10 Step Skincare Routine: I don’t have time for that!

by Shahper Richter

Do you need all ten steps? OK, hear me out; I get that you don’t think you will have time to do a 10 step skincare routine. But just maybe you will….read on!

First, let’s back it up and review the ten steps and why they form a fundamental part of a Korean skincare routine.

The ten steps go like this

The first two steps go hand in hand. The oil-based cleanser helps remove sebum, sunscreen, and makeup. This step is followed by a water-based foaming cleanser to remove anything left over. As is customary for Korean skincare, gentle, ph-balanced cleansers are preferred to harsh over-chemicalised mixtures. This makes double cleansing, the Korean way, gentle enough for sensitive skin. I usually accomplish both these steps in the shower, saving time!

Next up, exfoliant. There are two types of exfoliants to be aware of, physical and chemical. Physical exfoliants, as the name suggests, physically slough off the top layers of your skin. Examples of these would be peeling gels and sugar or rice-based scrubs. On the other hand, a chemical exfoliant uses acids such as AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs to slough away dead skin cells. Of the two, physical exfoliants are considered harsher and should be used with caution, especially for sensitive skin. Regardless of the type of exfoliant you pick, this step need not be a daily occurrence, especially if you are just starting your skincare routine.

The toner and essence steps can be easily confused by they need not be. A toner’s function is to balance your skin’s ph level and prepare it for the next step. The essence step on the hand is about deep hydration. This step is my personal favourite! It’s like dunking your face in a bowl of water. Now your skin is super-duper, ready to absorb the remaining steps.
Ampoule/serum and sheet mask steps can be interchanged depending on your sheet mask’s goal. There are a plethora of sheet masks flooding the market and are a lovely way to spend 10-15mins while you scroll through your socials. Ampoules and serums similarly exist for skin concerns and skin types, from extra hydration to brightening, to pigmentation correction to anti-ageing. 

Again, the next two steps, eye cream, and moisturiser can be interchanged. A hydrating but light eye cream is essential for the delicate eye socket and contour area. And finally (or nearly finally), moisturisers. As you have probably understood by now, hydration is essential in Korean skincare. As moisturisers act as occlusives, the ingredients in most Korean products form a hydrophobic film (seal) on the skin’s surface that prevents water from evaporating.

The final step during the daytime is SPF and in the evening is an optional sleeping mask. I cannot overemphasise the importance of this step. Whether you choose a physical or mineral sunscreen, you must apply (and reapply) this whether or not you plan to be outdoors on that day. A sleeping mask provides, even more, you guessed it, hydration to the skin. Working overnight to make sure you wake up with refreshed skin! 

Now back to my original statement. Yes, some of these steps are interchangeable, some of them can be combined, and some can be skipped altogether. However, what is important to note is that you do not need to stand in your bathroom and complete all these steps in one go. I usually do my double cleanse in the shower and then spend the next hour while I tidy the house, sip a cup of tea and look through my socials, completing the rest of the steps. Your skin will thank you for it, promised!

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