article, skin care

The Korean 10-Step Routine

When I first heard about the Korean 10-step skin care routine, my immediate thoughts were, “Won’t that dry up your skin? Ten steps is ridiculous! I definitely don’t need to do that much.” But when I read up on what it was and what each step does, I became more open to trying to incorporate them into my life.

First of all, you don’t have to begin with 10 steps ASAP. You start with what is basic or what you feel like your skin needs (e.g. proper cleansing if you wear makeup daily or moisturizing if you have really dry skin). Once you get the hang of your basic skin care, you can slowly incorporate the steps for which you see the need, especially when you read up about what the other steps do for your skin.

Secondly, an important factor to the 10-step routine is picking your products well in order for the routine to work for your skin. The 10 steps don’t mean cleaning your face with 10 different products! Honestly, that was what I thought it was at first but it’s not actually 10 harsh steps you have to do to achieve that glowing-from-within look. In reality, you cleanse, prepare the skin, and moisturize it during the entirety of the routine with products that are good for your skin.

Picking your products well means doing the nitty gritty. What is your skin type? What products are out there? What are the reviews? Is this the particular product that would adress your needs? Is this product better than the other? Does it have real results or is it just an overrated hype? Most importantly, is it available in your location? If it is, can you afford it? The internet is a wonderful place. You can check out other beauty blogs (like Snow White and the Asian Pear or 50 Shades of Snail) and even Reddit to research and read thorough reviews about beauty products, comparisons and contrasts, dupes, etc.

Sometimes products have the absolute best reviews. HG product, 10/10, changed my life, would buy again!!!  But it isn’t available in where you live, or the item cannot be shipped to your location. Sometimes it’s just dang too expensive! Look for dupes or items that are similar  or close to that product you’re eyeing. For example, a paticular Hada Labo facial cleanser is really good for dry skin according to the internet. But the item isn’t available to me anywhere else except through this reseller I found online and it’s priced waaay too high than what I am willing to spend.  So instead,  I got the Cosrx low pH cleanser (another great product!) since I found a reseller who has it for a really good price.

Thirdly, skin care is personal. You are not, in any way, obligated to stick to the 10 steps all the time, every single day! There will be days when you hae to do more than ten steps. There will be (really good) days when you need just three. There will be days when you’re in a hurry and completely forget to do a single step. I myself do not obey all the steps in the routine because I don’t feel the need to. Maybe if I had the time and the money to complete all the steps, I would. Or if perhaps I have experienced the wonders of the other products I don’t currently use, and declare that my life is not complete without it. In the meantime, I’m content with my routine.

The 10 Steps

Some products in the 10-step skin care routine

The actual steps slightly vary depending on what site you’re on, but basically they would be:

  1. Oil-based cleanser (makeup remover)
  2. Water-based cleanser (facial wash)
  3. pH adjusting toner
  4. BHA exfoliant (oil soluble acid)*
  5. AHA exfoliant (water soluble acid)*
  6. Essence
  7. Serum/sheet mask
  8. Moisturizer/Cream
  9. Spot treatment
  10. Sun screen
    *read more about these acids here

Some of the steps can be mixed up, depending on the product you are using. For example, if you use your toner for hydration (meaning it is not a pH adjusting toner), you use it after your first essence. But if you use it as a final cleanser to wipe off the gunk that your facial wash hasn’t removed, then it comes before the essence/serum.

Some of the  steps can be skipped, like the pH adjusting toner if you are using a low pH cleanser or if you don’t use exfoliants. It really depends on what you want to do, which means you have to read up on what each step really does. The point of the pH adjusting toner, for example, is to bring back your skin’s natural pH (which is below 6) so that pH-dependent products like AHA/BHA exfoliants can work effectively. I currently don’t use exfoliants but I still use a toner just so I can really clean my face. You can check out my routine here.

It’s confusing, I know. What this basically means is that the steps are not carved in stone. Modify it according to your needs, and what works for your skin based on your experience.

Just take not that the general rule for layering up moisturizing products is to move from thinner to thicker formulas. So if your essence is thicker than your serum, put on the serum first. Fanserviced-b has an exhaustive visual guide to the steps and how to put the products in order.

Important note: I have read that certain ingredients have reactions when mixed up with other ingredients, like vitamin c with a particular ingredient in toners. Best read up on how to properly use your product and know its ingredients, as some require waiting periods up to 30 minutes before doing the rest of your routine. Snow White and the Asian Pear explains it here.

Keep in mind that skincare &  hygiene are very personal. What might work for me may not work for you, and vice versa – even if we have the same skin/hair type!


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