Korean Beauty Tip : 5 Step Skin Care Routine

I grew up thinking that it was enough to have a 3-step skin care routine. Wash – tone – moisturize. Only recently, i learned that it would take more steps if you want to really take good care of your skin. Korean and Japanese women are known to follow a 5-step skin routine.

The 5-Step Skin Care Routine is Korean women’s biggest beauty secret to flawless skin.

skincare routine

Here’s the 5-step routine:

1. Double cleansing —> 2. Massage & mask —> 3. Tone —> 4. Essence —> 5. Moisturize

Phew! Let’s find out in detail what each step is all about.

1. Double Cleansing

Thoroughly cleanse your skin with makeup remover and cleanser before going to sleep. Never ever go to sleep with your makeup still on!

Have you heard of Cleansing Oil? It is a washable oil that is emulsified with water to quickly remove all makeup, grease and dirt. One very famous brand is the Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil. It removes all traces of makeup gently yet effectively as well as other types of pore clogging dirt while maintaining skin’s natural sebum levels

2. Massage & Mask

Facial massage is the secret to glowing skin. Apply a massage pack or cream and massage your face. You could even use a gentle scrub. It is exercise for your skin.

A facial massage improves blood circulation and is a great stress reliever!Facial massages also stimulates the flow of oxygen and nutrients to improve the elasticity of your skin. The skin temperature rises, opening pores and pushes out the dirt embedded deep within the skin. Your skin will look visibly fresher, younger and glows after a massage.

Incorporate a facial massage into your beauty regime at least 2 – 3 times a week for visible results.

A word of caution for those with acne or oily skin, massaging will agitate the oil glands and increase oil secretion. So refrain from massaging.

On the days you do not indulge in a facial massage, apply a mask on your face. There are many types of masks out there in stores, but the two that are most important are clarifying mask (deep cleanses the skin) and moisture mask.

Facial masks should be applied 1 – 2 times a week, after cleansing and preferably at night.

3. Tone

Some might think that toners are useless. But toners actually remove dead skin cells and residue from cleansers. Choose a toner that is suitable for your skin type.

4. Essence/serum

Essence or serums are very light, liquid concentrated treatments to correct skin problems. Essence is easier absorbed and penetrates deep into your skin, better than regular moisturizers.For best results, wait 5 minutes after applying serums before applying your moisturizer to allow maximum absorption. Because of their concentrated affects, serums are generally more expensive.

5. Moisturize

Choose a moisturizer suitable for your skin and use it diligently.

I am not one who is blessed with flawless skin, but i have learned that no matter what your skin type, you could make it better by paying extra attention to your skin care routine.

We recommend:
Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil
Decleor Cleansing Oil
Kose Seikisho Perfect Cleansing Oil
SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil

Beauty Tips from a Korean Makeup Artist


  1. The area around the eye is the most vulnerable
    area for aging. Always remember, something that you have worked so hard for would
    be more difficult to lose. The scaly looking skin under my eyes
    is greatly smoothed out, but not completely.

  2. I’m gone to inform my little brother, that he should also visit
    this blog on regular basis to obtain updated from
    newest gossip.

  3. I tried to use Neutrogena firming and anti wrinkle cleanser. Second one is,Pure beauty SERUM.can i used SPF 10 moisturiser after, but the product is from London for sensitive skin

  4. I pay a visit everyday some sites and sites to read articles, except this webpage provides feature based content.

  5. Hiii im indian ….im whetish in complexion ….bt i want to b fair and beautiful….i love the skin of korean so wanna try my best to be like them….but foremost my skin is sensitive kindly do suggest me the best product to hav a flowless skin

  6. i never use any product on my face since..ever!, even soap..now,i’m 25 and i have never experienced any breakout whatsoever..

  7. ~~ Layering Steps~~
    MORNING : cleansing oil – cleansing foam – toner – essence/serum – emulsion/lotion – cream – primer – sunscreen/foundation/bb cream – powder/compact powder.

    NIGHT : cleansing oil – cleansing foam – toner – essence/serum – emulsion/lotion – cream – sleeping pack

  8. I think 1st step is the facial wash then cleanser then moisturizer . You could also apply your facial mask. Iwhite korea is a good product for that.

