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SoKo Secrets: The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine

Your new nightly Korean skincare routine, courtesy of Charlotte Cho of SokoGlam.com.

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You'd be hard-pressed to come across a Korean woman who doesn't have hauntingly beautiful skin. Ever wondered why? Charlotte Cho, curator and co-founder of Korean beauty destination SokoGlam, gives us insight on how to get perfect skin in 10 (steps, that is).

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Step 1: Prep and Pre-Cleanse

The "double cleanse" method involves removing the day's makeup with a nutrient-rich towelette. Next, draw out sebum and bacteria using a gentle oil cleanser and lukewarm water. "Oil eliminates impurities without drying out your skin," shares Cho.

Skinfood Brown Rice Oil Cleansing Tissue, $10; sokoglam.com; and TonyMoly Floria Nutra Energy Cleansing Oil, $24; sokoglam.com

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Step 2: And Then Cleanse Again

Korean women believe thorough, proper cleansing is the key to a radiant, acne-free complexion, which is precisely why they opt to cleanse again—with a mild cream or foaming cleanser. "Don't rub," says Cho. "Soft circular motions do the trick."

O Hui Clear Science Tender Cleansing Foam, $39; sokoglam.com

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Step 3: Buff, Buff, Exfoliate

The supplest skin is completely devoid of any dead skin cells collected on the surface, so gently slough it off—and don't forget to do your pout, too. However, scrubbing your entire face every single night is nothing short of overkill. "It's better to focus your efforts on areas that really need it, like visible pores on your cheeks or blackheads on your nose," suggests Cho.

Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash Off, $14.70; sokoglam.com

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Step 4: Tighten Up With Toner

We're not talking about your average, everyday, chock-full-of-alcohol toner found in the Western hemisphere; Korean variations are marketed as a hydrating yet clarifying—wait for it—cleanse. "It removes any residual residue from the prior three steps, while soothing and restoring your pH balance," explains Cho. "Plus, it preps your skin to better absorb what comes next."

Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner, $17; sokoglam.com

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Step 5: Essence Is Essential

Often regarded as the utmost essential part of the Korean skincare regimen (aside from double cleansing, of course), essence is a nourishing liquid concentrate that effectively enhances skin's cellular renewal process, leading to an increase in elasticity and firmness, as well as a brighter complexion. "Once I spritz it on, I gently tap it into the skin to assist with absorption," details Cho.

Missha First Treatment Essence Mist, $33; sokoglam.com

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Step 6: Add an Ampoule

"Basically it's a condensed, vitamin-rich version of essence with a much slicker consistency," Cho points out. What's more, every single drop packs a mighty powerful punch. "Its purpose is to directly address any existing or potential anti-aging issues, like dulling skin, uneven tone, or loss of collagen and elasticity."

Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Activator Ampoule, $42; sokoglam.com

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Step 7: Massage it, Patch it, Mask it

Here's where you would typically apply one of those super-popular facial sheet masks, but Cho recommends applying it only two-to-three times a week for maximum effectiveness. On your off-nights, supplement with a five-minute facial massage to boost circulation, or opt for targeted treatments in the form of wrinkle-fighting collagen eye patches and an utterly adorable hydrating lip mask. "Korean cosmetic companies definitely think outside of the box when it comes to packaging," reveals Cho. "Quality and design go hand-in-hand."

TonyMoly My Little Pet Eye Patch, 2 for $5; sokoglam.com and TonyMoly Kiss Kiss Lovely Lip Patch, $4; sokoglam.com

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Step 8: Tap On the Eye Cream

Since prevention is better than a cure, keep fine lines, puffiness, and dark circles at bay with an intensive eye cream. The trick is not to tug or pull the skin when applying—instead, liberally tap it around the entire eye. "This ensures that the thin, delicate area stays super-moisturized so it won't dry out and create even more fine lines," adds Cho.

Missha Misa Geum Sul Vitalizing Eye Cream, $30; sokoglam.com

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Step 9: Emulsify Yourself

Rewind. Remember that comprehensive cleansing session that took place in the beginning? You'll need to replenish your skin's hydration levels with a lightweight emulsion, which is what we'd call a facial moisturizer. "Use your fingertips to lightly massage the product into your face to promote circulation," specifies Cho. "And don't forget your neck!"

Etude House Collagen Moistfull Emulsion, $18; sokoglam.com

Step 10 in Korean beauty nightly skincare routine
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Step 10: Slather on the Sleeping Pack

For the grand 'gorgeous, glowy skin' finale, we come full circle and double up once again. Smooth on a second layer of moisture with an ultra-rich night cream or a sleeping pack. Confused? "Think of it as a cream mask that locks in the emulsion and keeps your face hydrated throughout the night," concludes Cho.

SU:M37 Waterfull Timeless Moisturizing Cream, $76; sokoglam.com

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Your New 'Holy Grail' Skincare Collection

"Many cultures may view our nightly regimen as extreme, but for us it's standard procedure," Cho justifies. "We're taught at such an early age to constantly moisturize, apply SPF rain or shine, perform stimulating facial exercises, and most importantly—how to cleanse our skin the right way so that we can reap the flawless rewards later in life. In a nutshell, our process is actually very simple."

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