Glass Skin: What Is It and How To Get the Look in 5 Easy Steps

April 19, 2024
Gillian Fuller
By: Gillian Fuller | by L'Oréal
 photo of person with glass skin

Korean skincare—with its hydration-centric products, multi-step routines, and emphasis on relaxing face masks—has enamored the global skincare sphere for years. Perhaps one of the buzziest K-Beauty trends is a concept known as “glass skin,” which, to many, is synonymous with flawless skin. The term took hold a few years ago, but it’s still among the most coveted skincare trends we know. It’s even the inspiration for several viral spin-off trends, such as glass lips. If you’re itching to learn more, keep reading. Ahead, we explain what glass skin is, offer advice on nailing the look, and share some of our favorite glass skin products.

What Is Glass Skin?

According to esthetician and Korean skincare specialist Sarah Kinsler-Holloway, “glass skin is a term used to describe flawless, poreless-looking skin.” The “glass” descriptor refers to the skin’s glass-like appearance: smooth, light-reflecting, and almost translucent in its clarity (much like a clean windowpane).

Of course, all skin has some texture—even the best glass skin products won’t erase your pores. So, while you’ve probably seen seemingly perfect glass skin flaunted on your social media feeds, Kinsler-Holloway says it’s important to remember that oftentimes, makeup (and filters) are to credit. That being said, the right skincare routine and habits can help give your skin a smoother, more glass-like appearance.

What Are the Characteristics of Glass Skin?

A smooth skin texture, even tone, and a visibly hydrated, dewy appearance are the key characteristics of glass skin. Learn more—and discover a bit more about how to achieve glass skin—ahead.

Smooth texture

A defining characteristic of glass skin is its ultra-smooth texture and (apparent) porelessness. We say “apparent” because everybody has pores—they’re an important and necessary feature of the skin. However, how large they are can vary. As Kinsler-Holloway explains, your pore size is primarily determined by genetics, and, on the whole, can’t be changed (the concept that you can shrink your pores is, sadly, a myth). That being said, there are things that you can do to help your pores appear smaller or less prominent.

In general, pores are easier to spot when they’re clogged with oil or other debris. Using skincare products that help balance oily skin and reduce congestion may help make your pores less noticeable and give you the glass skin look you’re after.

If you’re prone to clogged pores or breakouts, don’t attempt DIY extractions—you could end up damaging your skin. Instead, deep-clean your pores with a weekly clay mask or reach for products containing ingredients like salicylic acid, which can help to dissolve excess oil for a more balanced appearance.

Even tone

An even, uniform skin tone devoid of redness, dark spots, and discoloration is another hallmark of the glass skin trend. While some types of discoloration can be tricky to address, achieving a more even skin tone is possible with the right products and routine. Look for gentle exfoliators like lactic acid or skin-brightening ingredients like vitamin C, both of which can help minimize the appearance of discoloration and pave the way for even-toned glass skin. Products with these ingredients may also help to improve skin texture and boost radiance, making them ideal for those after a glass skin look.

If you have persistent discoloration or questions about which products are best for you, consult your dermatologist. They should be able to provide personalized advice and help you build a skincare routine that’s right for your needs.

Dewy appearance

Glowiness, dewiness, radiance—whatever you want to call it, natural-looking luminosity is a key feature of Korean glass skin. Ensuring your skin gets adequate hydration can help give you that glassy glow you’re after. Fortunately, the skincare world has no shortage of hydrating products to choose from. We suggest seeking out toners, moisturizers, and serums with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, both of which can help hydrate the skin. Other ingredients worth considering include ceramides, which can help trap moisture in the skin and promote a dewier, plumper appearance.

How To Get Glass Skin in 5 Easy Steps

Now you know what glass skin is—it’s time to get into revamping your routine so you can achieve it. Here, we’re breaking down a simple five-step glass skin routine to help you get started.

Step 1. Double cleanse

Everything You Need To Know About Glass Skin (And How To Get It)

You may already be familiar with the double cleanse, but if not, we’ll clue you in. This Korean cleansing method involves washing your face twice—first with an oil-based cleanser, and then a second time with a foaming cleanser. The first cleanse helps remove makeup, excess oil, and other pore-clogging impurities, while the second helps remove lingering debris for a thorough, squeaky-clean cleanse.

