Obsessive Hydration: The Korean 7 Skin Method

Obsessive Hydration: The Korean 7 Skin Method

I didn’t plan to blog about skincare today, but happened to watch Gothamista’s (she is one of my favourite beauty Youtubers) video about the 7 Skin Method yesterday and that got me inspired. In case you haven’t heard about this new Korean beauty craze – and if you’re a normal person, you probably haven’t – the idea is to replace (most of) your beauty routine with seven layers of toner.

There are several takes on the trend, but the core concept is to use the same toner in thin layers applied in relatively quick succession. This should give you intensely hydrated, plump and supple skin. You could also use up to 7 different toners or essences, but that complicates things and misses some of the point. I really recommend watching the video for more details or read the post over at Glow Recipe for a nice overview.

I’m generally very skeptical about these kinds of beauty fads and would never give up my retinoids and acids anyway. But I was curious to try this, as I keep struggling with dehydration. So I’ve done the 7 Skin Method with three, five and seven layers, using either Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner or Whamisa Deep Rich Organic Flowers Toner. And you know, it works pretty well.

I only use my hands, no cotton pads, and pat the product on. While some recommend leaving up to 15 minutes between applications, I think this is actually counterproductive: the thin layer will not be enough to hydrate and skin will start drying out. It would also be completely unrealistic for most people. As long as skin is still absorbing, I just keep applying. It’s pretty amazing how much the skin can take in.

The key is not to use too much product (a dime-sized amount is the general guideline) and to choose the right product for you. Toners, essences and lotions can all work, but do not use anything with alcohol and avoid acids. The more watery the product, the easier it is to use for this, but slightly more viscous and bouncy toners (like Whamisa) might be more effective. What you do after your seven layers depends on your skin type and preferences. You can leave it like that or do the rest of your routine. I usually opt for something in between: I feel that I need at least an oil or moisturiser to seal it all in, to get maximum benefits.

Please do not take this post as encouragement to replace your tried and true skin care regimen with only a toner. What I do believe, however, is that layering your toner or essence can be a useful trick in your arsenal. I’m in particular thinking of people who are so dehydrated that nothing seems to help and who cannot tolerate richer creams. Doing several layers of a hydrating toner underneath a hyaluronic serum and a light moisturiser is worth a try. It could also be an option for people who are sensitive and only rarely find products that are effective, but also gentle enough. If you have found a toner that truly works for you, this is a way to use it to the max.

Personally, I can see myself putting some bonus layers of toner on when I want extra plumpness and softness. There is no denying that at least on my skin, this is what happens. I’m thinking the method could work very nicely with the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence that I’m currently out of and I’m also yet to try it with Blithe’s Vital Treatment Pulp Essence that I have on my shelf.

I suspect the full seven layers would be a perfect thing to do on a long flight, under my faithful Guerlain Midnight Secret. I’m sure people sitting next to me will be worried for my mental health, but I’ll do it anyway, for science.


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  1. 1

    I also saw Gothamista’s vlog and gave the method a try the same day. Didn’t have any high hopes or anything. And just like you, I must say – it works, it feels great and it does not interfere with any of the usual routine, acids and retinoids included. I did 3 layers while leisurely listening to a podcast. The result was soft and bouncy skin, but I would not think of leaving it at that. It was still waaaaay too bare and exposed to forsake a serum and a moisturizer. The verdict – I will keep this method as a special treatment, a moisture and comfort shot, as and when needed. Perhaps on some really hot day, the 3 or 5 or 7 layers of a toner might be enough (under the sunscreen), but obviously not now – with all the cold, wind and central heating. All in all – good job Gothamista for sharing this amusing little method.

    • 2

      I absolutely agree with everything you say and this is how I would use it, too – as a special treat. Although I have to admit, I have been doing at least three layers every day the last week, as I just enjoy the results, but I don’t think I can be bothered to keep it up on a daily basis.

      On a side note, I really enjoy Gothamista’s videos, but that woman has the skin of a 12 year old! I could wash mine with unicorn tears and it would not look as good.

  2. 3

    I’m still surprised at the dramatic conversion I’ve experienced into a skincare enthusiast in the past year or so. As a teenager I developed an aversion to fashion magazines and I never enjoyed going to the mall and therefore my exposure to anything skincare was quite limited (pharmacy stuff and whatever struck my fancy at Sephora ). Now, at the prime age of 42 I’m perfecting a more well tested (dare I say, scientific) routine and experimenting with brands that you mention in your writing. The 7 method will probably become my staple in the summer when I spend hours with my toddler son in Central Park here in NYC. This roundabout story is my way of thanking you for exposing me to straight talk about skincare. I only became aware of Hirons and Hughes because of your blog. And the three of you talk in a way that I can stomach and not be put off by.

    • 4

      Frankly, I don’t really understand my skincare obsession either. While I have always been interested in style, skincare is a relatively recent passion. I’m sure it’s partly the age thing, but it doesn’t explain everything. Anyway, I blabber. I’m very glad if you have found the blog useful and extremely flattered to be in the same sentence with the two Hs. They are of course experts, I’m just an enthusiastic user, but hopefully that has some value as well. Thank you!

  3. 5

    I simply love your blog! I’m happy you tried this because the method suprised me as well. It took me a while to get on board and now I find myself not stopping with the toner layers every routine. I completely agree with you re wait time, it’s impractical and less effective. Why wait for the previous layer to evaporate into nothingness? Besides, the patty-pat-patting really helps it sink in! ❤️

    • 6

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! I may have fainted a little out of excitement upon seing this… And yes, the same thing has happened to me: I don’t do seven layers every time I go thorough my routine, but three or four have become pretty standard.

      Let me just reiterate that I am a shameless fan girl when it comes to your videos. I have now turned some of my friends and readers into your fans as well, something that fills me with deep satisfaction.

  4. 7

    The sounds like an interesting method. The Swedish winter has been hard on my skin this year, and my sister has the same complaint. I need to go buy a nice toner. Now.

    • 8

      It is worth trying, especially if you suffer from serious dehydration. Gothamista also has a video with 8 toner options – most of them Asian, though. If you go for it, let me know what you think!

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