THE K–BEAUTY 10–STEP
The K–Beauty 10–Step is one of the most personalized and widely followed skin routines around the world. Established through Korea's cultural obsession with healthy skin and decades of scientific advancements, it is less a "routine" than it is a lifestyle that has turned into a global phenomenon.
We know “10” can seem daunting for starters, so we’re here to break it down for you! And remember, while we showcase all 10 steps of the classic K–Beauty Skincare Routine, you can select and choose steps that align with your personal skin goals. You heard it here first: Once you go 10–Step, there is no turning back.
"Korean skincare is like a choose your own adventure."
– Garrett Munce, GQ's Groom Director
MAKEUP REMOVER + OIL CLEANSER
Sure, you could use your makeup remover on a cotton pad at night and call it a day, but that means you’ll most likely end up with black streaks of mascara on your pillowcase the next morning. To truly remove ALL makeup, reach for an oil cleanser. Massage it over your dry face and neck to break up makeup and then add a splash of lukewarm water to emulsify the cleanser. Massage again and then rinse everything off!
It’s called double cleansing for a reason. Wash your face with a water-based cleanser to whisk away any remaining residue and impurities from your oil cleanse.
You don’t always have to exfoliate (especially if you have sensitive skin), but keep in mind that exfoliating at least twice a week is crucial for clear, polished skin. Sloughing off dead skin cells makes it possible for the rest of your skin care products to mingle with your pores and do their magic. Gently massage or tap an exfoliant into your skin for smooth and silky skin.
Think of your skin like a sponge—it’s more difficult to rehydrate it when it’s dried up and hardened than when it’s already a bit damp. Toners are the product that dampens your skin and balances its pH levels. Sprinkle one into your hands and tap it directly onto your skin or dispense it onto a cotton pad and gently swipe around your face working outwards.
The heart of the Korean skin care routine! An essence is a kind of toner/serum hybrid made for hydrating and aiding skin repair and cell turnover. Apply it to freshly toned skin and pat it in.
Consider boosters, serums, and ampoules as concentrated essences that directly treat the issues you’re most concerned about. Whether they target dull skin, large pores, pigmentation, wrinkles, or acne, serums are the ideal skin-perfecting step. Gently tap these into your skin!
If essences are the heart of the Korean skin care routine, sheet masks are the soul. All you have to do is put one on and chill for 15-20 minutes (and probably take a selfie). Sheet masks provide you with a quiet, meditative, and skin-nourishing ritual that imparts maximum treatment to your skin. Use one at least once or twice a week or every single day if you’d like!
The skin around your eyes is thin and delicate, which means you should treat it like the fragile flower that it is. An eye cream provides the area with extra helpings of hydration and protection. Use your ring finger to very gently tap (never rub!) eye cream around the entire orbital bone, avoiding the water line.
Hydration is your express lane to dewy, glowing skin, so it’s important to find a moisturizer that works for your skin type. They come in many forms—from an emulsion, lotion, gel, or cream—all of which work to seal in moisture to plump up skin and smooth away any fine lines. Pat a moisturizer into your face and neck morning and night every single day. On days when your skin feels extra parched, swap your regular moisturizer for a sleeping pack.
Even if you’re stepping outside for just a couple of minutes, you must wear sunscreen. It’s the easiest and most effective way to prevent premature aging (and skin cancer!). Apply every—and we mean every—morning, reapplying throughout the day as needed. It’s important to put this on last so it can fully shield your skin from UV rays without being diluted by prior products.