Korean Skincare Products

Especially in Asia, Korea is known for having great skincare products. Their popularity has increased in other Asian countries and even in the Western side of the world. It can be a bit confusing for people who aren’t familiar with all the products Koreans usually use in a day. There are distinctions between what products to use depending on your skin type as well as the order in which you use them. We won’t dive into make up on this page since that’s a whole other part of what Korean cosmetic companies do!

Basic Steps in Skincare

  1. Cleanse
  2. Moisturize
  3. Sun Protection
  4. Exfoliation

It’s generally agreed upon that the above four steps are the minimum people should do to maintain healthy skin. Step 1 gets rid of the top layer of dirt, oil, and other things you don’t want on your skin. This step may strip the natural oils that protect your skin as well. Moisturizing applies some of that oil back in but cleanly. Step 3 is for daytime if you go outside. People may think only sunny days affect your skin but UV rays can damage your skin with long exposure even through thick clouds. Finally, exfoliation is to get the harder to remove dirt and other things that may clog your pores.

Koreans take this routine to another level and have way more products that can be used to target issues like uneven skin tone, wrinkles, and acne. Overall, the products can be categorized within the above four steps but here’s what they are and the benefits!


This step is the most basic function for all skincare and even those who don’t know anything else about skin products would clean for hygiene reasons. The added plus of Korean cleansers is they typically are specialized for acne prone skin, oily skin, or any other issue.


The purpose of a toner is to prep skin ready for other products. Toners remove the dirt deep in your skin and pores and gently exfoliates the skin so that it can absorb the following products more easily.


New skin is always regenerating all over your body and excess dead skin on your face can cause pore blockage, breakouts, and generally unclean skin. Exfoliators help peel off the top layers of dead skin either chemically or with scrubs. Using an exfoliant in your skincare routine will help clear out dead skin and help your skin absorb the below products more effectively.

Essences, Serums, and Ampoules

If you are trying to address a specific issue with your skin, these three types of products are designed for exactly that. Whether you want brighter looking skin or an infusion of collagen, essences, serums, and ampoules have active ingredients to target those items. So why are they all called different things? Generally speaking, essences are the lightest in concentration, then comes serums, and ampoules have the highest concentration of the active ingredients. However, the lines have been getting blurred as cosmetic companies are creating lighter weight serums and heavier essences.

Sheet Masks

Have you seen those pictures of people with white cloths on their faces that have eye and mouth holes cut out? Those are face sheet masks and Koreans swear by these as a way to upkeep their skin health and youthfulness. Sheet masks are usually made of paper or some type of fiber that help them absorb essences. By leaving the sheet mask on for 10-20 minutes, your skin has more time to soak in all the goodness. Some masks are made of a gel-like substance that feels slippery.


After applying all the treatments (essence, serum, sheet masks, etc), you’re ready to lock it all in with a moisturizer. There are typically lotions or creams meant for each skin type whether you have oily, dry, or combination skin. It can be overwhelming seeing so many options when you search online or at a Korean cosmetic store but make sure to read the descriptions to learn whether the lotion is the right type for you! Each cosmetic brand has specific skincare lines that range from basic functions of hydrating your skin to helping prevent wrinkles. Figure out what type of care you need and do some research.

Sun Protection

Finally to make sure you are protecting your skin, it is advised to always have at least 15 SPF coverage on your face. Sun exposure, even on cloudy days, can cause skin damage or even lead to skin cancer. Younger skin won’t show signs of it but as people age, sun spots, which are darkened areas on your skin, will show up if you don’t project it correctly. Cosmetic companies have developed sunscreen products that don’t feel oily to the touch so it won’t weigh down on your face. Additionally, many face make up products now include some SPF for added protection without the need for sunscreen specifically.

We hope this article by Korea Trip Guide has been helpful on your journey to discovering all the greatness that is Korean skincare. Click through to our links within this post to find deeper dives into each of the product types mentioned. Once you’ve taken the time to learn about how to take care of your skin health, head on over to our post about Korean make up! It’ll be just as fun if not more.