10 Step Korean Skincare Routine (+ tips for Oily Skin)

September 29, 2016

Hi guys! I feel like one of the things I'm always talking about is the 10-step Korean skincare routine. You might be thinking now "Eros are you not done with this like pls can you stop?!?"


The answer is, nope, I'm still not done with this topic! I looked back at my last skincare routine post and my god there were so many wrong things. I guess learning takes time, and since my skincare routine has somewhat evolved and I now actually know what stuff are for, I thought I'd update everyone. 

I definitely see a big difference in my skin now compared to when I first started learning about how to take care of it:

This was actually a few months after I had already started, so my breakouts weren't that bad anymore. I highly recommend that everyone starts learning the proper ways to take care of your skin for the long run.

PS. If you're wondering why I look so different in the header, it's because I also filmed a video! *aka there's 100% no photoshop on my face ๐Ÿ˜‚*

If you'd prefer to watch and listen, do go on a head and watch it! Remember to like and subscribe yeah ๐Ÿ˜Š

Back to the post! Please note that my 10-step routine is not the original 10-step one, but it is based on it. The original one starts with makeup removal and the order is slightly different.

There are 2 things you should know before creating a 10 step skincare routine:

Layering & Skin types.


Layering is applying products in order of thickness, meaning you apply thin products with a thinner consistency like water first, finishing with the thickest product. The logic behind this is if you apply a thin product first, a thicker product can still penetrate the skin afterwards. If you do it in reverse, the thinner product won't be absorbed that well into the skin if you layer it on after a thick one.


There are 4 major skin types: dry, normal, oily and combination skin. The products you choose should be chosen carefully based on your skin type. Here's a few guidelines:

Dry: Hydrating products like rich creams
Normal: Pretty much everything
Oily: Thin products + gels

The logic behind this is that everyone needs moisture. If you are dry, you need to lock in more moisture into your skin because you need it. Therefore people with dry skin tend to use rich creams.

People with oily skin on the other hand also need moisture. OIL DOES NOT EQUAL MOISTURE, and lack of moisture can actually lead to your face producing more oil. Therefore people with oily skin should use products like gels which are light but still provide hydration.

Having an oily skin type, please keep in mind throughout this post that I have a preference for thin, water-like products + gel products.

Here's my full night routine:

Looks so scientific right? I've made this picture to illustrate what the steps are mainly for and what products I only use occasionally. There are two things that you need to consider for the 10 step routine:

1. Money for products
I estimated it and the minimum cost of a full 10-step regime costs around RM400-500

2. Diligence
It's not easy to use all 10 products at the end of the day, especially when you're tired.


I'm not telling you that you need to go and spend RM500 right off the bat for your face. I actually recommend it if your ease it in, one product at a time. This will not only keep you from murdering your wallet but also make your transition to a lengthy skincare routine easier.

So, let's start shall we?

STEP 1: Cleanser

Cleansing is the most basic step. I don't wear any base makeup on a daily basis, but if your do, I suggest removing your makeup first. Cleansing helps get rid of all the dirt, oil and grime that your skin has accumulated throughout the day.

One tip I have for selecting cleansers is to STAY AWAY FROM BEADS. You know those cleansers that have micro beads that are supposed to help with exfoliation. No. Cleansers are meant for daily use and having one with beads is going to scrape your skin everyday. You may not be able to see it, but beads can cause microscarring. Just stay away from beads.

I recommend foaming washes! 

STEP 2: Exfoliator/Clay Mask

If you refer to the full routine, I put exfoliators and clay masks down as occasional products The reasons for the exfoliators are the same as the beads (see above), but why clay masks?
Clay masks are a good form of deep cleansing and to be honest I've never felt my skin at its cleanest and tightest. I recommend using it sparingly (like once a week or once every two weeks), purely because I don't need deep cleansing everyday. The clay acts as a magnet and removed dirt deep in the skin, but if you do it everyday it won't really have that much to pull out, aka waste of product.

STEP 3: Toner

This one is another must! If you're actually using a clay mask for that specific week, I recommend using toner -> clay mask -> toner, just for that extra cleanse.

If you're NOT using a clay mask that specific week, toners are even more important. They help to double cleanse the skin and wipe off any dead skin cells. Toners also help bring back pH and moisture to the skin after cleansing.

One thing to keep in mind regarding toners some (if not most) are alcohol based. If you have sensitive skin, do consult your dermatologist for recommendations. I used to have bad acne and what I recommend for people who also have acne skin is astringents.

Astringents are the strongest kinds of toners out there and help tighten the skin, remove excess oil and shrink pores. The catch is that astringents have high levels of alcohol and its more undiluted compared to tamer toners. I've used astringents to great effects throughout my acne phase, but now that I don't suffer that much from acne, I've moved on.

*master, witch hazel*

STEP 4: Eye products

Surprise, surprise. Guess you weren't expecting to see eye products so early up in the routine huh? Eye products are usually the last BUT I use my eye products right after toner. You might be asking "Eros, what about layering?".

True, most eye products are rich and thick. The reason why I apply it after toner is because the eyes are a delicate area. Aside from pressure, you don't really want any other product like acne cream or a random serum on your eye area. I followed Michelle Phan's advice on this:

Another thing! Eye products are special because to choose the right one, you don't look at skin type but look at age. Older people can use heavy eye creams but for younger people like me, I suggest using lighter products like eye gels. You don't really want to get rid of wrinkles but you DO want to prevent them. I plan on being wrinkle free till I'm like 60 or something.
How young is too young for eye products? Beauty gurus and beauty consultants I've talked to have recommended starting eye care at 20. The world's a polluted place now and to be honest, I think a lot of people get bad skin in general because of pollution. Prevention is key. You don't have to use it daily, use it as you see fit. I applied it about once/twice a week in college and about 3/4 times a week now that I'm interning.

