Korean Skincare: Step 1. Oil Cleanser

Korean Skincare

Oh, Korean Skincare. Let me count the ways I adore thee! Korean Skincare is spreading across the western world like wild fire. While it may sound like just another trend, it’s actually a very cemented part of Korean culture.

Korean Skincare focuses on the overall health of your skin, hydration, and often times brightening. It’s all about valuing your skin for what it is,  the largest organ on your body. The method follows 10 steps. It starts with the double cleanse. Yes, washing your face twice is oh so nice. The double cleanse consists of an oil based cleanser and then a water based cleanser. These steps are then followed by a physical or chemical exfoliant, toner, essence, serum or ampoule, sheet mask, eye cream, moisturizer and/or oil, and finally, SPF.

The 10-step method may sound a little crazy to people in the states, but every step has a purpose. And of course, not all steps are necessary everyday, twice a day. You might be thinking it’s just a capitalist ploy to get you to spend more money. This may be true to a certain degree, especially with some brands that aren’t giving you enough product for the price. On the other hand, if you’re smart about the brands you shop and how, following this method can be a pleasant and rewarding experience.

K-beauty has done wonders for my skin. Unlike any prescribed or over-the-counter products, this method has given me great results with my skin’s health in mind. I’m not saying 10 steps is for everyone, but I think that anything from 3 to 10 steps can really make a difference. You can find Korean products in the states at Sephora, Ulta, and various other stores. There are also a multitude of websites. From brandname websites to Amazon, Ohlolly, and my favorite, Soko Glam.

I do mix some western products into my routine, as the brands over here have started to care more about their ingredients. So if you do struggle finding Korean products, know that there are now plenty of brands here that can suit your needs, and still follow the 10-step method.

Step 1: Oil Cleanser

skin quench

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the first step of the 10-step Korean Skincare method, oil cleansing. The concept of an oil cleanser is usually very shocking to people, especially those with oily skin. The idea of a double cleanse is to wash off any oil based particles first, and then any water based particles, leaving your skin thoroughly clean. Why on earth would you want to put more oil on your face? Well the short answer is science, but I’m going to give you the long answer too. We all know that water and oil don’t mix. Try putting a few drops of olive oil in a cup of water. The oil will separate from the water and float on the top. This means the oil can be moved around the water, but it won’t go away completely.

So the only way we can combat oil is with oil itself. Now I’m not saying to just rub cooking oil on your face and expect it to be clean. You will still be left feeling greasy, and probably end up blocking your pores. Always look for an oil cleansing product! They are formulated to emulsify into a milky texture, and wash off with warm water in a simple manor.

Oil cleansers gently break down the excess sebum your skin produces and helps lift it out of the pores. It also swipes away any dirt, dead skin, pollution, or makeup that is in there. Keep in mind the oils used in these products aren’t just any oils either. They are precisely chosen based on their benefits for the skin, as well as there inability to clog your pores. Oils that are used include almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, sesame seed oil, soybean oil, sunflower seed oil, and more. These are all non-occlusive, meaning they won’t block your pores.

Oil cleansers often come in a jar or pump dispensing bottle. They can be sold in a more solid form, a balm that melts down upon contact with your skin. They are also sold in liquid form. It’s really your preference as to which you use. I personally enjoy going back and forth depending on my mood and convenience.

The first cleanse is a great way to give yourself a facial massage. Because the oil makes it easy for your fingers to glide around your face, you can use circular motions to massage and get your blood flowing. I make sure that my fingers are isolated and moving in circles, and not my entire hand for a gentler approach. After oil cleansing, you should be left with soft, smooth skin. Once this step is complete, your skin is ready for your second cleanse.

Here are a few oil cleansers that I absolutely adore, and have really worked for my skin type:


Photo: skindeepbeautyblog.com

$18.95 to start

Ultrabland by Lush was the first oil cleanser I’ve tried. It’s made of all natural, vegetarian ingredients which is a plus. Calming ingredients like beeswax, honey, and rose water are soothing to the skin. The almond oil and beeswax create an incredibly smooth texture. It leaves your skin feeling ridiculously soft too! This cleanser is wiped away with a damp wash cloth. It’s meant to be a solo cleanser, but I’m sure it would work well as step 1 in your double cleanse too.

Banila Co, Clean it Zero Cleansing Balm Original

Photo: peachandlilly.com

$19 to start

This cleansing balm is a K-Beauty classic. It was one of the first cleansing balms I’ve ever tried and has been a tried and true product for several people. Banila Co recently reformulated this cleanser. The new formula has replaced a lot of questionable ingredients with more natural oils. The texture is also smoother, softer, and the product has a higher melting point. You can choose between two sizes and it’s affordable too, so you really can’t go wrong here.

Hanskin, Cleansing Oil & Blackhead [PHA]

skin quench


This liquid cleansing oil glides across the skin so nicely and has a lovely citrus scent. It’s main focus is preventing breakouts and keeping blackheads and dead skin away. The PHAs, or polyhydroxy acids, are gentle acids that can be used everyday on even sensitive skin. They are working to remove those dead skin cells. This price point for over 10 fl. oz. of product is a great deal in my opinion. It lasts forever!

Klairs, Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil

skin quench


Meet my current cleansing oil! It glides on very well and is no joke when it comes to removing black heads. I’m talking clearer skin the next day.  This product really helps keep any breakouts from getting worse as well. While there isn’t a ton of product for the price, it’s still magic. The pump dispenser can be a turn off, especially if you’re someone who travels. Luckily, this bottle comes with a stopper you can take on and off. It’s definitely saved me some oil stained clothes when going on trips.

Want to see more options? Check out some of the best oil cleansers of the year here!

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