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How to get Flawless Skin: Korean Skin Care Routines, Lifestyle Changes & Skin Creams

Last updated on : July 29 2017

Korean makeup regimes

Why Your Skin Matters

Flawless and glowing skin doesn’t just look attractive, it is a sign of good health. Other than being the visible outer layer of your body your skin is an organ that acts as the first line of defence for your immune system.

Our skin suffers through the wear and tear of aging. As we grow older it gets drier and thinner making way for wrinkles, large pores, age spots, and other complications. What you eat, hormones, sun exposure, stress, alcohol, and smoking affects the quality of your skin. While you cannot put a stop to aging you can improve the radiance of your skin through proper day to day care and some overall positive lifestyle changes. 

In this article we take a detailed look at perhaps the most famous skin care routine of all, that applied by Korean women. We complete the article with the lifestyle changes you should be embracing to keep your skin flawless and glowing, and provide tips on choosing the right skin care cream for you!  

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Korean Skincare Routines

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 are well known around the globe for their perfectly manicured features and unique attention to detail in protecting and preserving their skin.

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. Here it is!

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.

Exfoliation

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.

Toning

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.

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 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.

Summary

Adding two to six of these steps to your daily skincare routine will 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 experiment with the other steps to determine what overall technique works for you. 

As a supplement to the steps above look to adopt the lifestyle changes below. These changes will positively impact your skin and are needed to make the most out of your daily skincare routine. 

Positive Lifestyle Changes for Glowing Skin 

flawless skin

From the tough skin on your elbows and knees to the soft skin covering your hands, your body needs nourishment and plenty of tender care to get natural glowing skin.

Try to adopt the following lifestyle changes in addition to your new Korean beauty routine to ensure your skin gets its best chance to be flawless, beautiful and radiant.   

Don’t Skip Sunscreen

Australian film director and screenwriter Baz Luhrmann nailed it when he said, “If I could offer only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it!”

Don’t skip sunscreen instead apply it often and liberally. You’ve probably read tons of magazine articles screaming the same line – wear sunscreen. Let us tell you why. Prevention is always better than cure and in the case of your skin, preventing damage is much easier than trying to reverse it.

More than 90 percent of wrinkles on your skin are the direct result of exposure to the sun, plus the sun is a leading cause of skin cancer. It does not matter whether it is summer or winter time, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects your skin against UVA and UVB rays. It's important. 

Keep Your Showers Short

Every woman needs a long, steamy hot shower now and then. However, if you want to maintain glowing skin it is best to keep your showers short and the water cool. Why? A long, steamy shower may be a balm for your soul but it also serves to strip your skin of layers of moisture.

By washing away all the protective oils in your skin’s topmost layer, showers can cause your skin to dry easily. Keep the water cool to lukewarm and try to limit your shower to no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

Quench Your Skin’s Thirst

When you feel thirsty the natural response is to reach out for a glass of refreshing water. Similarly when your skin gets dry it is important to give it some moisture. A simple way to test if your skin needs help is to scratch a small patch on your arm or leg. If your nail leaves a white mark it is time to exfoliate and moisturize.

Exfoliating removes the outermost layer of dead skin cells while moisturizing ensures that the remaining skin cells are nourished. Exfoliate at least once a week. There are a number of super fine grain exfoliators that can be used to scrub off dead skin cells from your body. If you are looking for a DIY exfoliator, make a scrub with some fine grain sugar and honey; rinse it off with lukewarm water.

Keep Hydrated

In addition to applying moisturizer directly to your skin it's important for you to stay hydrated. This is because your skin, just like every other organ in your body, is made mostly of water and so needs enough to function properly and look it's best. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of plain water every day to flush out toxins, and to ensure your skin gets enough moisture from within.  

If drinking plain water sounds boring to you, switch to herbal teas, green tea, or other beverages that do not contain caffeine or sugar. Lemon water is known to keep the body in tip top shape. However, keep in mind that good quality plain water has no real substitute.

Eat Well to Look Good

The food you eat has a direct impact on the quality of your skin. Improve your diet and you'll improve your skin. Try these diet adjustments and you should see a positive impact on your skin, and overall health. 

  • Found in fish and walnuts, omega-3 fatty acids are great for your skin. Add these elements to your diet naturally if you can. Otherwise consider taking the required amount in the form of capsules ensuring you consult your physician first.

  • Add a few servings of citrus fruits and strawberries to your diet to ensure that you get a good dose of Vitamin C, a pre-requisite for glowing and radiant skin.

  • Fiber-rich foods such as fresh vegetables, spinach, unprocessed fruits, and nuts help create a happy gastrointestinal routine which lends itself to clean and glowing skin.

  • Did you know that eating tomatoes helps keep your skin from looking like one under the sun? Tomatoes contain substantial amounts of lycopene which offers 25 percent more protection against sunburns, helps create more collagen which prevents skin sagging, and increases the levels of antioxidants in your skin so you end up with less wrinkles, fine lines, and furrows.

