Having It All, or: Multitasking and the Full Korean Skin Care Routine

If you’re fairly new to the Asian cosmetics scene, a lengthy skin care routine like mine can seem overwhelming and totally impractical. 8 steps in the morning, 12 steps in the evening plus a sheet mask most nights–yes, it sounds like a lot, and I’m aware that I have at least a few readers who probably think I spend literally all my spare time standing in the bathroom smearing stuff on my face.

It’s not actually true! Yes, I refuse to give up my extensive skin care routine, both because it makes me feel more confident and because the ritualistic and sensory aspects of it help me maintain good mental health and keep depressive episodes at bay, but I also like (and need) to be doing other stuff with my time.

In fact, I don’t think my routine requires any more than a few extra minutes of bathroom time over what a standard Western cleanse-tone-moisturize regimen would take. Over the last few months, I’ve refined my skin care practices to minimize bathroom time and maximize multitasking opportunities. Here are some of the things I’ve learned. Try them out!

Give yourself easy access to your skin care products

I think that for most of us, it’s second nature to assume we’re going to store all our skin care products either in the bathroom or on the vanity if you have one of those. But is that really the best way to do it?

The answer depends on whether you actually want to do your entire skin care routine in the bathroom every day, twice a day. I don’t, especially since our master bathroom is in the far corner of the apartment, where I’d feel separated from the rest of the family and as if I were hiding out or something. That’s why I changed my approach and instead placed my skin care products as close as possible to the places where I actually plan to use them. Take a look!

Master bathroom

The only things I want to do in the master bathroom are brush my teeth and shower (evenings) or cleanse my face (mornings), so almost the only daily face care products I keep there are my cleansing products, some lip balms because one can never have enough lip balms and they should be distributed as widely as possible, and my Missha First Treatment Essence, which works best if applied immediately after cleansing to bare skin. This way, I significantly cut down the time I spend in there after I’m done washing.

Cleansing balm, foaming cleanser, hand cream, and lip balms
The penguin holds hand cream. The teacup (Asian Mom Container Repurposing Disorder is rapidly increasing in severity) holds lip balms.
Wash-off masks and first essence
This picture reminds me that I need to move the Stridex to the second bathroom. That jar of Mizon Returning Starfish is an empty; I keep my rings and some jewelry in it.

Second bathroom

Our second bathroom belongs primarily to our kid, but due to its close proximity to the living room, dining room, and my workstation, I’ve moved the rest of my skin care products there. I also put my makeup on in there. It’s okay. The kid doesn’t need much space for his stuff, and he doesn’t mind sharing his bathroom with me, especially since I’m the one who cleans it and feeds him. He knows better than to bite the hand that feeds him Cadbury mini chocolate eggs.

Second bathroom counter makeup and hair accessories
The most softly lit and romantic picture ever taken of makeup brushes, lipsticks, and a teacup full of hair ties and hair clips.
Second bathroom cabinet beauty products
See, almost all the rest of my routine is here. Not pictured: C21.5 vitamin C serum, Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence, and box of sheet masks and hydrogels in the fridge.

“But wait,” I can hear you protesting. “You haven’t really changed anything except that you’re putting your products on in a different bathroom! That’s not an improvement!”

No, it wouldn’t be–except that that’s not what I do! Now let’s move on to the second Korean skin care time-saver: multitasking!

Don’t chain yourself to the mirror

Despite the fact that I am so uncoordinated that I have not yet mastered the art of applying mascara without jabbing myself right in the eyeball, I’ve found it surprisingly easy to apply skin care products without looking in the mirror. Think about it. All you’re doing is pumping some product onto your palm, rubbing your hands together to spread the product around, swiping your palms over your face, and patting the product into your skin. You don’t actually need a mirror or Jean-Claude Van Damme blindfolded martial arts skills to do this. And that means that you can do your pat-pat-patting anywhere!

