Have you heard about the 10-step Korean Beauty Routine?
If you’re not familiar with Korean Beauty products, or the intricate routine that is all the rage these days in self-pampering, let me just go ahead and change your life real quick.
I’d always thought some people were born with good skin, and I, unfortunately, was just not one of them. I also thought that acne was something that automatically went away when you became an adult. Either that’s not true, or I’m not really an adult (it’s a 50/50 toss on this one, folks).
I’ve had “bad skin” for as long as I can remember. Cystic acne, that deep-in-the-skin-feels-like-a-planet type, has plagued me for years- and don’t even get me started on the week Aunt Flow visited. I have the weirdest combination skin I’ve ever seen, in that I’m dry and flaky while also being exceptionally oily all the time- and I have pores that would make potholes jealous.
I figured this was just going to be my face forever. I’d be the only Grandma in the nursing home rocking a zit on her chin because damn these vile genes!
Until I laid me down a crystal grid and spell of self-love and beauty, that is. The idea behind the spell was “hey, if I can’t fix my skin- I might as well just accept it”; however, my unspoken hope was that I would fix my skin, and I wouldn’t have to just accept it. The funny thing about spellwork is, it’s what you really want that gets answered- not the bullshit you say you want.
Who wants to accept awful skin when they can have a gorgeous complexion? Psh, not me. I’m not vain, but a girl doesn’t like walking around with the damn solar system on her face, okay?
I was perusing Pinterest a few days later, as I do quite often, and I’d gotten down into the “random Pin” section. You know, when you’ve scrolled down so far that Pinterest doesn’t know what to suggest anymore and just starts throwing shit at you hoping you won’t notice? I don’t remember the exact title, but it went something like Get Glass-like Skin with Korean Beauty. Of course, me being me, I clicked it simultaneously with anticipation and the assumption that it was a gimmick- because I’m a Gemini and we like being complicated.
It, as usual for a lot of interesting things on the internet these days, led me into a black hole. It was then I found the fascinating world of Korean Skincare- which brought me to the ultimate in Skin Pampering: the 10-step Routine.
This magickal little paradise is where face-masks turn into gateway drugs, and next thing you know you’ve got an entire counter full of imported products.
What makes it magick?
A couple of things, actually. Remember when I said self-care isn’t just about face masks and milk baths (I think it was just yesterday, wasn’t it…)??? Sometimes, that’s exactly what it IS all about. Pampering yourself is a very magickal, and personal, moment in your day. It’s a moment when you tell yourself that you are worth being loved, you’re worth being taken care of, and you’re worth being put first.
As a mom, it’s very important for me to show my kiddo that loving myself is normal because I want him to grow up to love himself. As a wife, it’s important that I feel comfortable in my skin so I enjoy sharing it with my husband. As a witch, it’s important to like what I see because it relates to how I feel about me. If I don’t feel good about me- or believe in myself- my spells will suffer. I even wrote a long blog post at the beginning of my journey detailing how we can ruin our magick by not trusting that we have power.
Not to mention that how we feel, the confidence we attain, and how we start treating others, when we begin to see results, is another form of magick. My husband says I smile in public a lot more- and I realized through some introspection, it’s because I’m not afraid of people taking notice of my face any more. I get to spread joy and magick more easily because my insecurity- like my acne- has been severely reduced.
Which leads me to: what actually is the 10-step process? Witches, buckle in, because we’re about to get cray-cray up in here.
I’m not going to try to get into the intricacies, as there is literally an entire subreddit dedicated to this type of pampering, along with a plethora of youtube videos, websites, etc, that can explain it in much more detail than I could.
But, I will show you what I do, and how I make it even more magickal- because I like being that “hashtag Basic Witch”.
First, let me give you a brief outline of what a 10-Step Skincare routine entails. And, by all means, remember that this is the “ultimate luxury” type routine- not all steps are done all the time or even every day for most people. If you want to start doing something similar, I started with a three-step routine that cleared my skin better than anything before. With K-Beauty, it’s all about the products. I’m not an expert on the chemical makeup of these things, but I will say that they smell and feel better than anything I’ve bought stateside. Not to mention, you have to use much less of them to see better results than those drug-store staples of my younger days.
Dual cleansing and moisturizing are what I started with, and if you decide you want to get into K-Skincare, I suggest you get yourself a suitable oil cleanser, a foaming wash, and a bad ass moisturizer. The rest is nice, and definitely makes a difference- but if you’re like I used to be and you wash your face with the same soap you wash your body with, believe me, you’ll notice enough change in just those three steps to be impressed.
