Most of us are familiar with the 10-step Korean skincare routine, but here’s one that you may not have heard of until today – the 10-step Korean haircare routine!
While you may question the rationale behind such a rigorous treatment, many of the steps actually focus on the health of your scalp, which we tend to neglect. A healthy scalp = healthy hair, which is why the Koreans are very big on scalp care.
You’ll find that the 10-step haircare routine is closely modelled after the 10-step skincare routine: it starts with cleaning your scalp of the dirt and oil, bringing back its natural pH level, and then moisturising it to give it a natural lush look.
Ready to get luscious tresses? Read on to see what exactly this intensive haircare routine entails!
1. Scalp scalers
This may be the first time you’ve heard of this, but scalp scalers are actually the highlight of a good haircare routine!
In order to grow healthy hair, it is important to keep our scalp follicles clean, and scalp scalers are precisely what you need to achieve a clean scalp. They are basically salicylic acid-based treatments that help exfoliate our scalp, getting rid of dead skin cells, and excessive oils.
Just like exfoliation on your face, you don’t want to exfoliate your scalp too often, so just cap usage to once a week or twice a month or you’ll end up with a dry and irritated scalp with dandruff instead – yikes!
As a general rule, apply the scalp scaler over your dry scalp right before shampoo. Spread it, making sure to cover your whole head and let it act for around 20 minutes before you rinse off and continue to the next step.
Try: Innisfree My Hair Recipe Loss Care Scalp Scaler
Get started with this popular product from Innisfree, a hair loss scalp scaler that not only contains AHAs to remove scalp impurities, but also ingredients that help to improve hair loss.
Reviewers on Reddit attest to its effectiveness in controlling dandruff and scalp pimples, so give it a shot!
You can get Innisfree My Hair Recipe Loss Care Scalp Scaler at SGD11.38 (for 3) on Shopee.
2. Shampoo and Scalp Massage
There’s not really a lot to say about the shampooing process besides what you usually do, but what differentiates your routine from Korean haircare is the addition of a scalp brush.
In order to maximise lather, boost scalp circulation, and thoroughly cleanse your scalp and hair follicles of all dirt, styling products, and dead skin cells, you must incorporate a brush that can reach in the places that fingers can’t.
After shampooing, hold the brush and massage your scalp using round, gentle movements. Do this until you hit every spot around your head and then rinse thoroughly.
Try: Grafen Edge Finger Shampoo Brush
One popular scalp brush that you may have seen making its rounds on social media is this finger shampoo brush from Korean hair care brand Grafen.
The ergonomically-designed brush is designed for use by people with hair loss symptoms, dandruff, itchy scalps, and thinning hair. The medical silicone is safe to use even on sensitive skin during showering, so use this regularly to cleanse your scalp and give it a good massage at the same time.
You can get Grafen Edge Finger Shampoo Brush at SGD17.90 from Watsons and Shopee.
Most of us are also familiar with using conditioners, but make sure that you are not committing the usual mistakes, such as washing it off immediately (your hair can’t absorb it) or using it everyday (it makes your greasy hair even oilier).
Before applying your conditioner, make sure to get rid of excess water so that your hair is damp but not wet.
Also take note that you shouldn’t be applying conditioner on your scalp: just apply it over the bottom half, especially if you have oily hair – the heavy texture of the conditioner can end up clogging your scalp follicles instead!
Try: L’Oreal Paris Elseve Total Repair 5 Power Rapid Reviver
If you don’t have time and want to speed up your haircare routine, opt for L’Oreal’s treatment conditioner that instantly repairs with no leave-in time.
It mends up to 50,000 split ends instantly with two times less breakage and easier detangling, thanks to a rich formula that contains 20% conditioning serum and almond + protein to fortify each strand.
You can get L’Oreal Paris Elseve Total Repair 5 Power Rapid Reviver at SGD9.90 from major supermarkets, drugstores, and Shopee.
4. Hair masks/hair packs
Hair masks (commonly known as hair packs in Korea) are deep hair treatments that pack a punch of powerful ingredients in the formula – much like your sheet masks that deliver intense nourishment to your skin.
Use hair masks regularly, and you will find that your hair gets stronger and recovers faster from sun, weather, and/or environmental damage.
Just like how you use sheet masks at least once a week, do the same with hair masks, where you replace your conditioner with a hair mask. After shampooing, apply the treatment all over your hair and let it sit for around 15-20 minutes.
Try: Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Deep Conditioning Mask
For those who need something that can really treat their damaged, chemically-treated hair, the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Deep Conditioning Mask will be an important tool in your hair care arsenal.
This cult-favourite powerful formula contains b-vitamins, rosehip oil, argan oil, collagen and algae extracts to deeply repair and hydrate your hair. The rosehip and argan oils leave your hair silky smooth while algae extracts provide the essential nutrients to nourish your hair from within.
You can get Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Deep Conditioning Mask at SGD53 on Sephora.
5. Vinegar rinse
Just as it is for skin care, maintaining the right pH levels for your scalp is mandatory. If you’re suffering from problems such as dry and itchy scalp, excess oil, and dandruff, chances are that your scalp’s pH is unbalanced and needs to be brought back to normal levels.
Vinegar is a traditional remedy that the Koreans include in their haircare routine, as it is effective in balancing your scalp’s pH so that you have healthy and beautiful tresses.
Once a week, use a vinegar rinse over both your scalp and hair right after rinsing off your conditioner, then wash it out with lukewarm water until it’s all gone. If you find the scent of your vinegar rinse too strong, you can mix the vinegar with some water first before applying it.
Try: Yves Rocher Radiance – Hair Rinsing Vinegar
This vinegar rinse is a holy grail, well-loved for its delicious fruity smell and ability to give you a clean scalp and radiant hair.
