Cleanse, Then Cleanse Again
The double-cleanse method is a staple of Korean beauty and for good reason. If not removed entirely, stubborn products like waterproof mascara, mineral makeup and sunscreen can irritate your skin, leading to breakouts and other irksome skin conditions. “The cleansing step is the foundation,” says Peter Lee, president of North America for Korean skincare company Saranghae. “Any built up makeup residue, dirt and grime will make the entire routine ineffective.”
To avoid build-up, first use a cleansing oil like The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Makeup Remover Oil to remove all traces of makeup and then use a gentle foaming cleanser to help keep your pores clean and clear.
Try Masking Before Moisturizing
While many ride-or-dies engage in a daily 12-step regimen, it isn’t a requirement. “I think the main thing is to pay attention to your skin and how it responds to different products, lifestyle changes, diet, etc.,” says Morgan. “I personally think it's important to be intuitive with your skin. You may need 10-12 products while someone else's skin needs three to four. It's all about trial and error, doing your due diligence with research, and finding products that work for YOU.”
That being said, you can still get the benefits of a K-beauty skincare routine in five steps or less, but don’t skimp on masking!
Sheet masks, like Lancome’s Genifique Youth Activating Second Skin Sheet Mask, are the holy grail of Korean beauty because they hug the contours of your face, allowing active ingredients to soak into your skin for intense hydration. After 20 minutes, your skin will appear rested and supple. “We recommend a sheet mask be used once a week, perhaps twice a week at most,” says Lee. “We also recommend using a sheet mask after cleansing but shouldn’t be applied with any other product(s). It’s the ultimate healing step and it ties the entire routine together. It’s also really fun.”
For a simplified routine, follow these four steps, and then 1-2 times per week, add a sheet mask before moisturizing: double-cleanse, tone, exfoliate, moisturize.
Keep Skin Hydrated While You Sleep
When it comes to Korean beauty, the only thing you really need to know are the three rules of skin care: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Lee suggests a solid night serum to “help accelerate the healing process while you sleep.” He adds that many often use the serum prior to the moisturization step for deeper penetration at night and during the daytime as well. “Again, it’s about what works for individual skin types and we encourage customization,” says Lee.
Another great way to pack in the moisture is with an overnight gel mask that effectively “seals in” everything that came before it. Try Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask. A “sleeping pack” (as they’re sometimes called) amplifies the hydration provided by your serum and daily moisturizer, boosting the skin’s ability to retain water.
To use, cleanse and tone your skin, then apply a serum and your regular daily moisturizer. Finally, apply a generous layer of the overnight mask to help replenish your skin’s moisture throughout the night. Do not rinse, leave on all night to reap the benefits!
SPF is a Non-Negotiable
Yes, we know that at this point we’ve stressed this point about a million times. According to the K-beauty pros, it’s worth mentioning one more time, as it is the final pre-makeup step in this regimented skincare process. “All sun protection products belong in one of two categories: chemical and mineral,” says Lee. “Chemical-based sun protection products use a combination of the following chemicals: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate. Mineral based sun protection products use zinc oxide, magnesium oxide or titanium oxide.”
Whatever way you choose to go, make sure you apply a sunscreen every single day and that you reapply regularly. The leading cause of premature aging is sun damage, so you don’t want to reverse all the goodness you did to your skin! Try La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Daily Anti-Aging Primer with Sunscreen.
Get Flawless-Looking Skin With a Foundation Cushion
Foundation cushion compacts are the latest evolution of liquid foundation. However, Morgan cautions to avoid shades that are too light or gray in tone. “Try picking a foundation that is closer to your skin or, at most, one shade lighter,” she says.
Cushion foundations are ideal in that they go on light as a feather so you don’t get that heavy, cakey look. Just tap on the applicator puff for easy, on-to-go coverage that is buildable. For a fresh, natural glow, tap on a little, or tap on more for medium to full coverage. It’s really that simple! Try True Match Lumi Cushion by L'Oreal Paris, Maybelline New York Dream Cushion Fresh Face Foundation, or Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Cushion Foundation
Use Coral- and Peach-Hued Makeup
Speaking of cushion compacts, you can also apply blush with a quick tap, tap of the applicator puff. With Lancôme’s new Cushion Blush Subtil, you can build upon the intensity of your flush for cheeks that range from schoolgirl crush to chiseled ’80s glam. Morgan also suggests a cream or liquid-based blush “to achieve that dewy natural glow.” Try Giorgio Armani Maestro Blush.
For a K-beauty look that’s sweet and fresh, use a coral- or peach-hued blush.
Use Shimmery Shadows on the Eyes
While we will always be big supporters of the smoky eye, a lighter more shimmering look is more embraced in the Korean beauty world, says Morgan. “The point of this is to make your eyes look bright and bold, without looking too heavy,” she says. “You want to emphasize your natural beauty, so most Korean trends follow that bright-eyed look.” Try a liquid-based shadow like NYX Lid Lingerie in Rose Pearl to get this neutral, shimmery look.
Since you’ll be working with shades that can accentuate creases and lines, Morgan says priming the eyes is a must. This will help you avoid any creasing or cracking of the shadow. Try Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.
Take It Easy on the Liner
In following with this bright-eyed look that is synonymous with Korean beauty trends, eyeliner should be more toned down...and turned down. “I recommend using a brown eyeliner,” says Morgan. “It provides the perfect amount of definition without being overwhelming and/or weighing your eyelid down.” Try L’Oréal Paris Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner in Brown.
Another liner tip to keep in mind involves flipping your go-to winged look. “Don’t pull your eyeliner out too far,” says Morgan. “It’s popular in Korean makeup trends to pull your wing downward to give that full, puffy eye effect.”
Try a Popsicle PoutA gradient, semi-stained lip is super popular in K-beauty. Probably, because it has a sweet, effortless look that is what Korean makeup and skincare is all about. So how do you get this stained lip, you ask?