The skincare dictionary is going to be a new series, in which I create articles explaining those things that I consider everyone needs to know in order to have the best skincare regime possible. A place to get the basic foundation knowledge, for you to rethink your approach to skincare, but also learn some of the latest concepts and techniques to allow those skincare savvy to stay on top of their game.
The topic for today´s article is going to be another Korean skincare trend, one that even after getting popular at the end of 2016 and viral around Korea and for certain beauty “junkies” through 2017, might still be an enigma for many, specially when it comes to the correct way to perform it: the 7 skin method.
When you hear “skin” in Korean, press pause, since it is very possible for this word not to mean exactly what you might have initially thought, being “스킨” or “Skin”, actually another word for toner. Knowing this fact you can probably guess a little bit better, the importance that the item holds on this country when talking skincare. The function of toner follows a completely different standard in Korea, when compared to other countries, specially when comparing against western beauty regimes, where toner is many times only known as a step adjunct to cleansing, to help get rid of any remaining waste that might still be lingering around the skin.
On the contrary in Korea, toning is one of the star steps of the daily beauty regime, one that should never be missed. Considered to be the first step of skincare, helping you balance the PH levels on your skin and prepping it for absorbing all the nutrients that it is about to receive.
The 7 skin method, literally translating into “7 toner method” is a regime consisting in just that, applying 7 layers of toner onto the skin. You might ask yourself why would you ever even consider doing that, being skincare a process many times long by definition. Well, here you have some reasons that might make you want to give it a second thought.
As we mentioned before toner has the ability to balance the skin´s PH and help it get ready to better absorb all the products that we are going to be applying later on, but why the 7 times when 1 should be already more than enough, it is because with this regime we are not only aiming to carry those basic functions. This routine is directed towards rescuing our skin on those occasions when it might not be at its best state, helping bring it back to point 0, for you to be able to target any other concerns on the best neutral canvas that you can provide, a very well hydrated and nourished skin. Catered to deeply hydrate and help correct any possible imbalances and damages on the skin´s barrier, this method will get your skin back on track in many forms, from giving it enough moisture to face the cold winter days, calm skin inflammations, giving extra elasticity and plumpness, without ever forgetting about the beautiful iridescent glow that you can only get from a well nourished skin.
On the left you can see a picture of how the skin on my left hand looked right after layering toner, on the right top is my left hand hours after using the regime and on the bottom picture the skin of my right hand without any treatment. (Click onto the picture for close-ups and take into account that you can not really see nor feel the real state of the skin when comparing both and this is only after one time and no extra products).
By layering toner we will not only help balance PH levels, which many times get messed up daily by our lifestyle, the use of harsh products, or climate conditions, but the thin and watery like texture of toner, will allow it to penetrate deeply into the skin reaching the layers that other products are unable to.
Many times we assume that the richer or heavier texture the cream is, the more hydrated our skin will be, which that can be a very wrong assumption since many times, the thicker the cream the harder it will be for it to penetrate into the skin, specially when our skin is deeply dehydrated. Due to many different factors, heavier creams tend to sit on the top layer of the skin without being able to penetrate further and are therefore unable to solve our lack of hydration, many times not even absorbing completely due to their larger molecules, which will not only not give us the moisture that we were looking for, but also could end up creating build up if not absorbing well onto the skin. That is why generally people with oily and/or very dehydrated skin benefit a lot more from using thinner textured products, being it easier for the skin to absorb at once the hydration of more liquid products.
Swatch of 4 different products, left to right are cream, emulsion, essence and toner, which was already starting to absorb into the skin by then.
Of course, the thinner the product does not directly translate into better results. As always I still recommend you to be smart about your buys and the ingredients that you decide to go for (If you want a small introduction into what kind of basic ingredients you should be looking for, you can have a look at the mentions on the second page of my article: The skincare diet). After all that, who exactly could benefit from following this regime? Here comes the part that I love: Everyone. Layering thinner textured products will be very positive to balance any skin type, you only need to find the best product that caters your skin needs.
Now, for how exactly you should properly follow this regime for it to be as effective as it possibly can be, keep on reading because we are going to go through it all: the good, the bad, the dos and the don’ts, so stay put, get a cup of tea, preferably green, since it is great for the skin, and take some mental notes to learn all about it.
Product layering is actually not a new concept, many people have done it for years before it ever was a thing, but also the key for this method to work best does not lay into doing exactly 7 layers or 6, nor on doing it every single day morning and night, but on you choosing the proper products, leaving the proper time space for it to absorb well and use it as many times as you personally might need.
Meaning, different skin types will need different toners, essences or even cream and oil mixtures, different time to separate the applications and different number of layers, what should be universal for every single person using this regime, is making sure to promote a good absorption of the product, which you can do by warming up the chosen product with clean hands, spreading it evenly while softly massaging it onto the skin and topping it of by using patting motions to make sure it all goes into the skin, without evaporating, so make sure you rock that “pat pat pat” as if patting were to be your new life motto.
How to best apply it?
Right after cleansing do not dry your face, but remove with your palms the water excess and proceed to pour some basic neutral PH toner onto your palms. Afterwards, pat your face dry using your palms while adding the toner, for a first balancing layer. From there proceed to add as many layers as you see fit using the same technique. Depending on your needs and the state of your skin, you could use the same toner or a different one suited to your preferences, but take into account that the more sensitive or dehydrated (not dry) your skin is, the thinner and more simple and soothing of an ingredient list you might want to look for.
After you feel your skin to be properly moisturized, which means for your skin to look and feel plump and flexible; let a bit of time go by for your skin to fully process all the layers you just added and afterwards, as the last step, do not skip adding one last layer of a soothing or slightly light moisturizer to lock all the moisture into the skin. You do not need anything too heavy or too special, you could even use a sleeping mask if you would like just make sure that it is a fairly clean product that will act as a seal to prevent any moisture to leave your skin during sleeping hours.
Things to take into account and be aware of:
I advice you to stay very away from products containing alcohol, irritants or heavy fragrances, try to go for cleaner products. Think that by using this method you are trying to do CPR to reestablish your skin and therefore the more nourishing and soothing the product, the better results you will experience.
Do not overuse this technique, it is not aimed to be done every single day morning and night, it would not only be extremely time-consuming but also contra productive. We want to put our skin back into its starting line, not make it lazy or over apply products without need. Being the extremely cold winter that we are having in Korea, you can use this method at night-time for a couple of days until you get your skin balanced and then, 2-3 times a week to keep it that way, that should be plenty for skin to stay fit on this cold.
I also recommend you to avoid using cotton pads since you will not only be wasting a lot of product, but by only gliding the product through the surface instead of making it absorb into the skin, you are defeating the purpose of spending time on this method.
What products can you use to carry this regime, depending on your financial situation, willingness vs laziness and skin needs, you can choose from a wide variety of products and formats, from mists for the ones searching for a simplified version, to essences or thicker toners for those wanting an even more hydrating approach, without leaving out any of the other possibilities in between, a large variety of toners, serums, emulsions and even product blends.
I hope by now, you have mastered all the know hows of the 7 skin method, I highly encourage you to use it from today if your skin is feeling tight and dry, lacks elasticity, its texture looks worse than usual, including inflammatory acne, or just to give your skin a small treat from time to time on this extreme cold weather.
Do not hesitate to share this article or your new acquired knowledge with anybody that might benefit from this method, I do believe in Karma being a real thing and please let me know down below, if you have any questions regarding what kind products you should be using for your specific skin type or if you have any other things that you might be wondering about.
****Disclaimer: All pictures contained on the article were taken by me, with the exception of the header picture which was allowed for public use by the author.