Tips for Glowing Skin: Make Your Face Glow With the Best of 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. If you are on the hunt for tips for glowing skin, I know just the thing to try!
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 - the ultimate face glow - 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:
EDITORS NOTE/UPDATE: The text in this post was updated in Jan 2019 to reflect up to date product knowledge and testing results.
Tips for Glowing Skin: The Best of K-Beauty
1. Oil Cleanser
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Hanskin Cleansing Oil & Blackhead
WHAT I WANT TO TRY NEXT: Banila Co. Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm Original or Nourishing
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 on. You can’t get glowing skin without first thoroughly cleaning it so this is very important!
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 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 Cleansing Balm Original or 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!
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, especially if you are looking for tips for healthy skin!
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 water-based cleansing product I want to try next is the Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cleansing Foam 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?!
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Skinfood Black Sugar Wash-Off Face Mask and Dr. Oracle A-Thera Tea Tree Peeling Sticks
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. Click here to see the latest prices.
The Peeling Sticks I bought for my breakout because the reviews sucked me in. The verdict? They are pretty wonderful! I just re-ordered. Click here to see the latest prices.
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Son & Park Beauty Water and Cosrx One Step Moisture Up Pad
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.
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Botanic Farm Rice Ferment First Essence and Missha First Treatment Essence Mist
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, aid in cell turnover, and give you healthy glowing skin.
Since I find essences to be incredible magical, I cannot stop buying and trying them. I currently have two different ones in my rotation — 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 essences.
The Botanic Farm essence has some incredibly appealing reviews (and before and after photos to prove it) on Soko Glam’s blog. I love it myself, too! Click here to see the latest prices.
The Missha essence is used by Soko Glam’s founder herself! It comes in a mist bottle making it extremely convenient for travel and my personal go-to. Click here to see the latest prices.
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Neogen Real Ferment Micro Serum and Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch
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.
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: Skinfood Snail Mask, Manefit Green Tea Mask, Manefit Soothing Aqua Collagen 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!
At this point I have tried a ton of different ones because I am slightly obsessed. The ones I love are:
Skinfood Hydro Fitting Snail Mask Sheet. My #1 favorite! Snail slime in it’s finest. I have purchased this 5 pack at least six times so far
Manefit Natural Gift Green Tea Pore Care Sheet Mask. The green tea is soothing, de-puffing, and full of antioxidants.
Manefit Bling Bling Hydrogel Mask Set - Soothing Aqua Collagen. Award winning with solid five star reviews
8. Eye Cream
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Neogen White Truffle Laycure Oil Stick
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.
Side note: I still mainly use SkinCeuticals as my under eye cream but this is a good backup and to use elsewhere.
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, E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Sleeping Pack, Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream, Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream, and Goodal Anti-Wrinkle Sleep Cream Pack. So basically everything Soko Glam sells in the moisturizer department! Ha.
My absolute favorite is the Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream which also happens to be the #1 selling moisturizer on the site. It’s a light gel texture (not a cream, despite it’s name), is super hydrating and repairing thanks to the snail mucin, and makes my skin feel incredibly soft.
For a sleeping mask, I love the Goodal Anti-Wrinkle Sleep Cream Pack. You put it on before bed and wake up with hydrated, nourished skin. Plus there’s lavender oil in it so I think it helps you sleep, too!
If your skin is irritated and you need a calming cream, the Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream is great.
10. Sun Protection
WHAT I USE CURRENTLY: Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen
I am ride or die the La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense UV SPF 20 but after listening to a podcast where Charlotte Cho listed the three products she recommends most across the entire site and included Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen I had to try it. It’s cheaper than my normal La Roche-Posay and it’s nice, especially if you don’t need something extra hydrating.
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: