Winter is in full swing and as the seasons change your skincare routine might need to as well. Although skincare practices can vary widely from person to person based on factors like skin type (oily or dry, for example), responses to particular ingredients (both positive and negative), or specific concerns (like acne or aging), the sudden drop in temperature can throw us all for a loop when it comes to taking care of our skin. Luckily, there’s a wide variety of Korean skincare brands and products that target these issues. While it’s impossible to name a routine that will work for everyone, here are a few basic guidelines for crafting a personalized winter skincare routine rooted in Korean skincare philosophy.
1. Be Gentle
This rule may sound simple, but it’s important to remember! While it’s never a good idea to be too rough with the skin, it’s especially vital to avoid doing so in the winter, as the low temperatures and increasingly dry air can exacerbate existing skin concerns. Thus, aim for a gentle approach to skincare by avoiding overuse of harsh ingredients, such as alcohol, astringents, or acne medications like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. There’s no need to avoid these products altogether, as they can be useful when used in moderation; however, they can be too strong when layered together, causing irritation or dryness.
To practice being gentle with your skin, take it step-by-step: if you wear makeup, be sure to remove it carefully and then use a gentle facial cleanser like the Cosrx Low-pH Good Morning Cleanser. Then, apply a hydrating toner like the Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner.
These two steps will prepare the skin for additional products without stripping it of too much moisture. Follow this up with nourishing ingredients seen in serums and a moisturizer or a cream.
2. Focus on Hydration
There’s one thing that all skin types have in common—they all need proper hydration, especially in the winter. There are numerous ways to add extra hydrating steps to an existing skincare routine. For example, the “7-Skin Method” involves using a hydrating toner or essence (often referred to as a “skin” in Korea) to imbue the skin with moisture without it feeling too heavy. To do this, use a hydrating product—preferably, a toner or essence that’s not too thick—and pat it gently into the skin until it’s completely absorbed, using either your hands or a thin cotton pad (beauty vlogger Edward Avila used the Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner in his video discussing the method). Repeat this several more times—although it’s called the 7-Skin Method, beauty vlogger Gothamista recommends starting with three layers and working up to more as needed. From there, you can apply additional serums and finish with a moisturizer; however, some may find the method hydrating enough on its own and end their skincare routine there.
While the 7-Skin Method is popular, it’s not the only way to add hydration to the skin. Tried-and-true K-Beauty methods like the use of sheet masks, sleeping packs, and traditional creams and lotions offer a wide array of different options for different skin types. For example, those with dry skin may enjoy the Cosrx Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream, while those with combination or oily skin may prefer a lighter moisturizer like the Innisfree Green Tea Fresh Cream. Brands like Innisfree and Tonymoly offer a variety of inexpensive sheet masks, while L’Herboflore offers more luxurious ones with unique ingredients like mango and cocoa. Finally, Cosrx and Too Cool for School have excellent sleeping packs that can be layered over other moisturizing products to seal everything in while you sleep.
3. Always Wear Sunscreen!
Don’t let snowy weather and earlier sunsets fool you—it’s just as important to wear sunscreen in the winter as it is during the rest of the year, if not more so. It’s a common misconception that sunscreen is less necessary during the winter months, but the sun’s rays can bounce off of snow, exposing the skin to damage from both the sun and the glare it produces. This sun damage can cause a host of problems, from triggering sunburns to exacerbating hyperpigmentation to, in the worst-case scenario, causing skin cancer.
Luckily, it’s easy to incorporate sunscreen into an existing skincare or makeup routine. Simply apply it as the final step of your skincare routine, before a primer or any other makeup product. Be sure to choose a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 and re-apply it after exercising or as often as needed. The Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sunscreen, which has an SPF of 50+/PA+++, has a moisturizing and creamy texture that fits seamlessly into a skincare routine. While not Korean but Japanese, the Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, which is also SPF 50+/PA+++, is a favorite of beauty fanatics all over the Internet for its lightweight texture and quick absorption.
Be sure to follow these guidelines this winter—your skin will thank you!