Today, lovelies, I have a bit of a different post for you - Korean skincare tips. Namely a starter routine I feel covers all the bases and...

Korean Beginner Skincare Routine & Tips

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Unknown 4 Comments

Today, lovelies, I have a bit of a different post for you - Korean skincare tips. Namely a starter routine I feel covers all the bases and will benefit your skin...

When I first got into Korean skincare I only knew the few bits that were available on the internet. I remember my very first 'haul' in 2009 - a friend in Korea was kind enough to send me a variety of items from Etude House, including the then-new Moistful Collagen range.
I took to the products immediately and within matter of days I felt completely attached to my new and improved skincare routine. Previously I've only tried little bits that I bought on eBay and this was my first-ever full skincare routine, from cleanser to BB cream!
 Due to a severe lack of reviews and general knowledge in the West I was not able to find much information about other products, and only took guesses when trying my hand at eBay shopping.

Fast forward to 2016 - 7 years since I first assembled a full routine - now I can almost instinctively tell if something is going to work for my skin. Surely there are occasional surprises (pleasant and otherwise) when I go on a more adventurous testing spree, but I do prefer sticking to both Holy Grail items, and gut-led guesses at what might be the most suitable for my skin, rather than trends.

I have, in the past, helped a few friends and my own little sister to improve their skincare routines - numerous friends of mine have received sheet masks and other skincare products as gifts, and my mother and grandmother are both keen lovers of The Face Shop Ginseng masks as well as Missha Time Revolution Immortal Youth range. 
So, when recently I saw a lovely challenge on Instagram, hosted by MindYourBeauty, that asks to suggest a 'starter routine' as if to yourself, completely new to Korean Beauty, I was delighted to both offer my input on it, and concoct this blog post for your benefit.

There are numerous fantastic products in the Korean beauty industry, and the prices can indeed vary from extremely budget-friendly to tear-inducing, however one main thing I have learned over the years is that I never have to sacrifice quality in order to save myself from having to sell a kidney!

Today I want to talk about two main 'Korean skincare tips' - the inner nutrition as well as my suggestions for a well-rounded starter routine that you can then adjust and add to in order to cater to your particular skin concerns.

To start off - my motto, as well as that of many women in Asia, is that you create good skin from within (makes sense). That is - you have to feed your skin rather than attempt to supply it with external 'supplements'.

Water is the absolute No. 1 step in your beauty arsenal - in Korea you will see many girls, dressed to the nines, toting around large water bottles - and for good reason! Dehydrated skin is not going to respond to any miraculous skin care products unless you quench its thirst in the literal sense and drink plenty of water. Aqua is your best friend - all year round, and especially during the warmer months, always have it by your side. A minimum of 2 litres per day, but you should drink as much as you feel your body needs. Juice and tea are all very well, but do consider exchanging most of your sweet drinks with water. Your skin will be grateful, trust me!

Step 2 - eat plenty of veggies - especially broccoli - to nourish your skin from within. Dark green vegetables, really veggies of all the colours of the rainbow, will do great things - strengthen your hair, nails & skin, as well as brighten it and help it remain supple. When I lived in Korea I noticed how much better my skin was feeling - that was because I consumed veggies at every meal! Pickled, cooked and fresh - they were always in abundance as side-dishes to every meal. Pickled radish and cabbage (kkakdugi and kimchi) have long been known to be exceptionally good for your health. So do take note and stuff your plate with goodness from nature!

If you follow the previous 2 steps everything else will just enhance the already lovely skin you should be on the way to achieving!

Now for my suggested starter routine. I have included here everything from two-step cleansing to facial scrubs, sheet masks and even CC cream. These are products I love and refuse to go without, but that I feel would fit many different skin concerns as well.

However, you will find no toner, serum or eye cream in my suggested routine for one reason - these are very depended on the person. 
You might not be needing eye cream yet, you might also find a serum to be too much for your skin, or find my choice very unsuitable for your concerns. Toner is another step that I feel is both optional and skin-dependent. Once you have pin-pointed which concerns you want to address you can proceed to add these products as they usually target particular skin concerns.

I wanted this routine to be as universal as possible. That being said, there is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to skin care (though really, when is there anywhere else in life?)
This routine is somewhere between budget and mid-range - everything costs under 20$ (I checked both Korean and international-seller prices).

Let's dig into the routine!

