Extensive skincare routine aka Asian skincare routine explained

9:24 PM Moi Sanom 7 Comments

So a few months ago Johnny Clyde explained how an ideal basic routine should look like.
Today I want to explain how you can expand on that by introducing products that target specific skin care needs and concerns.
In his article he explained how to foam cleanse, tone, moisturize use sunscreen and exfoliate.
I will skip over these steps and explain the ones that go in between these.
This kind of routine is based on Asian skincare routines, which are quite extensive and are all about clean hydrated skin and layering products to achieve a face like a Mochi.

Just like that!

Double Cleansing

Double cleansing is based on the principle that removing your makeup and cleansing your face should be two separate steps.
Some people like to double cleanse at night even if they don’t wear makeup, maybe because they live in a very polluted environment, wear waterproof sunscreen or because they have oily skin.

First one would remove makeup or waterproof sunscreen with an oil, balm, cream or milk cleanser. Micellar water can also be used.
If a specific cleanser for eyes and lips is used, it would be as a first step before removing the facial products.
After your makeup has flushed down the drain or stuck to a cotton pad, you would cleanse with a foam, gel or water cleanser to get rid of the previous cleansers residue and deep cleanse your skin.
Some people might want to skip this if they don’t use makeup or feel like their skin is clean enough after their regular cleanser.


I double cleanse every night with a cream cleanser followed by either a Micellar water or a cleansing water, even though I almost never wear makeup.
I usually have a little bit of residue on my cotton pad after I tone if I only use the cream cleanser, so I feel it is a necessary extra step to keep my skin truly clean.

Western toner vs Asian toners

( also called softeners, boosters or skin; lotion in Japan)
Johnny has already explained the importance of Toners in his post, they can get rid of any impurities the cleanser might have left and balance the skin's PH after cleansing.
A proper PH is important to keep the protective layer of your skin healthy and keep moisture in and acne out.
There is a difference between most Western toners (even though I have found very few exceptions) and Asian toners.
Western toners tend to be harsh and astringent, their point seems to be to strip your face from sebum and healthy oils to make it feel squeaky clean.
Most Asian toners on the other hand are used to give you a boost of hydration and prepare your face to absorb the rest of the skin care easier.
You can either pour the toner on a cotton pad and wipe your face with it or pour it into your hands and pat your face and neck.
There are astringent Asian toners as well or acid toners that prepare your face for a lovely dose of AHA or BHA.

Pat pat pat!

Essence, Serum and Ampoule

These are super powered skincare products with a higher concentration of active ingredients that target specific skincare needs.
The essence is the least concentrated with the ampoule being the most concentrated of the three.
It seems like an unnecessary step but to me it is one of the most important ones besides cleansing.
I want to see fast improvement to my skin, for that I need to use products with a high amount of active ingredients!
You can use all three, mix and match for your skin care needs or just use one.
I use either one or even all three depending on what kind of products I am trying out.

Emulsion, also called Milk in Japan

An Emulsion or Milk is a lightweight moisturizing step that can be used by people with oily skin instead of moisturizer or by drier skin types to supplement hydration.
It sometimes even has a higher concentration of active ingredients than moisturizers but less than Essences.
Personally for me I try to not skip the Emulsion step since I really need that extra hydration!
Nature Republics Snail Therapy 80 emulsion is one of only two products I have used that actually gives me smooth and un-scaly skin.
It is truly a miracle product!

Yeah use that miracle stuff!

Sleeping packs

They are like thick night creams that are applied instead of or on top of your moisturizer, their purpose is to give your skin an extra boost of hydration at night.
There are different ones for different skin types and many target specific skin concerns.
Sleeping packs are occlusives meant to sit on top of your skin's surface to stop hydration from evaporating and for slower absorption so that your skin is plump and smooth by the time you wake up.
Some people use them nightly and some do 2-3 times weekly depending on preference.

