Treatment of different skin types and concerns with Korean cosmetics

In this article, we aim to provide simple and easy-to-understand instructions for treating each skin type. But remember that even if you have the same skin type as someone else, it does not mean that the skins are the same. This is affected by skin condition and different skin concerns. We each have one skin type, but each of us can suffer from different skin condition-related challenges at the same time. Whereas skin type is determined by genes, skin concerns stem from lifestyle, environment and internal factors that are constantly changing. A good example of this is the effect of a woman's hormonal changes during the month; sometimes you may suffer from pimples, sometimes dry skin. Skin concerns are mainly temporary and can be treated with the right skin care products, and of course with medicines and skin treatments if necessary.

When building a skin care routine, you should take into account both your own skin type and concerns related to skin condition. But what is the one thing that unites every skin type and problem? Sunscreen. It should be used by everyone regardless of skin type and condition.

How do I know what skin type I have?

Let's start with the most important foundational question, i.e. how to determine your own skin type. Your skin type is determined by how dry or oily and reactive your skin is. There are six different skin types: dry, oily, combination, normal, sensitive and acne-prone. Below we have listed briefly and concisely how to recognize your own skin type.

Normal skin

So-called normal or balanced skin does not produce too much nor too little oil, but is, as the name suggests, very balanced.

  • No enlarged or blocked pores
  • No redness
  • The skin does not tighten and is not too greasy

Dry skin

Unlike oily skin, dry skin does not produce enough oil. Mainly, you don't suffer much from dry skin when you're young, but only with ageing. Many people make the mistake of thinking that their skin type is dry, when in reality most of the time it is just skin that suffers from a lack of moisture, i.e. dehydrated skin, in which case the skin specifically suffers from a lack of moisture, and the problem is not a lack of oil production.

  • the skin is matte
  • no enlarged pores
  • the skin feels tight and rough, can be flakey
  • the skin reddens and cracks easily

Oily skin

Most of us have somewhat oily skin, but the type of skin that defines itself as oily is completely that; oily - due to overactive sebaceous glands.

  • skin shines (also in the morning and immediately after washing)
  • clearly visible pores
  • prone to blackheads and pimples
  • the makeup seems to dissolve easily from the face during the day

Combination skin

Combination skin is the most common skin type. It is an intermediate form of dry and oily skin, where oiliness is mainly in the T-zone and dry spots on the edges of the face. In general, the skin type leans a little in one direction or the other; it is either oily combination skin or dry combination skin.

  • the skin has both oily and dry spots
  • enlarged skin pores in the T-zone (chin-nose-forehead)
  • you suffer from both impurities and dry skin at the same time

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin is often difficult to identify, because sensitivity can also be a problem related to the condition of the skin (not genetic). To determine if your skin type is sensitive, think about how long you've suffered from the sensitivity. If your skin type is actually sensitive, and you don't just suffer from sensitivity as a skin problem, chances are you've dealt with sensitive skin throughout your life.

  • the skin reacts easily to, for example, new products or seemingly to nothing (e.g. air pollution)
  • possible allergies such as asthma or eczema

Acne prone skin

Acne skin can also be difficult to recognize, as pimples and impurities are also included in many skin problems. When identifying acne prone skin, such as sensitive skin, you should think about how long you have suffered from pimples and skin inflammation. If you've had problems since a young age and acne runs in your family, it's very likely that your skin type is acne-prone, and you will always have to take care of pimples and impurities to some extent.

  • Prone to pimples and blemishes 
  • Inflamed skin

Can the skin type change?

Yes. Even though skin type is something you are born with, it doesn't mean it stays the same for the rest of your life. Some medications and treatments can affect the skin type, for example, drugs used to treat acne may change the skin type to dry by affecting the skin's sebum production. Age also affects skin type, and the majority of women have drier skin with age.

