The Western world was introduced to the Korean beauty term “glass skin” more than half a decade ago. K beauty experts like Peach & Lily’s Alicia Yoon talked about it on podcasts, Instagram feeds were flooded with what previously seemed like impossibly dewy skin, and K-pop stars became prime examples of the coveted complexion trend. But it was a trend at all, if the fact that people still want to get a glass skin is any indication.
“Glass skin is an ideal for the skin in Korea”, the founders of Glow Recipe and those who often have glass skin Sarah Lee and Christine Chang to tell about Seduce down to earth. But what exactly is glass skin? “It means skin that looks crystal clear, poreless, translucent, [and] bright – like a piece of glass.”
According to Lee and Chang, it’s all about layering. Similar to the “7 Skin Method” – the K-beauty technique of layering toner or essence up to seven times after cleansing – you want to use several light coats of moisturizers to keep skin looking dewy and plumped, similar to a baby’s bottom. That said, there is no single, universally accepted way to achieve glass skin, but with the help of experts, Seduce editors’ first-hand experiences and routines that have gone viral on social media, we’ve boiled it down to a few key steps.
Meet the experts:
1. Double cleanse with non-drying cleansers.
It’s no surprise that a K-beauty concept involves the beloved double cleanse.
“First, [use] an oil-based cleanser or micellar water,” said David Kim, a board-certified dermatologist in New York. Seduce. You don’t have a favorite yet? We love the Best of Beauty award-winning Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil and Simple Micellar Cleansing Water.
Once your makeup and sunscreen have been wiped off enough, switch to a gentle hydrating face cleanser – Best of Beauty award winners La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser and Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser are both excellent – for ensuring the not-so-obvious grime disappears without stripping your skin of the moisture that is so important to the look of glass skin.
You may want to save this step for the night, especially if you choose to use photosensitizing acids as a means of exfoliation. In fact, it’s acid-based peels and face masks — those made with alpha and beta hydroxy acids — that Dr. Kim said. Seduce promote that glassy glow as you slough off dead skin cells. We love Paula’s Choice 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliating Scrub, Best of Beauty award winner, but to avoid irritation, don’t use it every night. And don’t forget to apply (and reapply) sunscreen as the last step in your morning skincare routine. (More on that later.)
2. Layer over liquids.
Today’s toners aren’t the drying astringents of yesteryear, so they don’t defeat the glass skin goal of highly hydrated skin. “The idea is to deeply cleanse and clarify via your double cleanse, then use a toner as a leave-in first step that hydrates and conditions,” Lee says. Seduce. Two of our favorite options: Dr. Jart’s barrier-strengthening Ceramidin liquid moisturizing toner and Versed Baby Cheeks all-in-one moisturizing milk.
To really get a head start on humidity, follow your toner with an essence. “An essence is ideal for those who really want to hydrate the skin,” says Mona Gohara, MD, board-certified dermatologist in Connecticut. A perfect couple to press into your skin: Hourglass Equilibrium Restoring Essence and Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.
3. Apply an all-purpose moisturizing serum.
Dewy, even skin tone, and smooth glass skin require a cavalcade of different types of ingredients. Hyaluronic acid draws in moisture, vitamin C helps brighten and protect with antioxidants, and peptides are a sure bet for smoother, firmer texture, but you don’t have to use three serums different to take advantage of these benefits. Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Collagen Protecting & Brightening Serum has it all covered for less than $30.
4. Hydrate and protect, of course.
Whether you choose to apply separate moisturizer and sunscreen or just a very hydrating sunscreen, hydration and protection are arguably the most important steps in the glass skin routine. Now is not the time to use moisturizer or sunscreen that promises a mattifying finish – look for glow promises in order to get a full glass.