The Latest Trends in Korean Skin Care

The 10-step routine is the global phenomenon that brought Korean beauty to the worldwide stage. Love or loathe the concept, it’s the only place to start when discussing Korean beauty trends!

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  1. 10 Step Skincare Routine

The 10-step routine is the global phenomenon that brought Korean beauty to the worldwide stage. Love or loathe the concept, it’s the only place to start when discussing Korean beauty trends!

There are several different variations of the Korean 10-step (or 8-step, or 7-step…) skincare routine, but they generally look something like this.

  1. Oil cleanser – the first part of the ‘double cleanse’ process, which removes makeup, SPF, and oil-based impurities.
  2. Water based or cream cleanser – the second part of the double cleanse, which removes sweat and dirt that the oil cleanser did not shift.
  3. Exfoliator – keeps skin clear of dead cells, for a smoother, brighter appearance.
  4. Toner – a hydrating product to prep the skin to absorb the products in the next stages.
  5. Essence – a lightweight product which acts as the second layer of hydration.
  6. Treatment products – such as ampoules, serums and boosters, which are highly concentrated, and target specific concerns such as fine lines, hyperpigmentation or acne.
  7. Sheet mask – even if you’re not a Korean beauty aficionado, you’ve probably tried one of these! Soaked with concentrated essences or serums, they stay moist throughout and allow you to relax while your face soaks up the hydrating nutrients.
  8. Eye cream – the thin, delicate skin around the eyes is prone to wrinkles, dark circles and fine lines – the sooner you start using it, the longer you’ll keep them at bay.
  9. Moisturizer – seals moisture and hydration from the previous steps. Most skin types will only need a very light layer after applying the other products.
  10. Sun protection (morning) – this should always be the last daytime step and should be reapplied during the day.

Sleeping mask (night) – this is the last night-time step and is basically a night cream that’s designed to help your skin repair itself while you sleep.

  1. Skip-care

It’s pretty clear that the 10-step routine described above is aspirational, but not realistically achievable for most of us – my bathroom shelf certainly isn’t that big! Plus, it’s incredibly time consuming.

Which leads us to a growing trend in Korean skincare – ‘skip-care’ – which is a way of simplifying your skincare routine. Rather than sticking to the letter of the 10-step routine, Korean millennials have realized that following every stage isn’t necessary to have healthy-looking skin.

As an example, using exfoliating products on a daily basis, no matter how gentle they are, can damage the skin’s barrier and cause irritation and redness. And layering multiple products can increase your tendency to break out.

Instead, the ‘skip-care’ trend encourages you to focus on building a consistent routine that focuses on what your skin actually needs, while ensuring that you use quality products suited to your skin type.

Taking things back to basics, this could mean a morning routine of:

  1. Water-based or cream cleanser
  2. Hydrating toner
  3. Moisturizer
  4. Sun protection

With an evening routine of:

  1. Oil cleanser
  2. Water-based or cream cleanser
  3. Hydrating toner
  4. Moisturizer

You can then introduce additional products where required to address your skin’s specific needs. It’s also worth checking to make sure the products you use are labelled ‘non-comedogenic’, particularly if you are prone to acne or congested skin.

  1. Glass Skin

The ‘glass skin’ trend aims for skin that is so smooth, flawless and glossy that it reflects light like a piece of glass, with an emphasis on a poreless appearance. It is typically achieved by using a multi-step approach, with an emphasis on hydrating products. Again, great in principle, not always easy to follow in practice.

In the spirit of ‘skip-care’, there are now specialist products that can be used to enhance a simpler skincare routine by creating a shortcut to that sought-after glassy appearance.

This Glass Glow Face and Body Gloss is available for $32.00 from

It’s a gloss highlighter for face and body, available in six shades, that claims to create ‘youthful-looking, well-hydrated skin, with a glassy complexion’. It can be used straight after your skin care routine, or on top of makeup.


  1. Cream skin

We’ve looked at the Korean glass skin trend – now let’s look at the ‘cream skin’ trend.

Cream skin is actually both a look and a product. It’s a softer, less shiny (and more attainable) look than the seemingly impossible dream of glass skin, with its multiple layers of product! The aim is a moisturized, soft and supple look.

Cream skin also refers to a hybrid skincare product – a lightweight lotion that acts as a toner and moisturizer combination. In fact, this is a great example of a more minimalist ‘skip-care’ approach. These products are ideal for those with oily skins, or in hot humid climates.

La Neige were one of the first brands to develop a cream skin product, and their Cream Skin refiner is available for $34.99 from .

It is described as ‘a moisturizing toner with a whole bottle of cream dissolved to keep the skin hydrated’. The product also contains white tea leaf water to fortify the skin’s barrier (more about that later!).


  1. Cloudless skin

Cloudless skin is more of a philosophy than a specific skincare treatment or product. Instead, it’s about aiming for a clear, unblemished and healthy-looking skin, through generally living a healthy lifestyle – getting plenty of sleep, taking care of your skin, and eating well.

For Korean women, cloudless skin is seen as something to aspire to – the perfect smoothness and clarity of a young child’s skin. Being told you have ‘cloudless skin’ by a Korean person is the ultimate compliment!

Key areas of focus include:

  • Thorough cleansing and gentle exfoliation
  • Hydration and moisturizing
  • Protecting from hyperpigmentation and fine lines by using an SPF
  • A healthy diet containing lots of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, avoiding over-processed foodstuffs
  • Sleep – and lots of it – to help your skin to repair overnight
  • Avoiding stress – although we all know that is easier said than done! Try yoga or meditation to help you relax.
  • A regular exercise routine will improve your blood circulation and help deliver oxygen to the skin.
  • Finding what works for you – and sticking to it. Cloudless skin doesn’t appear overnight but takes effort and consistency.

Ultimately, you should be aiming to have naturally healthy skin, rather than having to use products to cover up the signs of unhealthy skin.

  1. Skin immunity

We’re all concerned with our immune systems right now, but Korean beauty has a big focus on ‘skin immunity’ – repairing and maintaining your skin’s barrier. This helps keep the bad stuff – bad bacteria, pollution – out, and the good stuff – moisture and hydration – in.

Products that can help strengthen the skin’s barrier contain ingredients such as fatty acids and ceramides, which calm, hydrate and repair. Antioxidants such as vitamin C can help protect your skin from environmental pollution.

This Ceramide Protective Cream from Kosmetic Immunity contains mBeta Glucan, which is claimed to be 20% more hydrating than Hyaluronic Acid, while boosting the skin’s immunity and strengthening its barrier. It’s available for $53.00 from


Written exclusively for our company by Sally Wood