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Care for a ‘glass skin’ this winter?

Browse skincare hub South Korea’s 10-Step routine that will make you glow

Hannah Nicole D’Souza (t2 Intern)   |   Published 18.11.21, 12:29 AM

The Hallyu wave has brought a lot of things in the Korean culture to light, be it music, cinema, art or food. We’ve often seen K-idols heavily advertising skincare products. It’s not surprising that South Koreans have advanced skincare technology. Rooted firmly in its philosophy, Korean skincare derives its basis from a combined aspect of natural-meets-synthetic ingredients. They promote not just a routine but a lifestyle. From watching the benefits of the food they consume to fashion choices, Korean trends have always catered to the benefit of their skin. We’ve all been on several skincare quests hopping from one product or routine to the other, but often lack the dedication to consistently cleanse, hydrate, treat and protect our skin.

Amongst the rising trends in beauty, we’ve seen the phrases “glass-skin”and “10-step Korean routine” often on our social media streams. Even if you have not had a chance to familiarise yourself with the trend that’s luxuriously worked wonders for many, we at t2 are breaking it down for you! 

Why “Glass-Skin”?

The trend provides a routine that works towards making one’s skin dewy, smooth, clean and clear, giving off the impression of a glow that is akin to when light’s slightly reflected on glass. The Korean trend varies between 5,7, 10 or 12 steps, with 10 being the most popular. In addition to these steps, it’s recommended to frequently detox your system and change your sheets and pillow covers. Follow these 10 steps to be aligned with the glass-skin routine.

1. Oil-based cleanser:

Essentially starting with a bare-face, grab your favourite oil-based cleanser. These usually are available in the form of cleansing oils or balms and help break down make-up and dirt at a micro level offering a thorough cleansing experience than your average micellar water. Be sure to massage it onto a dry face and then follow it up with a lukewarm-water rinse.

t2 tip: Avoid hot water on your face to prevent excessive drying and irritation.

Some recommendations (includes Korean brands available in India): The Face Shop’s Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil, Innisfree Green-Tea Cleansing oil.

2. Water-based cleanser:

Aka your facewash, to put it simply. The trend generally recommends alcohol-free cleansers. Lather up your face (and neck!) with a nice gentle water-based cleanser to avoid excessive stripping and gentle cleansing to ensure no residual leftover from previous steps. Gently pat it dry with a soft towel. While there’s no scientific backing for double-cleansing, it has been deeply ingrained in Korean culture for ages.

t2 tip: If you have highly sensitive skin, using a fragrance-free cleanser might also be a bonus. People with dry skin are advised to proceed to double-cleanse with a lot of caution.

Some recommendations: Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, Cosrx Low-Ph Good Morning Cleanser.

3. Exfoliator:

Do not do this every day. Limit exfoliation to once or twice a week only to ensure your skin does not suffer from micro-tears or redness and inflammation. The skincare world offers two types of exfoliation: physical (scrubs, peels, etc.) and chemical (AHAs, BHAs, lactic acid etc). This step ensures a strong removal of stubborn dead skin cells and helps in skin-cell turnover so that your products can absorb and act better upon your skin.

t2 tip: Avoids harsh exfoliators that contain huge chunks of extract as they cause further damage to your skin. Popular chunky exfoliators to avoid include walnut or apricot face scrubs.

Some recommendations: Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment, Klair’s Youthful Glow Sugar Mask.

4. Toner:

Feeling lazy? This is the most skippable step. Want to pamper yourself? The toner step is made just for you. Hydrate and help your skin balance its pH levels by lightly tapping your toner onto your face. Use your clean fingers or opt for a cotton pad. Either way, sit back and enjoy and allow your skin to breathe before you jump into the next step.

Some recommendations: Laneige Cream Skin toner, Innisfree Bija Trouble Skin toner.

5. Serums or Essence:

A step before your spot treatment, serums provide holistic nourishment and hydration to your face while tackling specific issues. It helps repair the skin barrier and initiates healing on a deeper level. Pick your serums according to your skin type and needs. Use it in your AM or PM routine by tapping it gently all over your face. Let it sit at least for a minute.

t2 tip: Current trends in Korea point towards natural ingredients like bakuchiol, snail mucin and green tea for clear, healthy and nourished skin. Bonus! They all have anti-ageing properties.

Some recommendations: Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum, Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.

6. Treatments:

These products target specific problems and must be applied to only those areas on the face with said problems. They’re marketed in various ways (patches, booster, spot treatments, etc) and are generally applied to the skin with fingers or a q-tip lightly dipped into the product. If there are no specific problems on your skin that you wish to target and combat, feel free to breeze through this step.

Some recommendations: Its Skin Power 10 Formula VC Effector Ampoule Serum, Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Serum

7. Sheet Masks

We’ve all seen shows and K-dramas with our favourites laid back and simply relaxing with a sheet mask on their face. Join them by grabbing your own to not only have a therapeutic spa-like, fragrant experience but also lock in the hydration and nourishment from the previous steps. Pick your favourite fragrance, or target treatment and sit back and relax.

t2 Tip: Indulge in this once or twice a week in the AM or PM. Do not leave your sheet mask on for more than 10-15 minutes, it may have a counter-effect otherwise.

Some recommendations: TONYMOLY’s range of sheet masks, Innisfree sheet masks.

8. Eye Cream

Did you know, the skin under and around our eyes is indeed more delicate than the rest of our face? Eye creams are thicker than the average moisturiser and act as a protecting layer for the skin under your eyes, amplifying healing. They cater to specific problems faced by the skin around the eyes. Preventing ageing, wrinkles or even just micro-tears and heavy bags under your eyes. We recommend lathering up your under-eye region with a good eye cream.

t2 Tip: Use your eye cream at night to avoid build-up!

Some recommendations: Innisfree Jeju Orchid Under Eye Cream, Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream.

9. Moisturiser

The most common myth surrounding moisturiser is that it is only for those with dry or combination skin. However, moisturising is an important step for all skin types. Granted the level of moisturising is different but to achieve glass-skin the best way to come to a close conclusion is to grab a nice moisturiser. Whether you tap lightly or put on a generous amount, we recommend you do not skip this step. Browse through a range of creams that have the latest skin-tech ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, vitamin c, azelaic acid and more.

Some recommendations: Etude House Moistfull Collagen Cream, Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb.

10. Sunscreen or Sleeping Masks

There’s no point indulging in any of these steps if you’re not finishing it off by protecting your skin from its number one enemy — the sun. Koreans are obsessed with protecting themselves from exposure to the sun and for the right reasons. Wearing protective clothing, in addition to a strong SPF (chemical or mineral) cream is the best way to go about protecting your skin and achieving healthy and clean glass-skin. This applies even when you’re indoors. If you’re looking for the last step to your PM routine, we recommend a sleeping mask.

Some recommendations: Innisfree Sunscreen Cream SPF 50+, Laneige Water Sleeping Mask.

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