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The craze over Korean skincare isn’t anything new. In fact, it seems to be a trend that is steadily growing. From celebrities to online influencers and even the girl next door, people have been embracing what may seem like a time-consuming, costly routine. However, achieving the best Korean skincare is anything but costly or time-consuming. Korean products are actually fairly inexpensive, so while our title mentions “7 steps”, the routine itself is simple and straightforward.

After researching for endless hours on Korean skincare, I wanted to know what made this routine so magical and special. Especially if you’ve noticed certain Korean women’s skin, you’d think that there is some true magic behind their routine. The Korean skincare routine is used to effectively cleanse and nourish the skin without using products or methods that are harsh or disruptive towards the skin’s natural protective barrier. Instead, these products and steps ensure you are not over-drying your skin.

The fact is that over-drying the skin can cause a number of issues, including acne. I’ve struggled with acne and textured skin myself, so I thought that a Korean skincare routine might help in some way. Then about two years ago, I implemented a Korean skincare routine, and let me tell you: my skin has drastically changed for the better!

Korean beauty products aren’t that expensive either, but not everyone has the means to get their hands on them. Also, sometimes people may be intimidated to try a product they are not familiar with. Well, I wanted to let you know that you can implement an excellent Korean skincare routine using products that you can find at the drugstore!

Where to Find Them

A number of drugstore companies have taken note on the Korean skincare craze and have introduced products that fit this routine. Of course, if you’re looking for an affordable place with more variety and specialization, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than Ulta.

Another online merchant that specializes in Korean skincare products is YesStyle. Their niche is high-quality Asian beauty products, and they have a solid reputation with customers. In addition, they have the ability to ship products to most countries.

Best 7-step Korean skincare routine using just drugstore products

The following 7-step Korean skincare routine is geared towards an evening routine. A morning routine would be slightly different, as it would call for products that we do not need before bed. Plus, some of the products in an evening routine are just best applied at night. 

Step 1: Oil Cleanser

A Korean skincare routine requires a two-step cleansing process. This is the key behind getting great-looking skin! Oil is great to eliminate the impurities built up from the day without drying out the skin. For instance, if you’re using makeup wipes, ditch that step and go with a double cleanse instead. In fact, makeup wipes simply do not remove makeup the same way a double cleanse does. However, a good oil cleanse will get the majority of your makeup off. Plus, makeup wipes are generally not good for the environment.

Drugstore recommendation: 

  1. Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Oil 

This oil cleaner is great for removing makeup and debris without stripping the natural protectant barrier of the skin. In addition to that, it is formulated with a blend of coconut and argon oil to leave the skin visibly soft and hydrated.

2. Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil 

The Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleaning oil is perfect for gently removing even waterproof makeup. It features a non-comedogenic formula, so it will not clog pores. This is also a great alternative to using makeup wipes, which strip the skin without nourishment.

Step 2: Foaming Cleanser

After removing the majority of your makeup with an oil-based cleanser, the next step is to wash your face again. This time use a foaming cleanser. This will remove any leftover residue and really make sure your face is clean and free of any dirt or makeup. Also, doing this ensures the skin is cleansed of all impurities for a radiant and smooth appearance. It is essential to gently rub in the product for about one minute before cleansing. Harshly rubbing in the cleanser can cause the skin to sag or wrinkle. It is important to remember to be as gentle as possible when applying products to the face. I found that a double cleanse has been the biggest factor in clearing up my own acne.

Drugstore recommendations:

  1. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

This cleanser is best for those with normal to oily skin. CeraVe has formulated a cleanser with three unique ceramides (1, 3, and 6-II) to help remove makeup and impurities without disrupting the skin’s natural protective barrier.

Step 3: Exfoliator 

Exfoliating your skin is an important step in keeping your skin clear, promoting anti-aging, helping with discoloration, and improving your overall skin texture. You do not need to exfoliate every day, however, since over-exfoliation can also be bad. It’s actually recommended to exfoliate two to three times a week. Just be careful with what types of exfoliants you use as well. Some may be too harsh. Exfoliants that contain seeds have sharp edges that can cause micro-tears in your skin. A chemical exfoliant is usually best, but there are some physical exfoliants that are also great.

Drugstore recommendations:

  1. Cetaphil’s Extra Gentle Daily Scrub

This exfoliator gently buffs away dead skin to reveal soft and radiant skin.

2. Acure Brightening Facial Scrub

Formulated with sea kelp, this exfoliator detoxes the skin while lemon peel and French green clay work together to cleanse the skin.

