Beauty Beyond Borders: A Step-by-Step Detailed Guide to Achieving Glass Skin 

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If you want skin that is so hydrated and luminous that it can look reflective and translucent like glass (pun intended), you know what we’re talking about. Drum roll: Glass skin! 

This beauty trend made its appearance in the Western world in 2017, and ever since then, the buzz around it has been non-stop. From celebs to derms, makeup, and skin enthusiasts – it is a trend that everyone keeps talking about.

The roots of this can be traced back to South Korea, where flawless, dewy-looking lit complexions are admired and desired. And if that alone was not enough to take the Western beauty space by storm, the shift was definite, thanks to the luminous, glowing, almost perfect skin of K-pop idols and stars.

The K-beauty experts like Peach & Lily’s Alicia, a certified esthetician, described glass skin as “the skin at its healthiest” and raved about it on her podcasts. The Instagrams were flooded, and the TikTok was on fire with the glass-skin trending hashtag. Even the Glow Recipe founders, Sarah Lee and Christian Chang were amazed by it and told Allure that “glass skin is a skin ideal in Korea.”

But what exactly is glass skin, and how can one achieve it? Don’t know where to start? Here is a detailed guide step-by-step on how to achieve a glassy look.

How to Get Glass Skin

Before we dive into the details and technicalities, let’s talk about what glass skin actually is and how one can achieve it. 

Put simply, glass skin is a skin that is crystal-clear, smooth, translucent, and luminous – like a piece of glass. But let’s be realistic: it’s not possible to have a completely flawless and poreless complexion, but it is more about having skin that is in its healthiest state. 

Though it might seem that skin this healthy and smooth feels out-of-reach or a dream, beauty experts like Charlotte Cho, the co-founder of the Soko Glam and Then I Met You, remind us that glass skin is achievable by everyone as long as they use a holistic approach and be consistent with it, which means no skipping and religiously following a routine to see the desired results. 

Clearly, it’s not the kind of skin you can achieve overnight, as it requires dedication, patience, and commitment, along with improving your lifestyle – quality sleep, eating right, lots of water, and exercise. 

Since everyone’s skin needs are unique, there is no universal way to achieve it because what might work for one skin type might not be suitable for another. But if you want a gist of how to go about it and what products will get you there, here’s a basic, detailed guide on how to start. 

So, without further ado, let’s begin! 

Step One: Double-Cleanse

It should come as no surprise that double-cleanse is the starting point of this viral beauty glass-skin trend. When we say double-cleanse, it just doesn’t mean washing your face twice but with what you wash it with. 

The two processes involve washing your face with an oil-based cleanser or micellar water. Some people might worry that oil-based cleansers will not play well with oily to combination skin types, thanks to skin myths out there, but that’s the deal – these oil-based cleansers are excellent for every skin type, and yes, including oily skin, as “it actually helps break down the oil,” says Laura Cline of Youth to the People. 

This happens because the oil-based ingredients in the cleanser act as a magnet for all the grime, dirt, makeup, and other impurities on your skin and clean it without stripping the moisture away. If you don’t have the cleansers you prefer, try some of our favorites like Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm, e.l.f Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm, or the Drunk Elephant Makeup Melting Butter Cleanser. All three of them are gentle and penetrate deeper into the pores to remove all the gunk away. It’s a game-changer for heavy makeup wearers!

If, in any case, you don’t want to go for cleansing butter and are looking for a quick yet effective method to cleanse your skin, try micellar waters like the all-time classic Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water that is suitable for all skin types. If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, you can go with Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water or Simple Micellar Cleansing Water for gentle cleansing. 

The next step is to use water or gel-based foaming face wash to remove any remaining residue and water-based impurities like sweat and environmental pollutants. Cho recommends using low-pH cleansers as they won’t irritate or strip your skin barrier. 

Here are some good choices for that like La-Roche Posay Toleriane Face Cleanser, which has humectant and soothing antioxidants in it which doesn’t dry out the skin, or you can try Peach & Lily Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser that is loaded with super soothing ingredients that checks the boxes for all skin types. 

Tip: Gently massage the skin in a circular motion for at least one minute to thoroughly cleanse the skin.

Step 2: Exfoliate

The next step is to exfoliate the skin – sloughing off those stubborn dead cells that dull the complexion and clog pores. It is a crucial step as exfoliation not only gets rid of the dead cells but also enhances the overall texture of the skin. It also allows skincare products to penetrate better and deeper. Chemical exfoliators like lactic acid, alpha hydroxy and beta acids, or glycolic acids are good for eliminating dead cells. 

If you are a beginner, you can start with The Inkey List Beta Hydroxy Acid Serum, which contains only 2% salicylic acid (BHA) and is gentle enough for all skin types. Plus, it’s budget-friendly, so there’s that too. Another good option is Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. 

There are also exfoliating pads if you don’t want to go with liquids, such as Neogen Dermalogy Real Cica Pad and Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel. These pre-soaked pads make exfoliation a cinch because all you have to do is swipe it, and voila, you’re good to go. 

Tip: Exfoliate 2-3 times per week to remove dead skin cells. Don’t overdo it.

