10-Step Korean Skin Care Routine

We’ve revamped the traditional Korean skin care routine with ten of our best natural skin care products!

Published on Apr 18, 2019
Written by: 100% PURE®

By now the mythical, magical, and somewhat elusive Korean skin care routine has been demystified. This multi-step skin care routine is based on a complex layering system in order to protect and use each product to its fullest beauty potential. This trail-blazing layering routine has a deep philosophy of ritualizing the whole beauty experience, and is a staple of Korean beauty.

Skin care is personal, and there’s no catch-all routine that will work for everyone. What we love about the Korean skin care routine is that it’s structured with this in mind. Depending on your specific skin concerns, you can tailor the method to really focus on certain details — like clarifying, anti-aging, or brightening.

Here we’ve created the scaffolding of a natural 10-step Korean skin care routine, that you can play and experiment with until you find your perfect and unique formula. Give yourself a few days to try it out, and see what works for you.

The 10-Step Korean Skin Care Routine

Step 1: First Cleanse (Oil)

🌞🌚Morning + Night Skin Care Product

Light Cleanse: Coconut Oil Cleansing Milk

Deep Cleanse: Blood Orange Cleansing Balm

When embarking on your Korean skin care routine, the first step is to gently cleanse with the help of natural oils. The idea of using oil to remove makeup and impurities might be terrifying for acne prone skin types, but stick with us. It will be more than okay!

The purpose behind of an oil-based cleanser is that this luxurious liquid is the most effective tool for dissolving sebum, stubborn makeup, and dry or hardened debris in your pores. If you’re opting for a light cleanse, reach for our vegan Coconut Oil Cleansing Milk. This indulgent facial cleanser is made in a base of skin softening coconut milk and coconut oil. The subtle smell of vanilla bean and coconut reminds us of just baked Japanese sweet bread.

If your skin is needing a deeper cleanse, our Blood Orange Cleansing Balm is here to help! The healing oils of organic avocado, coconut, and olive simultaneously cleanse and moisturize your delicate skin. We recommend taking an extra minute or two to give yourself a facial massage while cleansing your face. This rich and buttery cleansing balm turns to a silky smooth texture on contact. Make sure to treat your skin with love and care — this means no tugging or any harsh rubbing.

PRO TIP: If using the cleansing balm, make sure the water is warm to hot while using a face towel to remove. Cold to cool water will make the removal process more difficult.

Step 2: Second Cleanse (Water)

🌞🌚Morning + Night Skin Care Product

Dull Skin: Fermented Rice Cleanser

Oily or Acne Prone Skin: Tea Tree & Willow Cleanser

Dry Skin: Argan Oil Creamy Cleanser

Normal Skin: Charcoal Clay Cleanser

Onward to the second cleanse of our new routine! Double cleansing is important and acts as second cleanup crew for your face. This step will help pick up any lingering bits or oil left from your first oil cleanse. While you might be tempted to switch steps, it’s important to keep the water cleanse second so that the natural skin care cleanser ingredients can tone, hydrate and sink into your pores without having to battle any dirt or grime.

Each water-based cleanser is made with a targeted first ingredient based on skin type. Fermented Rice Water Cleanser uses fermented rice water (sake) to brighten. Tea Tree & Willow Clarifying Cleanser and Charcoal Clay Cleanser use lemon water to balance excess oil. Argan Oil Creamy Cleanser uses hydrating aloe juice to quench dry skin. Each cleanser has a specific water base for sweeping away leftover debris from pores. For more info on cleansers tailor-made to your skin type, check out our cleanser guide!

PRO TIP: For an extra cleansing benefit, use our Konjac Sponge to help gently exfoliate dead skin cells on your face. This will help to revitalize and promote healthy skin cell turnover.

Step 3: Exfoliate

🌞🌚Morning + Night Skin Care Product

Acai Pulp Facial Scrub

Next phase: exfoliating. Traditional skin care products use harsh and abrasive bits of plastic or cardboard to act as exfoliators, but those seemingly innocent particles are actually causing more harm than good. Harsh scrub ingredients might seem like they really ‘get in there’, but trust us, they aren’t helping your skin (more abrasion is not better). These hard and oversized pieces are often causing more damage and irritation to your skin — possibly even enlarging pores (Gah!).

