My Skincare routine

Korean skincare really changed the way I care about my skin. I have learned more about my skin type and also the 'science' behind skincare. My skin is no where near perfection, but improved a lot since I started building a Korean skincare regime, which is changing constantly, evolving! Depending on my skin needs I drop or add skincare products customizing my routine.

Skin type & History 

Skin type: Combination, Dehydrated, Acne prone, Sensitive

Shade: Matched to MAC NW20, Korean 2, 23, 21 in Laneige

Skin problems: Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation PIH, sun spots/damage, dull uneven skin tone, fine lines. Occasionally (hormonal induced) cyst and pimples

Goals: Brightening, Whitening, fading PIH & fine line, prevent acne, pimples and clogged pores.

In the past I assumed that my skin type was oily, well it kind of was because of hormonal acne. I used harsh acne cleansers (like the old school clerasil, which broke me out) and some over the counter moisturizers for oily skin. After growing up and visiting a beauty salon 'specialist' told me that I had dry skin, so I started using moisturizers for dry skin. Only later did I discover that I had a combination skin type, this led me into buying “moisturizers’’ for combination skin. Unfortunately, nothing really improved my skin condition. There were only minor improvements due to prescription drugs and my own hormones that started to calm down. By that time I had spend a huge amount of money on 'ineffective' skincare products, while my skin was still in a bad place. Combination dehydrated skin with acne prone cheeks and enlarged pores. It was not until I became interested in Japanese and Korean skincare products that my understanding of skincare and my skin type changed. I suddenly discovered that my skin was dehydrated and not dry as suggested by many beauty specialist.  All this years I couldn’t understand why my skin was acting so crazy out of balance, feeling dry but at the same time breaking out. Conclusion,  skin type: dehydrated with a damaged acid mantle.

My Korean skincare routine 

Korean products make up the majority of my routine, with some Japanese and occasionally western products. I try many products in sample size before committing to full size products, this is especially true for the more expensive brands like Sulwhasoo. Below, you can find my skincare routine and the products I'm currently using, the list will be regularly updated.

Building a Korean skincare routine can be confusing with all the different products available; serums, ampoules, essence, toners etc. The questions arises which to put first and in which order? always start with the lightest product consistency layering to heaviest consistency.  

Step 1: Double Cleansing 

I haven't tried many AB (Asian beauty) cleansers yet, this is really an area that I haven't explored enough. However, I know that pH 'friendly' cleansers work much better on my skin. The problem I have with most of the  regular cleansers is that my skin can feel tight, dry and turns red after using them. I was scared of oil cleansers in the past, but since I started using them they are a special part of my routine. I double cleanse AM and PM, but you can get away with using only one cleanser in the morning, I just love oil cleansing. 

Oil cleanser 

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil: A very gentle oil cleanser that smells just divine ''hanbang''. I'm in love with this product. Its very effective at removing make up and moisturizers my skin. 
Koreadepart 30.75$ / Amazon* 32.54$

2nd Cleanser 

COSRX Low pH good morning cleanser gel [review]: This is my first step in the AM routine. In the evening I like to use it after Bioderma Micellar Water. Really a nice cleanser, doesn't strip my skin of moisture and has a low pH. 
Wishtrend* 9.35$ / Jolse 9.35$ 

Bioderma Micellar Water: This is my favorite cleanser / make up remover, its really like water but takes of all my make up without irritating my skin. I have been using this one for over 3 years. Micellar water is good for removing make up, but using a cotton everyday is somewhat irritating on my skin, so that is why I love oil cleansers. 
(cheap in France, prices are market up outside Europe) 

Step 2: *Active* serum

Under actives we understand ingredients that cause an immediate effect and are supported by extensive scientific research. These are ingredients that a dermatologist could prescribe to improve skin texture; wrinkles, whitening, fade PIH etc. The most known are: Vitamin C (LAA-Asorbic Acid), Vitamin A (retinoids) and acids (BHA, AHA). Actives* are pH depended, meaning they only work at a given pH. Hence, after washing your face your skins pH has to restore itself to normal, which is slightly acid at 5.5 pH. You have to apply them after cleansing, I don't use a pH balancing toner so I wait 10-15 before using any actives*. If there are multiple actives* in your skincare routine you have to use them in an order, from lowest to highest pH. 

C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 serum [review]: My all time holy grail product (pH 3.5) , I have seen much improvement in my skin (tone, texture) since using this serum. Very effective at whitening, brightening, fading PIH, preventing clogged pores and removing blackheads. I like to use it in my PM routine, after I wait for 15 minutes before proceeding with my essence. 
Wishtrend* 24.99$

COSRX BHA Blackhead Power liquid [review]: A gentle everyday chemical exfoliation product (pH 4). Has drastically reduced the appearance of blackheads and also prevents forming of new acne. 
Wishtrend* 16.80$ / Jolse 17.85$

Step 3: Toner

SU:M37’s Waterfull Skin Refresher: A toner is crucial for hydrating, clarifying, soothing, and restoring pH balance to your skin. The SU:M37 Water-full line is designed to moisturize skin and increase the density of moisture. I usually apply some after actives, I guess it can be used before just as well. I just don't know how well it balances ph, for me its a hydrating - soothing toner.  
Koreadepart 39$ / Sokoglam 50$ 

Step 4: Essence 

An essence has a high concentration of beneficial active ingredients, its similar to a serum only water 'like', very liquid in consistence. The destination between essence and serums can be confusing, even to many Koreans. If I had to describe it in one sentence I would say its a lightweight treatment containing a concentration of active ingredients, mainly to hydrate, deliver specific ingredients and prepare the skin for the next step. 

