13 Korean Beauty Tricks for Flawless Skin

13 Korean Beauty Tricks for Flawless Skin

Last updated on : June 22 2016

Korean makeup regimes

Women all over the world are in awe of the radiant, acne-free and flawless skin that Korean women naturally seem to possess.

Their radiant, smooth, and even-toned complexions are picture perfect. Were they just born beautiful, with clear and flawless skin? Not quite. Korean women have had beauty tricks and techniques up their sleeves for decades and are well known around the globe for their perfectly manicured features and unique attention to detail in protecting and preserving their flawless skin through various techniques.

Skincare in Korea is a meticulous multi-step course of action that may not be easy to follow for most of us, however, is well worth your time.  

In this article we explore some of the most popular Korean skincare methods and gathered a list of the top techniques and skin care regimes employed by Korean women for generations.  

Koreans are taught right from their early childhood to take care of their skin. Skincare is considered a vital investment, and Korean women spend a substantial amount of their time and money in pampering their skin to give it the extra glow we all envy.

They are known to follow a 10 step regime which includes an oil cleanse, foam cleanse, exfoliation, ampoule treatment, facial mask, and other skincare treatments.

Double Cleansing

Cleansing is considered the most essential aspect of the Korean skin care regime. Korean women cleanse their face twice in one sitting which is why the phrase “double cleansing” is used to describe this initial step.

Their first step is to remove all traces of makeup, oil and dirt with a liquid cleanser. They then apply cleansing oil liberally over the face and neck to remove bacteria and other impurities. This is followed by washing their face thoroughly with lukewarm water. This entire process is called their pre-cleanse routine.

The second step is the re-cleanse routine where the pre-cleansed skin is then cleansed once again, this time with a mild foaming cleanser. The trick is to apply it in a soft circular motion with the help of fingertips and to never rub the skin.

Facial Massages

Korean women give themselves a face massage daily during their cleansing routine itself as it boosts blood circulation and gives the skin a healthy glow.

The trick to massaging your face is to work with the direction of the facial muscles and never against it. Starting just below the cheekbones and using the knuckles of the first two fingers, work your way upwards to the temple. Then massage the sides of the nose, along your forehead and then down the edge of your face.

Finally use your fingertips to lightly massage your eyes to help reduce any puffiness around them. The trick to this facial massage is to press the knuckles and finger as firmly as possible since the oil will keep the pressure from pulling at your skin.


When it comes to exfoliating, Korean women believe less is more.

An exfoliator helps remove the dead skin cells and excess oil collected on the surface of your skin. It is recommended that exfoliating be completed twice a month, while concentrating on the t-zone or focusing on the areas such as your cheeks and nose. For more oily skin, it is better to exfoliate once a week to reduce build up in your pores.


After cleansing and exfoliating your skin then you are ready for toning.

Exfoliating and cleansing prepares the skin to be more absorbent for toning. Toners help to nourish and replenish the skin, as well as reduce the size of pores. Korean women refer to them as refreshers which is exactly what they do—refresh the skin from within. It also resets the pH balance of the skin after using the cleansers.

According to Amy Marturana, “To keep your skin in its pH sweet spot, it’s all about balance—not super scientific know-how.” Toners are uniquely designed to restore that balance and preserve it.

Applying Essence

Applying essences or concentrated serums on the skin is a skincare routine that originated in Korea, and continues to be a part of their daily beauty routine.

Koreans use an essence on a daily basis after the cleansing and toning routine is complete.

An essence is a nourishing liquid packed with nutrients for the skin. It is usually a light substance compared to creams and other lotions and is made to regenerate your skin. It consists of active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which revitalizes the skin by increasing cell turnover for firming and building elasticity. 

Korean women spray this essence on their face and neck to firm up the skin and give them a smooth complexion.

An ampoule is a substitute to essence, however, many Korean women choose to use both essence and ampoule treatment. These ampoules contain a thick liquid rich in vitamins and minerals. A single drop is powerful enough to combat any skin problems like dull skin, dark spots, or sagging skin that lacks elasticity.

