The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

Since her article on the best Korean makeup was so well-received, and you, our lovely readers, essentially demanded a skincare follow-up, the pore-less Charlotte Cho is back with a rundown of the beauty routine she picked up while living in Seoul. 

Skincare in Korea is a somewhat exhaustive multi-step process, a fact which seems to have sparked a ton of intrigue in the beauty world as of late. To outsiders looking in, the “million-step” Korean skincare regimen sounds a bit extreme, but it all boils down to cleansing, exfoliating, treating, intensely moisturizing and applying plenty of SPF during the day. I guess the real differentiating factor between how Koreans take care of their skin and more Western routines is that in Korea, you’re programmed to start early—well before your first training bra—while our more American version of skincare tends to be a sudden mad dash to Nordstrom to buy $100 eye cream, hoping it will reverse some of the teenage UV damage when we hit the age of 30. Thorough skincare is really just a part of Korean culture—it's completely ingrained in your life since early childhood, when you're dragged along to the communal bathhouses by your mother to have your dead skin sloughed off with bright green viscose cloths.

When I first got to Korea, I was motivated to start up with a Korean-style routine because my coworkers thought I was so barbaric for my complete lack of one. They would say (rather bluntly) in passing, “I could see your dark circles from way over there,” or, “What is growing out of your skin?” or my favorite, “Please brush your hair.” So they obviously didn’t get the whole wavy California beach hair look, but their well-intentioned rudeness did get me thinking about my skin. And I’ll admit, I was (still am) shallow enough to be influenced by the flawless-faced actresses in Korean dramas—and I watch them all in HD! How Jun Ji-hyun has better skin in My Love From Another Star than when she starred in My Sassy Girl 13 years ago is just beyond my comprehension.

To those who believe they aren’t high maintenance enough for that bright, dewy skin: I didn’t either. But, like our American moms always said while shoving (their version of) Korean stir-fry into our mouths: just try, you might like it!

Step 1: The Eye Makeup Removal
Remove your eye makeup gently with good makeup remover or Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissues, because expecting a normal cleanser to do a detailed job is what leaves you with week-old mascara on your lashes. And the last thing you want to do is tug the skin around your eyes, because, like most things in life, it will hold up better if you treat it gingerly. Also, use it to remove any long-wear lipstick.

Step 2: The Cleanse
Rule of thumb is, if you’re going to spend 30 minutes putting on your face, you should spend the same amount of time are take the same amount of care when cleaning it off. Use an oil cleanser like The Face Shop Rice Water Cleansing Oil and use gentle, circular motions with your fingers to massage and clean off that foundation and BB cream. Koreans (and Into The Gloss) believe that massaging the face increases circulation, which equals brighter skin.

Step 3: The Exfoliator
Exfoliating with a natural scrub like the Skin Food Black Sugar Wash Off Mask really brings your skin back to its glory days when it was as soft as a baby’s butt. Twice a month is plenty, just concentrate on the t-zone or where blackheads frequent. When it comes to facial exfoliation, Korean women often believe less is more.

Step 4: The Refresher
What we in America think of as "toning" is an essential step. It's believed to help remove pollutants along with any residue from your cleansers, while also restoring your skin’s pH balance. It soothes and preps your skin to absorb the next step—the essence. I’ve found Korean toners are less harsh and drying than other kinds that I've tried, which is maybe why they're called "refreshers." And they're made from more interesting ingredients—the SU:M37 Waterfull Skin Refresher contains fermented bamboo extract. Dispense the toner onto a cotton pad and wipe your face and neck—and don’t be surprised at the dirty streak left on the pad.

Step 5: The Essence
Considered the most important step to Korean women, yet still a mystery to many. Soak your face in Missha First Treatment Essence, which many compare to the popular SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. It affects skin on a cellular level, speeding your cell turnover rate which makes skin smoother and brighter. I’ve had the most noticeable results from adding this this to my regimen.

Step 6:  The Ampoule
Ampoules are super-concentrated versions of essences, and are often referred to as serums and boosters out West. The Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule contains the key ingredient bifida ferment lysate, (As does the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair! See, we're not that different.) which helps brighten skin, fading sunspots, and smoothing fine lines.

Step 7: The Sheet Mask
Sheet masks are a twice-a-week ritual, or more if your face is very dry. The wet, papery, Jason-like masks (I love Manefit Bling Bling Hydro Gel Masks [ed note: discontinued]), are soaked in ingredients like collagen, which they in turn soak into your skin. The fun is in the variety; some masks contain avocado extracts (containing tons of antioxidants) or Vitamin E  (anti-aging). The secret to sheet masks? They force your skin to absorb the nutrients and moisture better than if you just applied a cream or serum—before the product has a chance to evaporate. The immediate effects are addicting, after one use your face is slightly more plump and much brighter due to all the moisture your skin just absorbed.

Step 8: The Eye Cream
This is a self-explanatory product, but take note of the technique. Gently tap Etude House Moistfull Collagen Eye Cream around the eye area. This leads to better absorption of the product, and of course eliminates any of that tugging and pulling.

Step 9: The Moisturizer
Really, another layer? If you haven’t noticed, Korean women are all about layering, to the point you feel your skin has been mummified. Again, generously massage the Etude House Moistfull Collagen Emulsion (the Korean translation for "moisturizer") with gentle strokes so that it really, truly, penetrates into your skin.

