Minimalist Travel Skincare Hack: 7-Skin Hydrating Toner Method

How to get maximum hydration from just one skincare item.

On a recent short work trip abroad, my skincare kit consists of only a vial of hydrating toner.

Ok, I lied: the full kit was my oil cleanser and face cleanser (double cleansing is essential), the hydrating toner, and a sunscreen. Even then, this minimalist four-piece kit was sufficient to keep me gloriously hydrated both day and night, all thanks to the 7-skin method.

I said gloriously hydrated, because we’re talking the hydrated, naturally glossy, plump dewy skin that does not look oily. So yeah, gloriously hydrated. This 7-Skin method could give me the results of my full-blown skincare routine that involves a facial massage – with less time and less products.

I was so in love with this routine, that I sometimes incorporate this efficient routine in my daily skincare step when I’m back at homebase.

What is the 7-Skin Method?

Unsurprisingly, it originates from K-Beauty. It involves using a hydrating toner and layering it on the skin consecutively seven times. The idea is that sandwiching the toners is able to help skin absorb as much of the hydrating ingredients as possible. This blew up some couple years ago, and I never got on board because I had a good routine then and it seems gimmicky.

How to Use This?

After double cleansing the skin, pat on a hydrating toner until absorbed. Pat on another layer once it’s absorbed. Continue this until you reach the seventh layer, or until you feel like it’s enough. In the daytime, I close this routine with a slather of sunscreen. In the PM, I layer on more of the hydrating toner until I feel sufficiently hydrated.

If you have a hydrating essence or serum that you love, apparently you can use that too. That still sounds kind of heavy, and essences or serums are typically more expensive than hydrating toners.

Skincare creed dictates you need a moisturizer at the last step to lock in all that hydration, and I suppose that makes sense. But my combination skin felt sufficiently hydrated with just the toner layering step, even when I wake up in the mornings.

What I Use:

In the world of Korean beauty, ‘toner’ and ‘skin’ are used interchangeably, so it can get confusing. You’re just looking for a usually clear, watery consistency type product. Obviously, DO NOT use exfoliating toners, so keep your P50s and PIXI Glow Tonics to a far, far corner of the room for this.

The ingredients to look out for more than anything is: Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin.

I rotate between these three toners at the moment. Sometimes I even layer these together.

Hada Labo Goku-jyun Hydrating Lotion: This Japanese product is called lotion, but is really a hydrating toner. I use this a lot and liberally because it’s the most basic toner packed with three different forms of Hyaluronic Acid that works for all skin types. Also, this is cheap for the amount that you’re getting. Best all-rounder.

Dear Klairs Supple Preparation Toner: My most recent toner discovery and current favourite of all time. Unlike the Hada Labo, this absorbs a lot more easily into the skin. It’s got a lot of additional ingredients that help to boost skin health but still be basic enough for the everyday.

Whamisa Deep Rich Toner: I use this the least, simply because it’s too rich for my skin. I can’t do a straight up 7-skin with just this, but it works beautifully as an added bonus to the above two toners. This smells so damn good and I feel luxurious everytime I use this. I like to layer this where I need extra hydration, specifically underneath my eyes, smile lines, and cheeks.


  1. Just One Item to Rule them All

And I’m so into the fact that it’s literally just one product. I’m just very into the fact that it’s literally one product that you bring in your travel skincare trip. When I travel, the one issue I have is with dryness. I usually pack a full skincare kit involving hydrating toners, serums and moisturizers to get me to that level that I’m happy with.

  1. Works Gorgeously under Makeup

Another BIG PLUS: this works so well under makeup. Moisturisers can be tricky to work with, since some can break up the makeup throughout the day.

Since the toners have a lot of glycerin and hyaluronic acid, it grabs onto the makeup and enhances the longevity, without any of the oiliness and the heaviness.

Sometimes foundation can break up around my smile lines especially, but something about the toner that helps to decrease this significantly. Better than using primers, or setting those areas with powder. Might be due to the extra plumping effect on the lines, but I’ve plied on serums or moisturisers on those areas and it didn’t give me the same effect.

  1. Fully Adaptable to Skin Needs

It says seven layers, but really, it’s more a guideline than a rule. I would generally aim for seven layers, but I’d pat on more or less depending on how my skin feels.

It calls itself 7-Skin, but really you can layer on as many or as little as you’d like depending on how your skin feels. It works amazingly in different climates too. If I were in a humid country, I’d apply less layers, and if I’m in a dryer climate, I would ply it on until my face looks juicy.


  1. This may not the quickest routine

This routine works so well because it involves patting toner onto the skin until absorbed, and then repeating that some more times. This can be laborious. Some toners can also take a while to absorb due to its more viscous nature (especially the Hada Labo), but this is good. This means it has a high concentration of the good ingredients aka Hyaluronic Acid vs any thinning ingredient.

Easy solution: just use less of it. If you’ve been mindlessly shaking out the toner on your palms (like I used to), try with just one or two drops per layer.

Compared to slathering products on your face like you would a typical routine, you do become more mindful with the 7-Skin. Personally, I love this. My skincare routine is a magical part of my day, because self-care, and taking the time to pamper the skin feels so good. The act of patting (gently) is also a form of massage, so I feel an extra boost that I’m getting some blood circulation going in the face.

  1. Does not Address Specific Skin Needs

That is, if you’re sticking to the four-piece skin that only uses the toner as your actual nourishing step. Obviously, if you’re looking additional benefits like a boost of vitamin C, this is not going to do much beyond giving you sexy, dewy skin that’s sufficiently hydrated.

But for those few days of travel, when I want an easy and extremely efficient skincare, but don’t want to be fussed with a lot of steps and products, this works so well.


Love it. It’s an easy, low-investment trick to try too; the bulk of us would already have some toner form in their skincare arsenal.

Let me know if you’ve tried the 7-Skin K-Beauty routine! If you have a hydrating toner to recommend, share with me the good stuff. 

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