Kicking things off is cleansing - whether you wore no makeup, stayed in or partied until 2 am (that's late for me, no judgement) you have to cleanse your skin. Depending on what's on it you might need an oil-based cleanser, or a simple cleansing foam might be sufficient. I have included both as the 'double-cleanse' is key in Korean skincare routine:

πŸ’¦ SwissPure Clear Cleansing Balm - an oil-based cleansing balm that will take the day off without much effort. You can read my full review here. I like both cleansing oils and balms, but recently I find having a solid product in the bathroom leads to less mess on my hands (that really is one of the main reasons I currently prefer a balm), also I enjoy the texture more than that of an oil.
πŸ’¦ SwissPure Rosy Cleansing Foam [Le Petit Prince edition] - a gentle foam cleanser that will remove the last bits of cleanser and makeup, but it's also perfect for when you don't have any makeup on and just want a thorough cleanse. A review of this particular cleansing foam will come within the next week!
πŸ’¦ SkinFood Rice Mask Wash-off - a mask & facial scrub all in one little white tub. I suggest to massage this on after cleansing and leave it for a couple minutes, then wash it off. The gentle exfoliation removes dead skin cells and smooths the skin, while the rice nourishes and moisturizes the skin.

As I mentioned I did not include a toner or serum, so we are jumping straight into moisturising the skin:

πŸ’¦ Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Deep Essence - an intense moisturizing essence that, in my case, replaces serum. It will keep your skin supple and happy for hours on end.
πŸ’¦ The Saem Iceland Emulsion - it's both light and nourishing, and it pairs with the Jeju Lava Seawater Deep Essence really well, creating a wonderfully moisturizing and soothing environment for the skin.
πŸ’¦ Etude House Moistful Collagen Cream - remember the story of my first skincare routine? This made it all the way to now (not the same bottle)! This cream is a great all-rounder moisturizing seal that I continue to adore.

Extra treats that you should always have in your arsenal are face masks - wash-off masks, sleeping packs and sheet masks - that impart your skin with more goodness and have a more intense effect than regular skincare items.
You should decipher what works for your skin best - perhaps getting sheetfaced everyday, maybe every few days, perhaps following up the sheet mask with a sleeping pack - play around with it until you feel like you've found the perfect balance!
I'm giving you 4 of my favourite sheet masks that really make a difference on my skin as well as a HolyGrail sleeping pack.

πŸ’¦ Innisfree Wine Jelly Sleeping Pack - an old love, I am on my 3rd tub of this stuff. It smells divine and it does wonderful things to the skin - you will wake up with brighter, smoother looking skin that feels bouncy and healthy.
πŸ’¦ Aritaum Fresh Essence Sheet Masks - Mugwort & Hyaluronic Acid - they're cheap, but pack a powerful punch. I am never out of these masks because no matter what condition my skin is in they will moisturise, sooth and brighten the skin. Even the morning after you will still see the effect they've had!
πŸ’¦ Salon Esthe Nourishing & illi Hanbang Camellia Oil Sheet Masks - these are more luxurious-felling, though still just as affordable, masks that will nourish the skin leaving it incredibly supple and healthy-looking.

As the final step you should never, ever, forget sun protection. No matter where you live, I suggest using sunblock with an SPF of 35 or higher. Even if you want to tan you shouldn't skip it - go for a low SPF instead - but always protect your skin:

πŸ’¦ SwissPure Sunblock Water Gel SPF50+/PA+++ - a light sunblock that absorbs quickly and doesn't leave a white cast. I have both the SPF35/PA++ and this version and I use them interchangeably depending on what I'll be doing - if it's a long day outside then SPF50 is your best bet.
πŸ’¦ SwissPure Toning Radiance CC cream - it provides additional SPF (or can be your sole sunblock if you chose to) while moisturizing, evening out the skin and providing light coverage to help you look effortlessly fresh-faced.

Whew! That was a long one!

I hope you're still with me - this was indeed a wee monster of a post, but I do hope you enjoyed the tips and the starter routine! 
Comment with your own routine - what steps do you think are absolutely crucial to keep your skin healthy?

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***DISCLAIMER: All the products in this post have been purchased by me. Nothing is sponsored and I am not affiliated with any of the sellers/brands mentioned in the post***


  1. This is such a helpful post! Thank you for sharing your experience, and thank you too for reading my blog. Hopped over after seeing your comment on FB and fell headlong into this informative post! :)

    1. Wow, I feel like a groupie right now, I am so happy and honoured you enjoyed the post!! <3
      I feel like I will be updating this soon, because I was re-reading it and realised I didn't include at least 2-3 other skincare tips, one of which I actually picked up from you (couple years ago you wrote about having a dedicated face cloth, and it's been in my head since) :)

  2. Is the Swiss pure water gel sunblock suitable for oily skin?

    1. I would say so - it's a gel formula, so it's not as moisturising as a cream, and it dries down to a semi-matte finish. It isn't, however, for sebum control - just sunblock, so you might have to set with powder if you want a truly matte finish!