Step 10: The Night Cream
By this point your face feels like a 6-tiered cream cake and your skin has major shine—or as Korean women like to call it, a dewy, "moist glow." The point is, your skin needs to stay hydrated as you recharge overnight. And because the next big thing in Korean skincare is the use of fermented ingredients, pat in a cream that contains fermented snow lotus extracts, bamboo sap and fruit water like the SU:M37 Timeless Moisturizing Cream. If it’s morning time, skip this and go straight to a BB cream like the Etude House Precious Mineral Any Cushion, or a product with plenty of SPF.

Intimidating, much? Like I tell all my girlfriends, this routine only takes about 15 minutes out of my evening (sheet masks and exfoliating packs are not really a daily thing), and it’s actually a bit therapeutic to pamper my face as I wind down for the night. The key is daily prevention and nurturing, which eliminates any need for expensive facials. Sure, if you’re stumbling home a bit toasty, barely able to take off your triple-strapped sandals, do yourself a favor and at least wipe off the day’s makeup with some cleansing tissues. Sleeping in your makeup is the universal ultimate skincare sin—whether you're in NYC or Seoul.

—Charlotte Cho

Charlotte is the co-founder of SokoGlam, a retail site with a mission to bring Korean beauty products direct to women in the US. 

Read about Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon's beauty routine in her Top Shelf, this way.

For more on Korean makeup, click here.

And when the weather's cold, switch over to The Cold Weather Korean Skincare Routine.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Megan C.

    Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for listening. I've been waiting for this since the last article.

  • Amanda

    hope this works pretty much just bought all of this stuff! sokoglam gets me every time.

  • Kelly N.

    The company Benton is very natural. Super clean, green ingredients.

    • Mademoiselle nature

      thank you so much!

  • K.B.

    This is pretty much the best article ever on Into the Gloss, and I'm sitting at my desk with a smug smile on my face because of my (American) six step skincare routine. I'm totally adding the Essence step to my routine ASAP. And that Black Sugar mask will be mine.

    • Celine

      heheh I'm also smiling smugly with my 10-step routine :D And thats not counting the masks!:3

      • K.B.

        Yeah, I can increase my step count to 8 if I include my once-a-week facial scrub usage and my weekly mask. lol I've been obsessive about having a skincare routine since I was a teenager (granted it was only 2 steps and it included using an astringent and no moisturizer, but I was determined to dry the hell out of my face), thanks to my awful skin. I'll cut back on almost everything else before I'll cheap out on skincare.

  • Carrie

    I am an Asian and I use a "double cleanse" method. First, wash your face with cleasing oil (rmb to really emulsify it), after you've rinsed it with water, wash your face for the second time with a foaming cleanser :)

  • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

    yes, and then pat dry!

  • K.B.

    Yes - apply the oil to your dry face (with dry hands) and (gently) rub the oil all over your face (including the hairline) and neck (if you apply makeup there) like you would if you were washing your face. Rinse off your hands, and then rub your hands all over your face - this should cause the oil to emulsify. Then rinse your face. I use cleansing oil as my makeup remover, so if you're doing that, you can also apply the oil to your eyes (I've tried several different brands, and none of them have stung). After I rinse the oil off my face, I use a regular face cleanser. Full disclosure - I have very oily, acne prone skin. If your skin type is different, then adjust your routine accordingly. :)

    • Airi

      Thank you for your precision, it helped me a lot. :)

  • Becky

    Not everyone has the $$ to pull off this routine. I would like to use SU:M37 products but heck if i can afford it.

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      You really don't need to use Korean products to pull off this routine - it's more about the technique, types of products used and the order in which you do it!

    • Emy

      It doesn't need to be expensive. There are some affordable drugstore Korean brands that offer very similar products in each category.

      It is about the process rather than the products themselves. Koreans (and many Asians) tend to thoroughly and gently cleanse, then layer for optimal hydration: toner/lotion, essence, serum/oil, cream -- rather than using just one heavy cream. None of the products have to be expensive, as long as they work.

      • Becky

        Ok, that's interesting. Are there any good drugstore type brands you or Charlotte would suggest? It doesn't have to be korean. What would be good substitutes for this kind of regimen?

  • Lana

    There is a process to double cleansing too! The 424 method - 4 minutes oil, rinse off, 2 minutes foaming cleanser, and then 4 minutes rinsing off graduating from warm to cold water in order to close your pores!

    • Nail Girl

      It's actually myth that pores open and close - opening and closing requires muscles and pores simply do not have any.

      • Maria @SoNailicious

        haha I've just imagined pores opening and closing while we're washing our faces... that looked quite funny and.. .a little bit weird!

      • speed

        Every time someone says anything about pores on this website, someone else has to mention (correct) this. Ok, we get it...or, I guess some people don't and never will. Why some of these posters insist on reminding us of this all the time is beyond my comprehension. Why do you care if anyone uses the terms "open" or "closed" for pores? Opening and closing doesn't require muscles. Don't our hair shafts open and close? Doors open and close and don't have muscles. You can use the same terms to mean different things. Leave it alone.

  • Lana

    I agree about the essence making the biggest difference in the brightness of your skin! I use Nature Republic's The First Essence (another fermented essence) and I saw results in less than a week! They're amazing products!!

  • tamara

    I just visited Korea and was stunned by the beauty. All the women have flawless skin. I could never tell how old anyone was...
    thanks for posting this, now I finally know how they do it ;)

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      it's not just what they do with their skin, a lot has to do with their diet as well!

      • Zan

        PLEASE expand on this Charlotte, I would love to hear what their diet is!