Skin condition related concerns

When creating a skin care routine, both skin type and concerns related to skin condition should be taken into account. The most common skin problems that are not related to skin type are:

  • Dehydration - the skin does not have enough water moisture. The skin may be oily on the surface and dry underneath, and you may suffer from skin peeling. Clogged pores are also common, as the skin tries to balance the lack of moisture by producing more sebum.
  • Sensitized - the skin is inflamed and damaged for various reasons, such as artificial perfumes, drying products containing alcohol, misused skin care products, stress, air pollution or weather conditions.
  • Aging - of course everyone ages naturally, but according to research, 50% of the visible signs of aging are caused by external factors, not our genes.
  • Pigmentation/uneven skin tone - for the most part, the cause of uneven skin tone is UV radiation, but the causes can also be stress, hormonal changes and damage to the skin, such as acne scars.
  • Clogged pores - a common problem, especially for oily skin, which can be the result of e.g. from inconsistent or insufficient skin cleansing, air pollution, humidity, sports and diet.
  • Pimples - especially hormonal fluctuations play a big role in the appearance of pimples. This also includes stress hormones that increase sebum production and inflammation in the skin. Fatty and sugary diet are also main factors in acne formation.

Next, we present a skin care routine suitable for each skin type. However, the routine should also be enriched with products suitable for skin concerns, because only few of us have, for example, just dry skin, without any other skin-related challenges. The same products also work for treating skin problems, so you should build a skin care routine primarily based on your own skin type and enrich it with specific products, for example serums, ampoules and masks, which specifically treat a specific skin problem.

Finally, we also present the treatment of those skin problems that cannot be solved with products suitable for skin types (dehydration, aging skin and uneven skin tone).

Dry skin

As stated earlier, dry skin does not actually lack moisture, but the skin does not produce enough oil (sebum). Dryness of the skin  weakens the skin barrier, so water moisture evaporates from it more easily, and exposes the skin to sensitivity and various damages. Korean cosmetics for dry skin are particularly easy to find, as Koreans put a lot of emphasis on the skin's moisture balance in their skin care routine.

Ingredients for dry skin

Many ingredients bring relief to dry skin, but here are some of the most common:

  • Antioxidants help the skin protect itself from free radicals and the harmful effects of the environment, and bring relief to skin inflammation
  • Hyaluronic acid, ceramides and other ingredients that protect the skin's protective factor, maintain moisture balance and help bind moisture to the skin.

People suffering from dry skin should avoid alcohol and excessive perfumes in skin care products.

Cleansing: prefer gentle and creamy cleansing products. We recommend Coxir Ultra Hyaluronic Cleansing Oil as the first step of double cleansing in the evening, and as a second step Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Gel Cleanser cleansing gel or SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Ampoule Foam cleansing foam. Cleansing balms are excellent for really dry skin as a regular cleansing product.

Peeling: dry skin should also be exfoliated (however, not too often, 1-2 times a week is enough), as long as you choose a particularly gentle product for it. Try Pyunkang Yul Peeling Gel which leaves the skin cleaner and brighter, without the feeling too dry after use.  

Toner: make sure that the toner does not contain alcohol, as it dissolves the skin's natural oils and may thus dry the skin even more. Instead, the toner itself should bring plenty of moisture to the skin, such as Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Toner.

Serum: Bring more hydration with a serum suitable for dry skin and, if you wish, also with an essence. Try one of our long-lasting favorites Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Serum or Cosrx Full Fit Propolis Light Ampoule containing soothing propolis.

Moisturizer: choose a particularly moisturizing face cream to complete your skin care routine, and bind the moisture brought by other products to the skin. For your morning routine try for example Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Moist Cream, that prevents moisture from evaporating and keeps the skin moisturized for a long time. In the evening, you can use an even more greasy and moisturizing cream, try Purito Oat-in Intense Cream which soothes even dry and scaly skin.

Mask: we recommend adding a moisturizing face mask to your weekly skin care routine, either as an wash-off version or as a sheet mask. Try for example Mary&May Hyaluronic Panthenol Hydra Mask Pack or Abib Mild Acidic pH Sheet Mask Aqua Fit.


Oily skin

Oily skin is caused by a hormone called androgen, which sometimes causes an overproduction of sebum in the skin, which then leads to the expansion of skin pores, because they are unable to process the excess sebum production. Due to excessive sebum production together with the thickening of the skin inside the pores caused by dead skin cells, the sebum cannot leave the pores effectively. This again leads to blackheads and whiteheads. But good news for those with oily skin; the sebum produced by the skin also protects the skin and helps prevent the formation of wrinkles.

It might seem like a good idea to prefer products that dry out the skin. However, it is not recommended in the long term, as the drying products actually stimulate sebum production even more. Also products that make the skin tingle; such as alcohol, aromatic oils, menthol or eucalyptus, are not friends of oily skin. A good rule of thumb is that formulas that are solid (like a bar of soap) or especially creamy, emollient and soothing can clog pores and make oily skin look even oilier. Instead, prefer light compositions such as gels and serums. The terms oil free and noncomedogenic found in products are good for oily skin, as they do not block skin pores.

Ingredients for oily skin

  • Salicylic acid (BHA) helps prevent clogged pores, control sebum production and reduce skin inflammation.
  • Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) helps exfoliate the skin and enhances skin cell regeneration, which in turn opens blocked skin pores, reduces greasiness and fades lines.
  • Niacinamide helps to balance the skin's oil production, improves the function of the skin barrier, fades pores and evens out skin tone.
  • Tea tree oil has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory composition, which may help especially acne-prone skin.
  • Zinc is an effective mineral for controlling the skin's oil production and curbing inflammation. Zinc also has antibacterial properties.
  • Aloe vera is an anti-inflammatory natural ingredient that helps soothe irritated skin. It also helps to control sebum production and balances the skin.
  • Clay is an effective ingredient for binding excess sebum and impurities from the skin.

Cleansing: Use mild, water-based cleansing agent twice a day and always after sports. Favor where possible fragrance-free compositions and avoid skin-irritating ingredients and mechanical stress, such as excessive scrubbing or granular exfoliating products. In the evenings we recommend double cleansing, but choose the cleansing product for makeup removal carefully. As the first step of double cleansing, we recommend a cult product Anua Heartleaf Pore Control Cleansing Oil. Excellent water-based cleansing products for oily skin are for example Mediheal Tea Tree Biome Blemish Cica Gel Cleanser this Mizon Good Bye Blemish Low pH Cleanser

Peeling: Oily skin exfoliation is a very important part of the skin care routine, but remember moderation, because too much exfoliation damages even oily skin and the end result can be the exact opposite of what was intended and cause the skin to become even more oily. Peeling removes dead skin cells, reduces clogged pores and smoothes the skin. Oily skin especially benefits from salicylic acid (BHA). Add a gentle exfoliant to your skin care routine a couple of nights a week Purito AHA BHA Refreshing Solution treatment liquid or try the clever one Cosrx One Step Original Clear Pad scrub pads.

Toner: Prefer alcohol-free toners containing antioxidants and skin-regenerating ingredients. These promote skin regeneration, fade enlarged pores and prevent pore clogging. Try Beauty Of Joseon Green Plum Refreshing Toner or Klairs Supple Preparation Unscented Toner.

Serum: Choose an ampoule or serum that effectively balances sebum production, such as Purito Clear Code Superfruit Serum or Skin1004 Tea-Trica Relief Ampoule.

Moisturizer: Oily skin also needs moisturizing, so even if it's tempting to skip the cream, don't do it and choose instead a light formula specifically suited for oily skin, such as Beauty Of Joseon Red Bean Water Gel or Skin1004 Poremizing Light Gel Cream. You can also kill two birds with one stone and replace your day cream with a well-moisturizing sunscreen such as Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sunscreen.

Sunscreen: The light serum-like composition works best for oily skin; test an excessive sebum production suppressant Frudia Green Grape Sebum Control Cooling Sun Gel.

