We already know that Korean skincare has taken over the cosmetic world. Its increasing popularity has trickled into the daily lives of numerous international skincare junkies. But why? Of course the unique formulations and reasonable price points have been intriguing, not to mention the inclusivity of all skin types. Something that has a larger effect than we realize, though, is the Korean 10 Step Method.
The Korean 10 Step Method is a set routine of ten skincare steps, each step placed in the order to make it most effective. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking the same question I get asked all the time- “Do I have to do all ten steps?” The answer is… of course you don’t! That’s the beauty of this routine. It is completely adjustable to everyone. The point is to offer an array of products that can be layered well to achieve a fix for every concern you might have for your skin. The 10 Step Method first blew up many years ago now, and it has adjusted continuously over the years. What has stuck over time, though, is the structure it provides for those discovering exactly what their skin needs and how it will react to different products or ingredients.
Let’s get into the order of the steps and what each step entails.
1 Oil Cleanser
Oil cleansers are, as you might assume, oil based. I generally like to describe the function of oil cleansers as something meant to remove everything on the surface of the skin- think makeup, SPF, etc., but they can also get down deeper into pores and help balance sebum levels. Starting your double cleanse with an oil cleanser is a perfect way to get a full yet gentle cleanse. Gone are the days of rubbing and tugging at your skin to remove matte foundations and waterproof mascaras. Oil cleansers easily break these formulations down while also supplying nutritional oils to the skin to keep them moisturized and healthy. This first, gentle cleanse preps skin for your next step of cleansing.
2 Water Cleanser
Water based cleansers come in after oil cleansers to do all the final, deeper work to make sure your skin is completely clean of all debris or impurities. Creating this completely clean slate means that your skin will not only avoid irritation from leftover impurities, but it will also be clear and open to fully receive the products you put on after. A bonus point of Korean water cleansers is that they often make sure to use a proper pH level so as not to strip the skin, which is usually a complaint of people who avoid washing their faces.
Exfoliating is a wonderful solution to many skincare concerns. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells resulting in better texture, smoother complexion, treating acne, and so on. There are two types of exfoliators: physical and chemical. Physical is exactly what it sounds like- something that physically scrubs at the top layer of the skin. This could be things like sugar scrubs, exfoliating towels, and so on. Chemical exfoliators go beyond the surface level of the skin, sinking down and contributing to the cell turnover rate. They sound intimidating, but chemical exfoliators are often incredibly gentle. I would argue that there are even more benefits of chemical exfoliators simply because there are a multitude of acids that react and work differently, creating more customizable exfoliation for various skin types.
Toners prep your skin to make sure the rest of your products absorb well by providing that first thin layer of hydration in your routine. They generally balance pH levels in the skin, which is important for maintaining skin health, while providing a variety of other benefits depending on the specific product. You’ll find some are geared more towards super dry skin, while others are more for those with oily or combination skin. These products are almost always very mild, making them useful and easy to incorporate into any routine.
While essences have been a huge part of Korean skincare routines for countless years, the subject is a bit newer to Western skincare. I sometimes describe essences as a very lightweight serum in the sense that they can also deliver key nutrients or treatments to skin. The key to essences, though, is that they are thin and all about hydration. Plump, healthy, smooth skin is achieved by keeping it as hydrated as you possibly can. Essences easily and quickly penetrate deeply and absorb into skin to restore any lost hydration. Because essences are such a fundamental part of Korean skincare, this is part of the reason Choc Choc decided to formulate an essence as the brand's first original product. Rice Power Essence is a wonderful representation of everything Choc Choc hopes to bring to your skincare.
Serums are a more familiar topic. Serums will be thicker in texture and more highly concentrated, a lot of times with active ingredients. Serums, while they can be extremely hydrating, are focused more on delivering whatever treatment you’re looking for. These will often times be your best bet for delivering ingredients deep into the skin to treat (or prevent) concerns like loss of elasticity, hyperpigmentation, compromised skin barrier, and so on.
7 Sheet Mask
Sheet masks are a type of mask that delivers a large amount of treatment in the form of an essence while also creating a physical barrier around the skin and said treatment, therefore preventing evaporation of the product and ensuring full absorption of all those yummy nutrients your skin loves.
8 Eye Cream
Eye creams sometimes divide skincare lovers. Some people swear by them while others argue they’re unnecessary. The main focus here should be to recognize your own specific concerns. The skin around the eyes is more fragile or delicate meaning it will sometimes have different needs. If you’re noticing intense dark circles, puffiness, or other skin struggles, finding a good eye cream specifically for that treatment could be extremely beneficial. This area of skin can be more sensitive, too, so the layer of hydration formulated precisely for this skin region can make all the difference.
Moisturizers are a crucial part of your skincare routine and should honestly never be skipped. Your routine likely incorporates a few different ways of introducing hydration to your skin, but skin is prone to water loss no matter how much you throw on it. This is where moisturizers come in. Sure, they might be the most hydrating part of your routine, but moisturizers also make sure to lock in all the moisture you’ve worked so hard to introduce. Moisturizes will often have occlusives, meaning these products will create a barrier or shield around your skin to prevent any sort of moisture loss. Moisturizers seal the envelope of your skincare.
I remember my mother telling me when she was young living by the beach, her parents would slather her in baby oil instead of sunscreen so she could have a “healthy tan.” That makes you cringe, doesn’t it? We’ve come a long way in recognizing the true importance of utilizing sun protection for skin and overall health. The skin is our largest organ, after all, so we should protect it as such. The two basic types of sun protection are physical and chemical sunscreens (although nowadays there are products that are a mixture of both). Physical or mineral sunscreens work by creating a mineral shield on the skin, therefore reflecting UV rays right back. Chemical sunscreens allow UV rays to make contact but break down the rays so they are no longer damaging. Both are extremely effective and mild, so really it comes down to personal preference of formulations. Find an SPF you love, and make sure to wear it every day.
So, there you have a brief explanation of the 10 Step Method. You’ll see that some steps, like exfoliating, likely shouldn’t be used every day or, like SPF, should only be applied during the day and not during your nighttime routine. The ten steps are not meant to overwhelm you but to open up all the opportunities for you to achieve your healthiest skin yet. I implore you to experiment and find what works well for you. Skincare can be a wonderful journey of self-care, so have fun with it and enjoy the process of learning more about your skin and yourself. If you're ever feeling lost, don't worry- the Choc Choc team is here to guide you! We're here to help all of our beloved friends and customers navigate their skin's needs. Feel free to reach out to us any time you have questions.
Stay Choc Choc