Why do the 10 step Korean skin care regime? (A three part series)

Part I: What is the 10 step Korean skincare regime and how we’ve adopted it

We want to talk about the famed Korean 10 step skincare routine that we both follow (to some extent). We feel that it warrants discussion because it seems to be all the craze these days, and it also requires so much effort, time, and money to adopt. So, the ultimate question is: is it all really necessary?

(The focus of Part I of this three part series is to give you an idea of what the 10 step regime is about, how we got into it, and what our version of the regime looks like.)

What is the 10 step Korean skin care regime?

The 10 step routine essentially boils down to this:

  1. Cleanse (with oil based cleanser)
  2. Cleanse (with water based cleanser)
  3. Exfoliate
  4. Tone
  5. Essence
  6. Serums, Ampoules, Emulsions
  7. Masks
  8. Eye Cream
  9. Moisturizer
  10. Night cream/Sunscreen

*It is important to note that not all steps are done on a daily basis (ie. exfoliate and masks), and not all steps are necessary for everyone (ie. serums and ampoules if you don’t have specific skin concerns to target).

We are not going to go into the details of each step since we don’t purport to be experts in this and there are already a lot of great resources out there on this topic. For those of you who are not familiar with the regime or what it exactly entails, we’ve listed some pretty good resources below that you should check out. We personally like Soko Glam and Peach and Lily’s take on it. Here are some links for your reading pleasure:

Or, if you’re a book nerd like nakanit you can grab yourself a copy of Soko Glam founder Charlotte Cho’s Little Book of Skincare, which has tips, tricks and product recommendations.

How did you get into the 10 step Korean skin care regime?

melbatee: Earlier this year, after years of continued problem skin with no real solution, I decided to give the 10 step routine a shot. However, even now, I can’t say I follow the 10 step routine perfectly. Some days I skip steps, and I don’t do masks on the regular.

I have a friend who tells me that she only wants to have to use one or two products a day if any at all. The most ideal situation for her would be to not have to use any at all. I can definitely agree with her. Life gets busy. Who really wants to go through 10 steps just to maintain their face? Bman and many other guys I know just splash water on their face at the end of the day, if even, and they’ve got perfectly fine complexions!

Everyone’s situation is different though. It’s part genetics and part lifestyle. Personally for me, my schooling is a pretty stressful ordeal that doesn’t really let me get enough sleep on a regular basis. The stress and lack of sleep combination manifests itself in really ugly ways on my face. I need skincare products to help me out. I would also prefer not to take prescription treatments. So, I thought why not give this famed 10 step regime a try.

nakanit: I’m pretty strongly influenced by Korean pop culture, so my interest in the 10 step regime has some serious fangirling roots. When I first travelled to South Korea back in 2004, this was the kind of thing I saw on billboards. I wanted whatever those girls were selling, and boy was I sold. I remember the first brand that got on my radar was Laneige because of Jeon Ji Hyun. The first thing I bought was their Water Sleeping Mask, but I had no idea when and how to use it! Over the years I’ve gradually incorporated more steps into my regime, and 2011 was when I really got into the 10 step regime. This was partly due to Korean skincare getting more accessible via the Internet, and more resources becoming available to read up on. Peach and Lily remains one of my favorite online resources and retailers to shop from.

What exactly do you do to follow the 10 step Korean skincare regime?

melbatee: I used to only use one cleanser, some acne treatment, an eye cream and an all over moisturizer. After moving to the UK and developing some new skin problems, I’ve adopted the use of a serum. So my skin care regime had, for a long time, consisted of one cleanser, serum, eye cream, and moisturizer. That’s five steps and plenty for most people. Now, I do a first cleanse with an oil cleanser, a second cleanse with a clay or gel based cleanser, apply toner, apply essence, apply serum, apply eye cream, and finish off with a moisturizer. That’s seven steps. Then some nights I’ll do a mask, and on others, even two. It honestly does feel like a lot of effort, and some nights I will skip steps. However, I think it is a practice that is going to stick around in some form for the long run.

nakanit: I use a water-based cleanser, toner, essence, eye serum, face serum, and moisturizer (and sunscreen with moisturizer for day-time) every day, twice a day. I also use masks randomly whenever specific needs come up. So…that’s six steps for daily maintenance. When winter hits I do things a little differently. I’ll add in a chemical exfoliant/peel every week, and my Clarisonic Mia 2 for daily exfoliation. Like melbatee, I don’t do the full 10 steps every day, and some nights I will inevitably skip steps if I’ve come from a night of drinking or just am super tired. HOWEVER, my one rule is you NEVER EVER EVER leave makeup on before going to bed. EVER.

So as you can see from our individual daily regimes described above, even though we both say we follow the 10 step regime, it is quite different from each other. We personalize it and adapt it to suit our specific skin concerns and lifestyle. (You can also check out what products we are presently using at Current Regimens.)


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