The Korean 10-Step Hair Routine That Will Get You Idol-Like Hair

We all know by now K-beauty is a huge trend around the world. From the famous 10-step skincare routine to BB cushions, the amount of beauty trends coming from Korea is ginormous and will probably keep on growing with time. But did you know there’s also a Korean hair care routine? Well, there is, and it’s time everyone learns about it. “How is it different from what I do to my hair now?” you may wonder. While the Western haircare routine focuses on the hair itself, the Eastern one focuses on maintaining a healthy scalp — after all scalp is also skin — which leads to healthy hair.

But to keep your scalp healthy you need to follow a few steps… 10 to be exact. Sounds like a lot, but, just like it is for the skincare routine, it’s not meant to happen every single time you wash your hair. Wanna give it a try? Here’s how!

Step 1: Scalp scalers


This is one of the main steps! In order to grow healthy hair, our scalp follicles need to stay clean and exfoliated, that way our hair will be born ready to glow. To accomplish that, we have scalp scalers. In case you’ve never heard of them before, they’re basically salicylic acid-based treatments that help exfoliate our scalp, getting rid of dead skin cells and excessive oils.

How to: You want to use a scalp scaler only once a week or twice a month; no need to do more than that. You should apply it over your dry scalp right before shampoo. Spread it, making sure to cover your whole head and let it act for around 20 minutes before you rinse off and continue to the next step.

Step 2: Shampoo and scalp massage


There’s not really a lot to say about the shampooing process besides what you probably already know, but the magic comes when you add a scalp brush to the mix. In order to maximize lather, boost circulation, and provide your scalp with a deep cleansing session, you must incorporate a brush to help out and remove all remains of dirt, hair products, or dead skin cells.

How to: After shampooing, hold the brush and massage your scalp using round, gentle movements. Do this until you hit every spot around your head and then rinse thoroughly.

Step 3: Conditioner


There’s no use to conditioning without letting the product sit in your hair for a little. While some just apply it and rinse after a minute, it’s very important to let your conditioner do its job, and for that to happen you need to be patient and let it absorb.

How to: Before applying your conditioner, make sure to get rid of excess water, leaving your hair damp but not wet. There’s no need to apply conditioner on your scalp, just apply it over the bottom half, especially if you have oily hair. Let it sit for at least five minutes before rinsing off.

Step 4: Hair masks


Hair masks (commonly known as hair packs in Korea) are deep hair treatments meant to nurture our hair in a powerful way thanks to a handful of ingredients contained in the formula. These will help your hair get stronger and recover from sun, weather, or environmental damage.

How to: Once a week, replace your conditioner with a hair mask. After shampooing, apply the treatment all over your hair and let it sit for around 15-20 minutes.

Step 5: Vinegar rinse


Now we got to the fun part. Just as it is for skin care, maintaining the right pH levels for your scalp is mandatory. Suffering from dryness or itchiness? Excess oil? Dandruff? Well, your scalp’s pH is probably too high or too low and needs to be brought back to normal. How do you accomplish that? With a vinegar rinse. Yes, you read that right. Vinegar can do wonders for your hair by balancing your scalp’s pH, which will bring brightness and health to your hair.

How to: Once a week, use your vinegar rinse over both your scalp and hair right after rinsing your conditioner, then clear it out with lukewarm water until it’s all gone. Some people like to mix the vinegar with some water before applying in order to dilute the strong scent.

Step 6: Scalp mask


Just as there are hair masks, there are scalp masks. Your scalp’s structure works in a different way than your hair’s does, reason why you should treat them separately. The fun part is you can actually do both at the same time, as they’re designed for different sections of your hair.

How to: Once a week, after your shampoo, apply the mask all over your scalp. Let it act for around 10-15 minutes before rinsing off.

Step 7: Scalp tonic


From now and until the end of the routine, every step will be very similar to what you do for skincare. The same way you apply toner after cleansing your face, you’ll use a scalp tonic as a hair toner to balance its pH and prepare your scalp for the following steps.

How to: Once you’re out of the shower, make sure to get rid of excess water with a towel and spray the tonic all over your scalp. No need to rinse or dry. Massage for a little to help it absorb faster.

Step 8: Scalp serum


Continuing with the similarities to the skincare routine, a hair essence or serum will help hydrate, heal, and calm down your scalp, especially if you suffer from dryness or excessive oil.

How to: Pump the serum in your hand and spread it all over your scalp in sections, making sure to rub it in homogeneously.

Step 9: Hair serum and/or essence


While you just applied essence or serum to your scalp, you need a different formulation for your hair. The same way serums deliver a large amount of active ingredients to your skin, hair serums do the same for your hair, while essences take care of keeping hydration locked inside. Personally, I see this step as the replacement for a leave-in detangler.

How to: After your scalp serum, spread enough hair serum/essence over your hair, starting at the ends. You can massage the formula in for a few seconds in order for it to be absorbed better and faster.

Step 10: Overnight treatment


Some days, it’s a good idea to let a hair mask do its job for a few hours instead of minutes. Once or twice a week, towel-dry your hair after showering. After applying all your serums and essences, cover your hair with a nighttime treatment (don’t go overboard though, a little product will do), and let it sit until it dries. If your hair is on the oily side, you may want to rinse it off the next morning; if not, you can just let it stay in your hair until you wash it again.

Caro Malis is a K-pop and K-beauty obsessed vlogger and writer. You can find her interviewing some of yours (and her) favorite groups when they visit NYC, trying the latest K-Beauty trends, testing idols’ skincare routines or doing #masKaraoke. Say hi to Caro on Instagram and Twitter

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