My K-Beauty Morning Routine

For the past few years I’ve been intrigued by the idea of K-Beauty (Korean Beauty); of layering skincare products -- and using a lot of them -- but was on the fence whether less is more or more is more. And also, after having a baby a few years ago my skincare routine needed to be as fast as possible.

Flash forward to a few months ago. The topic of K-Beauty came up with one of my best friends, and we decided to go down the rabbit hole. She sent me an email from a friend who was also doing K-Beauty, who’d listed her routine and favourite products. Then I read the Strategist article of Rio Viera-Newton’s skincare routine and scrolled through Reddit for hours. I started a list, which turned into a Google Spreadsheet, which I then cross-referenced with products I was already using and liked, and products I wanted to try, and then started searching for others online.

I’ve tried, tested, eliminated and added products and come up with my final list of K-Beauty morning products. So here you go:

There’s no reason to cleanse your skin in the morning, since presumably you cleansed it the night before and you slept, and so your face shouldn’t be busy. If you’re having a shower, you’ll get your face wet; if not, you can splash water on your face and then head straight to the toning stage.

Step 1: Toner

K-Beauty says to tone, then apply vitamin c then exfoliate. But I have never been able to get behind the idea of toning - it feels like an unnecessary step with little payoff for my time and money. However, I’ve been loving using Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner, which is a toner + chemical exfoliant (as opposed to a physical exfoliant like a scrub) because I find it’s less irritating and works better at tackling my hormonal acne. So because I’m using a dual product, I’m skipping the exfoliating step later. This Mizon toner helps balance the pH levels of your skin while the AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) gently exfoliates dead skin cells while BHAs help unclog pores.

Step 2: Vitamin C

Vitamin C is going to lighten your dark or age spots and give you a better skin tone. I like a few vitamin C products and have been using them interchangeably: a low-cost entry level option is The Inkey List’s Vitamin C. I like my Vitamin C to be a serum, and this is more of a cream, so I don’t love that. However it’s inexpensive and in a tube so it’s my go-to when travelling because I don’t have to worry about one of my precious, high-ticket serums leaking all over my makeup bag. When I’m at home, I use either Skinceuticals CE Ferulic or Dermalogica BioLumin C serum.

Step 3: Essence

I’d heard amazing things about the power of Cosrx Advanced Snail Mucin Power Essence and I love that it combines two curiosities in one: an essence and snail mucin. The reviews were spot on. I use about 3 pumps of this gooey product. It goes on thick but then melts into the skin. It’s great if you have dull skin, dry skin, fine lines, crepiness. My skin glows with hydration with this product on.

Step 4: Ampoule

What’s an ampoule? A supercharged serum, basically. The Leegeehaam Vita Propolis Ampoule bottle is teensy tiny, but you only need a few drops. It’s supposed to help give more glowy skin and fill in lines so you have smooth skin. It sets your skin up well for applying makeup, too.

Step 5: Serum

I love a serum and have tried so so so many of them. Until I started this K-Beauty routine, I thought if I applied a serum, that was all it took to really taking care of my skin. Now, I realize it’s only one step to making a difference. A few I am loving: Klair’s Rich Moist Soothing Serum, Avon Anew Hydra Fusion, Caryl Baker Hyaluronic Hydrating Gel and Vivier Hydragel Advanced B Complex Hydrating Gel with Hyaluronic Acid are all fairly light and feel nice. Some are called serums and some are called gels and they feel interchangeable to me in terms of texture. Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier Multi-Functional Serum is higher-end and you feel like you only need a few drops. I also like using Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Broad Range Antioxidant Treatment. And then I also really like Vivier’s GrenzCine Serum, which contains Polyamine-DAB, which is a patented ingredient but basically is supposed to thicken the epidermis over time, increase luminosity, increase skin’s firmness and hydration and offer UV protection.

Step 6: Moisturizer

In the daytime I like a lighter moisturizer that I can wear under my makeup. Dr. Roebuck’s No Worries Hydrating Face Moisturizer is a mid-weight moisturizer - I wear it when I’m going outside without makeup but you can layer makeup over it too. Klair’s Rich Moist Soothing Cream is amazing if you’re skiing or when you need to feel like you’re really locking in the moisture and I’m obsessed with the scent--it feels like you’re getting a facial. Cosrx Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream is a good daytime cream too.

Step 7: SPF

I don’t like wearing SPF but I do because of course I have to. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 is my go-to in summer when I’m going to be outside for hours, but it’s a tiny bottle which means I save it for my face only. Reversa Urban Protection Hydrating Care SPF30 Universal Tint has just enough coverage I like wearing this one when I’m playing tennis and don’t want to wear makeup but want to even out my skin tone. And I just discovered Reversa SPF30 Anti-wrinkle cream, with 8% glycolic acid -- which I NEVER see combined. So I’m going to be using this one on face and decollete when my chest ever gets a chance to see the sun.

Check back next week for my K-Beauty Night Routine and product recommendations!

Have you also fallen down the K-Beauty rabbit hole? What products are you loving at the moment? What does your morning skincare routine look like? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!