What Is Glass Skin?
“It’s glowy, hydrated, reflective skin that is so luminous it could be modelled from glass,” content creator Ola succinctly sums up. There is one thing we need to clear up though, the term ‘Korean glass skin’ is often used, but it’s very much a western description. In Korea, the glass skin finish is largely referred to as ‘bouncy skin’, ‘clear skin’, and ‘luminous skin’. For the sake of simplicity with this feature though, we’ll use glass skin.
How To Get Glass Skin
Glass skin is all about skin health. “Ensuring that your skin barrier is well looked after is key,” says Ola. “Effective and non-stripping cleansers, gentle exfoliating products, hydrating toners and serums, followed by fatty ceramides and of course sun protection are all part of the glass skin routine.” Applying moisture onto your skin in lots of light layers is key to achieving that glassy rather than greasy finish. So, ditch your heavy cream, here are the featherlight glass skin products we really rate and the order you need to apply them.
Step 1: Double Cleanse
The benefits of double cleansing can’t be exaggerated, especially if you are an avid makeup wearer. Start with an oil cleanser, we love Votary Cleansing Oil - Rose Geranium & Apricot, £45 because it is so lightweight you spritz it directly onto skin and it doesn’t leave that greasy film on your skin that some formulas do. Follow with a cleansing cream, foam or gel. Our current favourite is Mario Badescu Gentle Foaming Cleanser, £13.25 – it lives up to its name and doesn’t leave your skin feeling squeaky.
Step 2: Exfoliate
A smooth canvas is essential for getting that glass skin finish. Chemical exfoliation, AKA using a blend of glycolic, lactic or mandelic acid with salicylic acid, is the surest way to get rid of dead skin cells and keep your pores clean. While some glass skin routines recommend using an exfoliator and toner, we’ve combined the steps and recommend using an exfoliating acid toners. We really rate Ren Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, £16 and Summer Fridays Soft Reset AHA Exfoliating Solution, £49 as both are gentle enough to use daily without causing irritation. Apply with a reusable face pad after cleansing, like you would a traditional toner, and be mindful of your eye area.
Step 4: Essence
Essence is a K-beauty skincare essential and a step that should not be skipped in your quest for glass skin. Think of your essence as a hydrating lotion that preps your skin for your serum. It’s easy to discount it as just another step, but we recommend using an essence or softener like Shiseido Treatment Softener, £21 which helps to hydrate and strengthen your skin barrier, every day for a week and then skipping it for a day or two. We promise you will notice that your skin doesn’t have the same bounce and suppleness to it. Essence is one of those products that you don’t realise is working until its gone. Packed full of hyaluronic acid and prebiotics, Dr. Jart+ Vital Hydra Solution Biome Essence With Intensive Blue Shot, £15 is another good formula to explore, especially if your skin is on the dehydrated side.
Step 4: Serum
This is the step where you treat existing skincare concerns. If you are concerned with hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone, invest in a vitamin C serum such as Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum, £66 – it will also give your complexion a radiance boost. A hyaluronic acid serum, such as Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum, £250 is a good option for anyone looking to top up hydration levels, while the likes of Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster, £37 will ease breakouts. Depending on your existing skin routine and concerns, you might use one or two serums here. If this includes a hyaluronic serum, use this as the last step.
Step 5: Sheet Mask
Of course there’s a sheet mask involved. Wearing a sheet mask for 10-minutes gives your skin a dose of moisture almost effortlessly. Dr. Jart+ Cryo Rubber With Moisturizing Hyaluronic Acid, £11 is a firm favourite among the Space NK team. If you want a reusable option, look to Dr. Jart+ Cryo Rubber With Moisturizing Hyaluronic Acid, £11. We recommend using it straight after you’ve applied your hyaluronic acid serum to really maximise that healthy, hydrated glow.
Step 6: Moisturiser
Moisturiser is a staple in almost every skincare routine, including the glass skin one. Look for a lightweight option, if you have combination to oily skin you could even consider a gel like . We’re big fans of Erborian; it’s a brand that combines Korean ingredients with French textures for seriously effective skincare. If you want more of a creamy texture, try Erborian Yuza Sorbet, £45. Infused with yuzu and sesame seed oil, it leaves your skin feeling baby soft.
Step 7: Facial Oil
Face oil is a Marmite product – some people swear by it, others see oil as an acne assistor. If you’re in the latter camp, we urge you to try Kora Organics Noni Glow Face Oil, £23. It’s lightweight, absorbs into skin effortlessly and doesn’t leave any greasiness. Why is face oil part of our glass skin routine? Oils help to nourish skin, seal in hydration and give you that healthy, wholesome glow.
Step 8: Sunscreen
SPF is the last step of every effective skincare routine and South Koreans take sun protection seriously. Since it launched with us last year, we have gone through three tubes of Ultra Violette Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Skinscreen SPF 50+, £34 – the formula is lightweight and doesn’t leave your skin looking dull or enhance the appearance of pores. Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Aqua Gel, £30 is a bestseller among Space NK customers, along with Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF30, £30. With this step, more than any others, it’s important to find the formula that you love and are happy to apply every single day.
How To Get Glass Skin With Makeup
First and foremost, while it might be tempting to skip the skincare steps and try to create glass skin with makeup alone, we recommend against this. Skincare is key to achieving that flawless, glassy finish. However, makeup can assist in boosting radiance. “Use a very light base, my personal preference is a good skin tint,” says Taylor. “Then I like to spot conceal areas that need a little extra help.” Remember you want to keep your base as skin-like as possible, so blending is crucial. Taylor suggests using a beauty blender or a good makeup brush.
Highlighters, like Kora Organics Rose Quartz Luminizer, £26 and Kevyn Aucoin Glass Glow Liquid Illuminator, £26 are a great way of adding dimension and giving the appearance of smooth, hydrated skin. If you’re not sure where to apply it, sit near a lamp and pinpoint where the light hits your face. This is usually on the arch of your eyebrow, bridge of your rose, cheekbones and chin. Simply tap or press your highlighter onto these areas. Finish by spritzing your skin with a hydrating setting spray like Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray, £15 to not just fix your makeup in place, but help blend the layers of makeup together for a truly seamless finish.
Our Verdict On Glass Skin
Glass skin requires a solid and consistent skincare routine and if, like me, you don’t have 30 minutes to set aside every morning, it might not be one for you. That’s not to say you have to give up all hope of enjoying a healthy glow. This can still be achieved with a good skincare routine. Rather than adopting all eight steps, I’ll stick with my cleanser, serum, face oil and SPF and use the remaining 25 minutes to enjoy life and do something that feeds my soul because the way I see it, no glow, not even one aided by sheet masks and toners, can beat the one that comes from within.
If you're interested in this beauty trend though, you might be equally as taken with the glass hair trend too - you might have seen it on your Instagram already.
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