Mask: Oily skin benefits from many different masks, but we especially recommend clay masks. Cleanse the face first and then apply toner on the face first, and only after that the clay mask; this way the clay does not dry out the skin too much. One of our most effective clay masks is Some By Mi Super Matcha Pore Clean Clay Mask. Sheet mask Pure Essence Mask Charcoal Cream works great for only skin, and brings quick help to skin in need of deep cleansing. 

Anua Heartleaf Pore Control Cleansing Oil


Combination skin

Combination skin is one of the most common skin types, and although its treatment may seem difficult at first, there are simple and effective tricks for it too. Combination skin often becomes oilier all over in the summer and correspondingly drier in the winter, so the skin care routine may need more changes depending on the seasons than other skin types. Be careful with using products that are too strong, as you may accidentally dry your skin too much at the same time and activate sebum production even more. For example, bar soaps or overly strong cleansing products that leave the skin uncomfortably tight should be avoided.

Ingredients for combination skin

  • Hyaluronic acid - moisturizes and brings elasticity without clogging skin pores or causing more greasiness
  • Salicylic acid - helps curb sebum production and pimples
  • Niacinamide - works well for both dry and oily skin, so also excellent for combination skin
  • Lactic acid - can help curb the oily T-zone

Cleansing: Choose a suitable light cleansing product, prefer gel-like and other light compositions, and avoid excessively foamy, exfoliating or oily products in your morning routine. If you suffer from more oily skin, test Skin1004 Tone Brightening Cleansing Gel Foam, or if your skin is more dry, try About Me Rice Makgeolli Cleansing Foam. You can also change the cleansing product depending on how your skin feels that day (and we strongly recommend to do so). Cleansing balms should be preferred as the first step of double cleansing routine instead of oils; we recommend the classic Heimish All Clean Balm.

Peeling: Prefer gentle exfoliating products 1-3 times a week. Try the handy Ariul Apple Cider All Kill Cleansing Bubble Pads peeling pads, so you can easily exfoliate the greasy areas more often and dry skin areas less often if necessary. BHA acids that are left on the skin work particularly well for combination skin, we recommend Purito BHA Dead Skin Moisture Gel gel cream few times a week instead of night cream. If you want a traditional exfoliating product, Frudia Avocado Enzyme Relief Peeling Gel gently exfoliates and leaves the skin soft.

Toner: For combination skin, you should prefer toners that balance the skin, such as Tocobo Vita Berry Pore Toner or Numbuzin No.1 Pure-Full Calming Herb Toner. Combination skin may feel tight (i.e. dry) after washing on some days and greasy on other days. If possible, invest in two different types of toners and choose the product you use according to your skin's needs for the day. You can also add, on days when your skin feels dry, a moisturizing ampoule after the toner  before serum, such as Skin1004 Hyalu-Cica First Ampoule.

Serum: A serum that balances and moisturizes the skin, but at the same time controls oiliness, is a trusted product for combination skin. Test Ariul 7days Glow Brightening Serum, which not only brings important antioxidants to the skin, but also moisturizes and balances sebum production. Some By Mi Super Matcha Pore Tightening Serum is a light and effective serum that helps to prevent pimples and blackheads.

Moisturizer: In the morning, prefer a light moisturizer that balances the skin's sebum production, for example Ma:nyo Factory Thermal Water Moisturizing Lotion or Kaine Green Calm Aqua Cream work perfectly for combination skin. In the evening, you should choose a more moisturizing but non-pore-clogging cream, such as Ma:nyo Factory Bifida Biome Aqua Barrier Cream.

Mask: For combination skin, the best way to use masks is to apply different masks to different places on the face. For example, apply a clay mask to areas that get greasy easily (usually the T-zone), and a corresponding moisturizing mask to those areas of the face (usually the outer edges) where dryness occurs more. A sheet mask is a wonderful moment of relaxation at the end of a busy day; Beauty of Joseon Centella Asiatica Calming Mask is very moisturizing, and for oilier combination skin we recommend Frudia Green Grape Pore Control Mask.

Tocobo Vita Berry Pore Toner

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin is one of the most challenging to care for; one moment everything might be fine and suddenly the skin reacts to something, without necessarily even knowing what, and nothing seems to calm it down anymore. Most people experience skin sensitivity sometimes, but when the situation becomes permanent, the skin requires special care.

