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How to achieve K-Beauty inspired ‘glass’ skin

January 1 | 5 minute read

How To Get Glass Skin Hero 16x9

Words by Lilith Hardie Lupica and Sherine Youseff

Originally published on | October 15

Glass skin may have its roots in K-Beauty, but the desire for crystal-clear skin has gone global. Here’s what you need to know.

What is glass skin?

Put simply, it’s skin that’s so healthy, clear and dewy, it looks like it was made from glass. Yes, please! The aim is to achieve skin that has a smooth surface (no bumps or rough texture), with a cushiony layer of water directly under the surface of the skin, so it feels springy and plump and looks juicy and dewy.

And in the same way that glass must be treated with care, glass skin is handled with kid gloves: gentle skincare, never ever overdoing it with actives or acids, and a patient and consistent approach that utilises layers of skincare that will reap results in the long-term. Glass skin is not a quick fix, you're in it for the long haul! (But if you are after instant glass skin, we’ve got your ‘fake glass skin with makeup’ kit covered below, too.)

How to get glass skin:

Skin that’s bouncy, baby-soft and luminous is skin that’s being properly cleansed, correctly exfoliated and adequately fed a steady diet of hydrators, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and sun protection. As we mentioned, glass skin originated in Korean beauty routines, where it’s common practice to perform elaborate, 10-step skincare routines every morning and every night to ensure all of the above checkpoints are being cleared. Yes, you read that right: 10 steps! Twice a day! Curious about what that looks like? A typical routine with glass skin products will generally include double cleansing (oil and foaming), exfoliator, toner, essence, serum (or face oil), moisturiser, sunscreen (day) or sleeping mask (night). Phew!

If you want to invest that kind of time into your skin, we bow down to you. And for those who maybe don’t have the resources or mental capacity (we get it), an audit of your current skincare routine, and perhaps a few swaps (we’ve listed our ‘glass skin essentials’ below), can get you on your glass skin way.

Just keep in mind the glass skin mantra: layer lightweight, hydrating and nourishing products over one another religiously, and always listen to your skin, dipping in and out of products as required. Here are some more tips to ensure you live your best glass skin life.

Look for a multitasking toner

Post cleansing, apply a toner that will do two things: deliver mild exfoliation and simultaneously treat skin to nourishing ingredients. Opt for a toner that’s gentle enough to use daily and that will work to unclog pores, slough away dead skin cells and brighten the appearance of your complexion all at once (ingredients to look for include AHAs, BHAs or PHA for exfoliation, and hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and ceramides for nourishment). If you’re tempted to skip this step and move straight onto the serum step, remember what we said about glass skin aiming for a smooth surface and springy feel, and how we’re achieving that with multiple skincare layers. That’s why you need toner.

Mask more regularly

Masking is key to achieving glass skin; these nurturing products have been specifically designed to hydrate and nourish with care. So if you save your masks for weekends or big events, think about incorporating them more frequently into your regimen. It doesn’t have to be every single day, but even just one extra mask session a week and your skin will reap all the glass skin rewards.

Whether you prefer a sheet or cream mask, look for one that incorporates ingredients that will complement your skin type or treat a particular skin concern, like hyaluronic acid for dry skin, niacinamide or vitamin C to brighten dull skin, or aloe vera, cica or panthenol if your skin is feeling sensitive.

Don’t skip the essence

Given the watery and lightweight texture of these products, you’d be forgiven for thinking you can forgo this step – but we wouldn’t recommend that, because essences perform a couple of important functions: they drench skin in moisture, help skin hold onto said moisture, and in turn help skin more effectively absorb whichever products come next. Moisture – it’s what glass skin is made of!

Always, always apply a serum

A serum  is what delivers all that potent, nourishing goodness that glass skin requires. Your best bet is to choose one that’s bursting with vitamin C to ensure your routine is brimming with skin-brightening antioxidants; because in the fight against free radical damage, dark spots and not-so-smooth skin texture, vitamin C is a powerful ally.

Load up on moisturiser

Moisturiser  is vital for glass skin, too. You want one that’s going to drench skin in hydration so that it looks and feels bouncy and supple. Some good ingredients to look out for include hyaluronic acid, ceramides and squalane.

It’s good to experiment with textures, too. Work with moisturisers that complement however your skin is feeling on any particular day or time of year. Lightweight lotions and gels are ideal for skin that’s oily or prone to congestion, while thicker creams, balms and butters will coddle dry skin.

Glass skin extras

Round out your glass skin routine with a slew of bonus products that will help you achieve that dewy, lit-from-within glow you’re after. You don’t need to use these every day – think of them as weekly or biweekly skin treats.


Our skin’s natural exfoliation process slows down as we age. Left untouched, those dead skin cells can build-up on the surface of the skin and really dull your shine and prevent your skincare products from absorbing effectively. Regular exfoliation, whether it’s chemical or physical, will help keep your skin smooth, clear and glowing.

LED light

It’s the DIY version of one of our favourite professional treatments. Schedule regular at-home sessions with your LED mask, and your glow factor will be off the charts.

Get glowing, now

Waiting patiently for your glass skin routine to show results? (It'll happen, we promise.) Or maybe you're in a hurry for that next-level radiance? Easy! A layer of luminous makeup is your express ticket to glow town.

A few glow-getters you’ll want to keep in your makeup kit:

  • Illuminating serums and drops: layer these on bare skin (or over sunscreen, if it's daytime), or mix them in with your base and work all over the complexion.
  • Radiance-enhancing primers: wear these either under your base (BB or CC cream, skin tint or foundation) or on their own.
  • Glossy gel: tap these on the eyelids, lips and tops of the cheekbones.
  • Light-reflecting highlighters: apply on the usual high points of the face (cheekbones, tip of the nose, Cupid's bow) and then add a little to the brow bone, inner corners of the eyes and centre of the chin, too.

Related topics and brand tags

Skin careExfoliantSerumMoisturiserToner

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