Hera Cell-Bio Fluid Sync: I have tested this essence in sample bottles. Absorption is very good, my skin drinks up this essence, but it also feels really hydrating. I used the Missha first treatment essence in the past (good product) and I'm planning on trying the Iope Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning. (currently not in use) 
Ibuybeauty 53$

LJH Tea Tree 90 essence: Contains a high concentration of tea tree extract to prevent acne. Its very hydrating and prevents breakouts, is soothing on existing pimples (a review on its way). HKCplaza 48 SGD / Amazon* 28$

The essence has replaced my hydrating toner/lotion step in my routine. I have used the Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid lotion [review] which is a Japanese lotion but in a Korean skincare routine its more of a hydrating toner, very liquid. I didn't saw the benefit of using a hydrating toner and essence together, the essence step already provides my skin with similar hydration. (currently not in use)
Amazon* 10.99$

Step 5: Ampoule 

Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule [review]: The Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule contains 80% propolis extract, honey extract and various plant extracts. It promises to add shine, glow and moisturize your skin, improve elasticity and radiance. I apply 3-4 drops of the ampoule after an essence or a serum, let it absorb for a minute or so and then follow with a a serum or emulsion. I have been using this amploule for over 8 months now. It works great on my dehydrated, sensitive and acne prone skin, makes my skin glowy, moisturized, and helps with redness and blemishes. 
Wishtrend* 29.99$

LJH Propolis ampoule: This is like pure gold on my skin. Unfortunately, its onyl 15ml so I like to mix one drop with my emulsion, it gives me that Glow!. Used on its own you would need 2-3 drops.Amazon* 28$ (sale)  / Glowrecipe 38$

Step 6: Serum

Serums contain high concentrations of beneficial ingredients to suit the needs of skin, such as hydrating, increasing collagen production, providing antioxidants etc. 

Sum37 Time Energy Skin Resetting Repairing Serum: like all Sum37 products this serum is made from natural fermented ingredients. The Time Energy line promises to repair damaged skin, and restore your skin's balance (oil and moisture). I really love this serum and the entire line, its really moisturizing without turning my skin oily. By using Sum37 Time Energy line my skin hydration improved and acne/occasional outbreaks are in the past. (currently not in use) 
Roseroseshop 54.000W 

Additional Step: Sheet mask (3-5x weekly PM or AM)  

This is my favorite part of the routine, Sheet masks can deliver that immediate boost in moisture, glow, brightening etc. depending on the mask you use and your skins needs. I like to use them 3-5 times a week and leave them on for like 35-45 minutes. Sheet mask are mainly part of my PM routine, but I also like to use them in the morning if possible. The results can last longer giving the skin that extra glow, dewyness! Unfortunately, its really time consuming.

Klairs rich moist soothing mask [review]
C20 Natural Vitamin Enhancing Sheet Mask C21.5 [review]
Naruko Narcissus Repairing mask [review]
My Scheming Aloe Vera + Vitamin E mask [review]LJH Tea Tree mask [review
My Scheming Royal Honey Brightening mask  [review] 

(listened, only sheet masks reviewed on my blog)

Step 7: 'Lotion gel' 

I think a 'lotion like' step before emulsion is not very common in the Korean skincare routine. However, I love using the Benton Aloe propolis gel so its almost everyday part of my routine. (currently not in use)

Benton Aloe Propolis Gel [review]: You can use this gel as an emulsion or lotion. I like to use it before the emulsion step, as it gives my skin additional moisture, soothes and calms irritation. I can't survive the summer without it, a must have 'after sun' treatmentWishtrend* 12.99$

Step 8: Emulsion

An emulsions is like a light form of a moisturizer, it usually has a lotion like consistency, good for 'layering' skincare products. Layering is the Asian techniques that involves gently patting skincare products in a specific order, from lightest to heaviest consistency. Emulsions are ideal for oily skin types, for those who that find creams to heavy. In humid weather this can be my only moisturizing step, especially if I used a sheet mask before (see additional steps)

Sum37 Time Energy Skin Resetting Emulsion: Sum37 really is an amazing brand, everything I tried so far worked wonders on my skin, and the time energy line is no exception. Perfect for my sensitive, combination dehydrated skin.  
Amazon* 39.22$

Step 9: Cream

Cream are supposed to provide additional moisture to the skin if needed, the consistency is thicker than that of an emulsion. Sometimes, I skip this step depending on how my skin feels. 

Sum37 Time Energy Skin Resetting Moist Cream: This cream completes my Sum37 time energy routine. Its nice to use 2-3 products of the same line. I think it compliments the potential benefits working in synergy with one another.

