If you have an 9-hour work day with a 3-hour commute, it may seem incredibly difficult to find time to pamper your skin. But don’t worry, here’s a lazy beginners’ guide to the Korean skincare routine.

One of the main things to note about Korean skincare is whenever you choose to do a step, you have to know its particular purpose. After knowing your skin type, understanding the purpose of each step will aid you in what products to use and how often you should use them.

As for me, I have combination skin which means my cheeks are as dry as the Sahara and my T-zone is oily enough to cook an egg on. So whatever products you’ll see here are my personal favorites but then whatever your skin type is, I’m positive this guide can surely help you out!

Steps 1 to 3: Cleansing

My total commute time is around 3 hours and 30 minutes. I spend a lot of time walking alone main roads and falling in line outdoors to wait for a ride home. That’s just a lot of sweat and pollution. I’m lucky if I’m not wearing any makeup that day, but most days you can actually feel how heavy your face is from all the dirt sticking. It’s disgusting.

This is why cleansing is the most important steps for me. And I don’t cleanse just once, I cleanse twice. Maybe even thrice.

First Cleansing – Oil Based Cleanser

And oil based or balm cleanser will melt off the makeup and SPF/Sunscreen on your face. If you don’t wear makeup, it will at least get rid of the top layer of oil and dirt. Apply the cleanser on a dry face and gently massage. Rinse after or wipe away with a cleansing sponge

Banila Co.

Second Cleansing – Water Based Cleanser

After removing all your makeup and all that surface dirt, it’s time to cleanse your actual face. Use a lighter water based cleanser to thoroughly clean and remove all the excess dirt. By this step, when you wipe your face with a white cloth or sponge, you shouldn’t see any more dirt or makeup.

You can tell a cleanser is water-based if you look at the ingredients and its first item is water or aqua.


If you’re a lazy person like me, you can stop here! But sometimes, I like to take it up a notch.

Third Cleansing – Foam Cleanser or Micellar Water

I know you shouldn’t be over-cleansing to not strip your face off essential oils, but when I just have a ton of makeup on the whole day I have to make sure I’ll be applying my toner and serums on a perfectly clean face.


Foam cleansers are good for last cleansing since some foam cleansers are exfoliators too. If you don’t have a foam cleanser, Micellar Water is good too. Just apply a good amount on a cotton wipe and swipe away the impurities.

Step 4: Exfoliating

After you’ve cleansed your face thoroughly, make sure to exfoliate to get rid of all the dead skin cells and stubborn bits and pieces left on your face. Only exfoliate twice or thrice a week, and less if you have sensitive skin. It’ll clean out your pores and make the skin absorb products a lot more efficiently.


Step 5: Toner

After removing everything, let’s get the face ready for all the adding! Toners balance your pH levels and moisture, according the Soko Glam. They give that added moisture so your skin can absorb products better.

Toners can also be in the cleansing stage, since it can be used to remove any excess makeup or SPF. But I personally like my face to be squeaky clean once the toner comes in.

The Face Shop

Step 6: Essence

You’re not doing Korean skincare right if you don’t have essence. It’s the very heart of the whole routine because it’s filled with everything your skin needs like hydration, enhanced cell turnover, and added nutrients. Just think of it as an essential product for anti-aging!


Step 7: Serums and Boosters

Use serums if you want to target certain skin problems like fine lines, dull skin, a load of whiteheads. Since I do just follow a 7-step skincare routine and have generally good skin, I don’t use serums that much anymore. However if you do have certain problems that you just have to target, make sure to invest in a good serum!


Step 8: Face Mask

Face masks are great because they instantly make you feel like you’re lying down on a spa. Put the mask on and after 10 – 15 minutes, massage the excess product on your face. Some face masks control oil or dryness depending on what your skin really needs.

Etude House

Use face masks only every week!

Step 9: Moisturizer

Moisturizing is my favorite part since I have the driest skin you can ever imagine. If you have oily skin, it’s also a must to moisturize because it will control the oil production. Moisturizers act as sealants too for all the products you‘ve been applying for the past 30 minutes.

I leave my moisturizer in the fridge while I’m out for work because I like the cool feeling on my skin.

Nature Republic

Moisturizing is actually the last step in the nighttime Korean skincare routine! Leave it on and have a nice relaxing sleep knowing that your skin has never felt so soft.

Step 10: SPF

If you’re doing this in the morning, SPF or sunscreen is a must. Even staying for a short while under the sun can damage your skin!


On a daily basis, I only follow around 5 steps: oil cleanser, water cleanser, toner, essence, and moisturizer. I don’t think it takes too much of my time either since I love the feeling of waking up to soft and healthy skin. Of course, you won’t notice results until weeks or months after but it’s all worth it!

Finding the right products is important too. Always read reviews and watch skincare videos to make sure you’re using the right products for your skin type!

Good luck!


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