  9. Hi!!just asking what kind of toner is good to use?i have acne but its not a lot got lots of white heads..I just wanted to have a clear skin just like it used to be..;(

    • i suggest you to use Etude House AC Clinic Intense. i used to have pimples problem before this and since i start using it, my skin is now totally free from pimples. try it

  10. Hi, I have a question:
    Should be this routine done twice a day – in the morning and in the evening or is it enough just once a day? If so, is it better to do it in the morning or in the evening? I just can’t imagine doing this every morning ’cause I’m always in a hurry not to be late for school…

    • i know its kinda hard to do this every morning but try hard 🙂 i suggest you do the mask at night before you sleep because your face will just get dirty at school. Do wash your face and tone etc 2 times daily. but the make should be just once or youll make your skin rely on it so it might make it worse. hope i helped 🙂

  11. hello
    im a filipino i have this oily skin that leads to pimples it is caused by our tropical climate what should you recommend for me??..
    please answer..

    • I’m also a Filipino but I think you should just use mild stuff like dove or Johnson’s but if your face is extremely oily I think pick the un scented dove it works better and try Johnson’s baby powder it’s for sensitive skin notice why babies don’t itch will using it
      Try it for maybe one week or two

  12. thank you! I already knew it, but now im 100 % sure. I only have one question: is this morning and night? or only night? 🙂

  13. Pls am from Nigeria i want you to suggest best body moistorizer cream and bath for me PLEASE

    • Hi Olivia,

      Here are the types of beauty products, in order of thickness.

      The list below shows the products thinnest (essence) & easiest for the skin to absorb to thickest.


      The general rule of thumb is to apply the products that is thinnest first.

      Thus, apply your essence after TONER.

      To apply, pour a couple of drops onto your palm, spread it onto both palms and dab it onto your face.

      Hope this helps!


  14. Hi..I’ve this pigmentation on face and body and wound scars as well. Can you please suggest me the best korean products I can use. How to order korean products online? Looking forward for your response. Thanks

  15. I really love to do this 5-step Skincare routine… but I’m not that consistent in using Emulsions because as you said it’s pretty expensive… but I am really trying my best to earn enough money to supply my skincare needs… 🙂 let’s all work hard to have flawless skin that we really want.

    • Yup, agree with you. Keeping your skin well moisturised and healthy can be quite costly.

      If you can’t keep up with the 5 step skin care, at least have the basic 3-step (cleanse, tone & moisturise)


    • Hi Ciel,

      After cleansing, use the mask.

      You can massage during cleansing or after mask.

      After that, TONE and Moisturise,


  16. come onn…
    this is basically what most of the women/girls in asian countries do..its like common sense….not secret….-___-; and not just japanese&korean people do…

  17. Exercise regularly to increase blood circulation, which helps to nourish and purify the skin from within. Clean the skin. Because dry skin is more easily damaged than normal or oily skin, best practices safe cleaning to prevent dead skin cells mixed with dirt and grime and leading to infection.

  18. Haha, well it’s been 2 months since this post but I’ll respond to it anyways.

    1) Always do your routine day and night. Your skin should be cleaned before you go to bed to prevent breakouts and prepped for the day ahead the next morning.
    2) As long as all makeup is removed it shouldn’t matter
    3) Essence and serum are essentially the same thing. I typically use my lighter serum during the day and my heavier one at night.
    4) Do to your neck what you would do for your face. The chest isn’t quite as important but the neck is very delicate and is quick to show sagging and lines so neck care is just as important as facial care.

  19. Certainly will try to follow all the steps, well, most of the time.
    Any recommendation for deep lines and slowly sagging skin (age, you know!) short of the knife?

  20. I noticed that on Laneige's site, there are many different types of products ranging from refiner, emulsion, and essence.

    From what I understand, refiner is what I (an American) understand to be toner. Essence is like a serum? And what is emulsion? The SA at the Amore store today used the word "lotion" to explain it but that didn't make sense to me because I define the word lotion as moisturizer and I use lotion in one of the last steps of my skin care routine. Thank you for your response ahead of time. 🙂

  21. I do it all except the facial massage. My skin is acne-prone. I don't know if I can do the facial massage. What do you think? Beside, should we use the essence + moisturizer? or just choose one?

    • i once went to a facial place and the woman told me that massages on acne prone skin can make them more severe. but this is a matter of opinion so i cany really say because me skin isnt the best

  22. According to Laneige site (Korean skin care brand) there’s another step in between toner and serum: that’s the “emulsion”. So there are two types of moisturisers you apply: the first layer is to balance the skin’s moisture level before applying serum and moisture cream because otherwise it won’t be maximally effective…but then that would be A LOT of products going into the skin…the skin has its limits u no

  23. Hey, try looking up face massage on youtube! There are some shown by japanese products too! I found one, the CEO of japanese high end brand, SUQQU, showing how to do a facial massage. Pretty cool!

