Ditch The K-Beauty 10 Step Skincare Routine

By Minji

  • Even as the craziest of skincare fanatics, I think the K-beauty 10 step routine is too much and would never recommend it
  • It's too much work, can result in pilling issues and hurt your soul
  • Instead stick to a solid 6-step (or even 4-step!) routine 

One of my favorite words in Korean is “중용” – pronounced “jung-yong” and roughly translated into “medium,” it conveys the importance of just the right amount.  Whether it’s work, sleep, food, exercise or skincare even, it’s critical to find that sweet spot between letting go and striving.  So maybe rather than “medium,” “wise efforting” would be a better translation.  Especially when it comes to a daily skincare routine, I think the K-beauty 10 or 12 step routines out there take it just a few steps too far and I would personally never recommend it.

First of all, it’s too much work!  As much as I firmly believe in a solid multi-step routine for everyone, there’s a point beyond which you’re probably not getting the right amount of bang for your buck – i.e., efficiency.  I still have friends come up to me once in a while complaining that even my 6-step routine is too much for them.  I totally get that – everyone is different with different lives, schedules, desires and needs.  If you are one of those people who love to simplify, I would suggest you cut down the 6-step to just four, with toner, serum, moisturizer and sunscreen (fyi, I’m literally feeling pain as I write this…suggesting cutting out my beloved eye cream and face oil … but I can be supportive and understand.).

Dr. Yoon’s expert opinion is also to reduce the number of products you use and focus on a quality moisturizer. He cautions that applying several layers of product increases the number of cosmetic ingredients that come into contact with the skin, which results in higher likelihood of skin allergies or side effects.   

Second, the more products you pile on, the bigger risk of skincare pilling. Yup, pilling isn’t just a term that applies to a ratty sweater or yoga pants…it can happen with skincare products on your face too.  I experience this once in a while when I’m in rush but try to get aggressive and put on a bunch of products.  Especially, if I don’t give my serum enough time to absorb into my skin it can happen.  Another usual suspect is when I line up the wrong face oil with an incompatible sunscreen, or don’t give enough time between these steps as well.  Stuff starts to congeal and rub and ball of off my face which is so gross and heartbreaking at the same time.  I could rattle off a bunch of ways to try to prevent this – like, don’t rub your skincare products in and just lightly tap, exfoliate regularly, or look into ingredients and how much you’re putting on of each…but the easiest way to avoid this is to just simplify your routine.  For example, even I’ll skip face oil in the morning when I don’t want to deal with the risk of pilling.  Instead, I save it for my nighttime routine when I’m less worried about pilling.

Third, becoming a minimalist even when it comes to skincare can help with your soul.  When you’re trying to maintain an elaborate 10-step K-beauty routine, you’ll be tempted to hoard and stock up on various products.  Not only is this bad for your wallet and keeping products fresh, it can also drag down your spirit and energy.  It’s the difference between walking into a clean organized room and walking into a hot mess with clutter everywhere.  Streamlining your line up of products can help uplift your soul and make your daily skincare routine more nourishing and enjoyable. 

I still stick by and recommend the 6-step routine, but if you’re not a fellow middle-aged Korean woman obsessed with skincare like me, I fully support a simpler and easier 4-step routine.  The most important thing is that you have a thoughtful routine that you're sticking to and that adequately meets you where you are in your beautiful life.  Beyond 4-steps though…I’m going to be honest and tell you, I can’t even bring myself to think about it…Make sure to join our newsletter for free access to other exclusive skincare tips - be in the know and spark a glow!