  • Consuming a handful of almonds every day to boost the levels of Vitamin E in your body. Not only does this offer antioxidant benefits, it also increases the amount of moisture in the skin naturally.

  • A half a cup of dark chocolate cocoa helps to increase the circulation in the body, and results is smoother, supple, and hydrated skin.

  • Cut down on your sugar and salt consumption. Keep the amount of sugar you consume per day limited to just 45g. Excessive salt in your diet also make your face and body look bloated, so it is best avoided (particularly on date night).

 

Use Your Loofah Daily

In the shower, rub a loofah in gentle circular motions all over patches of scaly skin (on your elbows, ankles, knees, etc.) to get rid of dead skin cells and ingrown hairs. Sprinkling an alpha-hydroxy product (AHA) on your loofah before you begin to scrub is the perfect way to get extra-smooth glowing skin.

Invest in Room-Darkening Blinds

There is a reason why a good night’s sleep is called “beauty sleep”. Sleep is extremely critical for the good health of your skin. This is because most of the cell regeneration and repair happens during your down time.

Ambient light is a deep-sleep killer so invest in room-darkening blinds or drapes that are designed to keep ambient light out. For your skin to regenerate and renew itself getting adequate sleep is paramount.

You Need to Sweat

Sweating is the easiest and most natural way to eliminate toxins from your skin. Any form of exercise benefits your skin because it helps you detoxify naturally. Get on your bike, step out for a run, do some gardening – there are many ways to work exercise into your daily routine even if you do not hit the gym regularly.

The post-workout glow is real! Try to include a workout to your morning routine, so you can spend the day showing off your healthy and naturally-glowing skin.

Choose a Proper Skin Care Cream 

Choose a moisturizer that has skin-repairing humectants. When applied to the skin a humectant attracts moisture, improves skin hydration, and speeds up the turnover of old skin cells. Good skin products contain humectants as well as glycerin, urea, propylene glycol, and alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs.

AHA compounds are naturally found in food items such as apples, citrus fruits, grapes, yogurt, and buttermilk. They serve to make skin look younger by getting rid of old skin cells quickly.

Given the importance of this we've added in the section below on how to choose the best skin care cream...

How to Choose the Best Skin Care Cream

skin care cream

Skin care is part of our everyday beauty regime. Beautiful and flawless skin is the ultimate foundation of a sexy look for your designer bandage dress or other sexy apparel. Most women use one skin care product or another regularly, but determining if it is the best cream for your skin is another question altogether. 

Do you simply go for the latest brand or pick a skin care product recommended by a friend? Chances are that you may be using the wrong beauty products and may not be getting the flawless skin you crave. Let’s discuss skin creams and how you can choose the perfect one for your skin type.

The Purpose of Skin Care Cream

Your face and body need nourishment to stay supple and healthy, and the right cream can work wonders for your skin to achieve just that. The one mistake women make when picking up skin care products is that they go for a single product as a complete solution. However, different parts of your skin need different solutions and hence require different products. Another common mistake is using a moisturizing lotion meant for your body to improve or remove blemishes on your face.

Choose creams that are specifically built to suit the area and the problems you need to treat. For example dry skin on your body needs a different solution to dry skin on your face, under eye creams should be specific and more gentle than a cream you would use on your body, similarly for wrinkle reduction creams, and so on.

Choosing an age-appropriate product is also important so that you can effectively target the problems of your individual skin and reduce a few years from your look. If you are looking for a good skin care cream, there are a number of factors to keep in mind rather than randomly choosing one. 

Check the ingredients

All skin care products contain a variety of ingredients, which are listed on the side of the jar or bottle. Take note of these as they impact the effectiveness of the cream.

According to skin care experts, when looking at skin care creams, pay attention to the ingredients of the product, particularly the first five. Common active ingredients like alpha hydroxy-acids, petrolatum, retinoid, lanolin, peptides, and glycerin are good. If you have a sensitive skin prone to allergies, glycerin would be more suitable than lanolin.

Another factor to consider is whether or not the cream contains sunscreen. A quick read of the list of ingredients will tell you that. This is particularly important if you are looking to buy a cream to wear during the day.

Zinc oxide and avobenzone are effective sunscreen ingredients. Using products with sunscreen prevents skin damage, reduces wrinkles, and can even protect from skin cancer. Dermatologists usually recommend going for daytime creams with an SPF of at least 15.

If the skin care product you are looking at contains fragrance, put it right back on the shelf. Fragrances contained in skin care products are one of the most common sources of skin irritation and allergies. If you cannot see anything on the ingredient list, a whiff of the cream’s scent can be a tell-tale sign.

