even use it on hair. It strengthens, adds shine, nourishes and prevents brittleness and split ends.

The emulsion has a thicker consistency, so it is applied after the essence, before the cream or instead of it. But more about that later. The emulsion and the essence are a wonderful tandem capable of bringing even the most neglected skin back to life.

What is a serum

A serum is a steroid-based essence. It contains the maximum amount of nutrients. A serum is designed to address highly specialized concerns:

  • clarification
  • wrinkle smoothing
  • skin tightening

The serum has a viscous texture and is thicker than water-based essences and emulsions. The serum does not need to be applied to the entire face. Depending on how it works, it can be used alone on age spots or alone on wrinkles.

Korean 10-Step Care: Emulsion VS Serum and in what order to apply

The 10 step Korean care system is to apply the essence first, then the serum, and then the emulsion:

  • Essence
  • serum
  • emulsion .

But in cases where the consistency of the serum is thicker than the emulsion, they apply it at the end.

In my personal experience, I will say that these two steps are interchangeable. Alternate them or apply them both at once. Give your skin rest days and periods of intense nourishment.

Note that if the weather is hot, this emulsion can be used instead of a cream. During cold weather or in spring, when the skin is weak, the emulsion can provide additional hydration.

Korean 10-Step Care – Step 7: Tissue masks

Tissue masks are the crown jewel of Korean cosmetics. I suggest figuring out the day they were created and celebrating them every year as an international holiday. Wrinkles, micro-cracks and all the problems that essences and emulsions can’t get to are easily solved by masks.

By the way, tissue masks embody the philosophy of Korean 10-Step Care. At this stage, you learn to love yourself and your skin.

Thanks to the fabric base, the mask’s nutrients don’t evaporate. And due to the long contact, the skin absorbs much more nutrients than after a serum or emulsion.

When to apply a mask

Treat yourself to a mask once or twice a week, or apply as needed. For example, Skin Rescuer series “rescue” masks are designed for emergency care. When an unexpected pimple or blemish appears, or just an urgent need to tidy up.

According to Korean 10-Step Care, the tissue mask is number 7:

  • cleansing
  • exfoliation
  • toning
  • essence
  • serum
  • emulsion
  • mask

But I recommend to apply the mask right after the essence or toner. Only in extreme cases, when you need to recharge your face to the maximum, apply it after the serum.

After the Korean tissue mask, you do not need to wash your face. Take it off, massage it, pat your face so that the hydrogel is finally absorbed. At the end, apply an emulsion or cream.

Moisturizers such as cream and emulsion “cover” the skin with a dome. This way, the nutrients from the mask don’t evaporate and continue to nourish the skin all day.

Korean 10-Step Care – Step #8: Eye cream

Charlotte Cho aptly called the skin around the eyes the barometer of age. It’s important to fight crows feet, sagging, and dark circles. Not just before wrinkles.

So you should start using eye cream regularly around age 25.

Korean star Park Ju Mi told in an interview that she’s been using eye cream since she was 25. And she uses it all over her face. The actress didn’t wait for wrinkles, and this is the result. In the picture she is 47 years old and looks stunning.

10-step Korean facial care: what to apply, why and when

Korean 10-Step Care – Step #9: Moisturizer

Our makeup pirouettes are meaningless without moisturizer. This is a major step that should not be skipped.

The cream has a dense texture and “seals” the nutrients, preventing them from evaporating. But the main task of the cream is moisturizing.

Korean moisturizers contain special components that attract water molecules. They retain moisture throughout the day and do not let the skin dry out.

Also moisturizing creams contain special substances that protect the skin. For example, ceramides in facial cosmetics restore the epidermal barrier. Such products protect not only from dryness, but also from adverse environmental factors, city dust and bacteria.

Korean 10-Step Care: The difference between night and day moisturizers

Korean manufacturers do not make separate series of night and day creams. In fact, there is no difference between them. There are lines with a thicker consistency and, conversely, with the texture of an emulsion.

When it’s hot, or in the morning, feel free to apply emulsion instead of cream. It also moisturizes, nourishes and protects beautifully like a cream, but it doesn’t feel heavy.

Korean 10-Step Care allows you to substitute cream for the emulsion. But in the evening, a moisturizer should be the headliner of your skincare routine.

Overnight masks instead of cream in Korean multi-step care

Two or three times a week, apply a night mask in place of/after your moisturizer. Its consistency is similar to cream or thick gel, but much richer. It differs from conventional masks in that it does not need to be washed off.

Evening Korean 10-Step Care treats night masks as the last step. You apply them to your face and go to sleep, most importantly not with your face in the pillow.

The phrase “don’t wash it off” means the night masks stay on your face all night. But you will have to wash it off in the morning.

From 11 a.m. to 4 a.m., your skin cells are renewed while you sleep. The night masks act as a jet fuel and enhance the regeneration process. In the morning, you get a fresh, radiant face.

Step #10: Protection

The 10-step Korean skincare finishes with UV protection. These include cushions, BB and CC creams, highlighters. And also special sunscreens.

Sun, air and water are no friend to your skin. UV rays are the main cause of aging. That’s why it’s imperative to wear sunscreen in summer.

From the steps listed, you can create an individual combination. There is no need to apply all the products on the list every day. In the morning, instead of ten, reduce your care to four items:

  • cleansing
  • toning
  • nourishing (essence)
  • moisturizer

In the evening, add a tissue mask, serum or nourishing emulsion to your skincare ritual. I periodically give my skin a day off from makeup. Once a week I apply the entire 10-step arsenal to my face.

And that’s it for me. Love and good cosmetics.

10-step Korean facial care: what to apply, why and when

About Post Author

Victor Zinchenko

Hello! My name is Victoria Zinchenko. I am 27. I love to travel, makeup and spend time with benefits. Also interested in music, teaching, foreign languages. I take notes, write on different beauty topics and share my experience.
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author

Victor Zinchenko

Hello! My name is Victoria Zinchenko. I am 27. I love to travel, makeup and spend time with benefits. Also interested in music, teaching, foreign languages. I take notes, write on different beauty topics and share my experience.

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