What Is K-Beauty + Why You Should Explore Korean Beauty Products

hands applying skincare - k-beauty - korean skincare - korean beauty products - christin hume unsplash skincare

Most of us have heard about K-beauty. You might even be a raving fan of Korean skincare products, or maybe you’ve tried the infamous 10-step Korean skincare routine. But, no matter how much you’ve heard about K-beauty, chances are you still have a lot of questions.

The world of Korean skincare and makeup is very intriguing… and maybe a little intimidating, too. Do you really need to do 10 steps every morning and night? What in the world is an essence? And, how is K-beauty different?

Let’s dive into the fundamentals of K-beauty and why Korean beauty products belong on your Exotica dressing table.

So, what is K-beauty, and what makes it different?

Of course, K-beauty products are skincare and makeup products that are made in Korea. But what makes them special is that they are created with a Korean beauty philosophy in mind. These products aren’t intended to be quick fixes… but rather to improve the health of your skin over time.

Sure, you’ll find products that claim to treat acne overnight or reduce redness quickly, but the emphasis of Korean skincare is to follow a personalized, consistent routine that rewards you with results that last. It’s all about gentle, hydrating, nourishing ingredients for smooth, bouncy skin that glows from within.

Here’s why you’ll love Korean beauty products.

A K-beauty skincare routine consists of products like ampoules, serums, essences, and masks designed to work together and nourish your skin, one layer at a time. Korean beauty philosophy recognizes that everyone’s skin is unique, and K-beauty is all about customization.

Understanding your skin is fundamental to a Korean skincare routine. Paying attention to products and ingredients that work for your skin is key. Many products are designed to be buildable, so you can choose the level of hydration that works for you.

For example, essences fit into the routine after cleansing and toning. If your skin just needs a little hydration, you can apply one thin layer of an essence. But, let’s say you just got off a long-haul flight that’s left your skin totally parched. You can apply several layers of your essence to give your skin as much love as it needs.

Korean beauty philosophy teaches you to assess your skin each day and adjust your routine according to what it’s craving. This level of customization improves skin health for the long haul, which is so much better than a quick fix that only lasts a day or two.


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K-beauty is steeped in tradition and knowledge.

Throughout history, Korea has been an agricultural society. People spent a lot of time exposed to the elements and sun. Searching for ways to prevent and correct environmental damage has always been key.

Natural ingredients such as rice water, mung bean, and camelia were discovered to be hydrating and rich in skin protecting and healing antioxidants. These time-tested ingredients are still incorporated into modern K-beauty products.

The 10-Step K-Beauty Skincare Routine

Since Korean skincare is all about customization and finding what works for you, your routine might not actually be 10 steps every day. Some days you might only do three steps… others you might do 12 or more. The concept of a 10-step Korean skin-care routine really encompasses a routine that uses multiple layers with a long-term focus.

Here’s an overview of how the 10 steps work together so you can curate the perfect skincare routine that works for your skin.

  1. Oil-based cleanser: This is the first part of the double-cleanse, used to remove deep-down dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities from the skin without harsh tugging or scrubbing.
  2. Water-based cleanser: The second part of the double cleanse, used to remove any remaining residue without stripping the skin of natural oils.
  3. Exfoliator: An extra step that’s used to remove dead skin from the skin’s surface and unclog pores. Most people exfoliate once or twice a week, depending on what their skin needs.
  4. Hydrating toner: Used to balance the skin’s pH and provide hydration after cleansing.
  5. Essence: Provides lightweight, oil-free hydration that can be layered depending on your skin’s needs.
  6. Treatments: Treatments like serums and ampoules really allow you to customize your routine. Choose them according to what your skin needs and feel free to layer them from the thinnest treatment to the thickest to target your specific skin goals and issues.
  7. Masks: Masks are an optional step and come in a variety of forms, including sheet masks, rinse-off masks, and overnight sleep masks. Many people keep a variety of masks on hand to customize their routines each day.
  8. Eye Cream: Used to provide extra TLC to the delicate eye area and treat issues like dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines.
  9. Moisturizer: Seals in your treatments, provides hydration, and protects the skin from the elements.
  10. Sunscreen: Applied every morning to prevent the signs of premature aging.

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Final Thoughts

Remember, you don’t have to use all 10 steps every day to achieve amazing results. Whether you do five steps or 11, the most important thing is to be consistent and give your skin what it needs each day.

And there are ways to streamline your routine even further. K-beauty brands are always coming out with multi-tasking products that combine two steps or more. Look for moisturizers with SPF or CC creams that work as treatments, moisturizer, SPF, and foundation all in one.

A multilayered routine doesn’t have to take a long time. Once you’ve got it down, you’ll find that it only takes a few minutes. Think of it as taking a little time for yourself each morning and evening. Not only will your skin be healthy and radiant, but it will also become a part of your routine that you look forward to each day.

Words by Nicole McCray

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