How to Get Glowing, Hydrated Skin: The Best of Soko Glam's K-Beauty
Since discovering Soko Glam earlier this year I have been on a k-beauty buying and trying rampage. As a very serious skincare addict, I am drawn to the incredible price points, innovative risk taking, and unusual, natural ingredients.
While the odds of anything fully replacing my main squeeze SkinCeuticals is very low, I do love trying new things and I have been so pleasantly surprised with all of my k-beauty results so far. My skin is hydrated like never before and I don’t think I will stop testing out products anytime soon!
The Soko Glam site has a lot of options on it these days. Prior to buying everything you’ll read about below, I did a ton of research. I read hundreds of reviews, every single post on Soko Glam’s blog, and even spent a fair amount of time researching new-to-me ingredients (snail slime, what?!) to curate the best of the best.
Of course everyone’s skin is different, so take that into account when reading my recommendations below. Mine is dry, sometimes combination, and I have an unhealthy obsession with making it as hydrated and dewy as possible which is what almost every item on the list targets.
It’s important to note that while k-beauty routines are known for being ten steps, that does not mean you need to do all ten. For example, if you plan to do a sheet mask you can skip the essence step (a sheet mask is essentially a concentrated essence), you should not exfoliate every single day, not everyone needs to use treatments, etc. You can buy and use just what you think you need — it’s not an ‘all ten or nothing’ kind of situation.
If you too want that next level glow, here’s how to achieve is with the 10-Step Korean Beauty Routine:
Get $20 off your first order at Soko Glam HERE!
1. Oil Cleanser
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Hanskin Cleansing Oil & Blackhead [PHA]
Step one in the 10-Step Korean Beauty Routine is oil cleansing. This involves using oil to clean your face and remove any makeup you have one.
My skin almost never breaks out but when I started looking into k-beauty and Soko Glam it was going crazy (stress + too much travel I think). Because of that, I ended up buying and trying the Hanskin Cleansing Oil & Blackhead [PHA] as my oil cleanser.
Using a cleanser instead of a makeup wipe can be a pain while on the road but I do think it’s very important. Makeup wipes cause you to tug at your face and overtime that will cause aging. This cleanser has PHAs which lightly exfoliate the skin, tea tree leaf oil to help fight and prevent breakouts, and jojoba, olive, grapeseed oil and aloe vera for hydration.
I am super happy with this oil cleanser and have already repurchased once, but if I were to switch it up I would try the Banila Co. Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm or Clean It Zero Nourishing. Everyone raves about it and the site even refers to it as a cult favorite which makes me want to find out for myself what all the fuss is about!
2. Water-based Cleanser
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Dr. Oracle A-Thera Cleansing Foam
Step two is water-based cleansing. Cleansing again?! I know, it sounds crazy. But double cleansing is a key part of the 10 step routine and one I try to never skip. If you think your face is already clean enough with whatever cleansing routine you are doing, I dare you to try this. There’s nothing like it and I literally spend my day looking forward to going home to cleanse my face. It’s the BEST!
The Dr. Oracle A-Thera Cleansing Foam is the water-based cleanser I use. This is another product I bought due to my unusual breakout streak. It’s specifically formulated for acne-prone skin. While it didn’t solve my breakout issue, I am still using it and love how truly clean my face feels once I am done with this step.
The two water-based cleansing products I want to try next are the Etude House SoonJung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser and Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cleansing Foam. The Etude House one because I LOVE their moisturizer (more on that below) and the Missha one because of the snail mucin.
Snail mucin is snail slime extract (really) and is a very common ingredient in k-beauty! It’s incredibly moisturizing (it naturally contains hyaluronic acid, my favorite skincare ingredient ever), it evens out your skin tone, and it’s even anti-aging. What more could you want?!
Step three is exfoliating! If you need to, that is. Exfoliants come in two forms — physical and chemical. Physical exfoliants are the one that use something (sugar, for example) to physically scrub your skin, while chemical exfoliants use acids to rid your skin of dead cells.
