The Ultimate Korean Skincare Routine For Acne-prone Skin

One of the most common skin concerns that we’re constantly asked about is acne. Whether you have persistent acne or the occasional breakouts, it’s essential to use your skincare routine that will help treat existing acne blemishes while also preventing future acne breakouts. Some of you may not have enough time to spend on the full 9-step skincare routine, however, you should always make sure to focus on three main steps: cleanse, treat and protect.

In fact, everyone’s skin is different, so let’s have a look at some of the most common acne causes:

  • Excess activity of a type of hormone (androgens)

  • Excess oil production

  • Hair follicles clogged by oil and dead skin cells

  • Dirty skin and poor hygiene

  • Period or pregnancy (women)

After testing and researching with our team, we proudly present the ultimate Korean skincare routine for those who have oily / acne-prone skin. Our hand-picked products are both gentle and calm enough for those with sensitive skin. We know that the process of fighting long-term acne skin is frustrating and requires a lot of patience. Still, we are here to help you achieve smooth, glowing, blemish-free appearance.


1. Double Cleansing

Double cleansing method is one of the secret weapons in Korean skincare routine. It includes the use of an oil-based cleanser then follows with a water-based cleanser. With someone having acne-prone skin, it is essential to take off all makeup, suncream, any other pollutants from the day and have a deep clean.

Some people might misunderstand that oil-based cleansers can clog your pores or cause breakouts. In fact, traditional cleansers can irritate the skin, cause excessive dryness and ultimately result in the skin overproducing oil after washing. On the other hand, oil cleansing products can help balance the skin and lock in hydration. Also, the cleanser works only on the surface and not enough to clog or seep into your skin. We'd recommend Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying. The gentle sherbet type cleanser that softly melts on the skin to remove stubborn makeup, exfoliate and soothe the skin in one simple step. This cleanser is free from artificial colouring, alcohol, paraben and mineral oil. This is a perfect first start in your double cleansing process.

After removing the makeup, some people might stop there. However, to make sure that your skin is clean, you need a cleanser, especially for those who wear lots of makeup or have oily skin. It’s best to avoid cleansers that have mineral or fragrant 'natural' oils.

We'll recommend you to try the cult favourite Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, a gel cleanser that contains tea tree oil that helps control oily skin, shrink pore size while natural BHA helps refine skin texture. Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser makes your skin environment healthy and protects your skin barrier.


2. Mild Chemical Exfoliant with AHA/BHA

Exfoliation is vital for acne-prone skin. You should exfoliate your skin 1-2 times a week to get rid of those dead skin cells and unclog those blocked pores to help prevent and reduce acne, blackheads or pimples. Try to opt for a chemical exfoliator which can penetrate deeper into the skin to dissolve that dirt in your pores and causes dead skin cell build-up and not causing irritation, while physical exfoliators sometimes can be too harsh on the skin if not done properly.

We recommend trying this magical toner as your daily exfoliant: Some By Mi AHA-BHA-PHA 30 days Miracle Toner. Because of the low pH formulate, it is surprisingly safe for sensitive skin as an effective exfoliation (it's dermatologically-tested). Also, the ingredient tea tree water extract is soothing and promotes clear skin.

3. Hydrating Toner

A good toner can help minimize the appearance of pores and balance oil production.

We love Klairs Supple Preparation Unscented Toner, the new version of the famous Klairs Supple Preparation Toner as it features a soothing blend of plant-based extracts, along with hydrating ingredient hyaluronic acid, and the soothing Centella Asiatica which help calm, soothe and balance skin; plus it’s fragrance-free! Hence, it is perfect for sensitive and acne skin.



4. Essence

This might be a bonus step for some, but it is a crucial step for those who follow the Korean skincare routine. Essence is not a toner but a watery serum which delivers active ingredients deep into your skin.

Cosrx Snail Mucin Essence is created from nutritious, low-stimulation filtered snail mucin and other great ingredients, to aid hydration, prevent wrinkles, repair dry patches, acne breakouts, blemishes and hyperpigmentation.


Korean Skincare for Acne Skin


To use, you should follow these methods:

1. On the forehead and the nose, lightly touch so as not to cause heaviness.

2. On the cheek, spread a generous amount and rub enough to soak into the skin.

3. For under-eye area, tap as if playing the piano, to make the skin absorb the essence.


5. Mask Time (1-3 times per week)

Treat your skin a detoxing time with a mask at least twice a week! Sheet masks actually can be used to target your problems such as hydration concerns, winkles or breakouts skin. Our favourite sheet masks are Briskin AC Control mask and Dr Jart+ Cicapair Calming Mask. Both of those masks are known as an aid in skin recovery which soothes, protects, fights inflammation while optimally hydrating skin. To use, apply the sheet mask on your face for 10-20 mins, then pat the remaining essence into the skin. And remember, you don't need to wash off your skin.


