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Skincare products, routines, and mindsets vary across the world, with different regions focusing on different approaches and concerns. Two of the most widely-known and talked about skincare routines are French skincare and Korean skincare. Below, we outline the differences between French and Korean skincare, how they approach skincare, and some popular French and Korean skincare brands that you can use on your skincare journey. Not sure if French skincare vs Korean skincare is right for you? Continue reading to learn more.

What is French Skincare?

French skincare refers to routines, products, and a skincare approach that originates in France.

French beauty brands prioritize the use of natural and botanical extracts, often sourced from the country’s rich flora, to nourish and protect the skin. Its emphasis on simplicity, and focuses on quality over quantity in terms of products and ingredients. With a long-standing tradition of expertise in skincare, French brands have gained a reputation for their refined formulations and timeless elegance.

The key tenants of French skincare are:

  • Simplicity: French skincare routines tend to be uncomplicated and streamlined, with a focus on essential steps rather than excessive layering of products.
  • Quality: French skincare emphasizes the use of high-quality ingredients derived from nature, such as botanical extracts, essential oils, and natural antioxidants.
  • Minimalism: French skincare values a less-is-more philosophy, focusing on using a select number of effective products rather than an extensive array of skincare items.
  • Prevention and maintenance: French skincare places importance on preventive measures and maintaining the skin’s health over time, rather than relying heavily on corrective or intensive treatments.
  • Sun protection: Sun protection is a fundamental aspect of French skincare. Sunscreen, or products with built-in sun protection, is highly encouraged to shield the skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Embracing natural aging: French skincare embraces the natural aging process, emphasizing the concept of aging gracefully and accepting the signs of maturity as a part of one’s beauty.

Overall, French skincare embodies a balanced and holistic approach to skincare, focusing on simplicity, quality ingredients, and the enhancement of one’s natural beauty.

Common French Skincare Ingredients

French skincare focuses on high-quality, naturally derived ingredients.

It embraces the abundance of natural resources found throughout the country, incorporating them into skincare formulations. French skincare brands prioritize ingredients sourced from plants, flowers, and minerals, harnessing their beneficial properties to nourish and enhance the skin.

Popular French skincare ingredients include:

  • Thermal Water: Thermal water sourced from natural springs in regions like Avène, La Roche-Posay, and Vichy is a key ingredient in French skincare. It is rich in minerals and has soothing, hydrating, and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin.
  • French Clay: French clays, such as kaolin and bentonite, are renowned for their purifying and detoxifying properties. They help to absorb excess oil, unclog pores, and remove impurities from the skin.
  • Rosehip Oil: Rosehip oil is a nourishing ingredient rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. It helps to hydrate and repair the skin, reduce scars and hyperpigmentation, and promote a radiant complexion.
  • Botanical Extracts: French skincare often incorporates various plant-based extracts, such as chamomile, lavender, rose water, and calendula, which provide soothing, antioxidant, and nourishing benefits.
  • Plant Oils: French skincare often includes natural oils like argan oil, jojoba oil, and rosehip oil, which provide hydration, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids to nourish and replenish the skin.

How to Create a French Skincare Routine

A French skincare routine consists of simple, yet key steps that aim to cleanse, hydrate, nourish, and protect the skin.

French skincare routines prioritizes simplicity and quality over a multitude of steps. The focus is on using effective products with beneficial ingredients rather than overwhelming the skin with excessive layers or complicated regimens. Additionally, French skincare often emphasizes the use of high-quality ingredients derived from nature and embraces a more natural approach to beauty.

