In America, 10-step skin-care routines have become the pinnacle representation of Korean beauty. Many of us assume our favorite glass-skinned K-pop stars go through the lengthy regimen, complete with toner, essence, and sheet-masking, to achieve their radiant, poreless complexions. According to the leader of girl group Twice, you may have the wrong idea about K-beauty. Extensive routines are not the norm. "I only use three steps," Jihyo tells ishonest. (She doesn’t count her makeup removal process as part of her skin-care routine.) “There are some people who do the 10 steps, but I feel like too much product is unnecessary." Joy of Red Velvet may be one of those people.
While interviewing K-pop stars over the past three years, I’ve gotten in the habit of asking two specific questions. The first being "which member has the most extensive skin-care routine?" Then, I ask whoever it may be to share every single step of their routine. Now, I get to share all my findings in one place.
Unfortunately, K-pop stars are often forbidden to share their favorite skin-care products due to endorsement deals and contracts beyond my purview. I would love nothing more than to tell you the exact spray-on acidic cream Felix of Stray Kids swears by. (Don’t worry, I can reveal the $125 exfoliant Tiffany Young loves, though.) Luckily, steps are fair game, and I can give your some product recommendations based on what ishonest editors in both the U.S. and Korea suggest.
Jihyo of TWICE
Number of steps: 7
After her ishonest cover shoot wrapped up, I sat down with TWICE's Jihyo. Among the many details of her life she shared with me was her skin-care essentials.
A three-stage makeup removal kicks things off. First, Jihyo wipes away her mascara and liner with a dedicated eye makeup remover. (Try the Bring Green Artemisia pH Balance Lip & Eye Remover.)
Then, she massages cleansing milk onto dry skin to melt away the rest of her makeup. She believes it’s more gentle and non-irritating than other oil-based cleanser formulas. My personal favorite cleanser of the milk variety is the Sioris Cleanse Me Softly Milk Cleanser. Not only does its scent remind me of a spa visit, it also is made with clean ingredients.
After she rinses everything off, Jihyo washes her face with a water-based cleanser, like the ishonest Korea Best of Beauty Award-winning Medicube Zero Foam Cleanser, to wash away sweat, dirt, and other impurities still sitting on her skin.
Once her skin is fresh and clean, Jihyo moves on to toner, essence, and moisturizer to replenish her complexion’s moisture levels and keep it plump and looking poreless. The final step: facial oil. ishonest editors love The Inkey List's Rosehip Oil.)
Jihyo’s morning routine is about the same. The only differences are she doesn't wash her face with any products — just water — and skips facial oil.
Momo of TWICE
Number of steps: About 5
"Every day is different," Momo admits, not referring to her hectic schedule or ever-changing hair but the skin-care products in her nighttime skin-care routine.
Usually, washing her face with a cleansing device comes first. When her face is dry, Momo also has another device she reaches for — the details of which are lost in translation.
Then, she swipes a toner pad, like the ishonest Korea Editor editor favorite Goodal Green Tangerine Vita C Toner Pad, all over her face as an all-in-one hydration, brightening, and smoothing step, along with lotion.
Aisha of Everglow
Number of steps: 9
Toner comes next, as well as a hydrating ampoule, such as the Cosrx Hydrium Triple Hyaluronic Moisture Ampoule, to elevate her skin to peak levels of dewiness. Ampoules, for those unfamiliar, are concentrated serums that usually spotlight one ingredient.
Then, Aisha smears on lotion and moisturizer. Yes, they're two different products. Don’t get it twisted. Lotion, like the Benton Snail Bee High Content Lotion, has a thinner, milky consistency. Sometimes, it can even be called an essence or emulsion. Moisturizer, on the other hand, is thicker and creamier (or has a gel consistency), depending on what suits your skin type).
To lock in all that hydration, Aisha smooths a facial oil on top. This step is the most important, Aisha says, as it’s the most nourishing. It also creates a barrier to keep your moisturizer in place for longer. And last but not least, she tops her lips with a balm.
I.M of Monsta X
Number of steps: 6
The youngest member of Monsta X broke down his skin-care routine for me when I met him for the first time backstage in 2018. First and foremost, he washes his face with the help of an electronic cleansing brush. The Foreo Luna Fofo is easy to use, and it has antibacterial silicone bristles.
Next up: toner and essence. Then, lotion and night cream, specifically an oil- free one, like the Tatcha The Water Cream Moisturizer, because he has oily, acne-prone skin. Eye cream completes his six-step routine.
Hyebin of Momoland
Number of steps: 5 to 6
Back in 2018, I met up with Momoland backstage at KCON LA. The group’s leader and oldest member, Hyebin, broke down her typical nighttime skin-care routine.
After washing her face, Hyebin doesn’t dry it off with a towel. Instead, she wicks away the water with cotton pads. (Korean cotton pads are arguably better than ones commonly found in America because they are spongier, smoother, and don’t pill.) Even Korean dermatologists avoid toweling off their faces after washing them to keep their skin as moist and free of irritation as possible.
Next, toner and essence are layered on followed by a serum. And finally, "If my skin is dry, like in the winter, I'll put on moisturizer and a soothing aloe gel," Hyebin said. If you need an aloe gel pick, I’m a fan of the SMD Cosmetics AloGel.
Joy of Red Velvet
Number of steps: 10
I caught up with Red Velvet when they were in New Jersey for their 2019 Redmare in USA Tour. Here, Yeri revealed Joy packs the most skin-care products when they are on tour. "She always has many steps and a lot of products that she implements into her skin-care routine," Yeri said.