Opt for gentle, natural, and effective exfoliators like jojoba beads, grape seeds, or acai pulp. Pulp from acai berries is the hidden hero in our Acai Pulp Facial Scrub, working behind the scenes to slough away dead skin cells and keep our environment and wildlife safe by not clogging it full of non-biodegradable plastic beads.

It’s critical to add an exfoliating step in your skin care routine, and depending on your skin type and needs, you can incorporate gentle exfoliating daily or as little as twice a month for extra sensitive skin. By exfoliating with non-synthetic based scrubs, it opens your pores up to accepting hydrators, serums and moisturizers in later steps.

Concentrate on your T-Zone while gently buffing circles on your face and avoid harsh or repetitive rubbing or scrubbing motions. The increased circulation to your dermis will leave you with a healthy glow, and ready to move on to your next skin care layer.

PRO TIP: Leave the scrub on for a few minutes as a light acid mask, while gently massaging your face (in upwards motions) for another self care moment.

Step 4: Toner

🌞🌚Morning + Night Skin Care Product

Dull Skin: Fermented Rice Toner

Dry Skin: Restorative Sea Culture Hydrating Toner

Acne-Prone Skin: Tea Tree & Willow Astringent

Are toners just part of some worldwide skin care marketing scheme to add an extra step? Nope, think again! If you aren’t already using a toner, listen up: this essential step is not about the highly irritating astringents of yesteryear, or about those harsh alcohol-based toners we used as teens. 100% PURE has given natural toners a makeover by creating gentle formulas that deliver much needed hydration through hyaluronic acid, while simultaneously balancing skin’s natural PH levels.

The purpose of the “toner essence” step is to soften, or pre-moisturize your skin, in order to prep it to absorb the thicker, richer formulas that come later in this multi-step routine. They’re also necessary to swipe away any dead skin cells left on the skin after your exfoliating step. Our Fermented Rice Toner uses bearberry, licorice, and malic acid from sake to brighten skin. Restorative Sea Culture Hydrating Toner, delivers intense water-drenching power to soften, plump, and hydrate thristry skin. We’ve formulated this natural toner in a base of gelatinous algin from pure seaweed. In order to retain the purest minerals and healing nutrients from our beautiful ocean, we’ve sourced our seaweed from unpolluted waters.

A common misconception for acne prone skin is that it doesn’t need moisture or hydration, because your skin is already oily. False: oily and acne prone types both need water to help balance regularly fickle skin. Within a base of tea tree leaf water, super absorbing hyaluronic acid helps to pull this anti-inflammatory toner deep into your pores. Working together with antibacterial and antiseptic herbs, our Tea Tree & Willow Astringent will help to soothe, clarify and fight off future breakouts without stripping or irritating your delicate skin. As if these impressive stats weren’t enough, this toner was recently named one of the best toners for clearing acne — yes, really!

Toners can be pumped into clean hands and gently patted onto your face, or pumped onto a clean cotton pad and gently swept onto your skin.

Step 5: Serum

🌞 Morning Skin Care Product

Dull Skin: Fermented Rice Water Serum

Normal or Acne-Prone Skin: Green Tea EGCG Serum

Dry Skin: Restorative Sea Serum

🌚Night Skin Care Product

Dull or Normal Skin: Vitamin C Serum

Aging or Acne-Prone Skin: Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Potent PM Serum

Getting into the groove of our Korean skin care routine? You’re halfway there! Step five is all about delivering much-needed vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to your skin. If you’ve been following our routine, so far you’ve cleansed, cleansed again, and thoroughly prepped skin for the serum application. This layer is where you’ll be targeting specific concerns, with deep-penetrating active ingredients for your skin type.

Depending on when you do your 10-step routine, you’ll be using either a daytime or nighttime formula. If you’ve got dull or lackluster skin, we recommend applying a thin layer of Fermented Rice Water Serum. For normal, oily, or acne-prone skin, call upon the powers of green tea. EGCG in green tea helps to delay to signs of aging, while caffeine from tea balances oil and calms redness. For anyone who falls under the dry skin category, try our ultra light and silky Restorative Sea Serum to restore hydration via seaweed polysaccharides, working behind-the-scenes to plump up your complexion.

