K-Beauty 101: How to Build a Korean Skincare Routine for Men and Women

bag with beauty products


Whether you’ve just started researching it or have some knowledge under your belt, incorporating the legendary 10-step skincare routine might seem a little bit daunting at first.

After all, who has the time for a 10-step Korean skincare routine these days? It turns out that there’s no need to worry. In fact, you can put together a great skincare routine, and it doesn’t even have to have 10 steps involved! 

Canadians may be busy individuals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a great skincare routine. The KBeauty Insider team will provide you with tips and tricks, as well as a basic routine you can adapt to your lifestyle.

Tips on K-Beauty

Whether it’s a 10-step Korean skincare routine or a basic one you want, any beauty regime requires you to identify your skin type. Your skin type can be:

  • Oily
  • Dry
  • Sensitive
  • Normal
  • A combination of types
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Once you’ve narrowed down your skin type, you’ll have a better idea of what products you should look for. You will also need to identify your skincare goals, which means figuring out how to improve your skin. Figure  out what you suffer from, such as:

With your skin goals in mind, you can narrow down the best K-Beauty products even further. You may be wondering what ingredients to have in your skincare routine and products. No matter what you need, it’s essential to avoid ingredients like:

  • Dyes
  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Mineral Oils
  • Fragrances
  • Phthalates
  • Synthetic Preservatives

With K-Beauty products, there are plenty of vegan brands, cruelty-free brands, as well as brands that are both vegan and cruelty-free on the market. Everyone wins! However, it’s good to still read the ingredient list and do some research into Korean skincare brands to know what you're buying and who you’re supporting.

PRO TIP: When creating a skincare routine, always apply products with the lightest texture to the thickest.

Lastly, your routine will fluctuate based on what your skin needs day-to-day, so don’t worry about changing up your skincare routine. It’s encouraged!

person holding amber bottle

A Basic Skincare Routine

Everyone needs to build a Korean beauty regime that suits their skin type. We’ve prepared a general outline to help you, but feel free to customize to your needs!

Step 1: Cleanser

A cleanser removes the impurities in your skin around the face from dirt to makeup. Cleansing is essential because without it, the products you apply won’t have direct contact with your skin, rendering them useless. 

People with dry skin need to avoid harsh cleansers, although it’s recommended that everyone avoid them. What we mean by “harsh” cleansers are those that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (SDS), and Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES). They’re common ingredients that cause foaming, however, not all foaming cleansers have these surfactants, so always read the label carefully.*

*SLS, SDS, and SLES are irritants you should avoid.  

 Cleansers to try:

  • Aqua Bomb Jelly Cleanser by Belif: This foaming gel cleanser does not contain the sulfates listed above. It’s gentle on the skin, so it removes makeup remnants and impurities, but doesn’t dry your skin out. You can get this product from Nature Collection.
  • Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser by COSRX: This gel can be used in the daytime and nighttime. It’s 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and does not contain any artificial fragrances or the sulfates listed above. COSRX is carried by BestSkinWithin, KBeauty World, PinknBlossom, ProprLifeStyle, and Wishtrend.

PRO TIP: Products with a low pH level reduce the chances of counteracting with each other.

Step 2: Toner

People often think that a toner isn’t necessary in their routine. It actually is important because it enables the skin to absorb the products applied after the toner. 

To be clear, in this case we’re not talking about astringent toner. Astringent toner is different because it can contain rubbing alcohol. And while there are natural astringent toners, as well as astringent toners with both alcohol and botanicals that are available, astringent toners are generally not good for dry skin, and have a high chance of making acne worse. 

Astringent toners can provide benefits for oily skin types, but it’s always best to do your research to be sure. 

Korean toners are generally water-based and hydrate the skin by balancing the pH level. K-Beauty toners to try: 

  • Aqua Bomb Hydrating Toner by Belif: This toner includes baobab tree extract to lock in the moisture. You can get this product from Nature Collection.
  • Supple Preparation Facial Toner by Dear, Klairs: This award-winning toner is made from plant extracts, so it’s perfect for sensitive skin. It includes Phyto-Oligo, which adds a high level of hydration and balances the pH.. Look for it through PinknBlossom, ProprLifeStyle, and Wishtrend.

PRO TIP: Add two or three layers of toner. Some Korean beauty aficionados apply seven layers, but this can be excessive. Additionally, use a toner when you have dry spots; you don’t have to apply to your entire face every time you use the toner.

upclose shot of person's eye

Step 3: Eye Cream

Not everyone will use eye cream, but people with dry and sensitive skin are encouraged to add it to their routine. The skin around the eyes is prone to fine lines and wrinkles since it’s thinner than other parts of your body. Consequently, it ages faster.

Eye creams to try:

  • Moisturizing Eye Bomb by Belif: It’s lightweight, adds moisture as well as improved elasticity and firmness. It does not include the sulfates mentioned above, mineral oils, petrolatum, synthetic preservatives, dyes, fragrances, or animal origin ingredients. You can get this product from Nature Collection.
  • Fermentation Eye Cream by Benton: This plant-based anti-aging eye cream is vegan and cruelty-free. It reduces dark circles, wrinkles, and fine lines, repairs damaged skin, and restores suppleness for dry, sensitive skin. Check out KBeauty World for this cream.

Step 4: Moisturizer

Aside from skin type and goals, you can find a moisturizer based on your preference of its weight. Most people don’t like the feel of a greasy or heavy moisturizer.

Here are a few great examples:

  • True Cream Aqua Bomb by Belif: This lightweight non-greasy gel-cream is made for normal, dry, dehydrated, oily, and a combination of skin types. It includes glycerin, ceramide 3, and lady’s mantle. Check out Nature Collection for this moisturizer.
  • Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap by COSRX: Made with 70% birch sap to relieve inflammation and purify skin, this moisturizer also repairs damaged skin. It contains antioxidants, amino acids, and vitamins. It’s made for all skin types, but works best for hydrating oily skin. It’s vegan and cruelty-free. COSRX is carried by BestSkinWithin, KBeauty World, PinknBlossom, ProprLifeStyle, and Wishtrend.
woman looking in mirror outside

Step 5 and Up: Add Customized Skincare Products 

We’ve provided you with the foundation of a good regime, so now you can build on it for what you feel you need. You may want to incorporate Vitamin C sheet masks, essences, or serums and ampoules. Don’t forget: Sun protection is vital! When it comes time to adding sunscreen, it’s the last product to add in any Korean skincare routine

Additionally, double cleansing in the evening has many benefits, such as removing surface impurities, makeup and sunscreen, as well as deep pore bacteria and dead skin cells.

PRO-TIP: If you have skin concerns or want to find out more to help your specific skin type, speak with a reputable dermatologist!

Embrace Korean Skin Care with Our Products! 

This routine can be used as your daily morning ritual or it can be the starting point for your 10-step Korean skincare routine. KBeauty Insider is your hub for Korean skincare trends and trusted brands.

Find the products listed above by searching through our brands, and start building your Korean skincare routine today!