5 Easy Steps to Start a Simple Asian Beauty Routine

Setting up an Asian beauty routine can be as simple or complex as you make it. Most people recommend starting with an easy, five step routine so that you can get used to the process and make sure your skin reacts well to the new products you’re introducing. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or confused if you try to add too many products in at first. One you’ve established a great baseline routine, you can slowly start adding those special things in later.

Luckily, most of what you need you can easily find on Amazon (most with Prime shipping!) so you don’t have to wait too long to get started with a new beauty routine.

Here are some of my easy-to-find top picks to grab on your first beauty haul!

First Cleanser

First cleansers are a great way to remove the oil-based products you may use on your face such as sunscreen, foundation, or makeup. Most of these types of products contain fatty acids, which are not water soluble, so they need an oil-based cleanser to remove.  Oil cleansers/first cleansers are also a great step if you have oily skin or acne as they can help balance your skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin, or don’t wear makeup, you may be able to skip a first cleanser.

First cleansers are usually amazing at taking off your day’s makeup. The oil-based liquid cuts right through foundation, mascara and eyeliner without irritation. I know using oil on your face to clean seems to go against everything we’ve learned here in the US about cleansers, but I saw an amazing improvement when I started using oil cleansers as they were finally able to remove some of that deep-down grime my regular cleansers weren’t touching.

Some examples of first cleansers are:

Second Cleanser

Second cleansers are water-based cleansers meant to remove any residue left over from your first cleanse. You can use either foaming or gel cleansers, depending on your skin type and needs. Again, not everyone will need a second cleanser, or like the same type of cleanser available, so you may need to try several to find one that works best for you.

I personally love milk cleansers that don’t foam because my face is super sensitive and dries out easily, but I know a lot of people don’t feel like their face is clean until they see bubbles. It’s just going to depend on what you like and how your skin reacts to the second cleanser of your choice.

Note: Since Second cleansers are water based, the pH of this cleanser can be important to keeping your skin’s barrier healthy. A pH of around 4-7 for most second cleansers will work the best for most skin types. (I will talk more about pH in another post, just know that the ones recommended below all have the appropriate pH!)

Hydrating Toner

Most of us are familiar with the typical western astringent toners we used to get rid of acne in high school. Asian toners are completely different and a key step in creating soft, hydrated skin. These toners are meant to preserve your skin barrier, hydrate your skin, and prepare your skin for the next layers you may apply. Interestingly, many Asian toners are called “lotions”, but are still a thin, watery type liquid. I have actually fallen in love with this step and probably have at least half a dozen toners in my stash. I love how soothing and moisturizing these are, how they make the rest of my routine absorb beautifully, and really help keep my skin moisturized and glowing. I would say this group of products has been the true revelation for me since switching to an asian routine!


Moisturizers are a mixture of water and oil meant to hydrate your skin and lock in moisture. They run the range from extremely light to extremely heavy, and your skin type will determine the best moisturizer for your skin. You may also need to consider the weather. I know in the dead of winter, my skin needs the most moisturizing of the heavy moisturizers, but in the summer, my dry skin will usually be okay with an emulsion, it just depends on the ingredients and how your skin reacts. I’ve had to do the most testing with this group of products, as what seems great for one person isn’t nearly moisturizing enough for me.

Lotions/Emulsions (light moisturizers) – Best for oily/combination skin

Creams (heavy moisturizers) – Best for dry or dry/combination skin


Sunscreens are one of the most important anti-aging (and anti-skin cancer) steps you can take, and Asian sunscreens are in a class all by themselves. Most are extremely elegant formulations that don’t have much in common with the thick, heavy, and often stinky sunscreens we’re used to here in the US. I’ll be doing a full post on some other amazing asian sunscreens, but these are some of my most favorite, easy-to-get options that feel great on and work well with makeup.

What Next?

So now that you’ve picked out an item from each category, what do you do with it? Slowly introduce each item into your routine. Since you’re most likely starting with your current routine, or no routine at all, you want to make sure you don’t cause any harm to your skin by dumping them all on at once. And a slow introduction will help you pinpoint what product is the cuplrit if you *do* start having issues. You don’t have at abandon all of your current products at once. As you finish up product, use the guide blow to introduce these new items. Start with your first cleanser, as that will set up a great foundation for the rest of the items. Give it a week or two to make sure it agrees with your skin. Then add your second cleanser, and so on.

I would suggest the following order of introduction (in order of importance), with at least a two week wait in between each to make sure you don’t have any negative reactions.

1. First Cleanser

2. Second cleanser

3. Sunscreen

4. Mositurizer

5. Toner

Once you’ve given a full new routine a shot and have started to understand the products your skin loves and hates, you’ll be on your way to great skin in no time!


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