A Korean-based Skincare Routine


I’ve been on the Korean skincare path going on two years now, and it has improved the clarity and brightness of my skin in a very impressive way. Along with the products themselves, I think that the concepts of double cleansing, and properly moisturizing have helped balance out my skin. My skin has also shifted recently towards more dry, rather than oily, and so I’ve really focused on hydration in the products that I’ve incorporated into my routine. Korean skincare is all about naturally active ingredients, and I think I’ve honed on the ones that work for me. For a basic overview of Korean skincare concepts, this article from Soko Glam is a great resource. I don’t do all the steps of Korean skincare consistently (like sheet masking, really need to be better about that) but I do most of them. Another thing to keep in mind is that the products themselves don’t have to necessarily be Korean or Asian – it’s the methodology that matters! Keep reading for my current routine!

  1. First/oil-based cleanse with Illi Total Aging Care Cleansing Oil. I reviewed this in my last beauty edit post here, and to summarize, I LOVE this cleansing oil. It smells amazing and I love how well it removes my makeup and emulsifies off. It’s a holy grail product for sure! I also use the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water for waterproof makeup for taking off my eye makeup. It’s a dual-phase micellar water, and does an amazing job of taking off my waterproof mascara and eyeliner.
  2. Second cleanse with water-based cleanser – I’m currently using the COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser, but I have also used the Neogen Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser, and really like it too. I’ll switch it up between the two as I use either up.
  3. Tone to clarify skin and balance skin pH – y’all, how satisfying is it to swipe your face with toner and see all the residual gunk in your skin come out? I love it, and my favorite toners also do the job of balancing my skin pH down to an acidic level (though, it shouldn’t really be too basic, since I do use a low pH cleanser.) I’ve gone through 2 bottles of the Son and Park Beauty Water – it lasts and lasts! Recently, I’ve also started using the Missha Clear Toner which I think does the job just as well, plus it’s a little more economical price-wise.
  4. Treat with COSRX Galactomyces Essence – I used to use the Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence (which has since changed formulations a bit) and went through 3 bottles of the stuff. I felt that it was hydrating and brightening. I did want to switch it up so I’m currently using the COSRX Galactomyces Essence (I think they recently updated the name and packaging, but the new version still has 95% galactomyces ferment filtrate) which is a similar fermented yeast active ingredient as in the Missha Essence. I find my skin just as bright after switching to the CosRX essence, and would recommend it as a less expensive alternative to the Missha essence, if you’re looking to add a fermented yeast essence to your skincare routine.
  5. Treat with COSRX Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence – I know it sounds weird but this is SUCH a good product – snail essence is very hydrating but not oily, and is just good for when your skin is kind of meh – I find it healing, and comforting on my skin. This is my second bottle, and something I intend on repurchasing over and over again.
  6. Treat with Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule – Propolis is what bees use to seal up their hives, and this ingredient is supposed to reduce redness and inflammation while delivering antioxidants and moisture.  While I do think the Tosowoong is hydrating, I don’t think it’s as good at combating breakouts and redness as other propolis products I’ve tried. I’ll use it up, and it’ll take me a while to do it because the bottle is huge, but then I’ll be looking for another propolis product for anti-breakout purposes.
  7. Hydrate with Dr. Jart’s Water Drop Moisturizer – this is a very unique moisturizer – it looks like a gel cream but once it touches your skin it turns into hydrating droplets that then sink weightlessly into your skin. This is my second tube, so clearly I like it a lot! I’ve also gotten back into the Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator. I used to use this moisturizer exclusively in college when I would get it as a gift and loved it, however during grad school I didn’t want to spend that much on a moisturizer so I stopped for a while. In recent weeks, I wanted to compare the Clinique to the similar-ish Garnier Moisture Rescue Gel-Cream for Dry Skin head to head, so I got a small pot of it, and I was reminded all over again what good stuff the Clinique Moisture Surge is. It’s cooling and smooth and richly hydrating without being heavy. I’ll be writing up my thoughts on the Clinique vs Garnier soon as I finish up testing both, but I definitely wanted to include the Clinique one here.

Once or twice a week I’ll use the COSRX BHA blackhead power liquid as a gentle chemical exfoliant to clear out my skin (use right after cleansing/toning, leave on for 20 minutes, then proceed with treating/moisturizing). I also just started using the GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment clay mask and LOVE it. It really does suck all the stuff out of your pores (you can see it working), and I’ll gently exfoliate the mask off with a muslin cloth after it turns dry on my skin. I have been interested in GlamGlow for a while, and through the Sephora birthday gift mini set, was able to finally try something and I’m really impressed. I’ll definitely be looking to try more GlamGlow in the months to come.

As with all skincare, these are my thoughts on how these products have worked for me, and your own mileage with them may vary. I hope this was useful to you guys, and please do let me know your questions or thoughts in the comments, or on my Instagram! x

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