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My 10-Step Cruelty Free Korean Skincare Routine

It's been a wee while since I did some real beauty chat on NB, so I'm coming at you all with my evening skincare routine that just so happens to be heavily influenced by Korean skincare products and practices. Over the last couple of years, the "X Step Korean Skincare" routines have swept through the online beauty community so surprise surprise, ya girl got sucked right into them. If there's one thing I feel like Korean's are known for, it's for caring for their skin and being observant of their skin needs. Having shared my morning skincare routine a few months ago now, I thought it was about time I shared what I do in my evening routine because if there's one thing that really helps out my oily, acne-prone skin, it's having this quite heavy routine but oh my my, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it.

Before I get into each step and each product I like for them, I have to mention here that these step routines aren't for everyone. Some people find them great for their skin whilst others find it just makes them break out more so take everything I say with a pinch of salt. What works for one person and skin type won't necessarily work for another. It's also worth noting here that some people do a 4-step routine, some do 10 - and some might do something in between. I typically do around 9 steps most days but not every evening as it really would be overkill. So here, let me show you:

Monday: 6 steps (no exfoliation, no face mask, and no sleep mask)
Tuesday: 9 steps (traditional face mask, chemical exfoliation, and sleep mask added)
Wednesday: 7 steps (traditional face mask added)
Thursday: 8 steps (solid exfoliation and sleep mask added)
Friday: 7 steps (traditional face mask added)
Saturday: 7 steps (traditional face mask added)
Sunday: 10 steps (solid exfoliation, sheet mask, and sleep mask added)

Although the use of traditional wash off-style face masks aren't usually included in a Step Korean skincare method, I really enjoy doing a face mask most evenings and find that it helps my skin out a great deal so I slot them in between steps 2 and 3. I typically listen to my skin though and if it's looking and feeling fine (and more importantly, I'm feeling damn tired) I will skip the traditional mask as it's not a necessary step anyway!

Step One: Oil-based Cleanse
Heimish All Clean Balm | 120ml | £13.0o -This cleansing balm is my absolute favourite skincare product. It's a really luxurious feeling balm but it's incredibly gentle and fuss-free too. I take a gumball-sized amount on the spatula provided and rub gently all over the face. I find it breaks down products like my mascara and eyebrow gel really well and just makes sure I've definitely removed all traces of makeup. It's not a heavy product at all but, it will still leave the skin feeling soft and nourished.

The idea of the the oil cleansing step is to remove the grime of the day. If you don't want to buy an oil-based cleanser, you can absolutely make your own. Some people believe natural oils to block the pores but, I've never had any issues with any natural oils I've used in the past. Natural cold-pressed coconut oil is a great option as it melts in a similar way to this balm. If you're more oily-skinned or acne-prone, I'd recommend mixing 1 part olive oil with 1 part castor oil. It will help neutralise your oil production levels whilst also leaving the skin soft and melt away makeup - nice and easy zero waste option!

Step Two: Foam/Water-based Cleanse
Superdrug Naturally Radiant Complete Cleanser | 150ml | £5.99 - I don't use a specifically Korean brand cleanser for this step, purely because this Foam Cleanser from Superdrug has become a ride or die product for me over the last couple of years. Again, it's gentle on the skin but it leaves my skin feeling thoroughly cleansed and my skin is never as radiant or clear if I don't use this product in my routine.

Using a foam cleanser after oil cleansing at night helps lift any excess oil residue and just leaves your face feeling thoroughly clean and ready to soak up any products you want to lay on it overnight. I only use my foam cleanser in the mornings and miss out the oil cleanser as I just feel I need a refresh and a foam cleanser has a great way of waking up the skin.

Step Three: Exfoliate
Skin Food Black Sugar Scrub or Pixi Glow Tonic | 250ml | £18.0o - Exfoliating is a vital step in skincare for keeping skin looking healthy and getting rid of texture and lord knows I need help in that department! This step should only be done a couple of times a week as over-exfoliating can actually damage the skin so don't over-do it! My current go-to's are the Black Sugar Scrub from Skin Food (sadly Skin Food are ending!) or the Superdrug Naturally Radiant Brightening Micro Polish. Both of these products are your classic grainy skin polish that buff away dead skin cells and I thoroughly enjoy using both of them - particularly on my chin and forehead. I also use the highly coveted Pixi Glow Tonic once a week too. I know some folk like to use this everyday as a toner but it's just too much for my skin to handle. Instead, I use it once a week as my exfoliation step to get rid of any dry/flaky skin and dead skin cells by popping some on a cotton round and spreading it across my face.

Exfoliation can be either a gritty scrub formula or a chemical one so just use whatever you are most comfortable with. I tend to use a scrub at the weekend as kind of a deep reset for my skin and half way through the week as a pick-me up whereas my chemical exfoliant is used at the start of my working week to try and keep some glow and healthiness locked into my skin.

Step Four: Toner
Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner | 150ml | £16.0o - Toner isn't usually a product I stay particularly loyal to, so I tend to try a new one each time my current bottle runs out. Recently, I've been using the Cosrx AHA/BHA Toner and I'm quite enjoying it. It's a lovely gentle toner that secretly packs a punch. I find it balances out my skin really well and isn't harsh or stripping on my skin which is always something I'm weary about being an oily-skinned girl (as I don't want it to send my oil-production into overdrive!). I also like this one for my morning routine too as it's very cooling and calming on the skin and the convenient spray bottle means I don't overuse or waste product.

Toner is a great step that can often be overlooked. When I was younger I never used to tone and I really notice a difference in my skin's condition nowadays if I miss out this step. I find toner helps balance my skin a lot and it can help prevent me from getting too oily everyday which is always a welcomed aid! Depending on your skin needs whether you're acne-prone, oily, dry etc. toner can be helpful to manage and improve all and any issues.