Here are the typical steps in a French skincare routine:

  1. Cleansing: The routine starts with gentle cleansing to remove impurities, dirt, and excess oil from the skin. This step can include using a mild cream cleanser or micellar water to ensure a clean canvas.
  2. Toning: After cleansing, toning helps rebalance the skin’s pH levels and prepare it for subsequent product absorption. Toning products in French skincare often come in the form of floral waters or thermal water toners with gentle, soothing ingredients.
  3. Serum or Essence: Serums or essences deliver concentrated formulas that target specific skincare concerns, such as hydration, brightening, or anti-aging. Apply these lightweight products before moisturizers to ensure deeper penetration of active ingredients into the skin.
  4. Eye Cream: A dedicated eye cream moisturizes and addresses specific concerns around the delicate eye area, such as fine lines, puffiness, and dark circles.
  5. Moisturizing: Moisturizers play a vital role in French skincare to hydrate and nourish the skin. These products typically have lightweight textures and provide essential moisture without feeling heavy or greasy.
  6. Sun Protection: Protecting the skin from harmful UV rays is a crucial step in a French skincare routine. Sunscreen, or products with built-in sun protection, is highly recommended to prevent sun damage and premature aging.

white and black plastic bottle beside gua sha and jade roller for korean skincareWhat is Korean Skincare?

Korean skincare, also known as K-beauty, refers to the skincare practices and products originating from South Korea.

It has gained international popularity for its innovative and comprehensive approach to skincare. Korean skincare practicioners follow multi-step routines to achieve and maintain healthy, radiant, and hydrated glass-like skin. Korean skincare often finds its way to TikTok, with recent trends like the viral slugging, 7 skins method, and glass skin.

The key characteristics of Korean skincare include:

  • Multi-step routine: Korean skincare routines typically involve multiple steps, often ranging from 8 to 10 or even more. These steps include double cleansing, toning, exfoliating, applying essences, serums, sheet masks, eye creams, moisturizers, and sun protection.
  • Layering and customization: Layering is a fundamental concept in Korean skincare, where multiple thin layers of products are applied in a specific order to maximize their benefits. This allows for customization based on individual skin concerns and preferences.
  • Hydration and moisture: Korean skincare places a strong emphasis on hydration and moisture. Essences, serums, and sheet masks infuse the skin with intense hydration, promoting a plump, dewy, and glowing complexion.
  • Skin-first philosophy: Korean skincare follows a skin-first philosophy known as glass skin, emphasizing the importance of healthy skin as a foundation for a flawless makeup application. Rather than relying solely on makeup to enhance appearance, the focus is on achieving and maintaining optimal skin health.
  • Prevention and protection: Korean skincare routines place emphasis on sun protection, considering sunscreen as an essential step in daily skincare.
  • Ingredients and innovation: Korean skincare is known for its innovative formulations and incorporation of a wide range of ingredients. From traditional herbal extracts to cutting-edge technologies, Korean skincare products often feature unique and diverse ingredients to target specific skin concerns.

Popular Korean Skincare Ingredients

In the world of skincare, K-beauty has revolutionized the industry with its innovative products and multi-step routines. One of the key factors driving the success of Korean skincare is the utilization of powerful and unique ingredients.

Popular Korean skincare ingredients include:

  • Snail Mucin: Derived from snail secretion filtrate, snail mucin is highly regarded in Korean skincare for its regenerative and healing properties. It helps to hydrate, soothe, and repair the skin, promoting a smoother and more youthful complexion.
  • Centella Asiatica: Also known as “Cica” or “Tiger Grass,” Centella Asiatica is a popular ingredient in Korean skincare. It has calming and anti-inflammatory effects, helping to soothe irritated skin, reduce redness, and promote skin healing.
  • Beta-Glucan: Derived from mushrooms or oats, beta-glucan is known for its moisturizing and soothing properties. It helps to hydrate the skin, improve skin elasticity, and provide a protective barrier against environmental stressors.
  • Propolis: Derived from bees, propolis is a natural resin with antibacterial and healing properties. It aids in soothing inflammation, promoting skin regeneration, and providing antioxidant benefits. Propolis is particularly beneficial for acne-prone skin as it helps combat bacteria and reduce breakouts.
  • Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate: A yeast extract derived from the fermentation process, galactomyces ferment filtrate is known for its moisturizing and brightening effects. It helps to improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and promote a radiant complexion.
  • Rice Extract: Korean skincare often uses rice extract for its brightening and nourishing effects. It helps to even out skin tone, improve skin texture, and provide hydration.