What I do is grab the products I need and put them next to me wherever I plan to be during my skin care time. In the morning, that usually means at my laptop, going through emails and getting my workday started; in the evening, that usually means by the couch as I Reddit on my tablet, hang out with Mr. Crazy Snail Lady, and maybe watch TV or a movie or whatever game he’s currently playing on the PS4. Pat pat pat one product in, go back to whatever I’m doing until it absorbs; pat pat pat the next layer, go back to my activity until it absorbs; and so on until it’s done.

You can work on your computer while applying your essences and serums and ampoules and emulsions and creams. You can watch TV or play on your mobile device; you can text or instant message or spend a few hours trying to decide on something to watch on Netflix. You can easily carry on conversations, eye contact and all, while fiddling with your face. Basically, there is absolutely no reason why you need to imprison yourself in the bathroom until your routine is done!

To recap, these are the only times I need to be in any bathroom during my skin care routine:

  • Showering in the evening or washing my face in the morning
  • Grabbing needed items out of the bathroom to take to my workstation or lounging spot, or putting them back afterwards (and I’m considering getting a little basket to hold my products so that I can shave a few seconds off of that, too)
  • Putting on makeup (under 10 minutes for me on a normal day)

See? Even the longest skin care routine doesn’t demand hours out of your day. With a little creative rearranging and multitasking, you can continue to do all the things you need to do, only with vastly better skin–and, if your personality is anything like mine, a vastly improved mood and outlook.

How do you save time when you’re doing your beauty rituals? Tell me your tricks in the comments!


12 thoughts on “Having It All, or: Multitasking and the Full Korean Skin Care Routine

  1. My husband, son, and I read together in the evening before bed, or should I say that my husband reads and my son and I listen. I spend that time doing my skincare routine in our master bathroom. If I want to mask, I do it then, or downstairs when we’re all together watching tv.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great post! I have a big basket in the bathroom with all my products arranged by type and I decant them into a smaller bag each night depending on my needs. Post cleansing I add my first active, decant into bag then just take that around with me and layer up as needed.

      I find the whole process deeply soothing and comforting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhh I loved this post!! I totally do this too! When I need to do my routine, I grab the things I need out of the basket and bring it into the bedroom/kitchen/living room (wherever my hubby is) and continue wherever he is so we can still spend quality time together and chat!

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  3. I really like these tips! Maintaining a Korean skincare routine (or any routine, really) doesn’t have to be hard. I find that I will use products much more often if they are readily accessible too – out of sight, out of mind! Great post 🙂

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  4. the only thing i keep in the bathroom is my cleansing oil, 2nd cleanser and mud pack. there is absolutely no place to put any more than that. beside my mom would freak if she see my ‘skincare routine’ lay out everyday in the bathroom.

    On another note, even though asian routine is 10 steps, it never took me more than 5 minutes. Most of the time it take me around 2. So i don’t know why people are freaking out tbh.


    1. Ahahaha. I can imagine the mom reaction.

      I think it’s people who only know of Kbeauty because of those sensationalistic articles about it, that always make a huge fuss over “THE 18 STEP KOREAN SKINCARE ROUTINE THAT EVERY KOREAN WOMAN DOES ALL THE TIME EVERYDAY!!!!”

      In reality, the cost is more of an issue by far than the time :p


  5. Hi. So intrigued by it all and tempted to try so many of the products! How long do you wait between applying products, say for example the night treatments?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wait 15-20 minutes after my vitamin C serum, then about 25 minutes each after my BHA and AHA. No wait times after anything else except just the few seconds it takes for them to dry down a bit!


  6. I use this time to wake up in the morning (since I had to give up coffee) I tend to multitask both face stuff and other stuff. I wash, tone, one face thing, eye thing, brush teeth, other face thing, find breakfast, sunscreen, facebook stalking, makeup, etc, etc, and magically, everything has ended up on my face in the proper order. Night time, though, that’s my jam. I use that time to wind down.

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