Step Five: Essence
Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence | 60ml | £24.0o - Ah, the step that confuses everyone: essence. My understanding (which please note could be entirely wrong,) is that essences are almost like serums but seem to be runnier/thinner liquids and possibly more intensive for the skin. I love this Snail and Bee Venom essence as it feels feathery light on the skin and sinks in rapidly. It's great for hydration and plumping up the skin and it really helps me fill in my laugh and frown lines.

If you don't want to use an essence or you can't get your hands on one you like, you can always just try an additional serum of your choosing. I'd definitely recommend trying essences however as I honestly feel they are little miracle products and there's a wide variety of them out there.

Step Six: Serum
Boots Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum | 25ml | £8.99 - Back to one of my western products of choice. The Botanics range is one that I love and I always use this serum every evening and morning without fail. It's a lightweight serum that really hydrates my skin and leaves me looking glowing. The glow I get from this product is healthy and radiant without being greasy or too sparkly/unnatural. It doesn't irritate my skin at all and my skin seems to love it.

Serums are another step that I used to overlook when I was younger but can really see the benefit in them now. This step is a great chance to add in any intensive treatment for whatever your skin needs. Although I still suffer from acne and could sometimes do with using a more acne-fighting product, I never miss this product or step out as getting healthy glowing skin is my top priority and other than exfoliating, I feel that serums manage to reach this goal the best.

Step Seven: Sheet Mask
Skin Food Masks or Love Beauty and Planet Masks | 1-use Mask | £4.99 - Okay, confession time. I typically do a face mask everyday. I love them and can't get enough of them. However, when it comes to sheet masks, I find them to be quite intensive and so I typically will only do one once a week. I *love* the Skin Food masks but unfortunately, these guys are shutting down shop so I've been trialling alternatives and I've fallen hard for the Love Beauty range. The Love Beauty and Planet masks smell delicious and are so good for plumping up the skin and leaving your face feeling soft and supple.

It's recommended that you use sheet masks only once or twice a week - some individuals seem to use them everyday but I find that's just too much for my skin to handle. Always pay attention to your sheet mask's instructions, particularly the time, as if you leave it on longer than the recommended time stated you could actually make your skin worse as it will start to dehydrate your skin and rehydrate the mask.

Step Eight: Eye Cream
Mizon Collagen Power Firming Eye Cream | 25ml | £20.33 - I don't have any loyalties to any specific eye cream, but one thing I always look out for in any eye cream I choose is that it has to hydrate my undereyes and lids but also not irritate my eyes at all. Despite my super sensitive eyes, the Mizon Collagen eye cream does a grand job of keeping my skin soft and hydrated without causing my eyes any distress. I picked up a sample/travel size 10ml tube of this stuff and I definitely think I'll be picking up the full size tub once I've finished this.

Eye cream is incredibly important in a skincare routine no matter how long or how little time you spend completing your routine. Eye creams are usually specially formulated for the delicate eye area and will avoid particular ingredients that might be in other skincare products. It's always best to gently apply eye cream with your ring finger and pat it in. This keeps the eye area happy!

Step Nine: Moisturiser
Superdrug Naturally Radiant Renewing Night Cream | 75ml | £5.99 - Surprise surprise, another product from the Superdrug Naturally Radiant line! This night cream (which is the combo/to oily skin version) has been a firm favourite for some time. It's thick and nourishing for bedtime but also somehow doesn't feel heavy and has an almost jelly type of texture. I feel like it does a fab job of locking in all the products I've used in previous steps and makes my skin look healthy the following morning.

Just like eye cream, moisturiser is such a significant step in any skincare routine. It not only keeps your skin hydrated, but it can protect your skin from UV rays, sun damage, pollution, and more. Always have a good reliable moisturiser to hand and you won't go wrong.

Step Ten: Sleep Mask
Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Mask | 80g | £12.50 - Okay, I promise this is the last time masks will be mentioned in this post. For Korean skincare routines, the last step is usually sunscreen but as I only do my routine in the evenings, I switch out that product for a sleeping mask instead. My favourite one to use at the moment is this Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Mask as it's brightening and smoothing. I honestly notice such a difference in the appearance of my skin, in it's texture, and how generally healthy it looks if I don't regularly use this product. Using just a pea size amount, I smooth it gently all over my face, avoiding the eye area, once my moisturiser has finally dried down.

Sleep masks are certainly not essential, but if you ever feel like your skin needs a bit of a boost, using one of these is always a sure-fire way to make your skin happy again. They tend to be quite intensive as you leave them on overnight and you really do reap the benefits the following morning. I typically like to use a gentle but heavy-duty sleep mask so it can work lots of magic overnight but not irritate my sensitive skin. If you need a quick fix, particularly for things like dry skin, dullness, or blemishes, a sleep mask is definitely the way to go.

So you guys, you can breathe now. It might seem completely excessive to some people to have a skin routine this long and intense, but it's genuinely done my skin the world of good and I've seen some undeniable improvements in my skin's condition in the few months I've kept this routine up. If you haven't tried out the Korean step skincare routine yet, give it a go - you might be pleasantly surprised with just how well it all works!

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Michael said...

This Korean stuff indeed quickly became a thing. From music to tv shows to skin care. Especially the skin care stuff. Maybe also because Koreans have really good skin and whatnot. Thanks for sharing by the way!

Maisie said...

this article is good for me, but some products are not cruelty free and not animal friendly products such as skinfood black sugar scrub. I recommend you to use Klairs brown sugar scrub if you are really cruelty free person or vegan.

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