Interested in starting your own Korean skin care routine? Don’t let the “10 step” process overwhelm you – it’s neither a requirement nor set in stone. The Korean skincare routine is flexible as long as you know what your skin needs and maintain some level of consistency in your routine.

If you’re familiar with the Western 3-step routine, you already know about cleansers, exfoliators or facial scrubs, and moisturizers. Whether you have been sticking to this routine for years or not, what you need to know about the Korean beauty routine is that you’ll need to cultivate a flexible approach while maintaining your commitment to your skin on a daily basis.

What we mean by that is this: your skin is a living organism. Some months it may feel dry. Some years it can look really dull. It might start showing signs of aging. Your skin never remains the same. So to start getting on any beauty routine, ask yourself what your main skin concerns are. What would you like to tackle?

Do you have a problem that you face every day such as uncontrollable oiliness, inflammation, redness, or wrinkles? Do you have problems that come and go with the season? Have you recently started a new medication, moved to a new area, or traveling? These may all cause changes in your skin.

The steps that are special to the Korean routine

There are three steps that make the Korean beauty routine unique and absolutely fabulous – using a facial essence, applying a mask, and using SPF even if you live in a cold, cold climate.

Let’s start with the facial essence. Used directly after cleansing and toning, essences deliver deep hydration to your skin with humectant-rich ingredients as well as other ingredients that may help target some of your skin concerns. Though thicker than the hydrating water, facial essences come in a wide range of textures – from watery to rich, viscous formulations. Use an essence every day if you want to experience the benefits of a Korean routine.

Used two or three times a week, K-beauty masks include sheet masks, hydrogel masks, and rubber masks. Some people use these masks every day but it’s safe to assume for most of us, two or three times a week is plenty. Never used a mask? It’s a good idea to try each mask and feel the difference it makes on your skin. If convenience is important to you, go with a sheet mask – it’s easy to use and not messy – unlike a rubber mask. If you have the time to go to a spa, get a rubber mask applied. It’s messy but hey you are the spa so who cares!?

Lastly, in order to cultivate a Korean routine, you must use sun protection.  The idea behind it is that it’s much easier to keep your skin looking healthy than to reverse solar damage. No matter where you live, do your best to protect yourself from the sun including using SPF products, wearing sunglasses and a hat, or using a solar umbrella.

Enjoy your new routine!