        • jk

          I'm not so sure if it's the diet. When I was there last month, I found a lot of takeout food to be loaded with sugar with salt. And I'm Korean. Maybe I was looking in the wrong places. I think that the booming plastic surgery industry also adds to the youth factor.

  • Celine

    "If you're an alien, then I'm a vampire!!"

  • Nae

    For the record, the Skinfood black sugar mask can be a bit harsh. If you want something similar, but more gentle, try their Rice Wash-Off mask. Very comfortable and pleasant on my combination-dry, slightly sensitive skin!

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      The skin food black sugar mask reminds me of the fresh sugar polish. the scent and everything!

  • WengYee

    Guess whose parents will be paying a visit to Asia in two weeks? *raises hands* Already jotted down the Essence, Cleansing Oil and Base – can't wait to try them!

  • Emy

    Innisfree is one of the more "natural" Korean skincare lines, though more commercially similar to, say, Fresh and REN rather than a brand you can find on Spirit Beauty Lounge. And it's quite affordable, too, depending on the line.

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Love Innisfree. You're right, they use a lot of natural ingredients and another sister company of AmorePacific.

      • Dru

        Amore Pacific looks to be making headway outside Eas/SE Asia too - they recently-ish launched in India with Innisfree, which s a wise move because if there's one thing Indians like in their skincare, it's 'natural' ingredients - and it's priced pretty competitively compared to most premium skincare there.

      • Mademoiselle nature

        Thanks a lot! will check it now :-)

  • Kerry

    "my love from the stars" - all the hype in asia nowadays! thank you for sharing all these products, i love the detail about the ingredients and how you put in the effort to find the western equivalent for certain products or just describing them very thoroughly. i'll admit - when i read up to step 9 to find out moisturiser JUST came up, i went a bit goggly eyed, but now the essence and ampoule has to be mine. also, about the "starting young" culture, i suddenly recall my mom (who's also asian) nagging me to put face cream on when i was only 7. bet she couldn't imagine i would become the skincare junky i am nowadays.

  • Prince & Sullivan

    Great post, will def try!!!



  • Lavender & Tea

    So glad to see you on ITG again Charlotte. Love love love your articles and blog on SokoGlam.

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      thank youu!

  • Erica Rae Deutsch

    i loved this step by step breakdown. korean skincare has been a huge inspiration for me lately but i've had no clue where to start, so this was great! i'd love to hear more about essence, those keep popping up i don't really get if they're like serum or what, and also...sheet masks!!

  • Lynda Tsay

    so, question - do you put on the essence and the ampoule before the mask? i already use an ampoule (missha!) but not before the mask like you mentioned. i have combo/oily skin.

    another q - any tips for blackheads?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      You can actually use the mask in place of the essence. After the mask, no need to supplement with essence/ampoule since the mask itself is drenched in essence.

      You can extract open comedones/blackheads professionally next time you get a facial - but honestly I prefer to deep clean with a good cleansing oil and use exfoliators to deal with the dirt in your pores.

  • Eliza

    The reviews on the Missha First Treatment Essence are really good--everyone says it's better than the SKII equivalent, which is literally 3x more expensive...soooo, of course I'm buying it. Discovering Into the Gloss was probably the worst thing to ever happen to my bank balance haha.

  • LB

    Can someone explain how cleansing oil doesn't just push around makeup and dirt on your face and then not fully rinse off? What is the point of a cleanser you have to follow with another cleanser? This is why I am not sold on oil or cream cleansers, I haven't found one that cleans everything off your face. Give me foam or give me death.

    • Celine

      Cleansing oil basically "melts" off make-up (and sun cream, if you use it). It's a bit gross to see yellowy oil swirling round your face but it rinses off with water. (I use a flannel to make sure and turn it into a mini facial.) Oil cleansers get rid of surface gunk while the second cleanser gives your skin a deeper cleanse and removes residues.

    • Twix

      It just goes back to basic chemistry - "like dissolves like". Oil cleansers operate under the belief that the only thing that can fully dissolve the non-polar covalent bonds in oil (in makeup), is the non-polar covalent bonds in oil cleansers.

      But like everything, it works for certain people and for others it doesn't, you just have to find your own thing!

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      The thing I don't like about foam is that it often leaves me with this squeaky feeling, which is actually terrible for your skin (it means it just dried you out big time). you should never feel *tightness* after washing your face...

    • fibee

      You don't want to be just rinsing things off, that leaves too much on your face. Use a wet face cloth and wipe, no matter what form of cleanser you use. And I find that oil gets everything off, especially if you add water to it and rub that in on top of the oil to emulsify it. Then wipe off all your makeup.

  • xmisseducation

    How often are you supposed to use ampoules?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      it is really up to you where and how often you want to use - i don't even put ampoule in the areas that i feel don't need it. i like to put it around my laugh and smile lines.

  • crystal

    well I don't follow all the steps written in this post -yes I am korean- but most of the korean girls do these steps every night. But I don't think its too much. They enjoy doing all of these skincare process!!

  • tokitoki

    Is there anything else that Koreans who are more acne prone do to heal and prevent breakouts/redness?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Koreans with severe acne take a trip to the dermatologist and get some laser work done, which helps a lot and is super cheap (and high tech) of course, le sigh!

