My Korean Skin Care Regimen: Nighttime

So at this point you know what a Korean skin care routine is and maybe you’ve sprung for some sheet masks. If you’re ready to add on another product or two, here are some products I recommend. I’ve been using most of these for 2-3 months and they’re all really great – but depending on the night I will drop off or add here and there if I’m feeling extra oily or extra dry or sensitive/irritated etc. Everyone seems to have a different order for all these but I just go by thinnest/wateriest to thickest/creamiest.

korean skin care routine

1. Oil-based cleanser: Banila Co Clean It Zero $21
This stuff just melts into your skin and whisks away make up, dirt, and grime without leaving behind a greasy residue. And it smells great!

2. Foaming Cleanser: Skinfood Tea Tree Bubble Foam $14.30
If your skin is acne prone, this cleanser is a really good buy. It’s not overly drying, and has healing tea tree oil to boot, which I’ve found soothes angry red spots or blemishes.

3. Essence: Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence $45
This “essence” is really more like a toner, so I use it as such – but there’s good reason it’s on the “holy grail” list for many a Korean skin care devotee. The active ingredient is fermented yeast extract, which (according to SokoGlam guru Charlotte Cho) helps boost skin cell renewal. It leaves skin soothed, even, smooth and glowy. Yep.

4. Toner: Benton Aloe BHA Toner $17
This is another soothing toner that I use to help prep for the rest of the steps to come. It’s relatively no frills, but has a great price tag and absorbs quickly without leaving any tightness like the toners we think of in the US (eg witch hazel).

5. Exfoliant: Paula’s Choice 2% Skin Perfecting BHA Liquid $26
This stuff is a pretty strong acne treatment so I don’t use it every night. But it’s great to help tighten up pores and treat any breakouts early on before they get out of hand.

6. Essence/Serum: Benton High Snail Bee High Content Essence $15.99
This is a great, inexpensive essence that’s the consistency of a waterier gel. It leaves skin super soft and even, keeping it supple and bouncy. Get some.

7. Serum: MUN No. 1 Aknari Prickly Pear Serum $95
Full disclosure, I have a professional relationship with this brand, but this stuff works. Its active ingredient is prickly pear seed oil, and it visibly faded the fine lines/wrinkles on my forehead and in between my eyebrows in days. It’s expensive but a single pump of the product is enough to cover my entire face, so I think the bottle will last me a while.

8. Eye Cream: Perricone MD Hypoallergenic Firming Eye Cream $65
I don’t know that there’s really anything too special about this eye cream, but it’s rich and creamy. I’ve seen good results with it!

9. Cream: Benton Snail Bee Steam Cream $15.99
This is the lotion to beat all other lotions forever. It’s the only product I ran out of after about 2 months because I use it so much, and waiting for a replacement tube to arrive was torture. It’s extremely nourishing, but absorbs well and does not leave a greasy residue – I even use it in the morning under make up. Buy a tube now and thank me later.


Skinfood Black Sugar Mask looks like…


In addition to all those, here are the products I use 1x – 2x per week:

Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash Off $14.70
This scrub isn’t reinventing the wheel but it’s a really nice product. I like this one a lot more than the St. Ives Apricot scrub that I used for so many years, it’s a little bit gentler and the base is less drying.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask $23
To know it is to love it. More on this mask here!

Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack $15 for 10pcs; or My Beauty Diary Imperial Bird’s Nest Mask $14 for 10pcs
Not all sheet masks are created equal, but there are so many great ones on the market to try. These are just a couple of my faves.

WHEW! There you have it. What questions do you have about Korean products etc? What else should I post about?


Where to Start With Korean Skin Care: Masks and Sheet Masks

If you’re going to start integrating Korean skin care products into your routine, I recommend starting with one of the following categories: cleansers, essences, or masks. These are some of the most unique and impactful products that the Korean market offers, and they are available in a delightful array. Here are some of the most beloved/well-reviewed, and my favorites.

Sheet masks and sleeping packs are kind of like the dessert of Korean skin care routines: you don’t want one every night, but it’s a treat you can look forward to a couple times per week. (Also if you eat dessert every night I have nothing but respect for that. Do you, dessert-eating boo.) Sheet masks come in individual packaging and are typically cloth soaked in a serum intended to address specific concerns (e.g. fine lines, blemishes) while delivering a ton of moisture to the skin. And hello, they’re so fun.

korean sheet masks

Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack $15 for 10pcs

My Beauty Diary Imperial Bird’s Nest Mask $14 for 10pcs

There are TONS of good sheet mask options, and they are growing in popularity stateside so availability is pretty good. My understanding is that the Korean brands do tend to use more highly-concentrated serums, but Sephora has some branded ones. Dr. Jart+ has some of the most beloved sheet masks on the market but they are $$$, so I’d save this for a particularly haggard skin moment (post bachelorette party, perhaps). The two I’ve listed above are my current favorites, but there are too many to stay loyal to just one: I gotta catch ’em all.

sheet mask selfie

Join in on the IG fun with #sheetmaskselfie, because aint no shame in this skin care game.

laneige water sleeping mask

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask $23

This is one of my most favorite products. It’s a sleeping mask (also referred to as a sleeping pack) that you layer on top of all your other products to really lock them in with an extra barrier of moisture. It absorbs beautifully and does not leave a tacky or sticky feeling behind, but rather a suede-y feeling as if water would bead and roll off of your face (hence the name, I think?). It’s also a great value: at 1-2 uses per week, this $23 jar pot will last a very long time. AND! The entire Laneige line is now sold at Target, so you can get your K-beauty fix while getting your Nate Berkus on!

Discover Korean cleansers and essences to add to your routine.

New to Korean skin care? Start here!


Where to Start with Korean Skin Care: Essences

If you’re going to start integrating Korean skin care products into your routine, I recommend starting with one of the following categories: cleansers, essences, or masks. These are some of the most unique and impactful products that the Korean market offers, and they are available in a delightful array. Here are some of the most beloved/well-reviewed, and my favorites.

Essences are really the cornerstone and defining characteristic of a Korean skin care regimen. They’re typically highly concentrated with active ingredients that are wide ranging and unique, and generally a bit off the beaten path from what we’re used to seeing at the cosmetics counter, e.g. snail slime, bee venom, fermented yeast, or bamboo sap. One thing to note is that the name “Essence” is generally generally used, and many products under that category should be used in different ways, so be sure to check descriptions and reviews.

missha time revolution first treatment essence benton benton snail bee high content essence

Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence $45

This essence is chocked full of fermented yeast extract, which helps to improve skin texture and elasticity, and I’ve found that it really reduces the visibility of redspots and blemishes. It’s applied like a toner (immediately after cleansing) and comes in a big bottle that goes a long way. I use it in the morning and at night and love the dewy base it provides for the rest of my routine.

Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence $15

This essence has more of a watery-gel consistency and is one of the first products I started using that got me hooked on Korean skin care. It has snail slime and bee venom in it does wonders towards smoothing the overall texture and eveness of your skin by promoting cell turnover. It’s a very solid, very affordable product and a great way to dip your toe into a bigger regimen without breaking the bank. I use this AM and PM after my toners.

What skin care concerns are you looking to address through a new routine?

Discover Korean cleansers and masks to add to your routine.