I’ve tried a lot of skin care products and regimens over the years. My first formal skin care routine came courtesy of my mom when she became a distributor for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Through Mom and Mary Kay I learned the importance of a multi-step skin care routine while I was in junior high. The routine started with cleansing cream, followed by toner and moisturizer. Twice weekly I added a facial mask for deeper cleaning.
As a young mom, money was tight. I found lower-priced (and often lower quality) products to maintain the routine. When things got busy, I’ll confess my skin care routine all but vanished. If I could do it over again, I’d be more diligent in that department. Quality products are important; quality process is imperative.
When I hit 50, I just hoped I wasn’t too late. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and now that I’m in the “cure” stage I’ll apply that pound in whatever variety of skin improvement I can find. I’ve been a bit of a Guinea pig in that regard. I’ve tried so many products, especially those receiving great reviews. A lot of those products were great disappointments. Clearly skin care is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. What works for some doesn’t always work for others.
It’s also not a carved-in-stone process. Ideas change. Skin changes. New breakthroughs emerge and products are enhanced. Discoveries shake up the industry. For example, there has been so much talk about Korean skin care it warranted a closer look. I’ve been hearing about Korean 10-step routines. What are these steps? How do we follow them? What products do we use? Let’s take a look. This post isn’t intended to be a deep dive, but more like a overview. Here we go!
First, each step is not performed each day. Some processes, such as facial masks and exfoliators, should be used occasionally, perhaps one to three times per week. I don’t mean one to three times each, but perhaps alternate them, so that the total of both does not exceed three. In general though, the steps are basically as follows:
- Cleanser One. Korean skin care generally starts with an oil cleanser. I’d never tried an oil cleanser, but TULA sent their Kefir Replenishing Oil last winter and I’m a convert. Dirt and make-up are more easily removed, and I love how nourished my skin feels. And we’re only on step one!
- Cleanser Two. Next, use a water-based or foaming cleanser to remove whatever dirt remains as well as the oil you just applied. I’ve reached for TULA again, using their Purifying Face Cleanser.
- Exfoliators and Masks. Again, I don’t use these daily. I’ve tried all kinds of exfoliating options – even used fine coffee grounds, which I have to say really gave my skin a wake up call and seem to tighten things up a bit. If you’re using a topically applied mask, I would use it at this point in the routine. I have a few I really like, such as TULA Exfoliating Treatment Mask, TULA Kefir Ultimate Recovery Mask, Beauty Counter Facial Mask and an old friend, Mary Kay Botanical Effect Masque. I mixed Bentonite Clay powder with apple cider vinegar as a great purification mask earlier this week. The vinegar smell is intense, but my skin felt great afterward.
- A Toner is applied in this next step. You know there are so many out there, choosing the right toner can be overwhelming. I don’t want something harsh, especially with my older skin. I’m using a product that combines some toning benefits with exfoliation.
Steps one, two and four are performed daily using the products above. I love the TULA cleansing oil and the TULA face cleanser. The Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid isn’t technically a toner, but I don’t know that it would fall into any of the other steps. I use it like a toner, so we’ll jsut leave it here.
5. Essences may be the Korean routine’s super hero. Think of it as a watery serum, delivering skin-quenching benefits. Again, lots of varieties to choose from. I’ve been mixing it up on this step. I’ll use my TULA Aqua Infusion Liquid, or a hyaluaronic acid to get some youth-renewal action happening. This one by Watts Beauty is more the watery consistency the Korean method touts, but I also like this thicker Watts Beauty option.
6. Serums and Ampoules. I mix this up a bit, but I’m sure to include Kate Blanc Cosmetics Retinol Serum. Retinol is a good wrinkle-reducing addition to any skin care routine. If I only use one serum on any given day, it’s this one. When I add more, I like TULA Volume Defense Deep Wrinkle Serum. When the weather is really dry, TULA Kefir Moisture Repair Pressed Serum is the perfect answer.
7. Moisturizers. After all those serums, this is a bit of a surprise, but I’m not fighting it. I use TULA Hydrating Day & Night Cream in the moisturizing step.
8. Eye Cream. Again I reached for a TULA product. The Eye Renewal Serum is fun because it has a metal applicator you use to smooth the serum around your eye. It feels cool to the touch and brings relief to tired eyes.
9. Sheet Masks. I’m entrigued by the Korean sheet masks, but I haven’t tried them yet. Rather than drawing impurities from your skin, these infuse moisture and plump the skin with various ingredients. There are seemingly endless options. I can’t really speak to these until I try them. More on those later. . .
10. Sunscreen. Many would call this the best anti-aging product out there. Again, varieties abound. When you’re talking about your face you probably want something specific to facial skin. I use EltaMD sunscreen and EltaMD tinted sunscreen, which acts like a foundation. Although the rest of the steps are part of your nighttime ritual, sunscreen starts in the morning. I’ll use these or a spray-on option before applying my make-up. And remember, just because you’re starting to store your summer clothes doesn’t mean you store your sunscreen. We need it EVERY DAY. I wish I’d been better about that early on.
The Bonus Round. I read products with copper are great for the skin. As a result, I use Zeitun Night Detox Oil Elixer every night. This one gets in the hair so consider keeping your hair pulled back when you sleep. I sleep on my back, so I don’t worry about rubbing it off onto the pillow case. If that’s not you, consider putting it on earlier in the evening so your skin absorbs it before bedtime.
Whew! That was a lot, but I can work through the routine in less time than it took to read about it. I can also take my time and savor the pampering and self-love. Like the routine itself, you can adjust it daily to your needs. To be honest, I’m just now learning how to let the process ebb and flow. I try to listen to my skin to determine what it needs, and what might be too much. That in itself is a process. Just like eating, if you learn to listen, your body tells you what it needs.
I hope I’ve given you something you can add to your skin care routine. If you have tips you swear by, please share them here. I’m always interested in trying something new!
Thanks for reading!