    • Lauren

      Many Korean brands sell acne care products under the term "trouble". So, "for troubled skin," "anti-trouble," etc. Innisfree has a fantastic jeju volcanic based line, especially the toner, to help remove impurities and The Face Shop carries decent tea tree oil products to address active blemishes. Skinfood's egg white products really shrink your pores if those are big after years of acne. If you also have oily skin, a lot of the moisturizers come as gels instead of creams and don't kick my skin into excess oil production, so I've been very pleased that their skincare seems to be more versatile. I'm currently using Skin79's Beblesh Balm and Innisfree's No-Sebum Mineral Powder, which has mint added to it. Unless I fall asleep in makeup exactly like everyone says not to, my skin looks more even than it is.

      • Maggi

        Thanks for the info!

  • Shawna

    Awesome article! I was raised with the "less is more" mentality, but my ex was from Japan (where a lot of the women I met had similarly long skincare routines), and after talking to his friends and family members there, I changed my tune! It's expensive, yes, but I cut way back on my clothing and shoe budgets. Worth it!

    The one thing I heard a lot there (and in this article) that I disagree with is not too exfoliate more than a few times a month. I think it depends on your skin type. I have ridiculously oily, very acne prone (at 31, thank you) skin, and bi-weekly exfoliations are the only thing that keep it under control.

    And pampering IS nice at the end of the day!

  • thunderlegz

    So wow! Much cleanse! #Visceralface

  • Twix

    I'll never forget an article in Elle Girl magazine (anyone remember that?!) with an article on Korean skincare. One of the lines that always stuck with me is that Korean women treat their skin like silk, and I've carried that mindset with me since.

  • Camille

    Just recently came back from my visit to Korea last month. During my stay, I asked my friends there which Korean skincare brands they used and I was disappointed to find out that most of them only used foreign brands... just because it's "trendy." They did recommend me a great Korean website called Get It Beauty, where they perform a "blind test" to determine the best product in each category. I purchased Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissues (#1 in your slideshow) and Etude House Moistfull Collagen Eye Cream (#8).

    If you can get your hands on these, get them ASAP and thank me later. I'm ditching my overpriced Dior & Bobbi Brown eye creams forever. And stock up on sheet masks! It really works and it's perfect for when your skin needs some TLC (I use Etude House, Missha, and Skin Food).

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      LOVE get it beauty, glad you mentioned it. i've spoken to the people who deal with the blind tests on the show and they really are completely blind (not just a marketing farce) so it's really intriguing to see some korean products being preferred over the expensive luxury brands. and yea - there are actually a lot of korean girls that think that way about Korean brands but that is changing now!

      • Courtney

        I lived in Seoul for about 7 years and this article almost had me in tears! I miss my walk to the subway, and popping into all my favorite beauty shops- Etude, Nature Republic, Missha, and on and on....thank you for this!!

        • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

          Aw Courtney - I feel you! I miss Korea on a daily basis. NYC is great, but there is no place like Seoul!

  • Jennifer Monforton

    I'm such a sucker for Korean skin care! I love Etude and the Face Shop and I've been very curious about that black sugar face scrub!

  • Shawna

    Oh, I know exactly what you're saying! I've been breaking out for about twenty years now (happy anniversary to me!), and I think I've skipped washing my face twice in that time frame. It's unfathomable to me to go to bed with my face unwashed. The next day just wouldn't be pretty.

    I definitely need to (finally!) get a clarisonic!

  • KVLT

    you know an article is successful when you follow a link and drop over $100.


  • Aly

    Is this also true for daily morning rituals? Except for the masks, night cream, etc.

    • Suzie

      Seconded! Really want to know the day AND night routines. I way prefer to take time on my skin the morning and just do the bare essentials at night.

      • keely

        your cells turn over at night when your body is at rest and regenerates itself. much better to focus more time on your night time routine!! you have all this time where your face gets slightly warmer and is undisturbed by the elements. invest most time in your PM routine!

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Hi Aly. Pretty much but you can also skip the makeup remover and just use a basic facial cleanser (or not at all if you slept on a clean pillow). Then go to toner, essence, eye cream, moisturizer and then bb cream (cause it has spf and is moisturizing!)

      • Aly

        Thank you so much! I will definitely try this out:)

      • Yan

        How about for people who live in tropical climates? ㅠㅠ
        Sunscreen alone makes me greasy mid-day.

  • Zan

    Welp, I just spent over $200 on almost every single item on this list and I cannot WAIT to get started!

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    This doesn't sound like too much. I'll be checking out the Missha essence for sure!

  • conejitoasesino

    woohoo! I use almost all those products! I also LOVE Mizon snail cream!

  • Jenny

    do you know of any promo codes for sokoglam right now? I am going to buy all of these products right now if I can find one! If not I found them all a bit cheaper on other sites.

  • Alexis

    If I use retinol, where would that go in the lineup? In place of the ampoule?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      yes, exactly. I would use the retinol as your ampoule!

  • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

    lol - so true about the eyebrows. funny you noticed that! i wonder if the eyebrow trend will change with time.

    yea, the dewy look is not for everyone. but i personally like it, which is why i always carry a facial mist with me everywhere.

  • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

    Thank you Gia! So excited that the Korean wave includes cosmetics/skincare now!

  • deepo

    The Face Shop in NYC (and LA, I think) has a variety of great products and the masks are about $2 each and wonderful (buy 10, get one free). The Rice Water line is amazing.

  • Becky

    So I looked up the softymo and noticed that it has mineral oil in it. Isn't mineral oil bad for you? I found this and it kind of made me worry about using it: . John Hopkins University named mineral oil in cosmetics and moisturizers as the
    number two cause of aging (first being direct exposure to sun). It may also
    cause allergic reactions and dryness, as well as promote acne and other skin
    disorders. Is this true or false?

