K-Care: The Ultimate Guide to Korean Skincare

Late august of 2015, I made my way through JFK Airport, this long and sleep-less flight would soon land me in South Korea. What was supposed to only be 6 months of teaching English in an elementary school, turned into a 2 year stay. Shortly into my time in Korea, the skincare products I packed  were running out- I was forced to face my fear of replacing the items I used for years, with new ones. Lucky for me, this was happening in South Korea, a place known for it’s skincare products and people with pore-less skin. In Korea, any corner you turn will have an acne cleanser for you- even a convenience store in the subway station! *MTA, please take notes*

Although I love make-up and allow it to take up the most space in my travel bags, I feel having healthy skin underneath is far more important. Finding the right product to highlight my cheekbones is equally as important as finding the right cleanser to combat an oily t-zone. The same amount of energy  put into doing make-up in the morning, should be spent on removing it at night. *To my friends who sleep with their make-up on, I’m still judging you*

There are two types of buyers, some people can walk into a store, read the product label and go straight to the register. I do things a bit different- after reading the label, I do some searches online to read reviews and then ask the staff if they’ve ever used to product. (Please don’t lie!) This leads to hours at different stores discovering new products, reading reviews online and trying to find what works for me.

I was used to only having one certain type of pore strip to choose from, but in Korea there are sections devoted to them to all kinds of pore strips, cleansing wipes, foams and masks and each week there is a new #1 product for me to spend my money on.

Most Koreans believe that healthy glowing skin is the marker of true beauty. Although there is much talk about “10 Step Korean Skincare,” Korean men and women do not follow this every single day and nor does their busy work day allow it. Koreans may go for facial services and use masks more than the average person in America, but they do not have a strict daily 10 step skincare routine.

The products are there if you need them, but it’s all about finding what works for you and tailoring the routine to your skin and lifestyle. For me, it’s as simple as a cleanser and moisturizer in the morning and cleansing wipe, foam cleanser and sleeping pack at night. Face masks, strips and packs are occasional and more when you feel your skin needs it.

On my k-care journey, I learned the following:

– When it comes to skincare, everyone has different way of doing it. Some of us have skin as clear as an HD photo of Rihanna, and for others, Royalty, Loyalty, and Breakouts are inside our DNA.

– Don’t let cute packing distract you,  focus on quality! Many Korean skincare brands do limited edition packaging, it’s the same product but just new art on the packaging. Just because The Simpsons packing on The Face Shop’s sunscreen looks cute, doesn’t mean it’s the right product for you or worth your money!

– Whether it’s the weather, food or stress, things effect our skin differently. Some people know exactly what foods will make them wake up with a pimple above their eyebrow. My pimples are a Beyonce album, they don’t come often, but when they do, it‘s a BIG surprise! There is nothing worse than a pimple on your skin that didn’t ask for permission to be there!

– Our skin is effected by what we put on it and what we put in our bodies. My skin was a combination of the products I started using and the food I ate. What we put on our skin is equally important to what we put in our bodies. Make sure your skin is hydrated from the inside out. There were times where I would ask my Korean friend what a certain food was and she’d say, “Good for skin!”

– The product that your friend raved about may actually not work for you. I once tried a highly acclaimed latte cleanser by Tony Moly, (sold by the latte  packaging!) The instructions stated to leave it on for a few minutes but it began to immediately irritate!

My K-Care Recommendations: Daily Use

Cleansing Tissue: Used every night to remove make up, this is the first step in my routine. Wipes I used to use would not remove all make-up and left my skin feeling oily. These two do a great job of removing all make-up and excess oils without irritating my skin or stripping of it of moisture.


1: Hawaiian Deep Sea cleansing tissue by Nature Republic.



2. Healing Tea Garden: Green Tea cleansing tissue by The Saem.



Foam cleanser: After removing makeup with a cleansing tissue, use a cleansing foam to remove any excess sebum and dirt. The Morocco Ghasoul foam cleanser contains Moroccan Ghassoul clay and removes oils without drying up the skin. The Roobios Tea cleanser contains African roobios tea extracts and works to cleanse and moisturize skin.

1. Morocco Ghassoul foam cleanser by
Too Cool For School.
*Used occasionally for extra pore cleansing


2. Healing Tea Garden Roobios Tea cleansing foam, by
The Saem. *Use daily





Moisturizer: Winter is Coming, which means Dry Skin Is Coming! Our skin tends to be drier during the winter and a bit oilier during the summer. Moisturizers change with the season. For a winter moisturizer, look for a product that provides moisture but is a thick cream consistency. For Summer, I look for hydration and watery consistency because I don’t want to feel as if my make-up is melting off while I wait for the train.


1: The True Cream- Aqua Bomb by Belif. This cream hydrates without making your skin feel oily. It has a gel-like consistency and helps to improve skin elasticity. It is very watery but absorbs into the skin well.


2: Moistfull Collagen cream by Etude House. This is a heavy cream moisturizer but absorbs quickly on the skin. I use this to combat dry skin during winter.


My K-Care Recommendations: Occasional Use

1: Tea Tree Solution: Roll On by Aritaum. This tea tree solution is great to treat breakouts.
The roll on makes it easy to apply directly on the skin.

2: Acne Pimple Master Patch by CosRX. Small circular patches used to treat breakouts. You can apply the patches directly on pimples overnight to suppress and treat them.

3: Egg Mellow: Body Butter by Too Cool For School. This is a thick cream that moisturizes skin without leaving greasy residue.

4: Black Sugar Mask by Skin Food.  Skin Food is a brand that uses food in almost all of their products. The main ingredient in this mask is black sugar and it serves as a great exfoliant for the skin. This wash off scrub removes dead skin cells without being too rough on the skin.

5: Hydration Lover by Dr.Jarr. This is a rubber mask so it wont slide off your face as easily as a sheet mask. It aims to provide heavy hydration to the skin. Leave it on while you watch that episode of Master of None and then massage in the remaining product.

Luckily, many people are on to the genius world of Korean skincare and brands are opening up flagships stores. (Too Cool For School is on Lafayette street and the lines are not as long as Supreme’s!)

Afraid of committing? If you’re ever unsure of purchasing the full size of a product, don’t worry!  Lucky for us, Korean beauty stores are very generous with samples. You can buy a product and they will throw a bunch of samples into your bag! If you’re unsure about a product, ask for samples and try it before investing in the full size.

Lastly, It’s important to know yourself, know your worth and most importantly, know your skin! When I’d ask the staff at shops for their opinion on a product, they’d ask about my skin type.  Buy products that target what your skin needs. I search for things that cleanse off make-up well and combat oily skin, this may not be the case for you.

Because our skin needs different things, what works for me may not always work for you. Tailoring the products in your cart to tend to what your skin needs is key.

Find the product right for you!


Ramshah. 25. NYC.

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