About to call it a night? We’ve developed two groundbreaking superstars for PM serums. For a mega-boost of anti-aging vitamins, try: Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Potent PM Serum. What sets this serum apart from every other serum on the skin care market is our unique technology of combining Vitamin C and Niacinamide.

“I love 100% Pure’s Multi-Vitamin Serum. It is made with 10% Vitamin C, 10% Niacinamide, 10% Vitamin E, 1% CoQ10, and 1% Retinol. Although Vitamin C and Niacinamide are anti-aging superstars, they are not usually in a single formula. That’s because Vitamin C is usually highly acidic with a pH balance of around 2-3 whereas niacinamide needs to stay at a neutral pH of around 6 to stabilize. When formulating this potent serum, I found a way to combine Vitamin C with Niacinamide by using a higher quality, more expensive vitamin C (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate) that has the same pH as Niacinamide so they can work synergistically together.“

– Susie Wang, Co-Founder of 100% PURE

If you’re hoping to brighten and smooth away discoloration, try our Vitamin C Serum. We’ve formulated with vitamin C and green apple extract for serious brightening and enhanced collagen production. This serum also helps to boost collagen production to support a dewy, youthful bounce to skin. As always, when using skin care products with Vitamin C or retinol, make sure to use SPF the following day to protect your skin (see below).

Step 6: Hydrogel Mask

🌞🌚 Morning + Night Skin Care Product

Dry Skin: Green Tea Water Bomb Mask

Aging Skin: Wrinkle Smooth Mask

Sun Damaged Skin: Caffeine Mask or Does It All Mask

If you’re a fellow beauty nerd, no doubt you’ve already tried a Korean sheet mask: the beauty staple that’s still going strong, enjoying much more than 15 minutes of fame in the skin care spotlight. Color us obsessed, because we just can’t imagine life before face masks.

Natural face masks are incredibly effective hydrators. They soak their healing, hydrating ingredients into your skin until they literally shrivel up. Leave your sheet mask on for at least 15 – 20 minutes to let it fully activate. The secret behind this powerful beauty tool is that it avoids the pitfall of product evaporation, which can happen with other products that you apply in non-mask form.

Our Green Tea Water Bomb Mask injects your pores with hydrating hyaluronic acid, and green tea extract for increased circulation and reduced inflammation. The hydrogel formula is composed of intensely nourishing organic aloe juice and plant cellulose. For anti-aging benefits, choose our Wrinkle Smooth Mask, made with retinol, coQ10, and vitamin C. Did you catch our previous blog about the benefits of caffeine in skin care? If not, pop on a Caffeine Mask and hop over to read how to power of caffeine can help sun damaged skin and reduce puffiness. So yes, you can have your caffeine and wear it, too!

PRO TIP: Make adjustments to the mask to help it lay flat on your face for maximum benefits. It’s ok to gently tear slits on the sides of the eye or mouth holes, to better fit your particular face shape.

Step 7: Eye Cream

🌞Morning Skin Care Product

Puffy Eyes: Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream

Crepey Eyes: Super Fruit Oil Nourishing Eye Cream

🌚Night Skin Care Product

Dark Circles: Retinol PM Eye Cream

It’s true that the eyes are the window to the soul, but they’re also one of the main giveaways to both our age and our sleep habits. Chances are your eye area could use a little help depuffing, locking in moisture, lessening dark circles, or revitalizing crepey skin — or all of the above. We always advocate for paying special attention to your eye area, since it houses the most fragile skin of your face and requires special TLC to make it really shine. While each natural eye cream from 100% PURE is packed with powerful, skin-beneficial ingredients, choosing the correct eye cream can be difficult, so we’ve whipped up an eye cream guide to help you decided which natural eye cream is best for you.

Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream is a true skin care celebrity in the beauty world. comes in big for eye area multitasking, with de-puffing caffeine, PH balancing and anti-inflammatory rose hydrosol, and moisturizing rosehip oil. Our antioxidant-rich Super Fruit Oil Nourishing Eye Cream helps to fend off pollution, smog, smoke and anything else trying to infiltrate your delicate dermis. The ultra rich fruit oils from pomegranates, plums, acai, and coconuts help to deeply moisturize your eye area.

