Korean Skincare 101: My skin type and skincare routine steps


I think this post was long overdue, but it’s finally complete. Throughout the years I managed to find out what my skin type really is and it has changed since then as well. I always thought skin types stopped at dry, oily and combined. Oh, how wrong I have been all of these years. Now that I know there are more skin types I have finally found a match of my own. I also included my k-beauty skincare routine and ingredients to love and to avoid.



What is my skin type?

I never used to know what my skin type really was, except for the fact that it always felt dry and rough. No matter how much or how often I moisturised my face I could not tame the dry -or redness on my face. While I always thought my cheeks and my jawline was, and still is, bone dry there just is a simple explanation for it.

I’ve done a lot of research the past couple of years and I found out that my skin barrier is most definitely damaged (because the solutions I’ve tried out recently have worked wonders for my skin).

My Skin Type & Concerns during the winter and autumn months: Dry, sensitive, redness, and rough (dehydrated).

My Skin Type & Concerns during summer and spring months: Normal, dehydrated, redness, sensitive, bumpy and rough. Although my T-Zone gets a bit oilier, the C parts of my face stay dehydrated.

Let me explain a little bit more about the skin barrier (I’m keeping it short and as simple):
Everyone has a skin barrier, no matter your skin type. Our skin transports what’s inside out and letting what’s outside in. When your skin barrier is damaged, your skin lets in more then when it’s not damaged. You can compare it to two pieces of foil. The ‘damaged’ bit of foil has larger holes in it than the non-damaged bit. This makes it easier for things to enter your skin and trigger breakouts and inflammation for example.

But how do you notice your skin barrier is damaged or irritated?
Your skin, or some parts of your skin feel dry and rough. You may experience dry patches on your cheeks for example or maybe parts of your skin are inflamed, red or irritated. Nothing really seems to help and you may find that the usual skincare products you’ve been using for years now sting, tingle or burn on your skin. This means that your skin is in need of help.


How and what can you do/what do you need to avoid?
1. Stop using harsh cleansers. You know, the ones that leave your skin feeling squeaky clean and tight afterwards using them? Chuck them into the bin right away. They’re not good for your skin anyway, damaged or not. You might think that you need these harsh cleansers because you have combination or oily skin, but I promise you don’t. Even oily skin needs to be moisturised! With these harsh cleansers you just strip off everything off your skin, even the good oils your skin needs. The best (second cleanser or foam/gel type cleansers) you can use are the ones with a low pH level, similar to the pH level of our own skin. You’re pretty safe with a cleanser that has a pH level between 4.5 and 6.5.
Also very important; stop washing your face too often. 1 to 2 times a day is enough, you don’t need to wash it more often (unless you need to because of your job/healthwise etc.). Also, rinse off the residue of the cleansing water you used (I know, they’re here because we’re having a lazy day or you just don’t want to wash your face). This is so, so important. You are not cleansing your face properly if you don’t rinse the residue from the cleansing or micellar water you’ve used off. Another important thing I keep mentioning is please don’t only use cleansing wipes to take your  make-up off. Your face is all but clean when you only use make-up wipes, no matter how high end they might be. It’s just not happening. The best way for all skin types (yes, even if you have very oily skin) is the 2-step cleansing method (the first step is to take your make-up/sunscreen etc. off with an oil-based cleanser and the second step is a foam or gel cleanser to get rid of the leftover oil from the first step and to really cleanse your skin). If you’re only using make-up wipes or cleansing water without rinsing the residue off and your skin keeps breaking out, change up your routine.

2. The second most important things that you don’t want in your cleansers are sls, parabens, alcohol and fragrance. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (or SLS) give you the squeaky clean feeling and makes the product foam more. Basically it just strips your skin of the oils that our skin needs for protection. Parabens are preservatives found in most products to keep the product from spoiling. If you have sensitive skin like myself, it’s a no-no. Most Korean brands are very clear about what their products don’t contain so you don’t have to go mad on researching. Alcohol and fragrance are also a huge no-no. I have very sensitive skin and nearly every product containing alcohol is a recipe for disaster (meaning: flaring up like a tomato). To entirely avoid fragrance is nearly impossible and I’ve noticed myself that the lower it is on the ingredient list, the better. I do avoid products with anything menthol/eucalyptus-y in it, because that will irritate and inflame my skin for sure. Other fragrances and essential oils are not that bad (for myself).

3. A mistake a lot of people, including myself, make is using too hot or too cold water to wash your face with. You need to use lukewarm water, about the same temperature of your body, to wash your body, face and hair if you don’t want to damage it. I can promise you that it feels a lot nicer on your skin too!

And skincare wise?
Stop over-exfoliating your skin (or using actives every day) either manually or chemically (with actives). I prefer a peeling gel over manually exfoliating my skin, because it’s much gentler. I do this about once a week or twice a month. Your skin needs time to heal the skin barrier and with over-exfoliating your skin (you probably do this because you think it might get rid of the dry/patchiness) it only gets worse.

The best ingredients to look for in skincare products are:
* Ceramides
* Cholesterol
* Free fatty acids
* Madecassoside or Centella Asiatica



My K-beauty 10-step skincare routine:




Step 1: Oil cleanser
Oil cleansers are essential for all skin types.  Oil cleansers melt the makeup off of your face when you take the time to massage the oil around your face. They are also great for removing waterproof makeup!

Step 2: A water based cleanser
This is the second part of the double cleanse. You might think, double cleanse? Yes. Double cleanse. This is also a great step for removing the oil residue from the first cleansing step. It’s also a great way to cleanse out your pores.

Step 3: (Chemical) Exfoliating 
Exfoliating can be very harsh on the skin, especially with a physical scrub (for example sugar scrubs). have very sensitive skin. I’ve found out that peeling gels are very gentle for my skin and I love the Missha Super Aqua D-Tox peeling gel.

Step 4: Toner
A toner softens, moisturizes and preps your skin to better absorb all of the good stuff you put on your face after this step.


Step 5: Essence, serums & ampoules
An essence usually is full of great ingredients. You could compare the consistency of an essence with a regular toner. Ampoules usually are super-concentrated versions of essences and sometimes get referred as boosters for your skin. Serums/ampoules usually are thicker in consistency than essences.

Step 6: Emulsion or lotion
Emulsions are lighter versions of moisturizing creams. Unlike most heavy facial creams, emulsions are typically water based, which means they go on lighter and thinner than creams. In some cases, emulsions come in gel or almost-liquid forms.

Step 7: A sheet mask
Sheet masks are sometimes used instead of an essence or serum because technically a sheet mask is a boost of good stuff.

Step 8: Eye cream
I have noticed so much difference now I’m using an eye cream every night before going to bed and when waking up as a prep for my makeup! AVOID

Step 9: Moisturiser
Yes. Another layer of goodness. I really feel a difference since I have been using so many steps. My skin feels loved and so much more moisturised. I usually add a thick night cream or a little bit of oil (mostly jaw area that is the driest).

Step 10: A sleeping pack during the nighttime & SPF during the daytime
I have tried multiple sleeping packs, masks and creams before going to bed and I notice waking up with plump and gorgeous looking skin. I usually use the Too cool for school Pumpkin sleeping pack or the Beauty of Joseon revitalise sleeping mask.





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