Step 4: Toner

Toner is a step that a lot of people overlook. In a Korean skincare routine, however, toner is an important step that shouldn’t be skipped. Why is toner important? After washing your face and exfoliating, toning again helps to remove any leftover residue as well as balance the pH of your skin. Look for toners free of alcohol, as toner is meant to hydrate your skin (not dry it out).

Drugstore recommendations:

  1. Simple Kind to Skin Soothing Facial Toner:


This toner is 100% alcohol-free and formulated with awesome ingredients, including chamomile (soothes and hydrates), witch hazel (tone and tighten pores), and allantoin (helps soften the skin).

Step 5: Essence/Serums/Treatments

What’s the difference between them, and which one do you need? There’s a debate as to what’s important, what your skin needs, and which step you need first. An essence and serum are somewhat similar, but they are different from one another. An essence is thinner or more water-like. It’s used to help the absorption of serums, treatments, and moisturizers. Therefore, it’s a step you can have in both your morning and evening routines. In the evening, it can help with serums, and it can help with moisturizers in the morning.

A serum, on the other hand, is thicker in consistency in comparison to an essence. When applying products to your face after cleansing, you should apply from thinnest to thickest (hence why serums and treatments follow toner and essence). A serum is more concentrated and will generally target a specific skin concern. There are a number of different serums, ranging from those for discoloration, acne, wrinkles, etc. Find a serum that works with your skincare goals.

“Treatments” are optional and apply to more problematic skincare concerns, such as acne. This would be a thicker cream, especially ones targeted for acne.

Drugstore Recommendations:

  1. E.l.f Hydrating Water essence:

This essence is formulated with no parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. Most importantly, the E.l.f hydrating water essence is also lightweight and nourishing. You will see the moisturizing effects from purified water, coconut water, algae, and coffee.

2. Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum:

This serum is great for all skin types. Actually, it is lightweight and formulated with alpha hydroxy acids, which act as a natural exfoliant, brighten complexion, and help even skin tone.

3. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum:

This serum is great for anyone struggling to keep their skin supple and hydrated. Hyaluronic acid is phenomenal at keeping the skin moisturized. It is easy to see the word acid and get worried, but there is nothing to worry about here. Hyaluronic acid is one of the best ingredients to have in your skincare routine.

4. RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Facial Serum:

This serum is perfect for anyone interested in anti-aging. Actually, it is formulated with Retinol, which is perfect for reducing fine lines and smoothing the skin.

5. Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment: 

Once only available with a prescription, this spot treatment is perfect for anyone struggling with stubborn acne. It works by eliminating break outs at their source, which are deep within your pores.

Step 6: Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are an optional step but are nonetheless beneficial. It’s not a step that needs to be done every day but maybe implemented two to three times a week. With that said, the benefits of a sheet mask are plenty! There are a number of different sheet masks as well that target specific skincare concerns. Luckily, the drugstore has numerous options available at very affordable prices.

Drugstore Recommendations:

  1. Burt’s Bees Purifying Sheet Mask With Kiwi Extract

This sheet mask is excellent for cleansing and hydrating the skin. In fact, the kiwi extract and botanical blend of flowers and plants work together to promote a healthy-looking complexion.

2. Garnier SkinActive Super Purifying Charcoal Sheet Mask

This Super Purifying Charcoal Sheet Mask, formulated with hyaluronic acid and algae extract, instantly hydrates and purifies pores.

Step 7: Eye cream

As I’ve gotten older, I realize the importance of a good eye cream. Eye cream is a step that can take place in the evening or morning depending on what you’re looking for. Speaking personally, eye cream is more of a preventive step that I apply at nighttime. However, there are times I apply eye cream in the morning, especially if I wake up with puffy eyes. It just depends on what I need. For example, I have the horrible habit of rubbing my eyes, so an anti-wrinkle cream is essential for my routine. But first figure out what your needs are and then consider where to go from there.

Drugstore Recommendations:

  1. Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel Cream:

This cream is formulated with hyaluronic acid to intensely yet gently hydrate the area around the eye.

2. RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Eye Cream:

Formulated with Retinol, this eye cream can show visible signs of reduced puffiness in just four weeks.

Conclusion

The focus of a Korean skincare routine is to figure out your targeted skincare concerns and to address them with the right products. More importantly, it’s about the proper application of the products so that you reap the full benefits of the ingredients. In other words, each routine should be very individual and best suited to your own skin’s needs.

Our “best 7-step Korean skincare routine” outlines the steps in the proper order so that  you can receive the full benefits for your skincare concerns. However, it doesn’t have to seem or feel overwhelming! Taking care of your skin is a form of self-care, and self-care is self-love. My personal advice: try your best to enjoy every minute of it!

 

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