I found this conversation between Elizabeth Stilwell of The Note Passer and Christina DeSmet of Desmitten on clean Korean Beauty so charming and informative, I’ve put it here with their permission. Enjoy!

This 10-step skincare routine is more like the CliffsNotes of a culture of skin pampering than an enumerated routine actually prescribed in Korea. The gentle multi-step process includes cleansing, exfoliating, treating, and intensely moisturizing to pamper and nurture your skin before bed, when repair happens the most. Christina of DeSmitten Design Blog and I had heard about it and wanted to give it a try, but couldn’t find a version made up of only clean products. Being that there is such an incredible amount of product involved, we decided to gather up our favorite clean products and test out the routine. What follows is our conversation around the whole process as well as our findings and recommendations.

Elizabeth: What did you think when I showed you all the steps?
Christina: I thought some were redundant and unnecessary (eye makeup remover/regular makeup remover) and I felt like some steps were missing like a detoxifying mask… although you wouldn’t do a detoxifying mask every day.
Elizabeth: How much time do you usually devote to nightly skincare?Christina: I wash my face with water and then I put Tata Harper’s beautifying oil on while massaging for 2 minutes and then I put eye serum on… done! So 4 minutes maybe?
Elizabeth: Just water? Even for makeup removal?
Christina: If I have eye makeup on I will use avocado oil to remove it, but usually I only use face wash in the shower—and water only the rest of the time.
Elizabeth: So the opposite of this Korean scheme?
Christina: Lol yes—my minimalism extends to my beauty routine.


The first step is about the gentle removal of stubborn products. Don’t tug the skin to remove waterproof mascara or long-lasting lipstick—use a makeup remover of the oil-based variety.

Elizabeth: Eye makeup removal is the first step. Unless you are Lady Gaga, do you think this step is really necessary?
Christina: Lol. I think it is only necessary if you are wearing mascara or eyeliner, but i think you could just use oil.
Elizabeth: Mine comes off when I use oil on the rest of my face, but I suppose I shouldn’t be rubbing mascara all around my skin? Maybe the Koreans are on to something there.


If you don’t wear a lot of makeup, you might just go straight to this step. Use gentle, circular motions to remove dirt and makeup. Massaging the face this way increases circulation as well.

Elizabeth: So mascara’s off and it’s on to cleansing, which might also be oil based. I do this step most nights. But you said you also use a cleanser in the shower?
Christina: I only use a cleaner in the shower, yes. When I shower, I wash my face with either John Masters or Jeff Rosenbrook.
Elizabeth: So many men in your shower…
Christina: Lol yes, it’s crowded.
Elizabeth: I used to do oil and then another cleanser, but with this extensive routine that isn’t necessary.


This step can be done twice a month. It still should be gentle and please, nomicrobeads! Find a product that uses natural ingredients like sugar, walnut, or oatmeal as the exfoliant.

Elizabeth: I must stress this is gentle exfoliation. And not for everyday.
Christina: I couldn’t exfoliate everyday.
Elizabeth: I must admit I like to use just sugar as an exfoliant because I’m cheap and it works.
Christina: I do sugar also! I only use exfoliator in the shower, not everyday, lol. I don’t do anything everyday—it’s as needed.

To see the rest of the steps, plus Elizabeth’s recommendations for clean and non-toxic products, read the rest on The Note Passer!