Symptoms of sensitive skin are usually a burning, stinging, tightening, itching or simply painful sensation. The skin may also redden at the onset of symptoms. Sensitive skin is very reactive, and can often be caused by reasons that there is little you can do about, such as air pollution, UV rays, temperature changes, stress, hormones, sleep patterns and one of the most common: skin care products.

People with sensitive skin should choose gentle and fragrance-free products, containing ingredients that strengthen and protect the skin. If the skin reacts very easily to the products, it is recommended to always test the new product on a small area of the skin before starting the actual use.

Ingredients for sensitive skin

  • Green tea
  • Centella 
  • Ceramids - act like a glue that holds skin cells together and thus protects the skin's own protective layer
  • Squalane - an antioxidant that ensures that skin fats (lipids) do not oxidize

Cleansing: Clean the skin with a gentle cleanser that does not irritate the skin, such as SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Ampoule Foam or Etude Soon Jung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser.

Peeling: Those with sensitive skin may easily think that exfoliation is not good for the condition of the skin, but every skin type benefits from the right kind of exfoliation. As with combination skin, a leave-on BHA exfoliating product, such as Purito BHA Dead Skin Moisture Gel. BHA, or salicylic acid, naturally contains skin-soothing properties that reduce redness, clean pores and fade lines.

Toner: Soothing and moisturizing toner is best for sensitive skin, Etude Soon Jung 5.5 Relief Toner is exactly like that.

Serum: Choose a serum or an ampoule that is specially targeted at sensitive skin and that soothes and helps the skin to regenerate, our perennial favorite is SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Ampoule. If you especially need hydration, Some By Mi Beta Panthenol Repair Serum is specially developed for easily irritated and reddened skin. If, on the other hand, you suffer from pimples and your skin is sensitive, test instead Pyunkang Yul Calming Moisture Serum.

Moisturizer: Pyunkang Yul Calming Moisture Barrier Cream includes e.g. squalane, fennel and ceramides, making it an excellent product for sensitive skin.

Mask: Allow yourself and your skin a soothing 15-20 minute relaxing break by regularly using a face mask. You can choose either a wash-off mask suitable for your sensitive skin, such as Skinfood Apricot Food Mask or try one of our countless sheet masks. For sensitive skin, SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Watergel Sheet Ampoule Mask and Mediheal Madecassoside Essential Mask are particularly good.

SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Watergel Sheet Ampoule Mask

Acne-prone skin

Acne occurs at almost any age, and there are many reasons for its occurrence, including the influence of the environment, hormones, stress, diet, genetic tendency for bacteria to accumulate on the skin, blocked skin pores and excessive sebum production. Many of the same products are suitable for acne-prone skin as for oily skin, and products labeled non-comedogenic guarantee that they will not clog pores.

Ingredients for acne-prone skin

  • Retinol - an ingredient that effectively regenerates the skin works excellently as an aid to acne skin.
  • Salicylic acid - an exfoliating and regenerating ingredient helps keep skin pores clean.

Cleansing: Acne-prone skin should be washed twice a day and always after sports. Also remember to remove make-up before exercise, because the combination of make-up and sweat easily clogs pores. Anua Heartleaf Quercetinol Pore Deep Cleansing Foam cleans impurities from the skin effectively. As the first step of double cleansing, we recommend a cleansing balm, for example Banila Co Clean It Zero Purifying which is suitable also for acne skin.

Peeling: It is especially important to exfoliate acne-prone skin regularly, but remember moderation - excessive exfoliation damages the skin's protective layer and exposes it to bacteria, which in turn leads to new pimples. Even for acne skin, 2-3 exfoliations a week are enough. Try the hit product Some by Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner.

Toner: Acne skin also benefits from the balancing effect of a toner. Axis-Y Biome Comforting Infused Toner strengthens the skin, balances its function and relieves inflammation.