  24. hi cherrypitbliss, best to check with a trained beautician for facial massage techniques. If you have gone for facials, you can try to do what they do for you.

  25. About the facial massages, I’ve heard of them and have seen a step or two, but do you know anything that goes into depth? I don’t want to do it incorrectly.

  26. @nie

    1) If you don’t use makeup, then you probably do not need to use a makeup remover. Just use a good cleanser that is suitable for your skin.

    2) If you are using Proactiv, then it sounds like you have acne. Do not massage your face if you have acne as it will aggravate the oil glands.

    3) To find the right product that suits your skin, its best to approach a professional. Go to the beauty counters at the mall where the consultants can see what skin type you have and recommend the products. If you go to a regular beautician, they can recommend too.

  27. Thanks for this!! I really want to have a good skin, but really I don’t! now Im using Proactiv which is working but dries my skin a lot

    I have a question..
    1) For the double cleansing, I don’t wear make-up so what do u use for the other one?
    2) What kind of massage oil/cream would you recomend that is good?
    3) Also goes to toner/essence/moisturizer

    Right now Im using cliinique as my moisturizer but what is essence and what does it do?

    Hope to hear a reply from you and thank you!! Have a great one!

  28. what kind of skin whitening product do you recommend, what’s the bestseller whitening product in Korea? does anyone know?

  29. Are there any FANCL and DHC outlets here in Kuala Lumpur/Petaling Jaya?
    Am actually looking for a reasonably priced, good Cleansing Oil.

  30. DHC Skincare has a really great deep cleansing oil as well – I believe it’s actually a Japanese company and the cleanser is one of it’s bestselling products.

  31. I’m a SKINFOOD lover… ;D
    and I think the effects and price
    are really amazing so I iitroduce
    SKINFOOD’s brand skin care products!

  32. hey guys!
    found your website thru dramabeans.com

    i’ll be dropping by often!
    read few of your posts and they’re all very interesting!
    keep up the great work!


  34. great skincare advice! although i would like to add that toner usually goes after cleansing as you’re trying to take off any residual make-up, dirt and oil. i do…cleansing, toner, mask/scrub, moisturizer and/or sunscreen…ALWAYS use facial sunscreen for day!

  35. Ahh great tips and procedures. Although Shu Uemura is expensive, it is fairly good for Asian skin. Though I didn’t find it helpful for washing off heavy make-up and my face is allergic to added fragrance. Those with sensitive skin should practice simpler steps because the more routines you have and the more agitation you place on the face, then the worse it gets. Also, those with acne and other skin conditions might benefits from beta hydroxy (a super exfoliant). And everyone, please use moisterizers with SPF! On your neck and earlobes too!…it is possible to get skin cancer on earlobes! Plus your neck shows your age so take care of it too.

  36. Wow kewl stuff. I’d like to play around with this oil-that-mixes-with-water-and-turns-
    into-cleanser thingy?

  37. Any instructions on the bottle?

    i was quite amazed, cos when you mix the oil + water, it emulsifies into some sort of cleanser. i would think washing with oil would leave your face oily. But it doesn’t, it’s fresh and clean. Plus the experience was like a science experiment. 😉

  38. Mine is a clear oil, has no colour tint to it. Hmmm, maybe it’s an old model. he he

    Ok. I’ll give it a shot.

  39. Hi Rooster,

    Shu Uemura has quite a few types of their product – Cleansing Oil (green, gold, pink & orange). Each type of cleansing oil is for different skin types.

    The one you have “Fresh” sounds like the pink one. Is it pink? I have yet to own a bottle, but i did go to the store and asked to test it. It’s pretty cool.

    You press some of the oil out, and rub it on dry skin first. It smells really nice. Then after a short while, you add some water, and the oil and water emulsifies and it turns whitish. Then you wash it off, and reveal clean, smooth, nice smelling skin!

    Try the one you have with you. 🙂

  40. Oh, Orchid, I have this small bottle of Shu Uemura… something. It’s called Cleansing Beauty Oil Fresher, is it the same as the cleansing oil you mentioned?

    I have no idea what to use it for. It was a Christmas present from 2005. I haven’t thrown it out cuz it looks expensive. Haha, I hope it hasn’t expired.

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