Step 1 and 2: Dual Cleansing
Have you ever watched those Biore or Neutrogena commercials where the girl washes her face in the sink and somehow gets it completely rinsed off by just throwing water up in the air? I’m not that talented.
I get soaked, my counter gets soaked, my hair gets soaked, and I’m still left with a face full of soap. So, I do a sacrilegious bit and I wash my face with both the oil cleanser and the foaming cleanser, respectfully, in the shower. In the morning, it goes with my other hygiene rituals like washing my body and shampooing my hair, and at night I put on a shower cap and hop in just long enough to get my face wet and do my bidness.
I keep a bit of Rose Quartz in the bathtub, on the ledge of an oddly placed window (I don’t know what they were thinking) to amplify my self-love and beauty. I like to take it and touch it to my forehead before beginning with the oil cleanse, and say a simple “I love me today”.
Step 3: Exfoliate
Exfoliating is a must with my skin. I have a seborrheic dermatitis on my nose and in between my eyebrows- which is just a fancy way of saying patchy skin that’s caused by an auto-immune disorder. Yay, me! In reality, it’s not that big of a deal. It was only really noticeable when I wore foundation because it cakes, or when it was cold outside because I’d peel. Other than that, it’s more a texture issue than anything.
However, since it can be corrected, I correct it. Exfoliating, when done properly, is a cathartic thing. Depending on how I’m doing it for the day, I can do it while my conditioner sets in my hair, or as I’m drying off.
There are three ways I exfoliate: physically with a silicon face scrubber while still in the shower, physically with a black-sugar scrub that doubles as a mask, and chemically with a “peel”- which is my personal favorite. Because it’s important not to over exfoliate and damage the epidermis, I only do so once or twice a week (in the morning). I’ve noticed the better my skin has gotten, the less need I’ve had to exfoliate- as if my face has relearned how to properly shed itself without help.
Step 4: Tone
Toning is kind of like prepping your skin for what’s to come. In the morning and at night I use a combination of two toners. An ABA/BHA toner goes on first, to eliminate blackheads and whiteheads that may be thinking about showing up on my skin. Then I immediately spritz on a really light pure Rosewater toner, which is a hydrating toner, because my skin is oily (meaning I need to keep it moist so it doesn’t freak out and overproduce oil to moisten itself). I drop a tiny piece of rose quartz into the bottle when I open it for the first time, let it sit on my working altar for about two hours with some pink and red chime candles burning (to promote beauty, confidence, and self-love) and it’s ready to use.
This is the easiest step, and is now done whether I’m going all out, or simply following the “I-don’t-have-time” routine, which consists of the three steps I mentioned way back up there and this one. I just spray it onto my face and let it sit until it’s dry. I usually put in on my face while I’m drying off and getting dressed, or brushing my teeth. They smell so dainty and fresh that I always like to think of them as my little magick potions. Which, in reality, they kind of are.
Step 5 and 6: Essense, Serums, and Creams
This is a step that I’m only just now getting into, but it’s as customizable as your whopper at Burger King. If you want anti-aging, they’ve got anti-aging, if you want anti-acne, they’ve got anti-acne. It’s kind of like rule 35 of the internet (minus the porn): if you can think it- it exists as a serum, cream, or essence somewhere.
However, it’s also the most time consuming step, as you have to wait for each product to sink into your skin before using the next one. When getting into K-skin care this was the last step I attempted, but I love it because the customization is just so much fun to play with.
I only introduce a single product in each category every three weeks (to gauge adverse reactions because my skin is picky), so I pick products that will have the most dramatic results. Even with my diet going off the rails, I haven’t broken out any where near what I used to because of each of these, so I don’t think I’ll ever go back to regular ol’ soap ever again.
In the morning, I use Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid. Vit C is great for brightening the skin and goes on first- taking 3 to 5 minutes to be absorbed, which gives me plenty of time to comb my hair or brush my teeth if I haven’t already. Then I apply the Hyaluronic Acid which is perfect for knocking out that cystic acne I used to get because it hydrates and soothes. I also use a fancy lash serum, that can go on at any point, that’s made my own lashes grow so long that I have no need for falsies!
At night, I use a Cho Gong Jin essence that’s supposed to make my skin look as if I’ve practically turned back time. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s done that, but I have noticed that the fine lines that just started appearing on my forehead have all but disappeared. I will admit, though, that this one was bought because I loved the bottle; but, it’s really been one of the best serums I’ve come to use.