How to Create a Korean Skincare Routine

Korean skincare routines range from anywhere between 8 to 12 steps, or more.

If you’re new to Korean skincare, it can help to start slow before building up to a full 12-step routine. This is particularly important if you are using new ingredients or products.

A comprehensive 12-step Korean skincare routine includes:

  1. Oil Cleanser: Begin with an oil-based cleanser to remove oil-based makeup, sunscreen, pollutants, and excess sebum. Massage onto dry skin for one minute, then rinse with water.
  2. Water-based Cleanser: Follow up with a water-based cleanser to thoroughly cleanse the skin and remove any remaining impurities. Gently massage onto damp skin, then rinse off.
  3. Exfoliator: Exfoliate the skin 1-2 times a week to remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover. Choose either a gentle physical exfoliant or a chemical exfoliant.
  4. Toner: Toners balance the skin’s pH levels and prepare it for better absorption of subsequent products.
  5. Essence: Essences are a lightweight and hydrating product that add an extra layer of moisture to the skin.
  6. Serum/Ampoule: Serums or ampoules target specific skin concerns, such as brightening, anti-aging, or acne.
  7. Sheet Mask: Sheet masks, infused with beneficial ingredients, provide intense hydration and nourishment. Leave on for the recommended time (15-20 minutes), then remove and gently pat any remaining essence into the skin.
  8. Eye Cream: Apply a small amount of eye cream to the delicate skin around the eyes. Gently pat or massage using your ring finger to avoid tugging the skin.
  9. Emulsion/Lotion: Emulsions or lightweight lotions provide additional nourishment to the skin.
  10. Cream: Apply a moisturizing cream to seal in moisture and provide hydration to the skin.
  11. Sleeping Mask (Nighttime Only): Before bedtime, apply a sleeping mask as the final step to provide intensive overnight hydration and nourishment. Leave it on overnight, and rinse off in the morning.
  12. Sunscreen (Daytime Only): Finish off your morning routine with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Apply an adequate amount to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Popular French Skincare Brands

French skincare brands have garnered global acclaim for their quality formulations and effective products.

These brands collaborate closely with pharmacists and dermatologists to develop solutions for various concerns. Their dedication to research, development, and adherence to regulatory standards contribute to their success. French skincare brands have established a strong presence in both domestic and international markets, with reliable and trustworthy options for skincare enthusiasts.

Some popular French skincare brands include:

La Roche-Posay

La Roche-Posay is a French skincare brand known for its dermatologist-recommended products. It focuses on creating gentle and effective formulations that cater to various skin concerns, including acne-prone, sensitive, and aging skin. La Roche-Posay products often feature thermal spring water, known for its soothing and calming properties. The brand is committed to developing skincare solutions backed by scientific research and clinical testing.


Avène is a French skincare brand renowned for its gentle and soothing products suitable for sensitive skin. The brand utilizes thermal spring water from the small town of Avène in France, which is known for its unique composition and skin-healing properties. Avène offers a wide range of skincare products, including cleansers, moisturizers, and targeted treatments, all designed to provide relief for sensitive and reactive skin.


Bioderma is a French skincare brand recognized for its expertise in dermatology and biotechnology. It focuses on developing products that restore and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier function with formulations that are gentle and well-tolerated, making them suitable for sensitive and reactive skin. Bioderma’s Micellar Water is a cult-favorite for gentle makeup removal and cleansing.