    • Emy

      I honestly don't know -- but I try not to use mineral oils in any leave-on skincare products, mainly because it can clog my pores. However, because a cleansing oil is something that you wash off pretty quickly, I don't think many ingredients can leave much of an effect, positive or negative.

      However, I'm thinking of trying out either the Innisfree one above or the Hada Labo cleansing oil -- both of which are slightly more expensive, but still reasonably priced, and mineral-oil free.

  • Kattified

    I've been doing the korean routine for almost 2 months.
    (different order depending on makeup for the day, my skin needs and my mood, minimum 5 products - max 9 at the moment)

    My skin has changed dramatically. My pores look smaller, my skin texture more smooth, 95% of my acne scars have faded, and my dark circles are much lighter. I have combination skin with oily T-zone, normal/dry U-zone, but my T-zone is about on par with the rest of my skin, thanks to this routine. It's easy to customise for your own skin needs and can use your own products.

    I'm currently using the Shisheido Aqualabel Deep Clean oil cleanser (usually to take off make-up) Etude House Pore Whipping Foam with my No 7 face brush, Laidback Cleanser/Toner, Etude House Pore Refresher, Laniege Original Essence White Plus Renew, Balance Active Formula Snake Venom Eye cream, Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream, Quinoderm Benzoyl Peroxide cream (for acne spots), and Marks and Spencer Suncare Baby Spf 50 face & body lotion with My Beauty Diary Sheet masks Arbutin, and Laneige White Plus Renew Sleeping Pack added for the night time.

    I buy most of my stuff online since there aren't too many vendors that sell korean products in the UK and the closest vendors to me are in Chinatown in Central London, but completely overpriced and extremely limited product-wise. I first tried W2Beauty and it was wonderful, I ordered about $80 worth of stuff and received a lot of samples over 10 for different brands including a pretty blue nail polish. I've ordered from them again, along with Wishtrend, Rose Rose Shop, and Tolwhosoo eBay shop ( for a new face brush). Definitely shop around for prices, W2Beauty is great, however I found RoseRose Shop and the prices were significantly less, and they sell in bulk, products and samples.

    Also there are some great bloggers out there who give great and honest feedback about Asian skincare products, two of my favourites being The Wanderlust Project and Skin and Tonics.

  • kflare

    How much time should you allow between steps?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      I go from step to step without waiting between steps. I just make sure to tap or pat my face enough that I feel the formula has been absorbed.

      • kflare

        Thanks Charlotte! I absolutely loved this article!

  • Stephanie C

    i am curious about sunscreen --- do you have a recommendation on (actual) sunscreen or do you just rely on the makeup to provide it, seeing as the cushion has SPF 50?

    I have been on a spending spree this past few months on Korean beauty products thanks to My Love from Another Star, and my skin was improving until i incorporated the MISSHA essence and time ampoule into the routine (cystic acne on cheeks) I am going to try them out again now that my skin has calmed down a bit to see if i just had a bad moment in time, or if i truly am sensitive towards the products. such a pity though!

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Yes will be curating a good sunscreen (with essence!) very soon. 0.o Stay tuned!

  • justanotherredhead

    I have combination skin and have fallen in love with cleansing oils. They feel great and leave my skin feeling soft rather than taut. Plus so many foaming facial cleansers have added fragrance and the surfactants just suck out all the moisture, especially if you have sensitive skin. DHC has been my favorite thus far

  • blah

    All of the links lead to Ms. Cho's retail site. Tell me how this isn't a totally biased sponsored post.

    • k8


      ancillary question: what exactly is an "essence"? what does it do? why do I need it? why is it $45? so many questions . . .

    • Maggi

      Um, she wrote the article. Of course she's going to link to things she sells, as she curates products that she actually uses and likes.

      I didn't feel surprised or fooled and this is coming from someone who detests sponsored posts.....

  • Laura

    Interesting article; altough I do not see that much difference to a 'western' approach. The mask, ampoule and exfoliant are not used daily after all. I also double cleanse, use a toner, serum, oil, spf, eyecream, and mask/exfoliant once or twice a week. It is quite normal in europe to use ampoules as a conditioning treatment once in a while. So while interesting, I do not see that much difference. But then maybe the european way is different from the us approach?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      You're absolutely right. It's not like the individual products are totally new or unique products, other than say sheet masks. But I think it really is the mentality of cleansing well (double cleanse method), intensely moisturizing and treating is unique to the US. Spending actual time and care for prevention (versus trying to reverse the damage) is a mindset that most Korean people have that makes this 10 step skincare routine so noteworthy.

  • Beryl

    Ack - SokoGlam doesn't ship to Australia! :(

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      now we do!

  • Alyajay

    If I use products for my acne, where will that go in the line up??

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      I would put any products for acne after toner.

  • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

    I use it both day and night - but it really is up to you.

  • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

    I love My Beauty Diaryyyy!

  • grace

    Caolion has a few products that are great; for me, their blackhead o2 bubble pore pack and goodnight sleeping pack were great. the blackhead one works kind of like bliss' oxygen mask but also exfoliates. the goodnight mask i used like a lotion right before sleeping and really hydrated and softened my skin. Hope it helps C:

  • Love D

    Hi Ms Cho! Hope you could write an article here about foot/foot skin care. I got a lot of varicose veins and calluses. Thanks! :D

  • DMW

    Here's my question, and why I have trouble getting into skin care routines like this: I have medicated face wash (sulfur wash) and a cream (penzoyl peroxide) that I use to control zits. I never know how to incorporate these things that I NEED into skin care - any advice on combining these products with the ones mentioned above?

