Korean Skincare Basics

Korean skincare is famous for its 10-step skincare routine. It is a method of layering different skincare products in the right way to allow each product to absorb into the skin and work its magic by addressing the various issues and needs of your skin.

Although 10 steps seems to be the norm, it is not necessary. It could be 5,7, 8 or as many you can manage. The idea is to cleanse, nourish and protect your skin by layering various products in the right way. Here is the Korean skincare routine in steps. To download the guide, please click here

If you are new to Korean Skincare, feel free to reach out to our founder on WhatsApp or DM us on Instagram @uncover.skincare!

Our founder will be more than happy to guide you through the basics, and even help you find the right products based on your skin concerns or requirements. Even if Uncover does not have the products that you need, we will still point you in the right direction! Meanwhile, please find some basics below for your reference.

Details by step in routine

10 step Korean skin care routine AM and PM

Oil-based cleanser

Cleansing with an oil based cleanser is the first step of the double cleansing method in the Korean skincare routine. An oil based cleanser needs to be applied with dry palms on a dry skin gently massaged and emulsified with water to remove make up and sun screen effectively. Oil based cleanser is a must use in the PM routine and optional in the AM routine.

Water-based cleanser

A gel or foam cleanser is a water based cleanser to clean your face after the oil cleansing. It’s good to use a PH balanced or low PH cleanser (5.5 PH) in order to restore and maintain your skin’s natural balance.


In Korean skincare a toner is a clear or lightly tinted water based liquid infused with beneficial ingredients.

There are two kinds of toners:

Exfoliating toners like AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA are the secret to a glowing skin. AHA’s help to get rid of dead cells and improve the texture of the skin. Toners with BHA help in minimising the appearance of pores. 

Hydrating toners on the other hand contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid or fermented extracts which will help to refresh, soothe and hydrate your skin.


Treatment in skincare is the use of specific ingredients to target various skin issues like acne, wrinkles, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation etc.

After using your chemical exfoliants in the previous step, you can use a treatment cream like retinoid to first do it’s job before you add the hydrating steps.

Retinoids are a derivative of Vitamin A. They effectively reduce fine lines and wrinkles and also help fight acne. Vitamin C serum is another treatment which can be used for firming and brightening the skin. It is preferred to use a retinoid in the PM routine and Vitamin C serum in the AM. 


An essence is a water based product that contains active ingredients to hydrate and prep your skin to effectively absorb subsequent skincare products like the serum and moisturiser. It is thicker than a toner, and also helps to hydrate your skin further.


A serum is a lightweight, highly concentrated formulation to help target various skin concerns and improve it’s overall appearance. Serums are thicker than essences and toners but less thick than moisturisers. A serum could be hydrating, brightening or anti-ageing. Ampoules also fall in this category.

Sheet mask

Sheet masks are a staple in Korean skincare. Sheet masks are soaked with essences and serums and keep your skin fresh, smooth, glowing and hydrated. They help in brightening the skin as well. 

Eye cream

An eye cream is specifically used to hydrate and nourish the delicate area around the eye and also to target various concerns like fine lines and wrinkles and also to brighten the under eye area. It is best used before applying the cream moisturiser on your whole face.

Moisturisers / Oils

Moisturisers are typically the hydrating step of the multi step K-beauty skincare routine. A moisturising cream is normally thick and contains occlusives which help to provide a thin film on the skin to seal in the goodness of all the layers of essences and serums applied before.

If you really have a dry dehydrated skin, you can top up your moisturiser with a face oil to further lock in all the hydration through the night and wake up to a refreshed, hydrated bouncy skin. You can also further protect and hydrate your skin by using an overnight mask.


A sunscreen is the most important staple in your skincare routine, to be applied after the moisturiser as a last step in your AM routine. It is the best way to protect your skin’s appearance and, if used regularly, helps prevent premature ageing.

AM Routine Recommendations

Best suited for normal skin

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PM Routine Recommendations

Best suited for normal skin

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