Ok ladies, tell me, how many steps do you have in your normal skin care routine? 1, 2, none?? I was a zero girl. If I washed my face it was in the shower with my husbands face wash. He was much more concerned about his skin than I ever have been but he also deals with moderate acne from time to time. I hardly ever dealt with acne and if I did it was hormonal and didn't last long. I know, I know... all of the girls dealing with skin issues are ready to kill me now.
When I started to look into skin care I was ready to blow $300 on Rodan and Fields just to get results like the pictures, fast. However, I don't like spending crazy amounts of money on something that seems to good to be true. So I researched and studied up on what makes our skin do what it does. Come to find out we as Americans like quick results with little work, I know right, ASTOUNDING! However, like in life, little work tends to result in few results. Koreans however are taught from a young age that your skin is something you should treasure. Like French women they teach their daughters their skin is worth caring for and from a young age they pass on their treasured skincare routines.
Korean companies know this and they are at the fore front of skin care products. Korean women are always looking for new products and ingredients that will keep their youthful look. So lets just skip to the good stuff, what do they do??
The key is hydration and controlling sebum. Sebum is what makes your face break out in acne, black heads, and white heads. Sebaceous glands secrete oil so if you have overactive glands you will have oily skin and yes you can have oily skin and not hydrated skin! So we need to find products that work with your skin to neutralize the sebum.
To start I added and oil cleanser to take off any oil based make up and sunscreen. I added sunscreen to my morning routine immediately because I worshiped the sun which unfortunately had caused sunspots and added wrinkles but your basic cleanser does not remove your sunscreen like an oil cleanser will plus it takes off any of your oil based makeup which most of us have if you wear makeup. Currently I am using Neutrogena Oil Cleanser because they have started to follow the trend and this is a great light oil cleanser that I can buy at CVS instead of ordering online like most of my other products. This is also only used at night so its one less step in the morning.
The first question I asked was why double cleanse? Well, hopefully I answered why you need an oil cleanser but the foam cleanser is to take off any dirt and grime left over after your oil cleanser. You may not think you need it but in order to continue to you will need a clean face. Korean foam cleansers are gentle and honestly I love double cleansing. It doesn't take much time and I feel great after. I tend to use a couple of these depending on what I am feeling like at night. I am a huge fan of the Elizavecca pore cleansing foam which looks like black tar because it has activated charcoal in it but I have also tried several of their other foaming cleansers and love them as well so I would suggest any of their products but Memebox carries a variety of other lighter foam cleansers with tons of reviews to help you select what's right for you.
When I think of toner I think of the astringent alcohol based toners that you cleaned your face with. This is NOT the toner you are thinking of folks. Korean toner is light and prepares your skin for what comes next. It is also something you pat into your skin rather than swipe all over. It does not contain alcohol and will not dry out your skin. My favorite is Benton BHA Skin Toner. It has aloe and is really light and clean. Once you put this on let it dry before moving on to anything else.
Alright this is where things get interesting. First essences are huge in Korean skincare and ultimately are essential in any routine. They work together with your toner to add hydration and continue to prepare your skin for any further steps. Traditionally they are light and watery and contain tons of active ingredients but mainly fermented yeast. Basically people started to notice how soft the skin of the hands of workers in Saki factories were and companies found the fermented yeast in Saki creates softer skin. Amazing right!? There are tons of different kinds of First Essences and multiple different ingredients to add to what is already a great product but choosing one will be up to you and what your skincare needs are. I LOVE Missha First Essence but like I said there are several other companies that make them but stick to Sokoglam.com or Memebox.com to order them. Ill get into the why's of this later
Essence and Serums
Here is where your routine can add up. To treat your specific needs and wants there are serums and essences which are a little thicker than your toner and first essence. They are also made of crazy ingredients which may sound crazy at first but remember Korean skincare is always looking for new and NATURAL ingredients to cater to Korean women's search for better skin. I use several depending on how much time I have in the evening and they include snail mucus enzymes, bee venom, and goat placenta. Scared yet? Don't be, I assure you they do not smell, and are not as crazy or scary as they sound. This is a step that you will need to find what's right for you and what your concerns or needs are. You can skip this step entirely or add anywhere from 1 to 10, it's all up to you and there are no right or wrong answers here.
Oh ladies, this is my favorite part! I could use a face mask every night and honestly I could probably add them in the morning if I had all of the time in the world. Face masks are a fun way to add multiple different serums and essence in one step. They are mostly cotton masks, though I have had a couple that were more a silicone type material, that are soaked in different types of serums that you where for 15 to 20 minutes. They force all of that goodness into your skin and leave you feeling relaxed and wonderful! No really they are heaven and there are a million different masks that again treat different needs and wants but in my opinion you can't really go wrong with any of them. Once you take them off you rub in the rest and continue on!
This is the final step in your routine at night and are essential. The moisturizer is just that and locks in all of the ingredients your just put on your skin. I use an eye cream and a lotion from Philosophy in the morning and in the evening Guerisson 9 complex cream. It smells like grapefruit, looks like butter, and feels amazing! Sometimes I will also add a sleeping pack if my skin feels dry that day. Sleeping packs are just another cream to put on at the end that add an extra moisture lock overnight.
In the morning after my moisturizer I put on sunscreen. Biore Watery Essence Sunscreen is hands down my favorite because it is water based and very light.
Alright, from 1 to 10 how overwhelmed are you?
Don't be, start with your double cleanse and moisturizer and go from there. I will tell you this stuff is addicting. I love finding new products to add but when adding new products do so one at a time and give it a week or so before adding anything else so you know how each product is affecting your skin but in the end just have fun! I promise you will notice a difference in your skin.
A few additions:
There are a few things I left out that I don't use all of the time. Exfoliating is very useful but they aren't typically an every night thing for me. These remove dead skin and are used after cleansing before toner. There are a wide variety of these out there and I have found some feel better than others but really I love Skinfood black sugar mask as an inexpensive mask and Rodan and Fields exfoliating mask. I am not really and advocate of Rodan and Fields but if you don't mind a splurge this is a great mask to use.
AHA and BHA toner is also in my skincare routine but I do not use these daily. When I do use them its only in the evening and when I feel a breakout coming or already have an acne flair up. They are used before your other toners. When I do use them it's a miracle in a bottle and I don't say that lightly. It clears up and acne or flair up within 24 hours and I am not exaggerating. Like I said previously I don't breakout often which is mostly why I don't use this every night. If you do break out often then you may want to add this to your daily routine. AHA/BHA Toner by Cosrx is amazing! They also have a blackhead power liquid that I have heard is amazing but haven't tried so I cannot say for sure but I haven't disliked any of Cosrx products so far.
Where should you buy your products? The two main sites I order from are Sokoglam and Memebox. Both offer great products without the crazy long shipping times and you are getting the real thing. You can order on Amazon but be careful because you may not always get the genuine thing. There are a few places that you can go that have started carrying Korean products like Ulta which carries Tony Moly products. If you live in Chicago or New York there are boutique stores that are a whole store full of Korean skincare products! I sadly do not live near one of these amazing stores and my husband is probably thankful for that.
You made it to the end! If you made it this far CONGRATS! No really, thank you. If you have a question feel free to ask away in the comment section! I am by no means an expert but after 6 months of research and trial by error I have learned a few things and would love to share!