Korean Skincare 101: How to Layer Skincare Products

Skincare is one of the best beauty habits that you can adopt. Sure, fashion makes you easily noticed and stylish, and makeup accentuates all the good things about you. But, skincare is more than that: skincare nourishes and heals at the same time, if you use the right products and methods, of course.

Koreans developed one of the best skincare industries in the world, by perfecting innovative formulas and using smart marketing strategies to place their products on the world map. Koreans even invented a 10-step skincare routine that yields amazing results.

So if you’re interested in this topic, here are some tips that will show you how to correctly layer all those phenomenal Korean skincare products.

STEPS 1&2: cleansing

Cleansing is the first step in a Korean skincare routine, meaning it should never, ever be skipped. Koreans favor using two cleansers: an oil cleanser to remove dirt and makeup, and a water-based, foaming cleaner to thoroughly clean the face. Foaming cleansers are particularly effective when it comes to removing traces of sweat, dirt, and pollution from your face.

STEP 3: toning


Usually, using a toner is considered an optional step in a routine. But, in Korea, it’s considered an important step as it balances the PH levels of your skin. If you have pressing skin concerns, you can use AHA/BHA toners. Korean toners are abundant with botanical ingredients that are effective in combating wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging.

STEP 4: Essence

Essence is a relatively new skincare product outside of Korea. It’s the second layer of moisture after the toner, which means it has a pretty runny and watery consistency, especially compared to thicker skincare products. Therefore, its purpose is to prep the skin to absorb other products.

STEP 5: emulsion


The emulsion is a product thicker than previous layers, and just like them, it’s super packed with amazing ingredients. Since Koreans believe that layering skincare products will actually unclog the pores and allow the skin to breathe, then it’s important to use an emulsion if you’re trying out the Korean way of layering products.

STEP 6: serum/ampule

If you’re interested in skincare, then chances are you’re already using some type of serum or an ampule. Serums are the holy grail in every skincare routine, so it makes total sense that Korean skin care relies on them as well. They are rich in ingredients, often very potent, and always nourishing. You should choose the serum that caters to your skin type, so you’ll be able to see the maximum results.

STEP 7: a sheet mask

sheet mask

If you’ve ever used a sheet mask, then you know how fun this experience may be. These masks come in lovely packaging, soaked in nourishing serums and essences. When it comes to Korean routine, a sheet mask is a must-do step as it gives your skin a unique layer of glow and nourishment. Of course, if you lack time, you can do it once or twice a week. Keep in mind that you should wait 10 minutes after using a mask before moving on to other products in the routine.

STEP 8: eye cream

Just like a toner, an eye cream is mostly considered an optional product. But, Koreans swear by it, as it can treat wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes. Since the skin in that area is ultra-thin and sensitive, it’s important to keep it moisturized. The best way to apply eye cream is to use your ring fingers and then dab it gently into the area. Make sure to avoid excess rubbing and tearing.

STEP 9: moisturizer


In a regular skincare routine, a moisturizer would be the last product to apply. But in the Korean 10-step routine, it’s only a number 8. The role of moisturizer is to seal in all the previously applied layers of products. A layer of moisturizers is also called an occlusive layer, which makes sense, considering that face cream is the thickest product in the routine.

STEP 10: Sunscreen


Sunscreen is probably the most important skincare product. Its role is to protect the skin from harmful UV rays and prevent skin cancer, dark spots, and premature aging. Asian, mainly Korean, sunscreens have a PA system that indicates the levels of protection. This is more thorough than using SPF. So if you’re looking to keep your skin protected and safe, then using Korean sunscreen is definitely going to help.


Korea is the land of K-pop, high-quality movies, and of course, skincare. Trying these steps certainly won’t hurt, especially if you’re a skincare enthusiast. If you decide on all these products, your skin will be clear, soft, and nourished at all times.

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