Sheet masks

Sheet masks are fiber or gel masks in the shape of a ghostly face that are soaked in Essence.
You apply them when needed or 2-3 times a week to pamper your skin for even more hydration. Some are simply moisturizing but most target specific skin concerns.

Spot treatments

Spot treatments can be anything from clarifying clay masks to acids and products you put on active spots.
They are used when needed and following the instructions of the specific product.
Some can multi task, like the Innisfree clay mask (reviewed here) which I use 1 time a week as a clarifying mask and a spot treatment for acne.

Thank god facial masks and spot treatments don't look like this anymore!

Eye cream

Eye creams are often overpriced face creams in tiny jars.
If you look at the ingredients you will see that many are practically the same to regular facial moisturizers.
If you are telling me that when you apply your face cream to your eye area it irritates them and that is why you have a separate eye cream, then I will ask you why are you using a facial cream that is so harsh that it will irritate your eyes.
I believe in gentle but effective facial products, so I wouldn’t put a cream on my face that would irritate them.
Since eye creams usually don’t have actual wrinkle zapping powers, the best thing you can do to prevent fine lines is to hydrate the heck out of them!
So one of the times a separate eye cream really makes sense is if you have oily or combo skin and your regular moisturizer isn’t hydrating enough for your eye area. Or if the cream you use for your face simply doesn't cater to the needs you have for your eyes.
But in this case you can simply use a facial cream that is too rich for you but still gentle enough to put around your eyes.

And just if you were wondering, no the skin around your eyes is not different than the rest of your face.

Asian 8 step skincare routine
8 Step routine

During the day you would start this routine with either your oil cleanser or your foam cleanser if you like or just water if you don't, toner, followed by an essence or serum or both, then if you like the emulsion followed by a moisturizer and sunscreen.

The night time version would start with an oil/balm/cream cleanser possibly followed by foam, gel or water cleanser, toner, then the essence or serum or both, the emulsion if you like, a moisturizer and or a sleeping pack.
Some people think a sleeping pack is hydrating enough for their skin so they skip the moisturizer, but some people like to use it anyways.

Bonus step: Acids

There are a few acids out there that can help improve the texture of your skin by chemically exfoliating dead skin cells and thus transforming your skin to be smooth, hopefully spotless and acne free.
The most popular ones are AHAs and BHA acids which serve different purposes.
They can be used daily or as a weekly treatment.
But before I go on forever about Acids and their benefits, I will come back to this subject in the future since it is a pretty lengthy subject. For more detailed info see here.

What my routine makes me feel like. Now I just need to find pastel haired baby angels to brush my hair!
I personally have a very extensive skin care routine which can range from 5 to 9 products.
I have seen great improvement to my skin since adding the extra steps to my routine.
Having extremely dry and dehydrated skin, the extra steps really do help improve how my face feels!

Mother has been doing a simplified version of the Asian Skin care routine for over a year now and has seen such incredible improvements that even her Cosmetician, who hadn’t seen her in a year, asked her if she had a chemical peeling or laser treatment done!

Mother is the first one who yells: “I hate serums, I hate sunscreens, I don’t want to use more products, my face will fall off with all them”!
But after coaxing her with sample sizes she realized that the products are indeed there to be layered and that they don’t make your face feel heavy or greasy, but just the opposite!

Mother after doing her Asian skin care routine for 6 months and wanting more!
In the end my routine can take between 1-2 minutes if I race through it, but I really like taking my time and extensively tapping and massaging everything into my face.
It is very relaxing for me and makes me feel prepared to take on the day or night.

Johnny Clyde has seen an incredible improvement in his skin since doing his routine, you can see it in these before and after pictures.

Winter of 2012 on the left and Summer 2013 on the right
He has recently told me he looks forward to our routine every day, which made me feel like he said “I love all your crazy skin care quirks!”
To see his detailed routine and current skin updates see here.

If you are interested in adapting your basic routine to a more extensive Asian style routine I recommend you get products that are suitable for your skin type and add one at a time.
Your skin will love you for it!