Plant-based retinol in our Retinol PM Eye Cream are dark circles’ worst nightmare. Vegan stem cells from mung beans are the secret weapon in our age-correcting eye cream formula, to support more rapid cell turnover and new cell production. Working with a concentration of vitamins and peptides, this nighttime eye cream instantly starts working while you sleep to promote collagen, elasticity, and help lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles — truly beauty sleep.

PRO TIP: We love to apply this eye cream like a star on our face, hitting 5 points: under each eye, between our eyebrows, and either side of our mouth for the smile lines.

For application of any eye cream in this step: dot under eyes, onto eyelids, and onto crow’s feet. Always use gentle upward tapping motions to blend, being careful to never tug or pull skin.

Step 8: Moisturizer

🌞 Morning Skin Care Product

Dull or Aging Skin: Restorative Sea Culture Extra Riche Créme

Normal, Oily, or Acne-Prone Skin:Green Tea EGCG Protective Cream

Dry Skin: Hydra Drench Water Gel Cream

🌚Night Skin Care Product

Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Ultra Riche PM Treatment

Hydration is everything in the Korean skin care routine, and the layering of products allows your moisturizer to reach its fullest potential. This is your chance to seal in the ingredients you’ve applied up to this point: think nourishing and also providing yourself with a protective layer. To pump the brakes on aging, skin discoloration and dullness, religious application of your moisturizer (on your face and neck) is key.

Try Hydra Drench Water Gel Cream for intense hydration from chia seed gel. For damaged skin or for someone who is battling pollution on a daily basis (we’re looking at you, city slickers), we’d recommend opting for our Green Tea EGCG Protective Cream to help you ward off toxins in the air. Restorative Sea Culture Extra Riche Créme is a natural moisturizer straight from the sea. Within this rich face cream lies a nutrient-rich bounty from the sea containing minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, and trace elements. This deeply moisturizing skin care product also uses skin-plumping seaweed and red algae to lock in hydration, and keep skin supple and nourished all day long.

Rather than using cheap polymers, fillers, or toxic synthetics, 100% PURE has only formulated skin care with active, natural and skin beneficial ingredients.

“We never use fillers, thickeners, or anything synthetic or toxic in our products. Basically, if it is unhealthy, it is not going in the formula. We only use the healthiest, highest quality ingredients.”

– Susie Wang, Co-Founder of 100% PURE

Step 9: Facial Oil

🌞🌚 Morning + Night Skin Care Product

Argan Oil

The Korean skin care layering system is an artform, and also a science. It all boils down to molecular sizes within the skin care formulas and what needs to be first, second, and so on for it to properly penetrate your skin. Moving on to the oil step, our 100% PURE argan oil is rich with vitamin E, carotenoids, squalene, and essential fatty acids. This skin softening oil is the perfect layer for deeply moisturizing and nourishing your skin with restorative nutrients.

Oil can be a multi-use, multi-area treatment, so don’t feel like you have to stop at your face. Gently sweep argan oil around your decollete, hands, hair and anywhere else needing a little moisturization.

Step 10: Sunscreen or Night Balm

🌞Morning Skin Care Product

Tomato Lycopene SPF 20 Moisturizer

🌚 Night Skin Care Product

Retinol Restorative Overnight Balm

Our skin care journey is drawing to a close, and you get a gold star for making it to the end! When going through your routine in the morning, always finish with SPF in order to maintain and protect the work you’ve put into your skin. UVB and UVA rays put your skin on the fast track to sagging and wrinkles, so take care to apply – and reapply – throughout the day. Tomato Lycopene SPF 20 Moisturizer ticks all the boxes for being a member of a true Korean skin care routine: moisturizing, protective, and lightweight. Made with powerful, antioxidant-rich lycopene and nourishing oils of sunflower, sea buckthorn, and tomato.

If you’re at your last step and it’s the evening, swap the SPF for a nighttime treatment a few times a week. The Retinol Restorative Overnight Balm is a rich, buttery balm made to nourish, brighten, and smooth your skin while you’re off in dreamland. The natural retinol from carrots will promote even skin tone and elasticity, without being too harsh. You’ll wake up to a replenished complexion, with all the hard work having been done while you slept. Remember to ALWAYS wear sun protection the next day after using this high potency overnight balm!

Put the time in, play around with a routine that fits your face and your life, and then stick to it. The Korean skin care lifestyle is a lot less scary than it seems, we promise! Make it your own and nip skin care woes in the bud.