Caudalie is a French skincare brand that harnesses the power of grapes and vine extracts in their formulations. The brand incorporates grape extracts, grape seed oil, and other plant-based ingredients known for their antioxidant and anti-aging properties. Caudalie offers a range of products, including cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and masks, all formulated to promote youthful and radiant skin. They are known for their commitment to natural and environmentally friendly ingredients. Caudalie offers a range of skincare products, including cleansers, moisturizers, and antioxidant-rich serums, targeting various concerns such as hydration, brightening, and anti-aging.


Vichy is a French skincare brand with a focus on creating products that cater to various skin concerns. It combines dermatological ingredients with thermal spa water from the town of Vichy, known for its mineral-rich properties. The brand offers a wide range of products, including cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and sunscreens. These target specific skin concerns and provide solutions for different skin types. Vichy’s formulations are known for their effectiveness and often include ingredients like hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and thermal water to promote healthy and radiant skin.

Popular Korean Skincare Brands

Korean skincare brands have taken the beauty world by storm, gaining worldwide popularity for their innovative products and effective skincare routines.

With a strong focus on achieving healthy and radiant skin, K-beauty brands have attracted a global following. These Korean skincare brands achieve success through their cutting-edge formulations, integration of a multi-step skincare routine, utilization of natural ingredients, and offering affordable yet high-quality products. Social media and beauty influencers further drive this popularity, resulting in global availability of these products through various retail channels.

Popular Korean skincare brands include:


Laneige is a popular Korean skincare brand known for its innovative formulations that prioritize hydration and moisture. Their products often contain key ingredients like water science technology, mineral water, and various botanical extracts. Laneige is best-known for their overnight Water Sleeping Mask and Lip Sleeping Mask, which have gained a cult following.


COSRX is a Korean skincare brand that focuses on providing effective solutions for common skincare issues like acne and breakouts. The brand formulates its products with minimalistic ingredients, often incorporating active ingredients like snail mucin, AHA/BHA acids, and centella asiatica. COSRX products have a straightforward and functional approach, aiming to address specific skin concerns with simple yet powerful formulations that target blemishes and promote smoother skin.


Innisfree is a popular Korean skincare brand that places a strong emphasis on natural and eco-friendly ingredients sourced from Jeju Island. They offer products that contain natural extracts, such as green tea, volcanic clay, and orchid, to nourish and revitalize the skin. Innisfree’s skincare line includes cleansers, toners, serums, masks, and more, providing options for various skin types and concerns.


Missha is a Korean skincare brand that merges scientific innovation with natural ingredients to produce affordable and effective products. They have a wide selection of skincare, makeup, and body care items. Missha has gained global acclaim for their renowned BB creams and essence products. These well-regarded formulations are known for their quality and often include key ingredients such as snail mucin, fermented extracts, and niacinamide. These ingredients address various skincare concerns, including hydration, brightening, and anti-aging.


Klairs (formerly known as Dear, Klairs) is a Korean skincare brand that focuses on providing gentle and hypoallergenic products suitable for sensitive skin. Their formulations are free from harsh chemicals, artificial colorants, and fragrances. Klairs offers a range of products, including cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturizers, featuring ingredients like centella asiatica, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid to nourish and calm the skin.

French vs Korean Skincare – The Right Skincare Routine for You

The best skincare routine is the one you will do consistently and there is no reason to not choose products across multiple skincare approaches in order to find what’s best for you.

Combining elements from French and Korean skincare allows you to create a personalized routine tailored to your skin type and needs. French skincare prioritizes simplicity and efficacy, utilizing high-quality ingredients such as thermal water and botanical extracts. On the other hand, Korean skincare involves multi-step routines and innovative ingredients for clear and hydrated skin. There are no strict rules when it comes to French skincare vs Korean skincare, so feel free to experiment with different approaches based on your skin type and preferences. You can incorporate French products for a minimalistic approach or Korean products for added hydration.

Additionally, exploring skincare products and routines from other regions like Scandinavia, India, Japan, or Morocco can help you find the perfect fit. Remember that skincare is a personal journey, so listen to your skin. Be consistent in your routine, and mix and match products to get skin that instills confidence.