KOREAN SKINCARE ROUTINE 101: Part 4: Moisturiser & Sleeping Mask

**Previously: Part 3: Sheet Mask, Essence/Serum/Ampoule & Eye Cream**


In part 4 of this series, we will look at steps 9 and 11 of the skincare routine:


  1. Oil Cleanser (Makeup remover)
  2. Facial Cleanser
  3. Exfoliator/Wash Off Mask*
  4. Toner
  5. First Treatment Essence
  6. Sheet Mask*
  7. Essence/Serum/Ampoule
  8. Eye Cream
  10. Sunscreen (Daytime)
  11. SLEEPING MASK/PACK* (Night  time)

(*Doesn’t need to be used everyday; usually a 1-2x weekly treatment)



While essences and serums are for treating different skin concerns and problems, the point of moisturisers are to increase hydration and provide moisture to the skin. When your skin is properly hydrated, you can prevent skin from being too dry or oily, protect sensitive skin, slow down and diminish signs of ageing, and improve skin texture, tone and clarity. Not using a moisturiser at all can compromise your skin barrier, causing more skin issues and developing more wrinkles.

Moisturisers can be split into 3 main ingredient types which form the basis of its texture, consistency, effectiveness and suitability for different skin etc.

  • Humectants – humectants are hydrating molecules that are able to attract and retain moisture drawn from the air or from deeper skin layers via absorption. When using a moisturiser with humectant ingredients in it, they will help increase and maintain moisture on the upper layers of your skin to provide a plumping effect and smooth out fine lines. Virtually every moisturiser, essence, serum or ampoule will contain  some humectants and are great for most skin types.

Common humectant ingredients to look out for: glycerin, hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, aloe vera, egg white, honey

  • Occlusives – water loss is one of the main causes for dry and dehydrated skin and creates problems such as flaky skin, dry patches and that tight feeling from within. Occlusives are therefore great for dry skin types because they create a thin moisture film over the skin which acts as a barrier to trap and prevent water loss. However, occlusives don’t add moisture to the skin, it simply slows the evaporation of water so that’s why it is used in conjunction with humectants that draw water to the skin before the occlusive seals it in. This is less suitable for oily skin types and those prone to acne because it can be greasy, leave a thick, heavy feeling on the skin, be comedogenic, and cause breakouts and irritation for sensitive skin.

Common humectant ingredients to look out for: beeswax, petroleum, mineral oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, lanolin, paraffin, silicone

  • Emollients – emollients are ingredients that smooth out the skin’s surface by filling in the gaps between skin cells to give softer, more flexible and less flaky skin. Emollients sort of sit in-between a light humectant moisturiser and a heavier occlusive moisturiser. Emollients share similar occlusive properties as they also prevent water loss (though not as effective or as long-lasting), but tend to be thinner and more creamy/spreadable than the latter. These creams are great for normal-combination skin as well as slightly dehydrated or dry skin.

Common humectant ingredients to look out for: plant-based oils (coconut, jojoba, almond, sesame, olive, rosehip), squalene, lanolin, paraffin, shea butter, mineral oil

Moisturisers are important regardless of your skin type. Many people with oily skin neglect this step because they think it will exacerbate the oil issue but it really is just about finding one that is suitable for your skin. There are a multitude of different moisturisers on the market for different skin conditions and types – for dry, oily, combination, sensitive, acne-prone etc. Not all moisturisers are heavy and occlusive.

Having the right balance of water and oil is crucial to having healthy skin. Many people with oily skin on the surface, and who shy away from moisturisers, actually have dehydrated skin inside; they are not able to retain as much water so the sebaceous glands overproduce more sebum aka oil to compensate. A moisturiser will help optimise the balance of water and oil. On the other hand, someone with dry skin who slathers on lots of occlusive, oily moisturisers can actually suffer from dehydration: a lack of water which means their skin still feels dry and tight. This indicates they need more humectant ingredients/hydrating steps in their skincare as occlusives don’t add more water, they just retain what little you already have.

Lets look at the different types of moisturisers you can get on the market:

  • Emulsion – most Korean skincare lines have an emulsion in their lineup and this is a light moisturiser which is perfect for oily and combination skin types because they are very lightweight.
  • Lotion – this is also a lighter form of a cream but slightly thicker than an emulsion.
  • Gel Creams – these are lightweight and absorb quickly because they are more water-based than traditional creams and don’t clog your pores – better for oilier skin that is prone to breakouts.
  • Creams – these are typically more emollient and occlusive than the previous categories as they contain more oils to nourish and lock in moisture. They also work best as night creams and are suitable for dry and ageing skin types.
  • Facial Oils – this category is a little different and straddles the line between the essence and moisturiser step. Oil blends can be designed as a treatment step for targeting specific skin concerns but are also great for moisturisng dry, flaky skin. Where you apply in your routine depends on its consistency (some are very lightweight and watery, others can be very oily). Generally it can be applied in your essence step but heavier oils can be mixed in with your serum or moisturiser. Some brands even recommend it as the last step in your routine to seal in all the previous steps.

