Eugene Quek & Sasha Gonzales
Korean women are, like it or not, envied for their coveted complexion. The secret to their lovely luminescence? Multi-step skincare routines designed to keep their complexions soft, dewy and luminous around the clock – all day, every day
Here’s the thing. Korean women don’t just cleanse, tone and hydrate; they double- or triple-cleanse; prep their skin with multiple toners and essences before applying serums and moisturisers; treat their skin to thrice-weekly masks; and invest in top-notch products that nourish, repair and brighten. Phew. If you’re aching to achieve the same flawless results as your favourite Korean star but aren’t sure where on earth to start, this manual will give you a primer on what products to blow your wad on, and why. Happy shopping. ALSO READ: Your ultimate guide to haircare products and why you should – or shouldn't – use them What is it? A light, non-mineral oil that dissolves makeup, removes surface and deeply embedded impurities, and clears away excess sebum How to use it: Massage a small amount all over your face and neck, and remove with a damp washcloth or cotton pad Who is it for? All skin types, including oily and acne-prone ALSO READ: Your ultimate guide to haircare products and why you should – or shouldn't – use them What is it? This cleanser forms a rich lather when it comes into contact with water. It deep cleanses the pores of excess sebum and dirt and sweeps away makeup and surface impurities How to use it: Mix a small amount with some water in the palm of your hand until you get a thick lather. Massage all over your face and neck, and rinse with water Who is it for? All skin types, but especially oily and combination, and anyone who likes the sensation of cleansing with water ALSO READ: We're all kinds of obsessed with this chic haircut that's just perfect for our weather What is it? A lotion designed to remove makeup, excess sebum and surface impurities without stripping the skin of moisture How to use it: Massage a small amount all over your face and neck to dislodge dirt and makeup, and remove with a cotton pad or damp washcloth Who is it for? Sensitive, dry or combination skin types that require gentle, hydrating cleansing ALSO READ: So you want long-lasting and radiant makeup that ISN'T cakey? Read this checklist What is it? Toner is not essential for great skin, but fans say that the product preps the complexion for moisturiser or sunscreen, cools and soothes the skin, removes traces of cleanser, and refines the pores. Some toners have exfoliating properties How to use it: Apply to the face and neck using a cotton pad. There is no need to rinse it off Who is it for? All skin types, although if you have dry or sensitive skin, avoid formulas that contain alcohol ALSO READ: This moisturiser is my secret to looking fresh when I’m feeling super stressed and tired What is it? This product typically contains micro-beads, ground walnut shells or another, similar granular ingredient in a cream or lotion base. Scrubs slough off dead skin cells for a smoother, more polished complexion How to use it: Massage a small amount all over your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Rinse off with water Who is it for? All skin types can benefit from a weekly face scrub. It’ll help minimise dead skin build-up to keep your complexion smooth and clear ALSO READ: Watch Singapore's REAL beauty industry insiders spill their beauty secrets to us What is it? A skin peel is formulated with gentle exfoliating acids or enzymes that encourage cell turnover to reveal a smoother and more even-toned complexion How to use it: Apply to the face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Leave on for the specified amount of time to let the acids or enzymes go to work. Rinse off thoroughly with water Who is it for? If you love the effects of exfoliation but don’t like manual scrubs, a peel might work for you ALSO READ: These insanely handy all-in-one tinted sunscreens work like makeup for lazy girls What is it? A cross between a toner and a lotion, this water-like product contains moisturising ingredients to give the skin an extra hydrating boost while it tones, refines and refreshes the skin How to use it: Pat a few drops onto your forehead, cheeks, nose, chin and neck. A cotton pad is unnecessary; just use your fingers Who is it for? All skin types, especially dry ALSO READ: Hate wearing heavy makeup? This 3-step designer beauty routine will give you the skin of your dreams What is it? A concentrated, silky fluid designed to be used before moisturiser. Depending on their ingredients, serums can have hydrating, brightening, and/or anti-ageing benefits. How to use it: Massage a few drops onto your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Pat into the skin using your fingertips to maximise absorption Who is it for? Anyone who needs a skin boost ALSO READ: Beauty in brief: This brilliant trick will instantly perk up tired eyes What is it? Lighter than a lotion, this product provides a sheer veil of moisture How to use it: Massage a few