I own and use both — Skinfood Black Sugar Wash-Off Face Mask for a physical exfoliant and Dr. Oracle A-Thera Tea Tree Peeling Sticks for chemical. You certainly don’t need to own both. I love a good physical scrub and at just $10 this Skinfood one is much cheaper than my SkinCeuticals scrub. The Peeling Sticks I bought for my breakout because the reviews sucked me in. The verdict? They are pretty wonderful! I just re-ordered.
Next on my list to try are the Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling pads. They are single-use exfoliating pads that are both chemical and physical exfoliants (mind blown). The site lists them as a Soko Glam favorite and they also won a 2015 Soko Glam Beauty Award so I’ve been eyeing them non-stop for months!
WHAT I WANT TO TRY NEXT: Banila & Co. Dear Hydration Toner
Step four in the 10-Step Korean Beauty Routine is toner. If you have only tried an American toner you are likely horrified by this thought, but a Korean toner is far, far different from those here. Their toners are actually hydrating and are used to balance the skin’s pH levels.
I use the Son & Park Beauty Water because while doing my research I read one million times about how wonderful it is. After reading it’s extremely similar to my beloved (and incredibly overpriced) SK-II water, I was sold. It contains willow bark and papaya extract for mild exfoliation, plus lavender water, rose water, and orange fruit extract. And it’s $30 for a GINORMOUS bottle. I even added some to a travel squirt bottle to carry around in my purse.
Cosrx One Step Moisture Up Pad is another toner I am trying. The pre-moistened pads contain hyaluronic acid (my fav) plus some acne-fighting ingredients. I have only been testing these for around two weeks but so far I really like them.
Next I want to try the Banila & Co. Dear Hydration Toner because it has great reviews and, if I’m being honest, I really love the packaging.
WHAT I WANT TO TRY NEXT: Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
Step five is my favorite step and the reason I love k-beauty so, so much! Essence. Essence is what you would get if a toner and a serum had a baby. They hydrate and aid in cell turnover.
Since I find essences to be incredible magical, I cannot stop buying and trying them. I currently have three different ones in my rotation — Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence, Botanic Farm Rice Ferment First Essence, and Missha First Treatment Essence Mist.
If you spend even five minutes on Soko Glam’s blog you’ll find a million reasons to buy these three essences. The Neogen essence is said to provide “honey skin” (the next level glow after healthy skin), the Botanic Farm essence has some incredibly appealing reviews (and before and after photos to prove it) on Soko Glam’s blog, and the Missha essence is used by Soko Glam’s founder herself. The first two are my favorite of the bunch, but the third comes in a mist bottle making it extremely convenient for travel.
In many months when my current supply runs out I’d like to try the Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence because of the snail mucin, of course :)
WHAT I WANT TO TRY NEXT: Neogen H2 Dermadeca Serum Spray
Step six is treatments such a serums, spot treatments, or whatever you need to target specific issues.
I use the Neogen Real Ferment Micro Serum because Charlotte Cho, the Soko Glam founder, said it’s the one product that really helps give you “honey skin”. I have only been using it for a few weeks but so far I really love it.
She also raves about the Cosrx Triple C Lightning Liquid which caused me to try it. It needs to be refrigerated which is a bit of pain (you obviously cannot travel with it) so I haven’t used it too much, to be honest.
Of all the different treatments I have tried, I was totally mind blown by the Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch. I had no idea such a thing existed and they really do work! Here’s the description from the site since it really explains it best:
“The thin clear hydrocolloid patch feels similar to a hydrogel sheet mask in texture, adhering your skin strongly. It'll stay on through showering and washing! It treats breakouts by eliminating infection and bacteria, which is what causes them in the first place. It's able to breakdown debris from blackheads and absorb gunk from whiteheads overnight, so you won't experience a harsh dry patch from using this. It even helps flatten and heal cystic acne faster!"
