Morning 6-Step Routine (Step 1: Toner)

By Minji

  • Step 1 (toner): using an organic cotton round, swipe in short stokes moving down/up and in/out
  • Make sure you’re doing this within a minute of a face wash 
  • Keep it simple and skip the “essence” step you find in other K-beauty lists

Hopefully you’ve taken the time to read and consider the Overview article and are now ready to give yourself the proper time to indulge in a soulful multi-step morning skincare routine. 

You should start your routine every morning either right out of a shower or if a morning shower isn’t a part of your day, after a quick water wash in the morning.  For most dry to normal skin types, it’s not necessary to soap cleanse in the morning and over soaping can unnecessarily dry out your skin (more on the art of face washing here).  When you dry your face, you want to just gently pat with a towel a few times so that your face still feels somewhat moist and has remnants of water as you move on to Step 1 below.  The basic philosophy is, you never want your face to be 100% dry and naked, so you must move onto Step 1 within a minute of a face wash or shower.

Step 1: Toner.  You want to start with a refreshing toner (preferably chilled to perfection – see more on the benefits of a cosmetics fridge here).  Toners can help remove any excess oils or dead skin that may remain on the face even after washing and balance pH levels so that your skin is in prime condition to soak up all the good skincare ingredients to come in the following steps. I like to think of toner as a base coat to paint.

You might have come across something labeled an “essence” which looks and feels like a toner or something in between a toner and a serum.  Many K-beauty sites have this listed as a necessary step behind toner, but my experience has been you only really need one or the other.  Considering slathering on a ton of product isn’t a miracle cure, I would recommend that you keep it simple with one toning or essence product you love.  In addition, the key to all of this is developing sustainable habits of skincare that you can easily repeat daily, so best to not overwhelm yourself with a crazy list of products or excess steps that aren’t really going to move the needle.

Take an organic cotton pad and wet it to the point the pad is wet but not soggy.  Some people use cotton balls but a flat round shape is the best for your face.  It covers more in one swipe with less friction.  In gentle short strokes, always moving down and up and in and out, cover your entire face starting from the neck (or even better, chest) all the way up to your hairline. 

Sometimes I like to mix it up and start from my nose area and blossom out like a flower.  Basically, so long as you’re moving in and out and down and up, so against gravity, you should be fine.  I like to get my ears and tops of hands at the end too. If you skip the cotton pad, you’ll often end up wasting a lot more product so put in the effort to get good ones, preferably organic.  You can easily find them online and they’re pretty reasonably priced.  

Move on to Step 2 (serum), right after.  Toner just preps the skin so it’ll absorb the later products better and doesn’t really contain potent ingredients that need time to settle.  I like to move to the serum stage right after to lock in the moisture and also save time.  Make sure you join our newsletter so you never miss a skincare tip and other exclusive content - be in the know and spark a glow!