Another one I use is retinol (one of the few products that are not Korean, along with the Vit C and Hyarulonic Acid) which has reduced the size of my pores dramatically- but sometimes I’ll skip it because I feel the Cho is just that good.
For this step, I use some very special tools to push the serum into my skin. I introduce to you, CRYSTAL MASSAGE ROLLERS! You may have seen these already, but they’re new to me. I was in the makeup aisle of Walmart, wasting time while my boys perused the clearance aisle, and out of nowhere it was like I sensed Rose Quartz. I’m like a Blood Hound, except I have a nose for rocks. A Rock Hound! Anyway, I saw this Rose Quartz massager, and it somehow ended up in my cart. Hmm…
Then, a few days later, I was in Walgreens and saw a Jade roller of the same type. It also ended up in my cart.
So now, when I use my serums, I’m also infusing my face with gemstone-goodness and I feel real good about it. Rose Quartz, obviously, is great for self-love and beauty, but Jade is the stone of dreams, creativity, and spiritual awareness. A roller for day, and a roller for night- how wonderfully witchy!
Step 7: MASKS!
Masks are one of those things that you can’t ever quite get enough of. I try to do them twice a week, but in fairness, it’s more like once a week with the occasional extra one thrown in.
Sheet masks are much easier than mud or clay masks, but there’s something so satisfying about using that silicone spoon to cover my face in refreshing earthy goodness. It’s a great grounding technique, especially since most of my mud masks have to sit about 20 minutes to be effective. I come out to the living room, lay on the couch with my eyes closed and meditate with my Sandalwood Mala and a piece of rough Lepidolite. Usually by the time I’m ready to wash the mask off, I feel as renewed as my skin does.
The sheet masks are a lot like the serums- in that there’s all types out there- and I have an entire little pouch full of them. My husband even brings me home the random one he’s found from some of my favorite brands, because he’s sweet like that. I could use them more often than the mud masks, because they’re not a pain to clean off, but they just don’t have the same power for me. Not to mention, with my sensitive skin, I have to be real careful what I use. I’m allergic to undiluted aloe, and a lot of those masks are packed with the vitamin rich plant.
Step 8: Under Eyes
Under eyes are important in your 30’s. Hell, they’re important in your 20’s. My first “line” appeared right after my 30th birthday, as if it was waiting for that day to come for years. Just this random wrinkle biding its time before “boom!” sneak attack.
Though it doesn’t really bother me, I would like to postpone having any more for as long as possible. I think growing old is a privilege, but I also fear it. Not looking old so much, but the whole dying part. I grew up being told that I was going to die young because I was always a bit chubby, and I think those words being beat into my head for years created a complex that translates into wrinkles at 30 = dead soon.
Logically it makes no sense, but hello! I’m Nicole, and welcome to The Spiritual Garden, where I like to turn the illogical into anxiety disorders!
All joking aside, my husband and I have talked about it quite a bit lately- especially with my recent bought with panic attacks- and I think my fear of getting old (read: dying) before my time has been on the back of my mind for a bit since I turned 30. Does anyone else feel that way? No, just me. Okay then. Ironically, I feel I’m healthier now than I ever was in my twenties, but the clock only goes one way, I suppose.
So, yeah, the undereye step- it’s important. At night, I use a snail mucin that softens while it moisturizes and reduces puffiness. It’s weird, and my husband thinks it’s gross (the man who thinks farts should be shared thinks snail mucus is gross… men.) but it works. And, it’s ethically sourced- so I don’t have to worry about being cruel while getting my groove on.
Step 9: Moisturize, baby!
This is probably my favorite step, and the reason for it is because I got a really amazing moisturizer. Since my skin is always oily, I never thought that using a moisturizer was in the cards for me- in fact, I thought it was numero uno on the list of no-nos. Turns out, you produce more oil when your skin isn’t moisturized than when it is, as sebum is your body’s way of making up for the fact that your skin is dry. Go figure!
I did a lot of research before buying this product, because it’s one of the most expensive ones in my routine. Before I started I was skeptical that my skin would do well with a moisturizer- but after reading from other people, I risked it. So worth every single penny.
This baby goes on like water. It’s so lightweight, and a little goes a long way. I ordered this jar in December and it’s lasted me (with more to go) all the way through the beginning of May- even though I use it twice a day!
I actually just ordered another moisturizer for my night routine from the same company in a trial size. I’ve started using that one during the day, and I think it’s even better, but it’s still too soon to call it for sure!