Serum: Choose a formula that treats impurities, such as Iunik Tea Tree Relief Serum which soothes the skin and helps pimples to heal faster.

Get some extra help for pimples from pimple patches, which effectively treat pimples and concealer is good to apply on top of.

Mixsoon Panax Ginseng Root Extract

Aging skin

Everyone's skin ages, but your skin type may have a significant impact on how quickly and in what way aging begins to show on the skin. As stated, Korean so-called well-age products are mainly designed for the very young from a Western point of view; already for around 25 years old and above. This is because the Korean skin care routine is based on long-term and proactive skin care, where the aim is to slow down and prevent the signs of aging long before they appear, and not just when the first lines appear on the face. However, nothing prevents you from starting to use these great products later than in your twenties, as long as you remember that repairing damage is much more challenging than preventing it.

One of the characteristic anti-aging ingredients of Korean cosmetics is ginseng, which, among other things, promotes cell regeneration and stimulates collagen production. Try adding ginseng to your skin care routine, for example in a toner; excellent options for aging skin are Beauty Of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water and Mixsoon Panax Ginseng Root Extract.

Retinol is one of the best ingredients in the treatment of signs of aging, but its herbal sister bakuchiol also achieves similar results, without the same risk of skin irritation. Some By Mi Retinol Intense Reactivating Serum is perfect for those new to retinol in their skin care routine, as well as for dry and sensitive skin types. Vegan Purito Bakuchiol Timeless Bloom Revitalizing Serum is also excellent for sensitive skin. 

For oily or combination skin with signs of aging we recommend testing  About Me Kakadu C Dark Spot Serum or Pyunkang Yul Black Tea Boosting Serum, which, in addition to anti-aging properties, brighten the skin and balance sebum production.

Treatment of pigmentation and uneven skin tone

Dark spots, red marks left by pimples and general uneven skin tone caused by UV radiation are very common skin problems. One of the enduring favorites of Yeppo and Korean women is Axis-Y Dark Spot Correcting Glow Serum, because it effectively fades pigment changes, brightens and balances the skin tone. Vitamin C is an effective brightener, and Cosrx The Vitamin C 23 Serum is the nobility of vitamin C serums. It's suitable for all skin types, even to more sensitive skin types that don't normally tolerate vitamin C.

Enhance the effect of brightening serums with an ampoule, essence or mask. We recommend Ma:nyo Factory Galac Niacin 2.0 Essence and SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Tone Brightening Capsule Ampoule. From face masks we recommend trying for example Some By Mi Yuja Niacin Brightening Sleeping Mask and Ariul Yuzu Vita Fresh Sleeping Mask.

Dehydrated skin

As you may remember, dehydrated skin is different from dry skin. Dehydrated skin specifically suffers from a lack of water moisture, as the name suggests, and the problem is not the lack of oil formation in the skin, as with dry skin type. You can suffer from dehydrated skin, no matter what your skin type is - even with oily or combination skin.

The symptoms of dehydrated skin are pretty much the same as those of dry skin, but the most important difference is that dry skin is dry all year round - dehydrated skin comes and goes, for example with the seasons. If your skin type is oily or combination skin, your skin may feel dry from the inside and still be very oily on the surface. Frustrating? Yes. Confusing? Very.

What causes dehydrated skin?

Often, lack of moisture is caused by the wrong skin care products; too strong or skin sensitizing, that damage the skin's barrier or microbiome. These include, for example, too strong exfoliating products, skin care products containing alcohol and hard-bristled skin cleansing brushes.

Dehydration can also be caused simply by products that are not suitable for your skin, wrong product combinations or excessive use of an ingredient. It is difficult or almost impossible to give general instructions for this, because everyone's skin is different and reacts to products in different ways. For someone, for example, combining AHAs and BHAs, vitamin C, and high-concentration retinol can produce great results, but if used every day, the result can be dehydrated skin that gets too oily on the surface. So remember, moderation in everything, including effective skin care products.

Balancing dehydrated skin is possible:

Anua Heartleaf 70% Daily Lotion

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