Many reviewers shared that their scalp not only felt fresher after using Yves Rocher’s hair rinsing vinegar, but their hair also felt smoother and less frizzy than before. If you have hair that gets tangled easily and worry about the stench of vinegar in your hair, you won’t go wrong with this nice-smelling vinegar rinse.
Get Yves Rocher Radiance – Hair Rinsing Vinegar at SGD18 from Yves Rocher boutiques and Shopee.
6. Scalp mask
Just as there are hair masks, there are also scalp masks.
Hair masks should not be used on your scalp, as hair and scalp are essentially very different in structure: hair is made from a tough protein called keratin, whereas your scalp comprises of skin similar to that on your face.
If you’re fretting over having to do different masks on both your hair and scalp here’s the good news: you can actually do both at the same time, as they’re designed for different sections of your hair.
You are recommended to use a scalp mask at least once a week. After shampooing your hair, apply the mask all over your scalp and let it act for around 10-15 minutes before rinsing off.
Try: Philip Kingsley Stimulating Scalp Mask
If you’re worried about products irritating your sensitive skin, try Philip Kingsley’s Stimulating Scalp Mask, which was developed with the brand’s extensive experience of treating severe hair and scalp conditions.
This anti-inflammatory scalp mask contains stimulating ingredients encourage blood circulation to improve your hair’s texture and vitality, while a potent blend of vitamins and minerals soothe and calm irritation.
You can get Philip Kingsley Stimulating Scalp Mask at SGD16.50 on Lookfantastic.
7. Scalp tonic
We have facial toners that remove excess dirt, correct and balance the pH of our skin, and the haircare equivalent is a scalp tonic, which you use as a hair toner to balance its pH and prepare your scalp for the following steps.
Once you’re out of the shower, towel dry your hair and spray the tonic all over your scalp. There’s no need to wash it out – in fact, you’re encouraged to massage for a little to help your scalp absorb it faster.
Try: DAENG GI MEO RI Clinic Plus Revitalizing Scalp Tonic
Touted as the no.1 hair loss shampoo in Korea, DAENG GI MEO RI’s Clinic Plus Revitalizing Scalp Tonic uses 10 traditional Oriental herbs prescribed in “Dong-ui-bo-gam”, the best medical book in Korean history, to give your scalp the nourishment it needs.
Even if you’re not currently suffering from hair loss, you’ll appreciate how well this tonic conditions your scalp – it not only nourishes weak hair roots, but also tackles serious scalp issues like cornification and itching before they even occur!
You can get DAENG GI MEO RI Clinic Plus Revitalizing Scalp Tonic at SGD78 from Watsons.
If you want more options, we’ve previously recommended some of the best hair tonics for your consideration.
8. Scalp serum
If you wash your hair too frequently (those with dry scalps should refrain from washing their hair everyday), you’ll end up removing essential hair oils from your scalp and not giving it time to replenish.
Hence, if you feel that your scalp feels too dry and starts to flake, it may be time to add a scalp serum to your regime in order to give your dehydrated scalp the moisture it needs.
Try: Gallinée Scalp And Hair Serum
With a formula that sounds like it would work wonders on your skin as well, Gallinée’s Scalp and Hair Serum is an oil-free AND silicon-free option that you can check out if you find that your scalp needs extra TLC after your daily wash.
This lightweight serum is enriched with fermented rice water and the brand’s special pre- and post-biotic complex, which smoothes hair and leaves it glossy. Fermented rice water, in particular, has been an ancient Asian favourite that is said to give you shinier and more manageable hair!
You can get Gallinée Scalp and Hair Serum at SGD43 on Sephora.
9. Hair serum and/or essence
Facial serums deliver a large amount of active ingredients to your skin, and hair serums do the same for your hair, while essences are more focused on keeping your hair sufficiently moisturised and frizz-free.
Depending on whether you just need hydration for your dry hair or something a little more powerful for your damaged hair, you can choose to either use a hair serum or essence for your second last step.
After your scalp serum, spread enough hair serum/essence over your hair, starting at the ends. You can massage the formula in for a few seconds in order for it to be absorbed better and faster.
Try: Mise-en-scène Perfect Repair Serum
This serum from Mise-en-scène is a well-known cult-favourite among the Koreans and countless beauty junkies: since its launch in Korea, the Mise-en-scène Perfect Serum has bagged a total of 37 beauty awards, and has ranked top in sales for the hair essence category for eight consecutive years in South Korea.
This hair serum protects and hydrates with different kinds of oils, including argan, camellia, olive, and jojoba. It promises to increase elasticity and strength of your hair while reducing tangles in as little as three days!
You can get Mise-en-scène Perfect Serum at SGD15.90 from Watsons.
10. Overnight treatment
Sleeping masks are amazing products that can restore your skin’s health overnight, and in the same way, you can also give your hair the boost it needs with an overnight treatment that gives you beautiful hair while you sleep.
Once or twice a week, towel-dry your hair after showering. After applying all your serums and essences, cover your hair with an overnight hair treatment, and let it sit until it dries.
If your hair is on the oily side, you may want to rinse it off the next morning; if not, you can just let it stay in your hair until you wash it again.
Try: Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Overnight Recovery Treatment
You’ll have a good night’s sleep knowing that your hair is in good hands when you apply Percy & Reed’s popular Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Overnight Recovery Treatment on your locks right before you head to bed.
The leave-in treatment absorbs instantly into dry hair to nourish, rehydrate, and repair damage. In turn, you can wake up to manageable hair that is shiny and frizz-free without needing to spend extra time rinsing it off or any using hair styling products!
You can get Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Overnight Recovery Treatment at SGD42 on Sephora.