The 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine Is Not Real (and Never Was)
[Korean Beauty out of Korea] We known that starting a Korean skincare routine can be very difficult if you don’t understand the language, but don’t worry we’ve got you covered. First of all, you should always double cleanse morning and evening, or your skin will never look be perfect like the one of your favourite Korean idol.
Then you should always use an exfoliant, a toner, an essence, a serum, an eye cream, a moisturiser and sunscreen of course. Pardon? Oh no, you don’t have to understand this. These are just the rules. All Korean women follow these steps every single day.
Do you want to look like a Korean actress or not? [Korean Beauty in Korea] This is a product with a watery formula to re-hydrate skin after cleansing and prepare it to absorb the following products. After that you can proceed with a more targeted treatment and lastly, finish off with sunscreen.
That’s it, enjoy the rest of your day. Hello everyone and welcome or welcome back to my channel. If you’re new here, my name is Odile and I’m an art director working in the beauty industry in South Korea On this channel I use my professional experience to bring you informative content on Korean beauty trends and history.
So if you’d like to take your K-Beauty knowledge to the next level, make sure to subscribe and turn on notifications. In today’s video I’m going to debunk one of the biggest myths surrounding Korean Beauty, and that’s the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine”.
Part 1: birth of a myth. Even if you’re new to Korean Beauty, chances are you probably heard of the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine”. It’s a very elaborate skin care routine that allegedly originated in South Korea.
In its original form, the routine consists of: an oil-based cleanser, a water-based cleanser, an exfoliator, a toner, an essence, a face treatment, a sheet mask, an eye cream a moisturiser and sunscreen.
For many years Western beauty retailers and magazines, presented the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” as the secret behind the flawless skin of Korean celebrities, a mystic ritual that all Korean women followed twice a day every single day to get the perfect glass skin.
Except when you look up “10 Step Skin Care Routine” in Korean, these are some of the articles you find. “American beauty news websites like Byrdie, Fashionista and Into The Gloss, reported: « Koreans follow a 10 step skin care routine.
Some of these products do not exist in the US, and they should be applied following a specific order and in a specific way». Very few Koreans use all these products when they do their skincare routine, but it’s true that Koreans use many products compared to Westerners, many of whom have a skincare routine that consists of only one cream.
Therefore, it seems that American beauty media is taking the initiative to come up with new trends for the foreign market, like the “10 Step Skin Care Routine”, as a way to introduce Korean trends”.
Or again: “[the problem with the 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine] is that it’s focused on recommending ‘Korean products’ rather than picking products based on your personal skin condition. i.e. Step 1 is always a cleansing balm (why?).
It’s a product with excellent cleansing power but it can cause more blemishes for oily skin types. There should be a proper guide on the real Korean skin care routine.” But if this is what professionals say in Korea, then where does the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” even come from? Well, thanks to a powerful tool called Google Trends we know that the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” started to create a buzz around early 2014, when an American beauty magazine called “Into The Gloss”, published an article where Charlotte Cho breaks down how to build a skin care routine using some popular Korean skin care products.
If you don’t know Charlotte Cho, she’s the co-founder of Soko Glam, an American website founded in 2012 with the mission of bringing Korean Beauty products to a foreign audience. In 2015 Cho rose to international fame when she published “The Little Book of Skin Care”, the first English-language book dedicated to Korean beauty.
In the book she explains once again how to create a skin care routine using 10 popular Korean products, and she dubs this practice: “The 10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” Although she never openly states that Koreans actually follow this kind of routine, the book seems to subtly imply that that was how Korean skin care worked.
So Western media outlets picked up the story and built a mythology around the “10 Step Skin Care rituals that Koreans are obsessed with”, and that’s why to this day, there are still many people that think that the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” is a real thing in Korea.
Now, to be fair, Charlotte Cho has always been very open about the fact that the routine was something she created and you can find many interviews where she candidly admits that the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” was never a real thing.
However it’s important to remember that she’s still a business owner that sells “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” starter kits on her website, so even though she’s always been very transparent about the nature of this routine, it’s hard to imagine that she was too much pressed about dispelling this myth.
In part 2 we’re gonna take a realistic look at the beauty habits of Koreans. Now that we covered that the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” was never a real thing in Korea, you might be wondering what a realistic Korean skin care routine looks like.
Skin care routines obviously differ from person to person, but thanks to independent market studies we do know how the average skin care routine looked like over the years. For example: if we take a look at this study from March 2015, so around the time the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” first appeared in the US, we discover that Korean women used on average 5 or 6 products in their skin care routine.
And this reveals that Korean women did not have lengthy skin care routines like the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” seems to suggest. Plus, it also sheds an interesting light on the cleansing habits of Korean women in 2015.
Despite the mythology around “double cleansing” in the West, the majority of participants in this study stated that they only use one type of cleanser every day and that’s cleansing foam. Other types of cleansers like cleansing oils, cleansing balms or micellar water for example, were used less frequently and this tells us that many Korean women do not in fact double cleanse every single day.
5 products and 1 cleanser, in perspective it doesn’t sound that crazy does it? However, in recent years the tendency in South Korea has been to minimise skin care steps as much as possible to avoid potential irritation, as you might remember from this video.
The reason I’m bringing this up is that when we look at the most recent statistics, we can see that nowadays the majority of Korean women (28%) only use 3 products in their morning skin care routine, shortly followed by 23% that use 2 products and 20% that use 4 products.
So we can say that, not only the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” was not realistic in 2015 when the myth first came about, but it’s even less realistic now. In this last part, I want to address why I think the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” is a toxic myth that is detrimental to the image of Korean Beauty.
Back in 2014, some beauty editors saw the idea of this elaborate skin care routine as an opportunity to create a story around the extravagant beauty rituals coming from Asia. Have you ever noticed how many English articles describe Asian beauty practices as: “Strange”, “Bizarre” or “Weird”? It’s something deeply rooted in orientalism.
While these articles might seem positive on the surface, their underlying message is that Asians like to engage in eccentric activities, because they’re not as civilised as Westerners. And that’s the biggest problem I have with the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine”: it’s deeply dehumanising.
It makes Koreans appear like crazy people with no priorities in life that are more than happy to dedicate several hours a day just taking care of their appearance. When in reality, they’re just normal people like you and me.
Many of them are overworked or out of employment and they don’t have the time, energy or resources to support that kind of eccentric lifestyle. The second problem I have with the “10 Step Korean Skin Care Routine” is that it sends the wrong message to the people that are just starting out with skincare.
It tells them that there’s a standard routine that fits everyone, and it doesn’t encourage people to learn to understand their skin needs. Plus, as someone that works in beauty marketing and who gets every day the real potential of this industry, the innovation, and the excellence this industry is capable of, I find it frankly disheartening that this gimmick is internationally considered the most representative part of Korean Beauty.
I want to clarify that this video is not meant to be an attack to the people that enjoy elaborate skin care routines, I just wanted more people to know that this is not the standard, and if you want to have a 25 step skin care routine for whatever reason, just do it because you want to and you understand what you’re doing, not because some K-Beauty website told you that that is the secret to get perfect skin.
Thank you for watching please don’t forget to like and subscribe and I’ll see you next time, bye!