Amazon* 59$ 

LJH TeaTree 80 cream: This TeaTree 80 cream is formulated with 80% natural teatree extract. Its lightweight formula helps calm skin redness and troubles caused by acne or harsh environmental factors. I like to us it when my skin feels oily or breaks out (hormonal period or weather). Its amazing in combination moisturizer.  
Memebox 35$ 

Water-full Timeless Water Gel Cream: I'm really fond of sum37 products, compared to the Time energy line the Waterfull Timeless line is lighter and fresher. The light and refreshing texture of this gel cream provides a refreshment and coolness feeling. For my skin type, the gel cream is hydrating enough for the summer/spring, in the winter its not occlusive enough. I like to rotate the sum37 products in my routine
Koreandepart 72$ W2beauty 74$ (the prices seem to be market up for this product, its cheaper in Korea)

Step 10: Finisher  / Sleeping Mask

Finishers are a somewhat novel concept in Korean skincare, they are designed to be very occlusive, seal in the effects of other products and add glow and radiance. 

Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher [review]: This product gives my face a nice finish, seals in all that moisture, and provides a glowy make up finish. I like to to use it in the morning as a last step of my routine before applying make up.  Amazon* 62$

Sleeping mask are supposed to provide moisture while you sleep, and are especially popular with dry skin types. I tend to skip finisher when using a sleeping mask at night. I use sleeping masks 2-3 a week depending on how dry my skin feels. 

Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask [review]: This definitely is a winner, the mask plumps, hydrates, and brightens my skin overnight. 

Koreadepart 42$ / Amazon* 45$

Step 11: Sunscreen (AM only) 

Protecting your skin from UV rays is one of the best things you can do for your face. Asian women know it and we in the west should become more aware of it. In comparison to western sunscreens, Asian sunscreen, especially Japanese, are really well formulated, without that white cast and heaviness. I use a sunscreen everyday during my AM routine, gone are the days now of reckless sun exposure. 

Hada Labo UV Moist Milk SPF50 PA+++ [review]: A nice alcohol free sunscreen containing chemical and physical filters. I like to use it during colder months as its not sweat and water proof.  

Biore UV Perfect Milk SPF50 PA+++ [review]: My choice of sun protection for outdoor activities ad humid weather. 

Amazon* 9.50$

Additional Steps: Spot treatment and Masks

My teenager acne years are in past now, but on occasion some pimples and cysts pop up, thanks to genetic, environment and hormones. I'm not a clueless girl anymore trying to squeeze them out (of course it always made it worse). I spot treat them now using pink drying powders, clay masks and stickers. 

Mizon Acene Blemish Out Pink Spot [review]: Drying powders are my first choice of spot treatment,fast and effective. 

Peachandlily 18$ / Amazon* 14$  

COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch [review]: This really heals, brings spot to whitehead and drains it. I like to use it under make up to not make the inflammation worse. Its also nice to use the stickers before going to bed to prevent further infection. 

Wishtrend* 4.25$ 

Sulwhasoo clarifying Mask [review]: Compared to other peel off masks this one is really good at hydrating, smoothing and brightening the skin without stripping the skin of moisture. 

Amazon* 38$ / Koreadepart 34$ 

Missha Black Ghassoul Tightening Mask [review]: I'm not a fan anymore of clay mask as they dry out my already dehydrated skin. I rarely use this, only when my skin feels oily (which can only happen in the summer) or if I'm having a horrible breakout. 

Testerkorea 8$ / Koreandepart 6$ / Amazon* 10$

Kose Sekkisei Clear Whitening Mask:
A good peel of mask for removing dead skin cells and some blackheads, the only downside can be quit drying. I have to extra moisturize afterwards. 
Amazon* 24$

Additional Step: Eye cream

Some don't believe in the need of eye creams because most of the time they are just marketing tales to make us spend extra cash to buy a small 15ml jar. My under eye area skin is very sensitive, I usually break out using many western eye creams and regular moisturizers in that area, ending up with rabbit red eyes. I haven't tried enough Asian eye creams to make a conclusion yet, but many samples worked well and I even use my Aloe Propolis Gel (decreases swelling) and Sum37 time energy emulsion under eyes, without any irritation. So, I find eye creams not really necessary but just like to try new products and find ingredients that decrease swelling and discoloration. 

Mizon Snail Repair Eye cream [review]: Contains 80% snail filtrate, formula is very gel like and rich but not oily. The eye cream is moisturizing, brightening, temporally firms and plums the under eye area. 
Wishtrend* 10$

Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream: This product really helps to reduce swelling, dark circles, and puffiness. I like the consistency of the cream, really light and absorbs fast. 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, that are marked with an asterix *. Shopping with them supports the blog. 


  1. Knowing what products work together, how they benefit your skin, and the order in which to use them is incredibly important when selecting the best skincare routine for you.For me oatmeal exfoliator cream by Revitol is best,it removes my damaged outer layer of the skin within few months..I love revitol...


  2. Thank you for the information. I will be reviewing it soon and will let you know if we have any follow-up questions.  Hyperpigmentation specialist near me Thank you for sending this info. I learned alot from it.