Rice Water Moisturizer

For centuries now, women in Korea have been using rice water to wash their face because of its numerous skin benefits.

For a rice water treatment simply let the rice soak in water for 10-15 minutes and use that milky water residue as a pseudo-toner. This rice water is a natural moisturizer that helps brighten the skin, reduce dark circles, and lighten dark spots.

Bath Towels in the Bedroom

Winter in Korea is extremely cold, and humidifiers are regularly used to keep the skin hydrated when the atmosphere gets too dry.

There is also an old-school technique for those who don't have a humidifier which is to drench towels in water and hang them to dry around the bed. This technique helps in keeping the skin hydrated while sleeping at night as the moisture is released from the towels and into the air.

Natural Face Masks

Koreans believe that the most effective beauty secrets are those that can be directly derived from Mother Nature.

They prefer face masks made of natural ingredients like fermented yeast, green tea, avocado, sea kelp, and snail mucin.

Fermented yeast is a naturally fortified Vitamin B group which helps boost metabolism and maintain healthy skin. Green tea rejuvenates tired skin and maintains a natural glow. Sea kelp is rich in minerals and antioxidants which is nourishing for the skin. Snail mucin is known to help regenerate skin cells and get a healthy looking complexion.

The Skin Diet

Korean women follow the fundamental rule of skincare that “you are what you eat”. Their diet is nutritious and rich in vitamins.

One of their most famous dishes is kimchi, a spicy fermented cabbage prepared with pepper, garlic, ginger, and scallion. This dish has a multitude of health benefits because it's packed with antioxidants, and is a probiotic. It is also loaded with vitamin C and beta-carotene that boost the skin’s health.

Another ingredient frequently used in their diet is Makgeolli, a fermented rice wine that is rich in minerals and amino acids. It helps to brighten the skin and maintain its elasticity.

A popular drink in Korea is nutty-flavored roasted barley tea that is packed with antioxidants. For more tips on how to get glowing skin through your diet check out our posts “How to Maintain Glowing Skin You’ll Want to Show Off”.

Eye Cream

Koreans believe that the delicate eye area requires extra care, and they keep it super moisturized by applying an eye cream around the eyes before sleeping.

This cream helps prevent dark circles, wrinkles, and puffiness. Application is key. Rather than rub and spread simply apply liberally by tapping it around the eye area.

Applying SPF

Irrespective of the season, Korean women do not step out of their house without applying a sunblock. They believe that applying a sunblock not only helps protect from UV rays, but also helps prevent wrinkles, aging, and blemishes.

Sheet Mask

In South Korea, buying sheet masks is about as common as shopping for Kleenex in the United States.

Hydration is the hallmark of Korean skincare, and nothing does it better than the 8 glasses of water a day routine. Sheet masks come a close second for hydration as it plumps the skin, and thus reduces the visibility of fine lines.

Sheet masks are the most effective because as the sheet rests on your face, it forces the antioxidants and vitamins to mingle with your skin making your skin brighter, softer and hydrated after a single use. It is a twice-a-week ritual that is as simple as stick on-and-peel off.

Night Cream

By this point a woman might feel like a 6 tiered cake but Korean women call it “a dewy look” as the skin has a major shine.

The final step in a Korean woman’s skincare routine is her night cream. Korean night creams contains ingredients such as fermented snow lotus extracts, bamboo sap, and fruit water to keep your skin hydrated and help it recharge overnight.


In this post we have uncovered the most popular skincare regimes used by Korean women today, from sheet masks to exfoliation.

Adding two to six of these steps to your skincare daily routine is bound to give you visible results that leave you confident and feeling flawless. Remember that the most important part of obtaining glowing skin is proper diet, moisturization, and pH balance. Start with a cleanse and then experiences with other parts of the tricks we covered here  to determine what technique works for you.

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