Why you don’t need the full 10-step Korean skincare routine

Korean women are known for their flawless skin. They invest time and money on their skincare routines and products, and often adopt an intricate 10- to 18-product routine. On a recent research trip to Korea, I was able to see this extensive routine in action, and what a huge sector it is within the Korean economy.

Amore Pacific is one of the largest beauty brands in Korea, with a product portfolio that includes Laneige, IOPE, Sulwhasoo, Innisfree and Etude House – some of the key products found in Korean women’s bathrooms.


While the average skincare routine involves the removal of make-up, followed by cleanser, exfoliation, toning, essence, ampoule or serum, sheet mask, eye cream, moisturiser and night cream, below is my shortened guide for getting similar results.

Your beauty cheat-sheet:

1. Cleanser:

This is a big one especially if you live in a city, with traffic, car fumes and lots of people. If you’re in a rush just keep a cleansing wipe handy, like the ones from Simple. If you have more time, try to cleanse twice, once with a wipe to take the surface layer of dirt off and then again with an oil, foam or cream cleanser (whichever is best for your skin type), to really clean the face.

2. Exfoliation

Good news, you actually don’t need this everyday. Schedule this in twice a week when you have more time, so maybe a Sunday night and a mid week evening.

3. Toning.

It’s good for hydrating the skin, but again another non essential. Add this step back in when you have more time, it’s a good prep for the Essence.

4. Essence

I swear by this product, it’s ideal for hydrating the skin, and giving you a nice, healthy, dewy glow. It’s water based and hydrating, which is great after cleansing, as that can strip your skin of moisture.

5. Ampoule (aka beauty booster for the skin)

It comes in packaging that looks like a serum but it delivers more benefits. That said it’s not an everyday must-have. This is a great step for extra moisture, it helps your moisturiser work harder, helping it sink into the skin. Perfect for winter months.

6. Serum

Like Essence, but it’s thicker in texture, a bit like a gel. It’s lightweight, you only need two or three drops that you pat into your skin.

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7. Sheet mask

Perfect for Sunday evenings, after a long soak in the bath. My favourites are these adorable animal character sheetmasks. Also sheet masks are perfect to store in your hand luggage if you fly a lot (you might frighten other passengers, but your skin will thank you for that added moisture in such a dehydrated cabin).

8. Eye cream

Everyone should use one, you need a separate, delicate cream for your eyes- your day cream won’t do. Also because your eyes show the first sign of lines and aging, you need to look after the skin there, which is thin and delicate.

9. Moisturiser

Everyone needs this, try and use one with an SPF for added skin protection.

10. Night cream

Another must! Night time is when your skin regenerates so a good night cream is key. And if you don’t have the time (or money) for another product use a sheet mask instead, for moisture and hydration.

So that’s it. Flawless skin is possible, and all 10 steps are not required.


To see what else Theresa discovered on her trip, from the true economic value of the Korean beauty industry to the new breakthrough products, read the full Seoul Beauty feature report by  joining WGSN.

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