Korean Skin Care Routine: The 10 Step System Explained

If you live in Korea, you have probably heard about the Korean skin care routine. The skincare industry is in full boom here. You may have even heard about the 10-step skincare routine and wondered what that is all about. However, after living here in Korea for four years now and having tried several of the skincare lines here, I will try to demystify some of that for you.

I am sure you have seen videos like this floating across your feed for a few years now.

The past few years have slowed the K-Beauty boom but it looks ready to take off again as more people go back to work in the office.

I am not a K-Beauty Expert

First of all, I am not obsessed with skincare rituals. For quite some time, my ritual was simply making sure to take off makeup and wash my face at least once a day. I have been fortunate to have normal skin and occasionally I would try skincare lines stateside. However, when we moved here I decided I should try the skincare system out and asked a few Korean friends for help finding something.

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I am as Confused about Korean Skincare as You

The Korean skincare routine can be quite overwhelming between the number of steps in it and the different types of products. One friend that helped me, in the beginning, told me I need to tap my face while applying skincare. Therefore, I had to research to find the reason for this. Apparently, it is believed that the patting motion helps circulate the blood and tone and firm your skin.

Let’s Learn About the Skincare Together

To make this a little less confusing, let’s define some of the terms in the 10-step skincare system. Writing this post helped me dig into the details and learn more. Here is what I learned written in the most simple terms.


Used to help balance your skin’s PH and to remove any dirt or impurities left on your skin after cleansing.
Essence: Prepares the skin before you apply serums and moisturizers, similar to a primer.


Typically serums address specific skin issues like wrinkles, dark spots, brightening, etc. It should be noted that Essences and Serums are very similar. In fact, recently they have been a bit more interchangeable in terminology in the beauty industry.


This is typically a super-charged booster used for a short period of time to help when your skin is having issues.

The Korean 10 Step Skincare System

  1. Use an oil-based cleanser to break down make up, sunscreen and other impurities.
  2. Use a foaming/water-based cleanser. Massage it into your skin and wash your face.
  3. Time for exfoliating. Gently scrub to remove any dead skin cells. (Do this one to two times a week)
  4. Apply toner. Avoid using alcohol-based toners as they tend to dry out your skin.
  5. Apply essence to hydrate and heal your skin.
  6. Apply your serum or boosters.
  7. Use a sheet mask. Leave on for 20 – 30 minutes.
  8. Apply eye cream to help with delicate skin under your eyes.
  9. Moisturize. Apply the heavier creams to lock in moisture in your skin.
  10. Apply your sunscreen.

Things to Remember for Your Skincare Routine

One rule of thumb is to remember to use the products that are more watery first and the thickest ones last. Morning and evening routines do not look the same and you don’t have to use all of the steps daily to achieve results.

Getting Started with a Skincare Routine

If you are planning to try a Korean skincare line, I recommend starting small to make sure that the product works well for you. Since there are all different skin types, you may want to ask if there is a product that is better for certain types of skin.

From my own use, here are brands that I have tried and really loved.


I have used the following lines: Jeju Orchid, Green Tea Seed, Jeju Cherry Blossom, and Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing.

Tony Moly

I have used the following lines: Intense Care Gold 24K Snail and Bio Ex Cell Peptide.

The Face Shop

I have used the Yehwadam and LG Beyond lines.

Of the above brands, I favor the lines from Innisfree and Tony Moly the most. Currently, I am using the two lines from Tony Moly. The shop owner recently suggested that I use the Intense Care Gold 24K Snail line in the morning and use the Bio Ex Cell Peptide line at night. After only a few nights, I can already tell a difference in my skin’s hydration and elasticity.

Where to Shop for Skincare near Osan Air Force Base in Sinjangdong, Pyeongtaek

If you are close to Sinjang Shopping Area, there are locations where you can purchase Innisfree, Tony Moly and The Face Shop. I do find that shopping locally, I tend to get recommendations as well as a lot of samples. You will also find lots of sales so that you can purchase a skincare line. In addition, you can also find deals on GMarket or Coupang as well.

Innisfree Sinjang

Innisfree Sinjang5


Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Healthy and reasonably priced beauty products sourced from Jeju Island.

Hangul Address

경기 평택시 중앙시장로19번길 15

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Tony Moly Sinjang

Tony Moly Sinjang5


Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Sells Korean beauty supplies, skin care, face masks etc.

Hangul Address

경기 평택시 쇼핑로 30-1

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

The Face Shop Sinjang

The Face Shop Sinjang4.5


Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Face Shop sells Korean beauty supplies, skin care, etc.

Hangul Address

경기 평택시 쇼핑로 28-2

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

For more information about clothing and beauty in South Korea check out our other blog posts on the topic.