No one takes skin care more seriously than Koreans. Their glowing, flawless complexions aren’t just a product of genes and luck but are the result of a lot of time and effort—their daily skincare routine has as many as 10 steps!

If you’re interested in the regiment, the steps vary slightly in the morning and at night, but generally follow an expanded version of the traditional cleanse-tone-moisturize routine.

“There’s double-cleaning, or using both an oil-based and water-based cleanser; the use of treatments such as essences, ampoules, and serums (which offer more potent doses of active ingredients), as well as masks, which also treat specific concerns while boosting skin’s moisture,” says Elaine Natividad Reyes, former magazine beauty editor. “Exfoliating is also considered an added step, and is ideally done just once or twice a week to slough off dead skin cells and boost skin renewal.”

The Korean 10-step routine encourages washing your face with just water in the morning and doing a deeper cleanse at night.

Basic Skin Care Steps

But not everyone has the time or the inclination to go through such a lengthy skincare process every morning and every night. If you only have a few minutes each day to devote to a routine, then you can stick to the basics.

Cleanse. “Cleansing is clearly the most important as it removes dirt and oil buildup, which is essential for keeping skin healthy,” says Reyes. Completely removing your makeup at the end of the day prevents them from clogging and irritating pores and causing problems like acne.

Tone. “Toning further strips skin of any impurities or debris left behind by cleansing and helps tighten pores,” explains Reyes. “If you have normal skin or dry skin, you can actually skip toning but it’s a helpful step for those with oily or acne-prone skin as it helps control oil production.”

In a 2012 interview with Huffington Post, two dermatologists gave their thoughts on the necessity of this step: “Toners are not necessary, but they can be a great adjunct to a skincare regimen for those that need help with oily skin or markedly plugged pores. My main use for toners are in my acne patients,” said Dr. Alicia Zalka.

Dr. Jennifer MacGregor added, “Using a toner can be a nice way to add active ingredients like retinoids, antioxidants, and exfoliants to your existing products.”

Moisturize. Round out your routine by moisturizing. Reyes says, “Moisturizing replenishes skin’s most lost moisture, keeping it soft, smooth, and young-looking. Without hydration, skin is more prone to damage and the signs of aging.”

Use something with sun protection in the morning as UVA and UVB rays speed up skin aging. At night, moisturize the thinner skin around your eye area with eye cream. When you have some extra time over the weekend, you can take a page from the Koreans and add a serum or a sheet mask to the mix. Just make sure to find products that work best for your type of skin, whether it’s dry, oily, combination, or sensitive. It may involve a lot of trial and error as you try out different brands and formulations, or even all-natural organic skincare products, but you’ll know it once you find something that works for your skin.  

Beyond Creams and Serums

All the beauty and skincare products in the world are not enough to give you a youthful glow. You also have to make sure you’re living a healthy lifestyle:

Eat healthy. The adage “you are what you eat” is true when it comes to your skin, so load up on whole foods instead of processed ones, making sure you get enough fruits and vegetables on the daily.

Stay hydrated. Moisturizers can only do so much if you’re dehydrated from within. Drink eight glasses of water daily for optimum skin health.

Keep stress at bay. The stress hormone cortisol can have negative effects on skin, bringing about acne or hives, causing dryness, and leading to fine lines and tired-looking eyes. While you can manage these symptoms with beauty products, it’s best to go to the root cause and manage your stress. Try meditation for starters.

Get enough sleep. It’s not called “beauty sleep” for nothing. A study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that “chronic poor sleep quality is associated with increased signs of intrinsic ageing, diminished skin barrier function and lower satisfaction with appearance.”

With a solid daily skincare routine in place, products that are especially formulated for your skin type, and a holistic approach to skin care by having a healthy lifestyle, you don’t need the fountain of youth to get fresh, youthful-looking skin.

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