Step 3: Use a Hydrating Toner

Before you cringe and contemplate the idea of dropping this altogether, hear us out; today’s toners are not those same astringents that you used to hate for stripping, stinging, and drying your skin, but are formulations of hydrating ingredients that help balance the skin’s pH levels.

They also help sweep away excessive oil and skin pollution and prep the skin for better absorption of skincare products. Two of our favorite options are Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid Moisturizing Toner and Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner.

Tip: Soak a cotton pad with a toner and gently sweep it across your face. 

 Step 4: Apply a Sheet Mask

If you’re short on time, you can skip this step. But if you want to give your skin some extra love that it deserves, you can always pamper your skin with the sheet masks. We love the FaceTory Dream Garden Elderflower Mask and Cosrx Propolis Nourishing Sheet Mask.

Tip: When it’s time to peel it off, pat the excessive essence onto your skin and neck. 

Step 5: Try an Essence

If you want to deliver a super hydration dose to your skin, essence is the answer. According to Yoon, “Hydrated skin is one of the pillars for healthy skin. When skin is dehydrated, so many other skin issues can crop up.”

To make sure that your skin is well-hydrated, it’s a wise choice to add essence to your skincare routine because, according to Yoon, “Essences are specifically formulated to quench skin thirst easily due to the fast-absorbing texture and concentrated dose of humectants that grab moisture to the skin. Think of essence as a super soaker for skin – it’s your fast lane to pumped up, hydrated skin”.

Not sure where to start Try Cosrx Snail Mucin 96% Power Repairing Essence, Hourglass Equilibrium Restoring Essence, or Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence. All three of them are hit products and are gentle for all skin types.

Tip: Get some of it on your hands and pat your entire face with it. 

Step 6: Treat With Serum

Serums are actives packed in a bottle and are essential for achieving glass skin as they deal with a variety of skin concerns and issues. They are thicker in consistency as compared to essences and penetrate deeper into the skin. 

Many people use it for spot treatment as they are formulated with different ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides for hydration purposes, vitamin C for brightening up the dull complexion, retinol for anti-aging benefits and more. 

We love Bliss Bright Vitamin C+ Tri-Peptide Collagen Protecting and Brightening Serum, which is a multi-tasker, as it reduces the dark spots, boosts skin’s elasticity, and enhances the texture, all without breaking the bank. 

Another favorite of ours is this Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum that contains a powerful blend of ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and the classic peach extract, which does everything for your skin – from soothing to brightening, hydrating, and glowing. Plus, it’s suitable for all skin types, even sensitive ones, thanks to its non-abrasive, unscented, gentle formula. 

Step 7: Slather on a Moisturizer

Layering on a moisturizer is another one of the crucial steps for the glossy look (besides exfoliation), so that all the other ingredients that are applied previously remain locked up on the skin – think of it as a seal. 

Well, the kind of moisturizer you use depends on your skin type, but ingredients like centella asiatica, also known as cica, panthenol, ceramides, and glycerin are good for calming, hydrating, and nourishing the skin. 

Here are a few of our favorite recommendations for all skin types. 

Dry skin: For dry skin, try the classic Cerave Moisturizing Cream, which is loaded with three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid that moisturizes the skin from the inside out. 

Oily skin: Tatcha The Water Cream is a good choice for oily skin types thanks to the oil-controlling Japanese leopard lily, green tea, and several antioxidants that make this pick a good option. Plus, the gel-like texture is incredibly lightweight and absorbs readily into the skin without leaving any residue behind. 

Combination skin: Those with combination skin know what a struggle it is to find a moisturizer that is hydrating yet not too much that contributes more oil production in your T-zone. And The Inkey List Omega Water Cream Moisturizer strikes a perfect balance between moisturizer and water cream.

Acne-prone skin: If you have acne-prone skin, there is no way you haven’t come across a brand named Differin. It’s a long-time acne brand and its Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30 takes care of all. 

Sensitive skin: If you have sensitive skin, try Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer that is free of potential irritants like dyes, gluten, fragrances, botanical extracts, and more and is formulated with five different types of ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and other soothing ingredients that makes it a good option. 

Step 8: Pat on an Eye Cream

You can’t achieve a glass skin with those dry patches and bags under the eyes. The skin around your eyes is the most delicate and more prone to dryness, thanks to the absence of oil glands. It’s the first area of your face to show signs of dehydration, and when skin lacks moisture, fine lines and wrinkles become more visible. 

To combat those, you need a hydrating eye cream in your skincare regimen. Two of our favorites are Revision Skincare D.E.J Eye Cream and Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment.

Step 9: Use a Face Oil

As we know face oils aren’t humectants but rather occlusives – meaning they create a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, which helps retain moisture throughout the day or night. 

We love Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil for its lightweight consistency and nourishing ingredients that offer a radiant glow in no time.

Tip: Apply face oil on damp skin. If you’re using it in your day routine, always follow it up with an SPF, but if it’s a part of your night regimen, this should be the last step. 

Step 10: Protect with SPF

Glass skin or not, sunscreen is the most important step of your skincare routine. If you’re not using your SPF religiously, consider all your skincare effort going down the lane. 

Look for products that are SPF 30 or higher so that they can provide better protection against harmful UV rays. CeraVe SPF 30 Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen and Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 are some of the best in the market. 

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