Korean Skincare in Five Steps: A Simple Routine for Busy People and Beginners


There are a few things Koreans are known for: K-pop, awesome food, and yes, their beautiful skin. Although Koreans make it seem effortless, the skincare regimen for which they’re so famous can range anywhere from 10 to 18 steps – even more, sometimes, for those who are really dedicated to their skin.

For most of us, that seems unrealistic. I know when I first started looking into upping my skincare game, I had no idea where to start. There are so many products, brands, steps, and techniques. The whole process is very intimidating and can seem like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

However, fear not! I’ve come up with a much simpler skincare routine for those of you just starting off, or want to get an idea of what products to use. Keep in mind that this is the bare minimum – you will most likely need to customize this to suit your skin’s needs or build upon this. This is just an idea of what a very, very basic skincare routine should look like.

Let’s get to the breakdown of this basic skincare routine! Watch the video and read the steps below!

Step 1: Cleanse

This is probably the most important part of your skincare routine. Properly cleansing your skin removes all the dirt, sebum, and makeup in your pores. If you’re a makeup wearer, pay close attention! You’ll want to remove your makeup before cleansing. That’s a whole other topic, but cleansing balms do an amazing job. Next, you’ll want to take a cleansing foam or gel that is formulated for you skin type and create a lather by rubbing the cleanser in between your palms. Then apply the soapy lather to your skin and gently massage your face. In the Korean skincare world, it’s a big no-no to just apply the cleanser directly to your skin instead of creating the lather in your hands first. Why? Because it creates to much friction and movement on the skin, possibly damaging the skin.

My recommendations: Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm, SkinFood Milk Shake Point Makeup Remover (for removing makeup first), Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Cleansing Foam, and Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Foam.


Step 2: Tone

You may think your skin is clean at this point, but think again! Most likely, you still have some dirt, sebum, or makeup in your pores. This is where toner comes in. It completes the cleaning process and also allows your skin to absorb the products you apply afterward. Apply a decent amount of toner to a cotton pad and spread it in between your fingers. Then use the pad to swipe from the center of your face, moving outward to reveal perfectly clean skin! Now your pores are ready for the rest of your Korean skincare products!

My recommendations: Mamonde Rose Water Toner and SU:M37 Waterfull Skin Refresher

mamonde toner

Step 3: Serum/Ampoule

The next step is applying a concentrated essence. This is a step that you can really personalize to your skin type because you can buy serums or ampoules for all kinds of skin needs. For example, you may want a product that’s brightening, evening, anti-wrinkle, anti-acne, etc. Whatever you decide to use, apply it by patting it gently into you skin. If you’re wondering if there is a difference between serums and ampoules, the short answer is yes, but that’s a conversation for another time. Since we’re talking about a “basic” skincare routine, we’re just going to lump them together.

My recommendations: Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule and Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence

missha serum

Step 4: Eye Cream

Koreans never forget about their eyes! Since the eyes are a very delicate area and they’re one of the first places to show signs of aging, you need to be diligent about caring for them! Again, pick an eye cream suited for your needs. Apply with your ring fingers and pat into the skin around your eyes. I like to take whatever is left over on my fingers and apply it to my smile lines around my nose and mouth.

My recommendations: Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream and Belif Moisturizing and Firming Eye Cream

Belif Moisturising Firming Eye Cream.jpg

Step 5: Face Cream

Time to seal in all your hard work! Applying a face cream at the end of your skincare regimen is important because it seals everything in and creates a barrier for your skin. It allows all your products to work properly, and moisturizes your skin. Koreans can never moisturize their skin enough, so it’s always nice to have one more layer of added moisture. Apply by gently massaging into skin and apply down your neck and chest as well!

My recommendations: SkinFood Gold Caviar Cream and Innisfree Green Tea Seed Cream

caviar cream

Well, there you have it! Your simplified version of a Korean skincare routine! I hope this was helpful for those of you who were like me and had no idea where to start. I’ll see you soon!