What is K-Beauty?

K-Beauty, or Korean Beauty, has swept the planet by storm. You’ve likely heard about Korean beauty products from hearing or reading about sheet masks or snail cream. If you’ve heard any of this, you have heard about the next big thing in skin care.

So what is this skincare routine all about, and what can we take away from this very detailed skincare regime?

K-Beauty is a broad term which encompasses skin care products which originated in South Korea. In about 2016, these products began to gain momentum here in the USA because of publicity surrounding some of the mysterious steps and ingredients. The secret to this beautifying process is detailed. Let’s demystify the 10 steps in the K-Beauty skin care routine:


The 10 Steps of K-Beauty

Ten steps?! This is where most Americans give up on reading about Korean skin care routines. In the skin care world, many of us wail when instructed to do more than wash our faces and slap on some moisturizer or sunscreen. Add a once-a-week mask, and you’ve added too much!

Let’s cover the basic steps, and then we will look overall at how you can use the best of these steps to personalize the idea of a routine that will work for you.




Step 1 – Remove makeup with an oil based cleanser or balm. Okay, this one we can all get behind! Everyone knows that cleansing is important. The Koreans take it a step farther with a dual step cleansing. Again, don’t be frightened! Most of you do this already if you use an eye makeup remover and a cleanser. The first part of the cleanse is to remove all traces of makeup with an oil cleanser or an oil-based cleansing balm.

One of the most wonderful things you can do for yourself is to take two minutes and do this first step. Apply your cleansing oil or cleansing balm (a mixture of waxes, butters, and oils) to your dry skin. Close your eyes, and rub the oil into the eye makeup as well as the rest of your face with circular movements. When you are finished, use a hot and steamy wet washcloth to hold onto your face, and then gently wipe away the makeup. This method may be varied, if you prefer to use cotton to remove the makeup.


Step 2 – Cleanse with water-based (surfactant) cleanser. If you use the K-Beauty method of cleansing, you would now use a regular surfactant based cleanser, which can be a water-based cleanser, or a soap based cleanser. Wash, and pat dry.

Note: Some people prefer just to use the oil method and steaming, and skip the second part of this Korean process, which can be drying to skin.


Step 3 – Exfoliate! You should only exfoliate 2-3 times a week. Use a mild exfoliate like Ayr Skin Care’s Reveal Exfoliating Foam. You could also use this to replace step 2, as it contains a surfactant to clean the skin. Avoid any harsh BHA or large grains of physical exfoliant unless your skin can take it. Large grains or seeds can scrape and damage the surface of your skin if they are too rough in texture.


Step 4 – Apply toner. Many of us use toner, so this may also sound familiar. In Korean beauty routines, toner can also be used as a softener or “refresher.” For sensitive skin, we advise not to select toners that contain alcohol.

Choose a toner or mist that is hydrating, and includes something like rose water, witch hazel hydrosol and other humectants like aloe vera and glycerin. This can be wiped on with cotton, or you can spray a light mist onto your face. Do not remove.


Step 5 – Essence. This step is unique to Korean beauty. An essence is more like a cross between a serum and a hydrating spray. It will normally contain active ingredients like a serum.

Go for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, peptides and other ingredients to brighten and tone the skin. It should be noted that Korean skincare talks a great deal about “lightening” the complexion. Don’t be put off by this term, which actually means “brightening” and will not change the color of your skin.


Step 6 – Apply serum. This step is unique for your skin type. You may have aging or dry skin, and therefore may choose to target dry patches, or perhaps you have some pigmentation changes due to aging or sun damage and may choose ingredients that reduce dark spots.

Serum should be oil-based, and a couple of drops should do your entire face. In lieu of a serum dropper, some Korean companies sell tiny capsules which contain a single dose of the active ingredients in oil.