drops all over your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. For sun protection, choose a formula that contains an SPF of at least 15 Who is it for? Oily, acne-prone and combination skin types, or anyone looking for just a hint of moisture ALSO READ: Take our feng shui quiz to find out what your face shape reveals about your luck (and what to do about it) What is it? Thicker than a lotion, moisturising cream hydrates intensely and forms a thin barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss. Some formulas have anti-ageing and whitening/brightening benefits How to use it: Apply a thin layer to the face and neck, avoiding the eye area Who is it for? Dry and combination skin, or anyone who wants intense hydration during the day or night ALSO READ: 'Smart-girl' beauty hacks to have you looking like a billion bucks for less What is it? Spot erasers are formulated with powerful brightening ingredients to visibly lighten pigmentation (melasma), even out the skin tone and prevent the reappearance of dark spots How to use it: As this is an intense, targeted treatment, use it where needed – on dark spots and areas that you feel need a bit of brightening Who is it for? Women who want to lighten and brighten their skin and improve their skin’s texture ALSO READ: Apply face primer like a pro with these tips for makeup that will last from dusk till dawn What is it? This product contains ingredients that claim to brighten the skin by minimising pigmentation and preventing the appearance of dark spots How to use it: Pat a few drops onto your forehead, cheeks, nose, chin and neck. It is best used with other whitening products in the same range Who is it for? Individuals who are concerned about excess pigmentation, skin dullness and uneven skin tone ALSO READ: This is how to stop your skin from feeling hot and sticky in Singapore's hideous wet weather What is it? Eye balm has a rich, paste-like consistency. Formulated for the delicate eye area, it works to reduce puffiness, minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, hydrate, soothe, and eliminate dark circles How to use it: Dot a small amount under and around your eyes. Pat the balm gently into your skin using your fingertips Who is it for? Ideal for women who need extra hydration for the skin around their eyes ALSO READ: Beauty in brief: ‘Fishtail’ eyeliner is the new cat-eye you never knew you needed What is it? This product is made for dry, chapped lips. It has a thick consistency and contains ingredients that nourish and condition your pout How to use it: Apply an even layer on your lips and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes Who is it for? Anyone who suffers from dry or cracked lips ALSO READ: Your ultimate guide to haircare products and why you should – or shouldn't – use them What is it? Typically made from cotton or some other fine material, sheet masks are infused with essence for an intensive skin treatment. There are masks for various purposes – whitening/brightening, moisturising/hydrating, soothing/calming, and exfoliating How to use it: Remove the mask from the pack and carefully lay it over your face. Leave it for the recommended amount of time, then remove the mask and massage the leftover essence into your skin. There is no need to rinse off the essence Who is it for? Anyone who needs a pick-me-up before a big night out or who wants a specialised at-home treatment to complement her skincare routine ALSO READ: Master these makeup tricks of the trade for super smooth and soft-looking skin What is it? This mask can be a cream, gel or clay formula; it can have hydrating, calming/soothing, deep-cleaning, anti-ageing or brightening benefits How to use it: Apply a thin layer and leave on for the specified amount of time before rinsing off with water Who is it for? Rinse-off masks are an extra treat for the skin, so it’s perfect for anyone who desires extra pampering ALSO READ: Beauty in brief: This hack will guarantee you’ll find your foundation match every single time What is it? This product usually contains purifying ingredients like charcoal, tea tree oil and/or witch hazel. It adheres to the skin, drawing out blackheads, dirt and dead skin cells from your pores How to use it: Simply stick a patch or strip on your nose and leave it on for the specified amount of time. When you remove it, out come all the blackheads and impurities Who is it for? Those with stubborn blackheads and enlarged pores ALSO READ: Skincare noob? Make sure you read this application guide for the best results What is it? This fine-textured cream-gel contains ingredients that attract and trap moisture. It also helps to refresh tired skin How to use it: As the name implies, you have to use this product overnight. Simply apply a thin layer over your serum and/or moisturiser, and then rinse the product off the next morning Who is it for? It works wonders for women with super-dry skin or skin that tends to look tired and dull in the mornings ALSO READ: Quick question: What type of eyeliner should YOU choose for your desired makeup look?