Note: You skin is never just one type and is always changing according to the weather and seasonal climate. It’s good to adjust your moisturiser when your skin changes because a gel cream in summer may not be sufficient for the colder winters. You may also want to use a different moisturiser for day and night.

Product recommendation: Belif The True Cream (Aqua Bomb & Moisturizing Bomb), Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream,  Primera Watery Oil Free Gel Cream, Primera Alpine Berry Watery Cream, Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Cream, Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream



Sleeping masks (like FTEs), are one of those products that have really taken off in Asia but are less commonly found in the Western market, which is slowly catching on but you won’t see as much variety.

Sleeping masks are born from the knowledge that during the day, our skin experiences a lot of stress and disruption from environmental factors like free radicals, pollution, stress, weather, indoor heating and UV rays etc. All these factors can not only disrupt the moisture/oil balance of our skin and its texture, but can cause the breakdown of skin cells, resulting in premature signs of ageing too (including wrinkles, pigmentation, dullness).

However, did you know that when you sleep at night is the skin’s most effective time to repair itself?

  • At night, your skin has an increased cell renewal rate. This means its working its hardest to reverse skin damage, boosting its collagen production and fighting free radicals. Skin cell regeneration almost doubles between the peak time of 11pm-4am, which is why its important to ensure you’re asleep at this time to reap the benefits.
  • At night, the skin temperature is also higher and has better absorption capabilities which therefore makes it more receptive to active ingredients as they can penetrate deeper and work more effectively without external inteference. However, on the flip side, more moisture loss from your skin occurs at night which is why its important to ensure you’ve moisturised well to hydrate and trap water that may be lost during your sleep.

The above points are what makes having a sleeping mask so important. A sleeping mask not only provides an intense moisture boost to your skin, it also works to aid your skin in repairing itself with active ingredients to provide smoother, softer, plumper skin and an improved complexion/reduced dullness when you wake the next morning. It is different to a night cream because night creams are more for hydrating, soothing and providing a protective barrier over your skin. A sleeping mask does all that but has the added function of nourishing and treating your skin much like a serum does with active ingredients to combat skin issues.

This is applied at the very last step of your skincare routine before bed and is a treatment product to be used 1-2x a week to give your skin that extra boost when needed. However, it can be used more frequently, or even daily if your skin agrees with it. I personally like to use it 3-4x a week or daily during the wintertime.

Note: It can be applied over your regular night moisturiser or take the place of your moisturiser instead, if you don’t feel you need that much hydration. My favourite method of applying is to do my normal skincare routine in the early evening and then just before I go to bed, I will apply a sleeping mask for the added hydration and to seal everything else in. That way it gives my normal night cream a chance to absorb properly before I add another layer, and doesn’t feel too heavy on my skin.

Product recommendation: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, Innisfree Green Tea Sleeping Pack, Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask, Cosrx Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask, Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Mask

**Coming up next: Part 5: Sunscreen**


18 thoughts on “KOREAN SKINCARE ROUTINE 101: Part 4: Moisturiser & Sleeping Mask

    1. You can definitely put an emulsion and moisturizer together especially if the latter isnt hydrating enough. If you decide to use a sleeping pack however, I would only use an emulsion or moisturizer with it and not all 3 at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Should you put the moisturizer on first and THEN a sleeping mask OR
    choose between the moisturizer or the sleeping mask?



  2. Wow, I stumbled upon your blog via your review of the Floria Peeling gel (got it as a tester and there was no English text on it, so I wasn’t even sure what it did, haha), great writing. So happy about this series in particular!
    I’ve been reading a few different A/K-beauty-centered blogs and some “lists” on how to build a beauty routine, but I honestly found yours one of the most comprehensive so far.
    I’m building and expanding my own routine right now and I wondered if I could bother you to give me your thoughts on how some of my product combinations and choices look (very generally obviously).. In that case I could send you a message on your FB page, I guess that would be easiest (if it’s fine with you of course)! That would totally make my day 🙂
    Greetings from Norway~

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love love loved this whole series!!! Thanks for putting so much thought and time in! One problem I’ve encountered is when I’m looking at products to buy, I often am not sure what category they fit in…meaning they aren’t often labeled: ampoule or essence…how can you tell them all apart? I am new to K-beauty and am LOOOOOVING it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy it! Need to get round to writing the rest of it haha.
      I think you just naturally learn to recognise what category products are by their function and what it claims to do etc. As you get more familiar with kbeauty product labelling everything starts making sense. If you ever need help with it just drop me a msg, id be happy to help.


    1. Hi! Thanks for your message haha I know my sunscreen post is looong overdue. Got sidetracked with other posts and ended up neglecting the last 2 in the series. I will hopefully aim to have it up this month! Thanks for waiting!


  4. Thanks so much for all these guides! They were very helpful and digestible 😀 Especially the parts about layering which product over which. And explaining what exactly everything does and what to expect. Thanks!


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