STEP 5: Essence/Lotion

Essences are tricky products. One famous essence that your may have heard of is the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (yup that super expensive bottle of mineral water). What do essences actually do?

Essences are products that have a lighter consistency than serums and they are the most important product in the Korean skincare routine. They help to prep the skin for everything else that you are about to layer on, as well as having several properties of their own like firming, hydrating, etc. Its basically your one stop solution/product.

I only have two essences in my arsenal which are the Hada Labo Whitening Lotion (lotions = essence in Asia, not like the lotions for you skin) and the Missha First Treatment Essence. Both of them are really famous but for different reasons.

The Hada Labo lotion is one of my ultimate fave products like I swear if it was only one product I would bring, it would be this. It helps keep me hydrated! There are different versions available as well (moisturizing, hydrating and anti-aging). Click here for my review!

The Missha First Treatment Essence on the other hand is a well known dupe for the SK-II. Having never tried the SK-II, I'm not able to tell you how similar/different they are. HOWEVER, this product is so. damn. good. It really fulfilled what it said it can do, and for more info on this click here to read my review.

STEP 6: Acne/Spot

This step isn't part of the original 10-step routine but it's a step that I found necessary. As I mentioned countless times, I dealt with acne. Heavy hormonal acne. Implementing this in my routine helped me get rid of my pimples completely (though a few still appear every now and then).
Scar gel is a must for anyone who deals with the ugly aftermath of acne, acne scars. I usually rub the product on my scar in a circular motion for about 20 seconds, and I find this the most effective method of quickly banishing scars.
STEP 7: Serum

Remember how I said essences are your one stop solution? Serums are the complete opposites. Serums (also known as ampoules) are concentrated products designed for a specific concern. Examples are vitamin C (for whitening/brighteing) & collagen (cell regeneration). Some serums boast to have a ton of effects, but I try to stay away from those gimmicky ones and only use those that concentrate on one or two.

STEP 8: Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are very popular, and they're basically masks drenched in serum. I personally think masks are good for when you want that extra boost but you don't really want to buy a whole bottle of serum.

STEP 9:Emulsion/Moisturizer

Moisturizers act as the heaviest product that not only moisturizes the skin but also SEALS everything that you've already layered on. I recommend a gel for people with oily skin and a cream for people with dry skin.

One product that you'll find among Korean skincare products are emulsions. I'm sure you've heard of emulsions from your high school chemistry experiments. Emulsions are products with a milky texture and are basically moisturizers in the form of milk. I'm not sure how hydrating emulsions are for dry skin types but from experience, I definitely prefer emulsions over gels.

1. Etude House Collagen Moistfull Emulsion
2. Hada Labo Whitening Milk

The good thing about gels (especially aloe vera gels) however, is that there very thin and very hydrating. They won't make you feel like your cheeks are super heavy! The only reason why I don't use aloe as a moisturizer when I go out is because it leaves a very glossy finish. It can be probably wiped away by a toner after it's been fully absorbed, by I prefer leaving my aloe on overnight.

1. The Face Shop Jeju Aloe 99% Aloe Vera Gel
2. Nature Republic Soothing & Moisture Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel

STEP 10: Sleeping Mask

This one is for when you're feeling super extra hahaha. I usually use and aloe vera gel to calm and soothe my skin throughout the night when I break out.

- - - - - - -

Woah that was a lot huh! If you're still here after that long ass walkthrough, please know that the morning one isn't as complicated:

There's only 7 steps and on most days I only do 5 or 6. It's similar but with a few new rules:

STEP 1: Cleanser

You can wash your face with a cleanser, but this interview by Sooyoung (god I love her) actually gave me an epiphany:

*Skip to 10.30*

Basically she says that since you don't sweat or do any activities through your sleep, its okay to just wash your face with water in the morning. Cleansing also strips your face of essential oils that it needs. Nowadays I only wash my face with water in the morning.

STEP 2: Toner

*Same stuff as the night routine*

STEP 3: Eye products

This is for when you're feeling really extra. I've heard some products help with puffy eyes, so if you deal with that you can consider encorporating an eye product in your routine.

STEP 4: Lotion

I don't do essences in the morning but again, that's up to your preference. I really like how hydrated the Hada Labo lotion is so it's a staple in both my morning and evening routines.

If you're feeling extra you can apply one serum as well, but I wouldn't layer on two if you were going out (bc you'll look hella sticky). Also, NEVER USE VITAMIN C SERUM IN THE MORNING. You'll burn.

STEP 5: Acne/Spot

Apply acne cream to any pimples you have to dry them out. For faster scar fading, use your spot gel in the morning as well.

STEP 6: Moisturizer

Remember to moisturize!

STEP 7: Sunblock


Even if you're not going out, still put sunblock on. UV rays can hit you at anytime, anyplace. UV rays are also the main cause of aging!

And that's it for this long post! I hope I helped and informed you. The routine is very customizable and I suggest knowing more about your skin before buying any kind of product. If you're not sure, you can always consult your dermatologist.

As I mentioned in the video (if you watched it), I'm having a giveaway! Click here to find out more about that. 

As always, thanks for reading and I'll see you all in the next post!


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