Step 7 – Sheet Masque. This is probably the K-Beauty step that you have heard about the most. Everyone uses them in Korea, and they are in stores and everywhere online right now. Sheet masks are an affordable step in your routine, but are not necessary every day. Masks can be made inexpensively from natural or synthetic fibers or gels. Some contain interesting ingredients like snail mucin, while others contain nutrients and vitamins like vitamin C. Most of these stay on your face for 10-20 minutes. You can buy the plain masks and soak them in a solution at home, or they can be purchased in single-serve pouches that are pre-soaked with whatever solution you require.


Step 8 – Take care of your eyes! This is also a familiar step for most Americans. Most of us use an eye cream or eye serum for the delicate area around our eyes. Eye creams and facial moisturizers are not the same thing, and those products should not be used interchangeably.

Eye creams and eye serums are designed specifically for the delicate eye area, which cannot take some of the ingredients that the thicker skin on our faces can take. Most mature skin starts to show its first wrinkles and age spots near the eye area and also on the hands.

Ayr Skin Care’s Awaken Revitalizing Eye Serum is designed with caffeine and green tea and pomegranate as well as many other ingredients which reduce puffiness and moisturize the area without clogging the pores around the eyes. Do not miss this important step!


Step 9 – Moisturize. This is the most common step after cleansing for most people. You want to find a moisturizer that is just right for your skin type. We recommend our Pure Moisture with its 72-hour hydration for all day. To enhance your beauty sleep, we recommend our Restore Night Cream with vitamins and ingredients to help repair the skin while you sleep. Use a thicker product to deeply nourish dry, sun damaged, or mature skin. If you have younger, oilier skin, a lighter moisturizer or oil like virgin marula would be perfect.


Step 10 – Protect your skin during the day! Sunscreen moisturizer should be used in the daytime only. Find a sunscreen that is free of skin-irritating ingredients, and apply every day that you will be out in the sun. Skin care experts agree that this is the single most important step in protecting your skin from damage.


Korean Beauty’s Unique Ingredients

Korean beauty products contain a wide variety of eccentric and special ingredients. Some families pass down skin care recipes containing probiotics and fermented yeasts and seaweed and algae, which have shown wonderful results in overall family well being. As a result of this, commercial skin care brands in Korea have been incorporating probiotics and fermented ingredients for years.

In addition to fermented foods in skin care, bee venom is an ingredient which acts as a temporary Botox, and is used to relax facial muscles in skin care products. Other unusual ingredients include starfish extract, pig collagen, and egg yolks. Products containing ground pearls have been used in Korea for centuries for brightening skin tone.

Another trend worldwide in recent years has been the “sleep mask”, an overnight thick cream termed as “sleep cream” in Korea. This works like our night creams here in the USA, an opportunity for the skin to be rebuilt and fed while we sleep. The difference is that instead of calling it a night cream, it is a cream which is often applied in a thick layer to a mask or gel frame which is applied to the skin. This trend originated in Korea. Some creams disappear into the skin quickly, and some stay stuck to a mask until the morning, with the skin deeply fed and moisturized.


A Positive and Healthy Approach to Skin Care

Skin care is focused on prevention and is discussed culturally from a young age. Children are taught about using sunscreens. Men and boys are also taught how to care for their skin. Attention is paid to finding good quality food and good quality skin care products and creating a routine that is consistent. With consistent use, results are more easily obtained.

We have much to learn from this fresh approach to health and skin in general. By learning about other cultures and seeing parallels in what we do, we can take the best from their routines and include some of what we have learned into our own daily regime.

We hope you have enjoyed a peek into K-Beauty. Reflect on how much time you are taking every day to take care of work and family, and then note how much time you give yourself for self care. Maybe we can all learn a thing or two about self care from Korean women’s careful attention given to their skin.

At Ayr Skin Care, we care about your skin’s health, inside and out. Our slogan here is “healthy skin, beautiful you!” Get in touch with us with any questions about your own skin care routine today.

If you have any questions or comments, we would be happy to answer you personally! Please contact us at info@ayrskincare.com.