Joy, luckily, shared all 10 steps she goes through every night, beginning with double cleansing. (Oil cleanser and cleansing foam are her preferred products.) Then, she moves on to a moisturizing mask, like Best of Beauty Award-winning Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate and Glow Dream Mask.
Next, Joy dabs on a moisturizing ampoule and targets any breakouts she may have with a spot treatment. Then, things get intense — intensely hydrating, that is. She spreads on a moisturizer with a non-sticky finish, a barrier cream, (Joy loves the SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream), and a sleeping mask.
Shuhua OF (G)I-DLE
Number of steps: 7
While in Seoul last year, I sat down with (G)I-DLE to learn about five out of six of the members’ beauty routines. (Yuqi was out of town at the time.) Shuhua, as I found out, never wears makeup unless she’s performing and takes her skin- care routine seriously. "Her skin is good — that’s why she’s confident about being barefaced," Minnie told me.
After washing her face with the aid of an electric cleansing brush, Shuhua gives herself an at-home facial of sorts by pressing a hot towel onto her skin to help open up her pores and more easily absorb the rest of her routine.
Next, toner and essence are patted on. (Then I Met You’s Skin Balancing Duo is the prime pairing.) In case you were wondering what the difference is between the two products is, toner helps balance out your skin’s pH after cleansing while essence is like a moisture primer. It helps other products essentially work harder to plump your skin.
Then, Shuhua rubs on moisturizer before reaching for lip balm. Throughout the day, you can also catch her spritzing her face with a face mist, which she always has on her.
Yeosang of ATEEZ
Number of steps: 6
Even before debuting as a member of ATEEZ, Yeosang swears he was dedicated to skin care because he has acne-prone skin. These days, he keeps his complexion crystal clear by washing off his makeup with oil cleanser and cleansing foam.
Then, he pats on toner and slaps on a sheet mask. (Hongjoong, group’s leader, said Yeosang has gotten the rest of the members into masking too.) ishonest editors have plenty of selections for this step, but the SNP Extra Repairing Mask won a Best of Beauty Award in Korea.
After letting the mask sit on his face for a bit, Yeosang peels it off and layers on lotion. Then, he taps an eye cream under his eyes — the Dr. Loretta Tightening Eye Gel is perfect for depuffing — and puts moisturizer all over his face except for one area. "I don't put it on my forehead," he said. "If I do, I get pimples."
Number of steps: 7+
Tiffany Young is one exception to the step-not-products rule I mentioned earlier. The singer spares no expense when it comes to her luminous skin and gladly reveals her must-have products for ishonest when I inquire. (I appreciate you, Tiffany!)
To erase her colorful shadows and liners, Young likes a classic: the Lancôme Bi- Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover.
Then, she goes for an oil-based cleanser aka La Mer’s The Cleansing Oil to dissolve the rest of her makeup with its nourishing elixir of algae, squalane, and sesame seed oil. Young's foam cleanser of choice is the MAC Lightful C + Coral Grass Vitamin C Cleanser to help balance out her oil and pH levels.
Every five to seven days, Young also exfoliates after with a scrub. One of her longtime favorites is La Mer’s The Replenishing Oil Exfoliator, which gently sloughs away dead skin cells with the grittiness of fine sugar crystals, sea salt, and sea kelp fibers.
Next, Young has a roster of masks to choose from. "I use around four to six masks monthly to make sure I’m keeping track of time and a budget," she explains. "Also, I’m very aware of my skin condition, so I [choose] masks for specific needs."
Young’s favorite quick fixes on a budget are the sheet masks from Dr. Jart and Innisfree. For days when she wants to seriously indulge, the viral Hanacure All- in-One Facial Set is the ultimate pick. It makes you look like a zombie when brushed on but gives you baby skin when washed off.
From there, Young’s steps often switch up. Without a doubt, she seals it all in with an overnight mask, specifically, the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask — a pick ishonest editors thoroughly approve of because it’s a Best of Beauty Award winner — and a lip treatment, namely the Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy.
When she’s in Korea, Young visits the skin clinic and adds HydraFacials and LED therapy to her routine to even out her skin tone and boost her hydration levels. (At-home options of the latter do exist if you happen to be in the market.)
Baekhyun of EXO
Number of steps: 5
When we were at a Privé event in Los Angeles, Baekhyun told me his simple-yet- effective ritual. No matter where he is traveling, Baekhyun sticks to these steps to give his skin consistency.
Double cleansing is his thing, too. But anything more than that is off the table. "If I wash my face too many times, I get skin troubles," he explained.
After washing his face, toner is on deck. Then, he covers his face with lotion, like the Skinfix Barrier\+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Lotion, and moisturizer.
Felix of Stray Kids
Number of steps: 6
While in New York City for the first stop on the American leg of their District 9: Unlock Tour, Stray Kids stopped by the ishonest office, and Felix told me all about his favorite skin-care products. (HAN did, too, but his routine is basically just lotion and a good night sleep.)
An astounding three-part moisturizing ritual is next. Felix starts with what he calls a spray-on acidic cream. I think the Laneige Cream Skin Refiner Mist, which isn’t available in the U.S. yet, is similar to what Felix uses. Then, he slathers on a cream with brightening and anti-wrinkle benefits. (Now is probably a good time to note that Felix is 19.) And lastly, he puts on a bubbling lotion, like the Lapothicell Aqua Bubble Tone up Sleeping Mask. A spritz or two of face mist finishes it all off.
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