How To Do The 7 Skin Method: A Step-By-Step Guide To Plush, Cushiony Skin
If you're well versed in K-beauty terminology, perhaps you've come across the seven skin method. It practically exploded in popularity after its inception, and for good reason: The simple method results in dewy, luminous skin, in a way that makes people stop and wonder: Did she just wake up like that? It only makes sense why the technique holds its own among K-beauty mainstays like glass skin and the beloved BB cream.
Note: This seven skin method works, and it's oh-so-easy to add to your skin care routine. Here's exactly how to do this method for skin that looks plush and pillowy.
What is the seven skin method?
The seven skin method refers to the toning step in your routine. Toners are commonly referred to as "skins" in Korea, so essentially it's all in the name: During the seven skin method, you're patting a hydrating toner or essence into your skin—you guessed it—seven times. But while the name suggests seven layers, Alicia Yoon, celebrity esthetician and founder of Peach & Lily, explains that number is quite arbitrary. "It's not really a hard-and-fast rule," she tells mbg. "You can apply it seven times, you can apply it five times, or you can even apply 20 layers."
No matter how many layers you choose, the kicker here is hydration: a difficult feat, it turns out, as our skin is exposed to so many daily aggressors that can easily suck the moisture from our skin. "You're essentially giving yourself a mini hydrafacial," says Yoon. And if a hydrating toner or essence is already part of your routine (as it should be, she remarks), it's not so difficult to incorporate the seven skin method into your nightly lineup—you're really just paying more attention to the toning step.
Who should do it?
According to Yoon, all skin types can benefit from a hydration boost. Perhaps dry skin is the most obvious: Dry, dehydrated skin is practically screaming for moisture. As for oily skin, we know that when your skin gets dry, it can actually respond with more oil production—so your uptick in oiliness may very well be a response to dryness. Acne-prone skin can also benefit from an intensive focus on hydration, as it can calm inflammation associated with breakouts; plus, hydrating toners and essences are typically noncomedogenic, says Yoon. There's really no downside to adding some extra hydration, and the benefits soar.
How to do it.
"You can do it in a couple of different ways," says Yoon. You can either do it right there at your sink, as you go through your typical nighttime routine. Or you can follow Yoon's route: She brings her essence to the couch, turns on the TV, and pats it on in layers for the duration of a 20- to 40-minute show. It's slow and meditative, in a way: "I don't even really count," she says. "Maybe I'll go through like 20 layers."
Of course, you don't have to apply 20 layers to reap the benefits of the seven skin method (even five layers can enhance your glow). But there's a benefit to giving yourself this intense "hydrafacial" every once in a while: "Your skin just feels so plumped up with hydration afterward," Yoon adds.
Whether you apply five to seven layers at the sink, or 20 layers during a movie night, here's how to incorporate the seven skin method into your routine:
First up: Choose your toner or essence.
As this method is meant to hydrate your skin, you'll want to choose a hydrating, calming toner (peek our recs down below). You don't want to slather on a stripping astringent here—especially because you're applying it over and over on your skin. That said, take an extra look at the ingredients: "There are a lot of toners out there that are disguised as hydrating, but when you look at the ingredients it can actually be very agitating," says Yoon. Check for the most common players, like alcohol and fragrance—so you don't apply literal layers of perfume on your face.
Pat in your toner using thin layers.
After cleansing your face, Yoon suggests shaking out two to three drops of toner at a time, pressing the formula into your skin with your hands. There's technically no hard-and-fast rule for how thin each layer should be; "I just like to do it a little thinner at a time because I know it's all just soaking in and it's not all evaporating out into the air," she says. She compares the process to soaking a dry, brittle sponge: With a steady faucet drizzle, you can watch the sponge really plump up with hydration rather than spraying the nozzle on full blast.
Follow with the rest of your routine.
After you feel your skin is satisfyingly plump and hydrated (again, some days it may be five layers; others, it may be 15), feel free to carry on with your serums, moisturizers, and the like. Sometimes Yoon even chooses to skip the serum, especially after a more intense 30-layer method. "I'll sometimes feel like my skin's OK," she explains. But you surely can follow up with more nourishment if you so choose; antioxidant-rich serums might absorb even better after your skin is so amply hydrated. Nevertheless, always follow up with a moisturizer or oil (you want to lock in all the hydration you just spent ample time patting in, no?).
Can you do it every day?
Yoon recommends doing the seven skin method pretty regularly, but you might not need that intense bout of hydration every single day. Especially if you do 25 to 30 layers one night, you might not need to pile on the moisture again the following day. "Something that intensively hydrating I would do once a week," Yoon says.
Similarly, if you decide to slap on a hydrating sheet mask before bed, your skin might already be plumped up with hydration—no need to add any more layers. But if you'd like to rely on the seven skin method nightly, you totally can: "If you do around 10 layers or less, you can do that every day," Yoon advises.
Before diving into it, mind these final tips and warnings:
- Your hands are the best tool. While you might reach for a cotton pad to swipe on a toner post-rinse, Yoon highly recommends using your hands to pat in the formula. "Constantly dragging the cotton pad all over your skin isn't what we're looking for with this; it's really patting it in," she says.
- On that note, make sure your hands are clean! Yoon can't stress this enough: You're using those palms to liberally apply product over and over—you don't want to transfer any dirt or bacteria to your face. Of course, if you wash your hands before cleansing your face (which you should be doing), no need to wash them again before applying toner. But if you're setting yourself up for a little movie night, toner in hand, make sure to properly sanitize before diving into it.
- Finally, know when it's time to stop (which can be difficult, especially if you're 40 minutes deep into a TV drama). But according to Yoon, at some point your skin just isn't thirsty anymore: "After 25 to 30 layers, your skin won't actually absorb as much."
The seven skin method is such an easy way to give yourself a hydration boost; all it really entails is spending more time on that toning step before sealing in the moisture. Think of hydration as a one-way ticket to plump, bouncy skin that feels plush to the touch—and everyone can benefit from a little extra love, no matter your skin type. Take it from Yoon: "I haven't met a single person where I thought, 'Oh my gosh, your skin is too hydrated.'"
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.