The Korean Skincare routine continues to be a topic of fascination, due in large part to its intricate “steps”


The steps inspire everything from curiosity to fear and even downright incredulity – namely that anyone could spend that much time on their daily skincare routine!


The truth is that there is no one skincare routine that Korean women or devotees of the Korean Skincare routine follow. It’s also hype that the routine takes a long time or is hard to follow.


In reality, Korean beauty products are many and varied, as are the ways you can apply them!


The only rule that really needs remembering is that with skincare, what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another –  the same is true for particular products. Therefore, in all cases YMMV (“Your Mileage May Vary”).


So what does this mean for someone dabbling in the Korean skincare routine or trying to work out which products they should use?


Time to get testing!



Some of the steps you’ll commonly see mentioned as part of the Korean Beauty Routine include:


There may look like a lot of steps, but applying Korean Beauty products isn’t time consuming.

Oil Cleanser

Why oil? If you wear makeup or sunscreen (so, everybody – right?!) you’ll need to take it off at night.

Oil is one of the most effective ways to do this, as it breaks down the particles in makeup and sunscreen.

Apply your oil cleanser first, and follow up with a water-based cleanser.

Banila’s Clean It Zero is one of the most popular first cleansers.


Water Based Cleanser

This cleanser takes away the impurities left over from your oil cleanse. It’ll thoroughly cleanse your skin, making sure nothing’s left over. Try B-LAB I Am Sorry Just Cleansing Foam.

Once you’ve got a clean base, you’re ready to prep your skin for the hydrating layers.



Exfoliating several times a week is a great way to give your face a buff and polish and get rid of dead skin.

K-Beauty exfoliators include manual exfoliants like Skinfood’s Black Sugar Wash Off Mask and chemical exfoliants like BHAs and AHAs.

The key to building your skincare routine is trial and error and learning what works best with your skin type.

If you have sensitive skin, this may be one step to skip, as exfoliating can aggravate irritated skin.



This may not seem like an important step, but if you’re experiencing skin issues like dry, dull or dehydrated skin don’t skip toner.

Toners balance the skin’s pH levels and dampen skin so it can properly receive your next layers of skincare. If skin is not properly prepped, the next products you apply won’t absorb properly.

For all skin types, we love Soroci Soothing Toner.



Essences are quintessentially Korean – a kind of hybrid serum / toner – they are made for repairing, hydrating and promoting cell turnover.

Pop your essence on straight after your toner and pat it in to aid absorption.

“Cult favourite” Korean essences include Benton’s Snail Bee High Content Essence, Missha’s Time Revolution Essence and COSRX’s Advanced 96 Snail Mucin Essence.


Sheet Masks

STYLE STORY Founder Lauren sheet-masking on a long haul flight.

One of most recognisable parts of the Korean Beauty routine, sheet masks are wildly popular both in Korea and abroad. The current trend in Korea is to go through “a pack a day” (a mask pack, that is!).

Despite appearances, sheet masks aren’t time consuming to use – all you do is whack one on for 20 minutes and you’re good to go.

You can get a few chores out of the way while you’re basting and….voila! Plumper, softer and more hydrated skin with relatively minimal effort.


Serums and Oils

Serums and oils are more highly concentrated than other skincare products, so they’re perfect to use to target specific skin issues like pigmentation, sun spots, wrinkles and blemishes.

They’re designed to make skin softer, firmer, suppler and more hydrated.

How many and which ones you use will depend on the issues you’re trying to tackle.

For brightening, we love Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule, for blemishes we love COSRX Centella Blemish Ampoule, for mature skin we love Missha Borabit Ampoule, and for dry skin try Thank You Farmer True Water Deep Serum,



Korean moisturisers come in a variety of forms – lotions, gels, creams.

Choose one that suits your skin type and use it morning and night.

There are also special purpose overnight moisturisers (known as “sleeping creams”) that are especially hydrating for nighttime use – STYLE STORY loves Laneige’s popular Water Sleeping Pack and Firming Sleeping Pack.


Still Confused?

If you’re still confused about the correct order to apply your products just remember one simple trick – start with the product that has the thinnest, most watery consistency and work your way up to the one with the thickest!


Want to know more about the Korean Beauty Routine? See the STYLE STORY Blog


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