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The 8-step Skincare Routine

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From music to movies, food to fashion, the rise of South Korean influence has been simply unstoppable. The world has fallen head over heels for everything South Korean, and we’re no exception!

Since its global rise in the 2000s, Korean skincare has revolutionised the mainstream beauty industry, leaving an indelible mark. The 8-step morning skincare routine has its roots in South Korea, and while it may sound extensive, South Korean women are known to have some of the best skin in the world. So if you’re looking for healthy, beautiful skin, here’s a guide to the 8 steps to achieve it.

Step 1: Cleanse

girl cleansing face
Image by wayhomestudio on Freepik


The first step in the 8-step morning skincare routine is cleansing. Cleansing your face removes dirt, oil, and impurities accumulated overnight. In the morning, we recommend using a gentle foaming cleanser to prevent stripping your skin of its natural oils. Alternatively, if you have dry skin, you may also choose to cleanse your skin by just splashing your face with some cold water instead. For oily-skinned or acne-prone individuals, a salicylic acid cleanser can be helpful in regulating sebum production and preventing breakouts.

How to:

Choose a cleanser suited to your skin type and massage it onto damp skin using circular motions for about a minute to ensure that your face is clean.
Rinse with lukewarm water and pat your face dry with a soft towel. Make sure to wash your face twice a day—in the morning and at night.

Step 2: Tone

Image by Clarins
Image by Glow Recipe

Toners are another essential item in the daily Korean inspired skincare routine and they have come a long way from the harsh alcohol-based toners we knew back in the day. After cleansing, toning helps balance your skin’s pH levels and prepares your skin for the subsequent steps. Think of toner as a good foundation for skin care, promoting better absorption of your essences and serums so you get the most out of your skincare routine. Toners also provide additional hydration and can help minimise the appearance of pores.

How to:

Apply the toner to a cotton pad or spritz it directly onto your face, then gently pat it onto your skin.

Step 3: Essence

Image by COSRX

After toning comes essences. But what exactly are essences? As a lightweight and watery product that delivers hydration deep into the skin, essences also helps improve skin texture and enhances the absorption of other skincare products. Most essences you will find on the market are gentle on the skin so there is no need to worry about incorporating essences into your daily skin care routine.

How to:

Dispense a few drops of essence onto your palms and gently press it onto your face, starting from the centre and working your way outwards.

Step 4: Ampoule

Image by SKIN1004

An ampoule is similar to a serum but with a higher concentration of potent ingredients designed to address specific skin concerns. It is a highly concentrated treatment that often focuses on a single active ingredient, comprising approximately half of the formula. This allows you to choose ampoules tailored to your specific skin needs, targeting particular issues with precision. Whether you’re seeking hydration, brightening, or addressing specific problems like acne or ageing, ampoules offer a potent and targeted solution to elevate your skincare routine.

How to:

Apply a small amount of ampoule to your face and massage it using upward motions. Due to the strength of ampoules, it is best to limit their usage to one or twice a week, or whenever you feel like your skin is in desperate need of a boost!

Step 5: Serums

Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

Serums are another vital step in the routine, targeting specific skin concerns such as hydration, brightening, or acne. Popular ingredients skincare beginners can look out for in serums include: niacinamide (to soothe skin and reduce hyperpigmentation), hyaluronic acid (for hydration) and vitamin C (to brighten). Unlike ampoules, serums are usually made up of more ingredients in lesser concentrations, making them gentle enough to use everyday on your skin. However, like other skincare products, it is always best to patch test them on an area behind your ear or wrist to ensure that no irritation occurs.

How to:

Choose a serum that suits your needs and apply a small amount to your face, focusing on areas that require attention. Gently massage it into your skin using upward strokes, allowing it to fully absorb before moving on to the next step.

Step 6: Eye Cream

Image by Aesthetics Rx

Eyes are the windows to your soul and thus should be given additional attention to keep them looking bright and youthful – especially since the skin around them is the thinnest and most delicate. Eye creams are thus specifically formulated to be used around the orbital area to help hydrate the under-eye area and reduce the appearance of puffiness and dark circles. Some eye creams also have ingredients that can slow down the signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles. 

How to:

Dispense a pea-sized amount of eye cream to your ring finger (the weakest and thus gentlest finger) and tap it along the orbital bone, starting from the inner corner and moving outward.

Step 7: Moisturiser

Photo by Nati Melnychuk on Unsplash

Now that you have layered plenty of beneficial skincare ingredients, it is time to lock it all in with a moisturiser. Moisturisers help protect and maintain the skin’s natural moisture barrier while helping prevent dehydration, dryness, and redness. Hydration is key to maintaining healthy skin, so pick a moisturiser that will ensure long-lasting hydration all day. Even for those with an oilier skin type, moisturising is important! However, you may feel more comfortable using a water-based, oil-free moisturiser.  

In Singapore’s hot and humid climate, it is recommended to opt for lightweight moisturisers or those specifically labelled as day creams. This ensures that you won’t feel excessively oily or risk sweating off your skincare products and makeup as the day progresses.

How to:

Take a dime-sized amount and massage it onto your face and neck using upward strokes. Ensure that it is fully absorbed before proceeding with sunscreen to avoid potential product pilling.

Step 8: Sunscreen

Photo by Lina Verovaya on Unsplash

The last step, but certainly not least, is sunscreen. If you ever find yourself running late in the morning, you can choose to skip any of the steps above except for cleansing and sunscreen! Sunscreen should be worn everyday to protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays which can cause premature ageing, wrinkles, sun spots, and even skin cancer. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher that will not clog pores or leave a white cast on your skin. 

When it comes to sunscreen, the Asian beauty market has a wide variety of options that will suit different skin types and needs. Most of them are lightweight, non-greasy, easy to apply and sit well under makeup. We recommend buying Asian, European or Australian sunscreens over American sunscreens as they tend to utilise newer UV filters and have formulas that will less likely leave white casts or a greasy feeling throughout the day.

How to:

Apply 2 to 3 finger-lengths worth of sunscreen to your face, neck, and any exposed areas to ensure adequate coverage. Reapply every few hours, especially if you spend time outdoors.

Tip: Carry around a stick sunscreen for easy reapplication on the go!

The bottom line is that having a good skincare is crucial to the health of the largest organ of your body, your skin! Armed with a solid routine and a set of quality skincare products suitable for your skin type, you’ll be well on your way to healthier and happier skin! So go ahead—give it a try! Your skin will thank you.

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