The 10-Step Skincare Routine

If you're like me, right now you're saying "I'm many steps!?" And you would be right. Ten steps is way, waaaaaay too many steps for a skincare routine. It's exactly seven or eight too many, in my opinion. And that is exactly why I am totally going to do it.

Earlier this week I stumbled-upon some articles from this past summer about Charlotte Cho, who has turned her lifelong obsession with beauty products into a business in which she brings a carefully-selected edit of Korean beauty products to the masses. Korean beauty products are supposedly light years ahead of the rest of the world (it was the Koreans who brought us BB creams, although I would argue that they are really next-generation tinted moisturisers, but I digress). Apparently in Korea, the ritual of skincare is engrained in everyone from a very early age, from intricate cleansing methods to so much layering of products it's unclear to me how any one of them will work.

You can read about the Korean skincare routine in Elle, Lucky, or Into the Gloss, among other places.

While I am usually very good about taking care of my skin, I'm not obsessive-compulsive about it (I often bring just the bare minimum when travelling as to avoid spillage and hassle).  I'm hoping that this little experiment has enough of a positive result to make me stick to a routine. Especially sunscreen. Athough I apply it religiously when I'm in a sunny place, I rarely wear it when I'm at home. Because Scotland.

So here is the alleged magic routine:
  1. Cleanse - using an oil-based cleanser, remove all eye makeup, lipstick, basically everything.
  2. Cleanse again - this time using a foam cleanser that doesn't strip the oils from the face. Apparently this 2-step cleansing is one of the hallmarks of the Korean routine. 
  3. Exfoliate - but maybe not every single day. You can decide how much is good for you but from what I've read, twice a month is what is recommended. I do more than that now, so this will be interesting. 
  4. Refresh - This is the "toner" step. I've never really been into toners, because historically, they are always so drying. Apparently I am missing out, as a lot of really great skin-communicating ingredients can be absorbed at this step. The Korean toners are supposedly less drying than their western counterparts.  That said, I do have an expensive toner that I've been "ageing" in my medicine cabinet, so I'm ready to go on that front.
  5. The Essence - Okay, this step sounds very Harry Potter doesn't it? Like Ralph Fiennes is going show up one day in my bathroom and cast a spell on me that will tighten my pores (porous constrictus!)...maybe that's why Valdemort has no nose...because his pores shrunk so much the whole structure of his nose just sort of disappeared. Just a theory. I will use a serum in place of this until I can get my "essence" on. 
  6. The Ampoule - Apparently an ampoule is a concentrated essence. So if Valdemort dipped his wand in espresso (or maybe meth) before tightening my pores, this would be it. Basically it's a night serum. Note to self: get night serum. 
  7. The Sheet Mask - This you use twice a week. A sheet mask is what I am wearing in the photo above, even though I didn't know that's what it was until yesterday when I read the articles. I ordered some contact lens cases online and they came from Korea, and they threw these under eye sheet masks in with my cases. I was afraid to try them until the day I read the article. They look like the stuff we put on burn victims at work. That said, the eye masks work, although the benefits are short-lived. The good news is they look hilarious. I can't wait to get one for my whole face and sneak up on my husband. 
  8. Eye Cream - patted-in. I don't use eye cream, because I've read numerous articles that tell me that it doesn't work any differently than a normal moisturiser. So I'm technically going to blend steps 8 and 9, although I promise to pay due diligence to my eye area.
  9. Moisturizer - Yes. Again. I know, right!?
  10. Night Cream - I imagine at this point I will be feeling like that woman who was found dead on the bed in Goldfinger, dripping in gold paint. 

Anyway, that's the plan. I've decided to use mostly products I have, and introduce new ones one at a time as and when so that I can tell what works and what doesn't. Wish me luck. I'm going to give it a few months, so we'll meet back here after the holidays, okay? Okay.  And now, as much as it pains me, here is the makeup-free selfie that will serve as the control group for the experiment. Please minimise your screens now.


  1. Your skin looks pretty darn good in the no-makeup pic, y'know! Mine is getting horrifyingly wrinkly when I catch a glimpse of myself smiling or talking... And I've got sundamage and little bumpy spots where my fringe lies on my forehead... Still, I'm not going to be doing much about it other than trying to use my Clinique serum more often.

  2. Best skincare step: sunscreen, year round, no matter where you are. It's cumulative -- even here in the SF Bay Area. Do Not Skip!!


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