Korean Skincare for Acne Skin


Korean Skincare for Acne Skin

6. Treatment Serums

During this step, you can select a specific target serum to achieve your skincare goals. Layering one or more serums can depend on what your skin is concerned about and how much time you have. These products are so light in texture that they absorb quite fast to your skin.

  • Vitamin C serum

For acne-prone skin, you should provide Vitamin C for your skin. Vitamin C is fantastic for brightening dark spots and healing your skin, which you probably will need after fighting an especially nasty pimple. Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop contains key ingredients directly from nature and concentrated pure Vitamin C. With Vitamin C serum, we advise using at night time or under SPF only since V

Korean Skincare for Acne Skinitamin C can make your skin sensitive to sunlight.


Korean Skincare for Acne Skin


  • Hydrating Serum

Another essential serum for acne skin is a hydrating serum. Acne-fighting ingredients can cause excessive dryness. You'll want to ensure your skin looks smooth, glowing and radiant throughout your day by replenishing your skin's moisture levels. Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Serum will help your tired, dehydrated, sensitive, dry skin the drink of water it deserves!


7. Hydrating Moisturiser

Even though you get an oily-skin, moisturising your skin day and night is still necessary. A moisturiser not only hydrates the skin, but it also seals in moisture. With acne-prone/oily skin, you should use water-based or gel creams instead of heavy texture cream for winter. They're lightweight and keep your skin fresh, yet supple as well as won't seal your pores. You should follow this step with an SPF during the day time as well.

Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream provides immediate, long-term moisture for a more radiant, hydrated complexion. The texture is creamy but not heavy at all, easily absorbed into your skin. The feeling after use is not at all irritation and leaves an effect of calming and soothing skin.


Korean Skincare for Acne Skin


If you prefer something more gentle and lightweight for oily, sensitive skin, Cosrx Oil-free Ultra Moisturising Lotion contains 70% Birch Sap (Betula Platyphylla Japonica Juice), a powerhouse ingredient for calming and treating sensitive, irritated, or freshly exfoliated skin with an oil-free, lightweight formula.


Korean Skincare for Acne Skin

8. Suncream

You might think that suncare is only for a sunny day, but it's not true. Even when it's cloudy and sunny, you still need to protect your skin against UVA/UVB rays and prevent acne scars from darkening.

COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream and Some By Mi Truecica Mineral 1000 Calming Suncream both have SPF50+ PA+++ which not only helps protect skin against UVA & UVB rays but also provide hydration for your skin. Those sun cream have a lightweight texture, which absorbs quickly and leaves skin feeling intensely hydrated without feeling greasy or leaving a white cast. This sunblock can be worn all year long as it feels light during hot/humid summer and moisturising in the dry season.


Korean Skincare for Acne Skin

9. Spot Treatment (Bonus Step)

While you are on the process of treating pimples or acne, spot treatments are an unskippable step. Acne treatments like these are great for targeting these problem areas. When combined with those previous steps, it may help treat stubborn pimples overnight!

  • Spot Cream

Our advice is not to pop your pimples until you see a whitehead form at its peak. Until then, using a clean fingertip or cotton swab to apply the Super Miracle Spot All Kill Cream from Some By Mi on to the pimple is the best way to do it. This multifunctional cream is packed with AHA, BHA and PHA to purify skin by ridding it of impurities entirely effectively. The weightless and transparent gel texture allows for smooth application onto trouble areas.


Korean Skincare for Acne Skin


  • Pimple Patch

Acne-prone can be considered as an open wound. Therefore, protecting these areas from bacteria, secondary infection and maintains humidity of skin will help faster recovery. COSRX Acne Pimple Patch with the uniquely developed hydrocolloid material effectively extracts impurities and creates a moist environment, which makes the healing process faster. These masters in healing acne adhere to the skin firmly and do the magic by extracting impurities and reducing redness.


Korean Skincare for Acne Skin

To use, stick the COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch onto the dry skin and replace it with the new one when it turns white (after 8-10 hours).

So what do you think? Are you ready to fight that stubborn acne together with us? Or still, have questions about Korean skincare routine for acne-prone skin products, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at to get help.

Reviews (4 comments)

  • Ria On


  • Janice On

    Hi ,, great list but how to use all these products or when?

  • Rose On

    Hey this is great. Just wanted to ask as I have bought all these products. How do I use them ? Is it morning is different and night is different.


    thanks a lot for this great information. it is really helpful

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