The Aqua Bomb one keeps my skin smooth, hydrated, and oil free for hours. I do still get some shine on my forehead if I wear makeup, but in bare skin I stay matte for much longer than I ever have. The new one, though, seems to keep me matte no matter what I’m wearing. We went out for Hubby’s birthday this weekend, and I was beat for the gods with layers and layers of make up. Not only did it not move, or crack one bit because my face stayed moisturized, I didn’t have shine all night long. I was so impressed that I’m actually looking forward to being in makeup again! A first for everything!
A little magical bit when I’m applying this step is that I’m always in front of my bathroom mirror, which means I’m always looking at myself when I’m applying it. I don’t know how it started, but I find that every morning I sing that line from West Side Story “I feel pretty, and witty, and wise!” over and over again. It’s kind of like my daily affirmation now. Even my son chimes in with me because I sing it so often!
Another part of this step is a sleeping lip mask. Even though it’s a “mask” in name, it’s really a bomb-diggity moisturizer for the lips. I’ve never felt something so buttery that wasn’t actually butter before, but this baby is. I sometimes use it as a lip balm during the day because it just feels that good and makes my lips so soft that I have no excuse not to. It’s not a plumper, but the reduction in cracks on my lips makes them appear naturally bigger than before. I’ve especially noticed it when applying matte liquid lipstick, because it no longer breaks apart and leaves my lips looking and feeling dry and cakey.
Step 10: Sunscreen
As a Neon-white Irish-descendant, I’m ashamed to say that up until recently, I’d never used sunscreen on my face unless I was going to the beach. I seem to have a reaction to most sunscreens and I thought them all the same when it came to the face. I’m fine when it’s on my body, but my face must just be super sensitive.
I feel like my son would crack a joke right now- because his current favorite smart ass comedic line is “your face is ____.” Like the other day, I said that I didn’t like McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets (I used to work there in High School, and the smell of that oil just brings me back- ugh) which, apparently, is totally uncool of me as a mom to say. So, he replied “Your face is a Chicken Nugget!” I was supposed to be offended. I wasn’t. But, we’ll pretend that I was.
But, with summer coming around, if I didn’t want to look like a Chicken Nugget, I needed to find a good SPF to wear during the day that won’t ruin all the goodness the rest of my routine has brought me. I burn at the mere suggestion of sunshine, so in reality, it should’ve already been in my repertoire. Don’t tell the Skincare police.
I went to Sephora this weekend looking for a particular concealer, that they didn’t carry, and happened upon the holy grail of “Everything I’ve Ever Wanted But Didn’t Know It” sunscreens. Actually, at first I didn’t even know it was a sunscreen. I’d been telling hubby I wanted something to cancel out the redness in my skin because as much as I love my Irish roots, it’s not a good look. We were talking about concealers and how different colors, like in art, can either enhance or detract from other colors- and I mentioned that I wish they made an every day green one that turned beige on its own that wouldn’t clog my pores.
Psh, girl, they do! And it’s a sunscreen. And it’s got all kinds of wonderful goodies for your skin in it. And it’s mattifying. And it’s ah-maz-ing. I only use it during the day, because I don’t need to sleep in sunscreen, but I’m already in love. I’ve never seen my bare face without the red hue before, but for an hour after applying it in Sephora, I couldn’t stop looking in every reflective surface we passed. It was like it was me, but not me. Such a weird thing when you’re so used to knowing what you look like and then not seeing it as you expect to. Kind of like looking back at “before” photos of my weight-loss. I know that girl, but she’s different!
What’s even better about it is that Hubby found it for me while I was off looking at makeup. Even though it was his birthday, he wouldn’t let me leave the store without it- saying I couldn’t pass up something I had literally just wished for. He spoils me sometimes (insert romantic sigh, here).
And that’s my 10-step Magick Routine (aka Korean Skincare). My last step, step 11, is appreciating myself for taking the time to pamper me. I also give gratitude every day for being able to afford the luxury of these products, along with the graciousness of being healthy and alive enough that my skin can be a priority. It’s important for me to remember that I get to smile more in public because I have clear skin, but also because I have very little reason not to smile these days. I’m lucky and I take time every day to continue to appreciate it.
I also appreciate you. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to “listen” to this witch ramble about whatever pops into her head. I hope you remember to appreciate you too, today.
What do you think? Will you incorporate any of these steps into your routine? Do you do anything magickal with your hygiene? Tell me about it!
Until next time, my friends…