Imagine bouncy, radiant, clear skin that’s plumped up with hydration—you know, the kind of skin glow you want to keep forever after a 90-minute intensive five-star facial. But imagine being able to have skin like that on a daily basis, not just any time you have a couple hundred to burn.
Korean beauty bloggers have started buzzing more and more about this hydration treatment. The tip evolved from a three-skin method to the now almost-legendary seven-skin method. What is it exactly? In short, it’s layering on three to seven layers of toner or an essence-and-toner-in-one (Koreans call these products “skin,” thus the name seven-skin method) immediately after cleansing. This might sound crazy, but there’s a method to the madness.
What Is an Essence?
A lightweight, hydrating product designed to help prepare skin to absorb serums and creams.
How the Seven-Skin Method Works
The idea is that when you apply a ton of skincare products on your skin at one time, sometimes before your skin actually absorbs the product, the product evaporates from the skin or sits atop the skin and doesn’t truly get absorbed.
This toner-layering method is meant to allow for your skin to absorb one thin layer of the hydrating toner (or essence) so that, ultimately, more of the product is absorbed.
One of the reasons you may walk out glowing from a facial is because estheticians will use techniques like massages or steam or pressurized oxygen meant to help deliver serums—largely to help skin “drink” and absorb the hydrating and nourishing formulas. And in facials, your skin is likely getting more than its standard daily regimented dosage of thirst-quenching ingredients.
This seven-skin method cleverly tries to help your skin to drink up the toner/essence/”skin” much more than it normally would, by letting the skin soak up one thin layer at a time. And by doing this seven times, the skin is meant to be getting an increased and healthy amount of hydrating ingredients, which may end up giving your skin that just-got-a-facial glow.
What’s great is that unlike a facial that you might get once in a while, if you do this seven-skin method consistently, your skin could end up looking better and better. And, ample hydration levels actually help create a healthier skin environment in which skin cells function better.
How to Do the Seven-Skin Method
I know—seven layers. It sounds like a lot of time and product. And it is, but only really in comparison to your normal skincare routine. But if you compare this to a facial, it takes far less time and money… And after having tried this method for several months now, my normally dry skin has looked beyond radiant and has been totally plumped up. It really works, which makes it worth it. (For the record, it's not exactly seven times more product—it's more like three to four times more product. So, yes, you are definitely using up more product, but each application is a bit less than what you might use if you're doing one layer of toner.)
Step One: Cleanse
Cleanse your face as you normally would.
Step Two: Pat Dry
Pat face dry (or air dry). It's best if you apply the first layer of toner when your face is slightly damp as opposed to totally dry. This first layer can be applied using a cotton pad or even just your hands.
Apply toner starting from the inside of your face toward your nose and sweep gently upward and outward, targeting the driest areas of your face.
Step Three: Repeat Five More Times
After that seventh layer, you can play around! You can use your other serums—your skin will be extra-primed to absorb your serum—or seal it all in with a moisturizer. In the summer months, especially if you have oily skin, some people don’t even need to do anything else after seven layers of a hydrating toner or essence-toner.
Adjust As Needed
The idea behind the technique is to help your skin drink in the product, so you can adjust as you see fit. Some do the seven-skin method weekly and do a three or five-skin method every other day. For me personally, I end up doing the seven-skin method around every other day in the evenings, and at least three skin layers every other day. I mostly play it by ear, though, and adjust it based on how my skin is feeling.
What to Watch Out For
Find Your Ideal Number of Layers
I have tried doing up to 15 layers on a particularly dry day with a gentle, very watery toner, and my skin loved it. However, more isn’t always better, as too much of a good thing may also irritate the skin. I recommend working up to seven layers. I started off with three layers, saw my skin handled that just fine, then went up to five and loved it. I stuck with seven soon after, consistently, and now only do even more layers than seven when I get off a drying long-haul flight or had a really late night. This seven-skin method is so great because it really encourages you to get to know your skin, and play around with the number of layers your skin soaks in and loves. That said, many skin types are going to drink seven layers right up. And then thank you by staying radiant and bouncy all day.
Do All Toners Work?
This is important: I highly recommend staying away from toners with synthetic fragrances, alcohol (also listed as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol) and any cleansing or exfoliating properties (like a toner, essence and cleansing water-in-one) as those can be irritating if applied too many times.
Recommended Toners for the Seven-Skin Method
This toner is great for those with dry skin.
For a very luxe seven-skin method, this S-Energy line by Shangpree is actually used in its renowned spas, layered on repeatedly to help hydrate skin, and meant to be soothing, energizing and formulated especially for those with sensitive skin.
Yes, it's pricey, but this hydrating essence is one of Team Byrdie's favorites for its thicker texture and instant hydrating abilities.
This light, nourishing toner from French-Korean brand Erborian makes soothing ginseng the star ingredient.
This soothing dew promises to balance your skin’s pH levels, calm redness, and help decrease the appearance of pores.
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Mukhopadhyay P. Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disorders. Indian J Dermatol. 2011;56(1):2-6. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.77542