Next I want to try the Neogen H2 Dermadeca Serum Spray solely because a spray serum sounds incredible interesting to me.
7. Sheet Masks
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Manefit Natural Gift Green Tea Pore Care Sheet Mask
WHAT I WANT TO TRY NEXT: Manefit Bling Bling Hydrogel Mask Set - Soothing Aqua Collagen and E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Cream Sheet Mask
Step seven is sheet masks, another extremely important part of any k-beauty routine! It is recommended that you use one once or twice a week for a more concentrated treatment. You can skip essence on this day!
I’ve been using the Manefit Natural Gift Green Tea Pore Care Sheet Mask ones and LOVE them. I bought the four pack to save a buck. The green tea is soothing, de-puffing, and full of antioxidants.
Next I want to try the Manefit Bling Bling Hydrogel Mask Set - Soothing Aqua Collagen because it is award winning with solid five star reviews and E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Cream Sheet Mask because I love their sleeping mask.
8. Eye Cream
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Neogen White Truffle Laycure Oil Stick
WHAT I WANT TO TRY NEXT: Botanic Farm Salmon Egg Hydrogel Eye Patch
Step eight in the k-beauty routine is eye cream!
I have tried countless eye creams and never loved any until I discovered my beloved SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex (#1 best selling eye cream on Dermstore.com for a reason!). Because of this I didn’t even bother trying a k-beauty eye cream through my first few rounds of orders. Then I fell in love with Neogen as a whole and discovered their oil stick.
As I’ve said, I love to be as hydrated and dewy as possible so I love to lather myself in oil as often as possible. The fact the Neogen White Truffle Laycure Oil Stick is in a non-messy stick form blew my mind, so I ordered it. The verdict? I AM OBSESSED. I carry it in my bag 24/7. It can be used on your under eyes in addition to elsewhere on your face and is full of nourishing vitamin B.
I’d also like to try the Botanic Farm Salmon Egg Hydrogel Eye Patch because the reviews are great and I love under-eye masks (any kinds of masks, really).
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Son & Park Beauty Filter Cream Glow, Skinrx Lab MadeCera Cream, Etude House SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream, Neogen White Truffle Serum In Oil Drop, and E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Sleeping Pack
Step nine is a step every human who has ever used skin care knows well — moisturizer.
Prior to discovering toners and essences, I thought moisturizers were the only way to really moisturize your skin. Because of this, I’ve always veered towards the thickest lotions I can find. With the addition of the above steps, I no longer need to do that and have discovered I loved extremely lightweight options, too!
I have tried many different k-beauty moisturizers this year: Son & Park Beauty Filter Cream Glow, Skinrx Lab MadeCera Cream, Etude House SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream, Neogen White Truffle Serum In Oil Drop, and E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Sleeping Pack.
I was really surprised to find that I like the Etude House cream best. It has vitamin B5 to hydrate, madecassoside to repair damage, and sunflower seed oil and shea butter to nourish and soften the skin. It is incredibly lightweight and wonderful.
I also really love the E Nature sleeping mask. You put it on before bed and wake up with plump, hydrated, rejuvenated skin!
10. Sun Protection
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: N/A (La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense UV SPF 20)
WHAT I WANT TO TRY NEXT: Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50/PA+++
I haven’t yet tried any k-beauty sun protection because I am ride or die the La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense UV SPF 20. But, that being said, I listened to a podcast where Charlotte Cho listed the three products she recommends most across the entire site and guess what was one of the three? Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50/PA+++.
It’s cheaper than the La Roche-Posay I’m currently using and everything Neogen is 20% off now through 9/17 with code “WOWNEOGEN” so I just ordered it this morning :)
Get $20 off your first order at Soko Glam HERE!
If you want to try out the full 10 steps, you can save some money by buying one of these routine sets available for each skin type: