If there’s one thing K-beauty isn’t known for, it’s brevity. You’ve probably heard of the infamous Korean skincare routine and thought you could earn an online degree from Harvard by the time you were finished taking off your makeup. I’m not going to sugar coat it—Korean women do invest a lot of time preening their skin, but I also have some good news. There’s a short cut.
For the working woman who’d appreciate an extra bit of sleep, we present you the abridged, five-step K-beauty routine aka Korean lazy girl skincare.
Step One: Double Cleanse
In the world of K-beauty, cleanliness is next to godliness. Double cleansing was popularised by the ladies of Korea and Japan and involves the first step of removing makeup using an oil-based cleanser. During this step, Koreans like to do a lymphatic draining massage to remove toxins from their face. Following the oil cleanser, a water-based foaming cleanser cleans deeper into your pores without the obstruction of makeup. Bonus points if you find one that is low pH meaning less drying.
Step Two: Toner
Harsh, drying toners of yesteryear are out—Korean toners are all about restoring balance and hydration to your skin after cleansing. Whether you use a cotton pad or tap it directly into your skin is up to you. My personal preference is to first use a pad and wipe across my face to see if there’s any residual makeup left, because even with a thorough cleanse you can often miss the edges of your face like your hairline. Then, I pat a similar amount straight into my face.
Step Three: Essence
The Koreans and Japanese swear by essence. While I adore my sheet masks, the true game-changer in Korean skincare is essence. It’s been around longer and it’s used nightly by the whole nation. Essence is a hydration powerhouse for your skin and usually contains other active ingredients that may be anti-ageing, anti-hyperpigmentation and so on. On those nights you decide to up the ante and use a sheet mask, you can skip the essence, but it should be a default step in your skincare routine.
Step Four: Moisturiser
Whether you opt for a facial oil, gel or cream, a moisturiser that plumps rather than clogs your skin is essential. When moisturising, remember to tap rather than pull at your skin. Rubbing your skin may feel satisfying but like anyone who’s sensitised their gums from ‘over-brushing’, exerting too much pressure on your face can do more harm than good. The skin on your neck is even more delicate so make sure you press the moisturiser into your skin rather than sweeping it down as this will contribute to sagginess.
Step Five: Sunscreen or Eye Cream
As much as we love the sun, we must acknowledge it’s not so kind to our skin, especially in New Zealand where the rays are a little harsher. That’s why daily sun protection is paramount even in the depths of winter when you feel like the sun’s gone for a vacation. In fact, unless you’re going to be in the office from sunrise to sunset, you need to top up once during the day and that’s why sunsticks are all the rage in Korea due to portability. Of course, at night you don’t need sunscreen and your final step should be a pea-sized dollop of eye cream gently patted into your eye area using your ring finger.
And there you have it. The five-step skincare routine beloved by busy women across Korea—now enjoy that extra bit of sleep and the K-pop-worthy skin.