  • Roberts Tracy

    Amazing set of beauty care products for a clear and mild skin. Korean beauty products are indeed result oriented.

  • Psychy Chua

    Hi Charlotte, if I'm using glycolic cleanser, toner (lactic acid, kojic acid, licorice extract), benzoyl peroxide for acne and RA gel (PM) how do I incorporate this to my skincare routine? These are all from the derma.because I got bad acne some some time ago.. I want to incorporate at least (for now) the rice water cleansing oil, Missha first treatment essence, time revolution ampoule. hoping to hear back from you. thank you! :)

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Hi! Sorry, I didn't see this until now! the cleansing oil can go before the glycolic cleanser. The first treatment essence can go after the toner! i'd skip the ampoule for now!

  • minjae

    Great! Thanks for your reply :)

  • Rharbaje Badr

    Nice post !!
    Thank you...

    I would love to go in korea, they have such nice products...

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      not to mention the amazing FOOOOD. nom nom

  • jinah

    Hi Charlotte! I have lots of acne and my skin is very sensitive. Are these steps recommended? Should I follow this routine?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      an oil cleanser to start can help draw out sebum and remove oilbased debris (makeup, sunscreen, soot) gently. then follow with a gentle foam/cream cleanser. i've had a lot of people tell me that double cleansing alone has helped clear up their skin. if you're stage 3-4 acne, it could be bacteria which means you need to visit the dermatologist and get prescribed antibiotics to get rid of bacteria in your dermis. (can't get rid of it topically)

  • Corina

    where can you find these products?

  • Ana

    I'm so excited to try this, but just have a question. Does it actually lighten skin? Because i have a darker skin tone, and would not like to lighten it, but make it "glowing".

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      nope! koreans like to use the word "whitening" on a lot of their products but most of the time they mean "brightening." the products i recommended make your skin glow, not turn white. :P

  • gainorie do

    I don't rinse after removing makeups, I only use a cleansing tissue because they said that rinsing in the evening can make you easily get blind.. Cleansing with tissue is ok together with My cream..

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      hm... I never heard rinsing in the evening can make you go blind.

  • ikehoundz

    Thank you so much for this article and for all the comments. I just want to know whether the essence replaces the clarifying lotion. I am currently using Clinique CL for acne prone skin and it's really doing a great job in controlling my breakouts and then I want to try the Missha essence too. I definitely don't want to get rid of the CL. Would it be alright to use them both and which comes first?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Hi! I looked up the Clinique CL and it looks like it's an oil-free exfoliating lotion. The essence I recommended is not an exfoliator, it actually moisturizes and brightens the skin by increasing cell turnover. what's interesting is that clinique doesn't post the ingredients for this product (i checked sephora and their own website) so i wonder what ingredients they are using to formulate this product! That being said, if you are getting great results with the Clinique CL - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

  • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

    the sleeping pack is used in place of the night cream (when you want extra moisture locked in throughout the night). The green tea seed serum is used after toner and before moisturizer! I don't know what green tea pure ski is...

  • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

    2-3 days if you're in the US!

  • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

    thank you song!

  • Highstreetdaily

    I double cleanse my face every day, I simply do not believe that one cleanse takes off all my makeup and cleanses my skin properly. I have used Innisfree masks before - the one with cucumber is great, and now I am motivated to get more skincare from Korea! I love Japanese cosmetics too, their mascaras can be found in Asian stores in London and they are amazing! Totally different technology to the western mascaras. Very informative article, thank you

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      you're on top of it then! so glad you're inspired to try more things.

  • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

    every skin type is different so you really need to go by that and what conditions you are trying to target. you don't need to follow all ten steps!

  • Shane Patro

    Actually I Belive in Herbal and Ayurvedic Products that keeps ur skin healthy but i also appreciates Ur tips most of the women’s are seeking for instant result for skin care and i also appreciate ur tips it so good

    Active skin care

  • Jade ^_^

    I'm confused... do you do this routine in the morning or at night?? Thanks :) I loved the article by the way! ^_^

  • Lucinda

    Has anyone tried the Laneige products they're selling at Target now? They're by AmorePacific and I was wondering if they're as big in Korea and by Korean skincare fans as magazines are trying to make them out to be. I really wanted to try them out, but I have super sensitive skin.

  • Jade ^_^

    I'm confused... do you do this routine in the morning or at night (or both)? Thank you in advance :) ^^

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Night! For morning, you can do double cleanse -> toner -> essence -> moisturizer -> eye cream -> spf!

  • Birdienumnumns

    Missha Time Revolution Essence also changed my skin for the better. Comparable to SK2 but better results for me. I was surprised to read about the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair having similar ingredients in it because I recently rediscovered that product and it is an overnight miracle worker.

  • Zsuzsa

    Can you give me name of the Himalayan products you mentioned? I am greatly curious about the hand cream,

  • Sanane

    Hi, I don't have any acne right now and my face is smooth, but there are red marks(blemishes?) on my cheeks and forehead which takes forever to go away. Does this skincare routine deal with the red marks? Or should I wait till these marks are gone b4 using this routine?