Identify your skin type

Determining your skin type is vital before choosing any skin care product, as not all creams are designed to suit different skin types. Here’s a look at how you can pick a cream based on your skin type.

Oily skin

If your skin feels oily to the touch, you have overactive oil (sebum) glands below the surface of the skin and are likely prone to frequent acne. This type of skin often traps dirt because of the greasy surface. You may often feel like you have more acne outbreaks than your friends.

For oily skin, a cream with heavy moisturizing properties will only worsen the issue. Rather, pick one that is rich in hyaluronic acid and gentle in hydration. Products with glycolic acid can help control the moisture and give a matte-like effect on your skin so that you do not have to keep wiping off the oil frequently.  

Dry skin

Women with dry skin are often tired of trying to hide patchy, flaky skin that feels rough and lifeless. A cream with high oil content can be helpful as it is better absorbed by your skin. Look for products that list ceramides and lanolin among the top ingredients. You can also choose creams that have hydrating elements such as milk or lactic acid, aloe, and berry extracts.

Keeping your face well hydrated is important at all times, so be sure to use a sunscreen whenever you step out. Also, quit smoking and drink plenty of water throughout the day if you find that battling dry skin is your daily war.

Combination skin

This type of skin is characterized by an oily T-zone (forehead to the nose) and dry or normal in other parts like your cheeks. Finding a suitable cream for combination skin types often worries women, but there is a way. Light moisturizers that contain SPF of 15 or more are usually well-suited for such skin, but a more effective way would be to target the different areas and go for combined care.

For the drier areas, choose a product with berry extracts, lactic acid, and tea tree oil while aloe and glycolic acid are ingredients that can work for the oilier surfaces. Stay away from heavy creams and pick creams or gels that are light in density.

Normal skin

If you have a normal skin type your are often considered blessed as this indicates the right levels of lipids, water, and a good pH balance. Using a cream that maintains this balance and protects your skin can be helpful in keeping that fresh, supple look intact. Go for products with natural ingredients such as milk, aloe, orange, and glycolic acid.

Sensitive skin

Women with sensitive skin types usually face troubles maintaining skin health and picking the right kind of cream, but it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach here. Two women with sensitive skin may require completely different skin care products.

If your skin is on the oilier side and prone to acne outbreaks, choose a cream or gel that is high in glycolic acid and tea tree oil. On the other hand, dry and sensitive skins require products with a hydrating base such as milk or aloe.

How to Apply Skin Cream

How often you moisturize and pamper your skin directly affects how radiant your skin will be.

Ideally, your face should be moisturized twice every day with the right creams. A day cream that contains sunscreen will help your skin remain hydrated and protected from harmful UV rays, while a good night cream can work on repairing your skin even as you catch up on your beauty sleep.

It is important that you apply cream on freshly-cleansed skin. Remove every trace of makeup and dirt with a good cleanser before using any cream. While applying on your face, use your fingertips and use long strokes upwards from your neck to face until the cream is absorbed well. This simple routine of cleaning and moisturizing your skin regularly can make a noticeable difference and keep your skin fresh and soft.

Leading Skincare Brands

Given the plethora of brands and products today, it can be stressful trying to choose the right skin care creams. Keep in mind that price is not always the determining factor of the effectiveness of a cream. Rather, go for products from reputed brands to lower the chances of allergies. These are some of the leading names in the business whose products you can most likely trust to be safe and effective.

Olay. This is a well-known brand that has a range of skin care products like anti-aging creams, cleansers, moisturizers, and fairness creams. Olay has been around for decades and has proven to preserve women’s skin for years. The company is most known for maintaining youthful looking skin.

Neutrogena. Neutrogena is a younger brand. However, provides products for various skin types and is readily available. The Hydro Boost Water Gel that is high in hyaluronic acid can work wonders for women with dry skin.

Chanel. Chanel is known more for its perfumes, however, is also has an impressive skin care line. Our vote goes to La Solution 10 de Chanel, a gentle moisturizer that is designed to suit sensitive skin and fight pollution-related skin issues.

Speaking to a dermatologist to understand your skin type and the kind of products to choose is a great first step to beautiful and flawless skin. Remember that most expensive is not always the best when it comes to skin care creams, so spend a little time to understand what you need and read reviews so that you choose the right skin care products for you.

Also, as we've noted above, a healthy lifestyle goes a long way to keep you looking your most radiant and beautiful.

Summary

glowing skin

In this article we consider why your skin matters and how to best look after it. We look at the Korean women beauty regime in some detail, and added steps on positive lifestyle changes that we believe compliment these routines. Lastly we cover how to choose the best skin care cream for your skin type and needs.

The key to glowing skin lies in good health and beauty habits that are followed consistently. Nothing works to boost your confidence as much as having radiant and flawless skin that you can show off. Put these simple tips to use in your daily routine to get and maintain a look that is fresh and fabulous. 

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