The Step-by-Step Guide to Skin Care

The popular, multi-step Korean beauty routines have complicated daily skin care. But there's a method to the madness that we can all learn from. Follow this simple guide to a better (and rather luxe!) skincare routine.

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Tip: Apply your products in order from lightest weight to heaviest. Think of your skin like a sponge—you want to slowly wet it for optimum soak potential. Since this is a guide, keep in mind that you can skip or swap out steps according to your needs.

Step No. 1: Remove Makeup, Duh

It's a no-brainer, really. If it's nighttime or there are traces of yesterday's makeup on your eyes, use makeup remover wipes, eye-makeup remover serums, or micellar water. Don't wear makeup? No problem. Skip this step.

SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water & Makeup Remover by Garnier, $8, ulta.com.
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Step No. 2: Cleanse, Cleanse, Cleanse

Get on the advanced skincare track by breaking up face washing into two separate steps. First, start with a cleansing oil that gets rid of any dirt. Follow up with a foaming cleanser that balances and gently cleans skin.

The Purifier Soothing Cleansing Oil, $30, biossance.com.
Enzyme Powder Wash by Tosowoong, $11, peachandlily.com.
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Step No. 3: Get Toned

Swipe on a toner that either has hydrating properties or balances skin pH. Western toners operate a little differently than most Asian toners, offering astringent properties to make sure your skin is really, truly clean. Most Korean toners are a little bit more hydrating, focusing more on adding moisture that was stripped away by cleansing. Some toners offer AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) or BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) for light exfoliation.

Raw Sauce by May Coop, $43, sephora.com.

Step No. 4: You've Got Issues

Serums are great for targeting specific skin concerns. Think of them as magic potions that are concentrated specifically for your specific skin issues, such as dryness, frequent breakouts, and a dull complexion.

Pore Refine Serum by Neogen Dermalogy, $37, sokoglam.com.
Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule by Mizon, $38, peachandlily.com.
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Step No. 6: Moisturize

Consider mixing ampoules (like a serum concentrated into little capsules) into your moisturizer of choice. While moisturizers are the heaviest products you'll use in your routine, they're the juggernauts that help seal in all the good stuff you just put on your face.

The True Cream Aqua Bomb by Belif, $38, sephora.com.
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Step No. 7: Lock It In

Using a sheet mask every now and then can help enhance all the beneficial products in your regimen. Save this relaxing process for nighttime. Remember not to wash the mask off; instead pat any excess formula onto your neck and body.

Han Bang Charcoal Flower Essence Mask by Soo Ae, $25 for 5, birchbox.com.
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Step No. 8: Spot Treat

Spot treatments, like those used for acne, should be the penultimate product in your nightly routine. Since these can cause skin to become more sensitive to light, be sure to apply your daily dose of sunscreen in the morning.

Resist BHA 9, $42, paulaschoice.com.

Step No. 9: Protect

Did you put sunscreen on this morning? What about yesterday? Did you reapply after lunch? Chances are, you probably don't have enough sunscreen on right now. Reapply every two hours, especially if you're sweating or spending time outside.

Clear Cover Invisible Sunscreen SPF 30 by Cover FX, $45, sephora.com.
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