  • najd

    Is this morning and everning routine?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      You just need to substitute the night cream with a good spf for the morning. Also, keep in mind you don't really have to use makeup remover, masks or use a scrub in the morning!

  • lunanovarius

    Is it necessary to use an eyecream if you are 20 years old with a small budget? I want the best results but I can't afford to purchase everything on this list. What are the most necessary products to achieve the best results? I have very dry skin and an occasional breakout but other than no other prominent issues.
    Thanks for any recommendations!

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Hydration is key, even when you are young. Also, plenty of SPF. UVA/UVB damage creates premature aging.

  • KateV

    I started 10 step routine 2 days ago. I am still waiting for my new Korean products from SokoGlam but I decided to start with whatever I had. And from day one I've been getting complements about my GLOW! My skin is very pale and I do get occasional break outs and recently suffered from dermatitis around my eyes...basically my skin reacts to anything I eat that I shouldn't have and anything I put on my face I gotta be super careful. I will update how it all turns out ones I start using all Korean products but so far I think I finally found smth that works for me. Thanks Charlotte!

  • Cassie

    Hi Charlotte, Do you know of any korean face lotions that con taint SPF 30 or higher?

  • Yuli

    Is it OK for oily skin people to actually use that much product?? :/

  • Carrie

    Skipping moisturizer is a NO NO, include serum in daily facial do is good enough...another cheap way of sanitizing/anti acne is by using sea salt water 1 pinch mixed in warm water use cotton pad or just finger tip and apply all over the face focus on acne areas and leave it for 2 minutes rinse off with warm water then wash face with facial by using face brush (auto/manual). You will see the result after 1 week, less acne/breakouts :)

  • M

    I have issues with acne, do I use medications for that during the serum portion of the routine? Also, is this for both morning and night? Or are you allowed to skip some steps in the morning?

  • Alexzandria Smith

    Will this work if im black?

  • NG

    The things is, while many Koreans and other Asians have a great skin, they sometimes over-apply the BB cream and foundation to the point it looks very cake-y. (just saying, since you mentioned that direct comments on appearance seem not to be off limits in that culture..)
    I love my Skin79 BB, but it only takes a very small amount to achieve a full coverage.
    Sometimes, less is indeed more...

  • luhunnie

    I'm living in Korea and dying to try SU:M37, but it's a little out of my price range. ㅜㅜ Any recommendations for a cheaper night cream?? Pretty please? ^^

  • toria

    after all of that and you have to do the same process in the morning?

  • ImTryingNewThings

    Truly they do "open" because the radius of the pore expands with dirt, makeup, and other stuff. Once you remove thoes solids your pores can "close".

    • Josy M

      Basically they "expand" and "shrink" ... it's just a vocabulary matter..

  • Clara

    Hi! Im planning to buy skinfood peach sake emulsion, toner and serum as i heard from a friend that they are using natural ingredients. Have any of u guys tried the product? What do you think about the product? Or do you have any better suggestion about suitable skincare for oily skin?:)

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Yes, I love skin food's peach sake line!

  • Jess

    Hi Charlotte, at which stage would you use a treatment for acne? - Jess

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      after toner!

  • Iskandar Ameen

    Definitely what I was looking for. You are amazing haha. Thank you!

  • Googoo Lala

    Do you need the cleansing oil step in the evening if you don't use makeup at all?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Yes! It gently removes oil from your face in the morning.

  • Googoo Lala

    Also when you use sheet mask, do you use it right after the toner step or after the moisturizer step?

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      right after toner!

  • Melysa

    Is there a good Sunspot korean product or brand you can recommend? I am currently in korea and I am so clueless this article really is a life saver! Thank you so much^^~

    • Charlotte – CURATOR OF SOKO GL

      Use The Missha First Treatment essence to help with brown spots and even out your skin tone.

  • Deanna

    i purchase my korean products from! alice is really nice and extremely helpful, i've ordered 4 times already and there were absolutely no problems!

  • ocha

    Hi....need to know if Korean brand listed in this article are cruelty free? Thanks to adv....

  • Janie Kim

    Hi, I recently saw your article and bought the collagen moistfull and the time revolution essence. However, I am in my teens and am wondering if I should use these products because I heard that when collagen products are used on young skin, the skin could stop producing the natural collagen. Plus, the time revolution is more for wrinkles apparently? I would really like to get answers. Really want to start using it but I'm unsure if it would be the best for me. Thank you.

  • Rachel

    Which steps do you use if do not wear make-up?

  • Velena

    How about Tatcha cleansing process: Cleansing Oil and then Enzyme Powder? My understanding was you should use powder every day, am I wrong? can anyone explain please?:) Thanks.

  • SARA

    Hi! I come a bit late with that though... but my skin has turned into the worst of my life the past months :'(
    I'm 24 with combination and sensitive skin. I'm starting to wash my face just with Bioderma (i know, really bad, but any other cleanse, even La Roche Posay Toleriane makes me break out).
    I've been buying new products all the time for the past months because everything seems to make me breakout :( so I'm a bit in a budget right now.
    Any recommendations on what should I invest first and what's more important for my routine?or anything that might be helpful with this situation? Thank you <3

  • Thỏ Ngọc Ngây Thơ

    Yes you have to ...thats what i do everyday

  • Sara

    OK, so what do you do in the morning? Just SPF and eye cream?

  • Sophie

    I LOVE Korean Skin Care. Love love love. Tried a Sleeping Pack recently.

