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How to do the Korean 3-Step Skincare Routine and Save Money on Your Regimen

Korean 3 step skincare

If you’ve heard about K-beauty and decided it’s time to invest in the health of your skin, but you don’t have sufficient funds, then you’re in luck. There’s a 3-step skincare regimen ready to serve your needs.

With K-beauty’s 3-step skincare routine, you’ll be using products that won’t take a toll on your bank account, while exercising a skin-first philosophy by looking after your skin.

But you might be thinking, 3-steps? Is it still enough to address my specific skin issues? Before we get into the routine, let’s deep dive into how this 3-step routine differs from others.

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Why Should You Do Korean 3-Step Skincare Over 5, 7 and 10-Steps

Here’s a breakdown of the various advantages and disadvantages a 3-step skincare routine has over other routines.


Some clear advantages of a 3-step Korean skincare routine are that you’re doing the most important steps to maintain healthy skin – cleansing, toning, moisturizing and sunscreen. 3 steps mean you’re saving on both time and money, without compromising on results.
This routine is a fantastic starting point as you figure out what ingredients sit well with your skin. The fewer products also mean you can keep track of any potential ingredients that cause breakouts or irritation.
Without a doubt, it’s a much safer approach than slathering 10 new skincare solutions, then working backwards in trying to find the culprit.


The downside to a 3-step routine is that you’re not treating more specific skin concerns like your under eyes, sun spots, hyperpigmentation and scarring, among many others.

To treat these issues, you’d fare a lot better with treatments like serums, essences, exfoliators, eye creams or sheet masks, which can be found in either a 5-step, 7-step and 10-step routine.

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How To Do Korean 3-Step Skincare Routine

Step 1:  Double Cleanse with Your First and Second Cleansers

Product: First cleanser – Oil-based cleanser

Directions: Apply a dime-sized amount onto a cotton pad and gently wipe your face to remove excess oil, sebum and any makeup, paying careful attention to avoid the eyes. Rinse with lukewarm water.

Why? The first step is using an oil-based cleanser to remove your makeup and purify your skin from other oil-based impurities (SPF, pollution, grime), important for keeping skin clean to avoid breakouts.

Tip: An oil-based cleanser doesn’t make your skin oilier! This double-cleanse method protects your skin clear from bacteria, and other pollutants.

Product: Second cleanser – Water-based cleanser

Directions: Add water and gently lather, massaging into skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.

Why? Your double cleanse wouldn’t be complete without a water-based cleanser, better known as a foaming cleanser. The water cleanser removes any excess residue left over from the oil cleanser like sweat and dirt.

Tip: A cleanser should NOT make your face feel squeaky clean and tight. It should feel clean, but not tight or uncomfortable. If you ignore these signs, your skin’s natural response when it’s stripped is to just produce more oil. If this is you, or if you naturally have dry skin that can’t handle water and foaming, look for a ‘cream’, ‘milk’ or ‘hydrating’ cleanser instead of a foaming one.

Step 2: A Toner to Balance Your Skin’s pH Levels

Product: Toner

Directions: Pat gently into the skin with your hands or apply with a cotton pad or ball.

Why? The pH balance of your skin can get thrown off after cleansing. In order to restore your skin’s balance to it’s normal 5.5. pH level, you need a toner. When you hear the word toner, you may think of the majority of Western toners which typically contain high levels of alcohol and end up being very dry. Korean toners are the exact opposite, created to preserve your acid mantle, draw water into your skin and prepare your skin for absorbing the following solutions you apply afterwards.

Tip: Avoid toners with alcohol, menthol, witch hazel, fragrant extracts such as rosewater, citrus fruits, or essential oils, or other skin-aggravating ingredients.

If you suffer from dry skin, choose a toner with a hydrating ingredient (i.e. hyaluronic acid), and if you have oilier skin, seek out those formulas that are a lightweight consistency.

Step 3: Moisturizer + SPF

Product: Moisturizer

Directions: Day and night, gently pat onto your face and neck as your final K-beauty step.

Why? Preferably, moisturize any time you’ve cleansed your face to replace the moisture that’s been lost. This is an essential product for any skin type to lock in moisture and your layers of products.

Tip: There are 3 types of basic moisturizing ingredients – humectants which draw water to the skin (i.e. glycerin, urea, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid), occlusives which seal in water (shea butter, dimethicone, lanolin) and emollients which make skin soft and smooth (ceramides, squalene, fatty acids).

You can always layer 3 different types of moisturizer to achieve these different goals. Just don’t buy an occlusive moisturizer, expecting it to draw more moisture to your dry skin, for example. Although having said that, most moisturizers already have a combination of humectants and emollients. And some common humectant ingredients, like glycerin, propylene glycol and butylene glycol, are found pretty much in most moisturizers.

Product: Sunscreen

Directions: Every morning, apply sunscreen as the last step in your routine.

Why? Ah, sunscreen – the best anti-aging defence that we’ve got! Sunscreen protects your skin from UV rays, and from the early development of wrinkles, damaged skin, and other signs of aging. Prevention is the best method when it comes to skincare.

Tip: Sunscreen is best applied in the AM at the end of your routine for ultimate protection. Sunscreen with alcohol might dry you out if you have naturally dry skin so check the ingredient list.

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Ready for K-beauty’s 3-Step Skincare Routine?

If you can build up to these main products, your skin is going to undergo a transformation for the better. If a product causes a break-out, stop using it and note its ingredients down so you can cross-check it in the future.

Your goal should be to treat your skin well, protect it from the sun, all while having fun doing so!

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