  • maria

    I'm 17 and my face is oily, red, and has a little bit of acne. Can I use this skincare routine?

  • Mary

    I have never used anything on my face except plain warm water. Anything else breaks my skin out. So, I heard from a co worker that brown rice cloths were good for the wrinkles around my mouth and eyes or to just wash my face. I ask the seller who knew nothing on how they were to be used so can you help me out here. I;m 67 yrs old and am getting the wrinkles around my mouth and eyes and have spent money on creams that break my face out. Give me some ideas.

  • kelly

    where do i get these products in the uk? i dont want to order out of uk (too much hassle, delivery prices andcustoms etc!)

  • Bianca

    Do you do this only at night or morning and night?

  • Angela Ofcls

    What products ( like toner, mosturiser, etc) from Asian brands would be good for combo skin? While my skin is oily (forehead & t-zone), I still have some dry & flaky patches.

  • Anne-Charlotte

    Innisfree is also a very nice one

  • He

    I think this routine isnt suitable for every skintype. There are three products only to cleanse you face. This will damage your skin if it is dry and thin. Also Koreans have other skintypes than Europeans or Americans. The weather is an important factor, too. In summer it is hot and humid this will do wonders to your skin. I experienced that in Japan. Even the water you are using will affect the condition of your skin. It is better to change your diet and to workout, than buying a bunch of overpriced products that cotain a ton of artifical ingredients.

  • fibee

    try daily chemical exfoliants, physical exfoliants too often can damage your skin and leave it more prone to acne and texture issues.

  • Barbie Langner Busby

    Can you use more than one serum at a time? Or do you need to just use one and alternate?

  • kkayy

    are these products safe for black people?

  • mang0es

    Yeah, same here. I just pat it dry a bit with a towel, then continue with whatever the regime is.

  • Mandi

    I'm only 16, and I'd like to start doing this now. Before I didn't think I could get used to my current 3 step routine, but now it's no big deal. I've never been able to completely fix my skin, so I'm excited to try this. This article did a good job of explaining everything, thanks!

  • Nicole

    Do you do this once or twice a day? Just once at night right?

  • Kristy Ross

    Hi, best I have ever used is Monsia.

  • Charlie

    Can you use oil-cleanser even if you don't use makeup?

  • Brenda

    good for any skin ethnicity micro needling or derma rolling

  • rskdrama

    Hi. This is my first visit to this website. I was piqued by watching all my korean colleagues’ beautiful skin. Here I am a 40+ woman, never used cosmetics other than face wash and moisturizer and residing in the hot dessert of Arizona. I am Asian, Indian actually. I have oily face with lots of acne marks and still do get one every month. I get black and white heads and my skin gets darker (with oil and grime) by evening! I would love to start a skin regimen, even if its so late in life. Can you give me suggestions? Thanks

  • miah

    how much the total of all products?

  • Enid

    This is clearly an evening routine (makeup removal, etc.). What do people following this type of skincare routine do in the morning? Thanks!

  • Amanda

    As a (17yo)teenager with mostly mild acne, would you just recommend using a cleanser with salicylic acid? Also, do you do the entire process (besides the masks & exfoliation) twice a day, or only part of the moisturizers in the morning to prevent your face from getting oily? Thanks!

  • Haider

    Dear Charlotte,

    I'm new with the korean face routine.And mine question is . This is the night routine. What must i use in the Morning?

    Greetings from the Netherlands


  • vanilladreamcream

    Do koreans not use retinol or AHA/BHA acids on their face.

  • Atefeh

    Hi guys, should i do this routine every morning & night or just at night? Which is the right way? Can someone please explain. Thanks :)

  • Stephanie JC

    I understand this is a night routine since the first few steps involve removing make up etc...but what about the morning drill? Are the steps the same as the ones mentioned in the article?

  • Fashion and Frappes

    What are the cost implications of this please? All the product pages are blocked for me! (I am in the UK...)

  • rachelcarter

    Just found this article (love it!) and quickly bought like 50 new products. But I'm curious about the moisturizing steps. I tend to use drug store heavy creams, like Olay or L'Oreal. I bought the Etude House Emulsion like you suggested, but how would that work with a heavy cream? Do I apply before? Or should I be ditching the heavy cream all together? Thanks!

  • joan swindells

    Like telling my kids, wrinkles come from age and nothing will take them away unless you have surgery techniques, but it is a no no to leave your makeup on overnight as tired as you may be, take it off, im 76 and I have smoother skin that my 3 daughters even though only one wears makeup..

  • Della Heil

    what would be cost of e erything above to make it a new skincare regime

  • Anna Kelberg

    I Love Korean Cosmetics in general, but I've never tried the ones that you have mentioned in the article! Thanks for the info. I would definitely purchase some of them soon.

  • Wifey Story

    Came upon this a few months ago, and inspired me to embark on a similar routine. Thank you for sharing and inspiration!!! My skin seems to have improved much!

    My 2 Months Journey Here


Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissues
The Face Shop
The Face Shop Rice Water Cleansing Oil
Skin Food
Skin Food Black Sugar Wash Off Mask
SU:M37 Water-full Skin Refresher
MISSHA Time Revolution First Treatment Essence
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Activator Ampoule
Manefit Bling Bling Hydro Gel Masks
Etude House
Etude House Collagen Moistfull Firming Eye Cream
Etude House
Etude House Collagen Moistfull Emulsion
SU:M37 Water-full Timeless Moisturizing Cream
Etude House
Etude House Precious Mineral Any Cushion