We recommend kicking off your glass skin routine with Shu Uemura Ultime 8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil. Dispense three to four pumps of the luxurious formula into your palms, then massage it onto your dry face. Once your makeup begins to melt, wet your hands and continue massaging—the oil will emulsify into a milky cleanser that removes makeup and other impurities to reveal soft, smooth skin.

After rinsing, cleanse your face once more, this time with a gentle foaming cleanser (we love CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser). Pat your skin dry with a clean washcloth, then proceed to step two.

Editor’s tip: While tempting, avoid washing your face with hot water: doing so can dry out your skin and interfere with your glass skin look.

Step 2. Tone

Everything You Need To Know About Glass Skin (And How To Get It)

Most glass skin routines include an exfoliating step, since exfoliation can help remove dead surface skin to reveal a smoother, plumper appearance. For gentle exfoliation, we recommend reaching for an acid toner, such as Kiehl’s Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner. It’s formulated with lipo-hydroxy acid and helps refine the skin while replenishing moisture levels for a clearer, brighter appearance. To use it, simply soak a cotton pad in the toner and gently swipe it over your face, avoiding your immediate eye area.

Editor’s tip: A popular trend amongst Korean beauty enthusiasts is the seven-skin method, which involves applying up to seven layers of toner in between your cleansing and moisturizing steps. If you want to experiment with using more than one toner, feel free to do so—though for your second tone, we recommend opting for a hydrating formula, such as Thayer’s Milky Hydrating Face Toner with Snow Mushroom and Hyaluronic Acid.

Step 3: Apply your serums

Everything You Need To Know About Glass Skin (And How To Get It)

Next come your serums—plural. You’ll need two for this routine: one that targets visible discoloration and one that provides another layer of skin-plumping hydration.

For the former, we recommend La Roche-Posay Mela B3 Dark Spot Serum with Melasyl + Niacinamide. The powerful formula is specifically designed to help correct the appearance of dark spots and other discolorations on all skin types and tones. It’s powered by a multi-patented ingredient called MelasylTM that helps target discoloration while respecting the natural skin tone. Other ingredients include niacinamide and the French brand’s signature La Roche-Posay thermal spring water.

After allowing your first serum a moment to absorb, layer on your hydrating serum for an added boost of hydration. We love Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, which helps strengthen and repair the skin barrier while delivering deep hydration for a hydrated, plump appearance.

Step 4: Moisturize

Everything You Need To Know About Glass Skin (And How To Get It)

Skincare for glass skin often prioritizes moisture, and for good reason—as we mentioned earlier, adequate moisture is key for securing a glowy, radiant appearance. If you’re looking for a new moisturizer to add to your glass skin routine, we suggest giving Youth To The People Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream a try. It’s packed with vitamin-rich ingredients including green tea and kale and has a lightweight gel texture that layers beautifully with makeup.

Step 5 (AM): Finish with sunscreen

Everything You Need To Know About Glass Skin (And How To Get It)

To achieve (and maintain) glass skin, proper sun protection during the day is a must. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, such as IT Cosmetics Hello Sunshine Invisible Sunscreen for Face SPF 50. The 3-in-1 formula combines the benefits of a hydrating serum, a lightweight sunscreen, and a makeup primer into one formula suitable for all skin types. Apply a generous amount to your face and neck at least 15 minutes before going outside, and be sure to reapply every two hours or after sweating or swimming.

Editor’s tip: If you’re wearing makeup and don’t want to have to remove it to reapply your sunscreen, stash an SPF-infused face spray, like Habit No41 Face Mist with SPF 41 in your bag for easy on-the-go reapplication.

Step 5 (PM): Apply a face oil

Everything You Need To Know About Glass Skin (And How To Get It)

At night, you can skip the sunscreen—it’s not needed. Instead, finish your glass skin routine with a sleeping pack. These Korean skincare staples are face masks that you leave on while you sleep. They deliver deep, lasting hydration to help plump, smooth, and soften your skin. While the K-beauty world has no shortage of sleep packs to choose from, we’re big fans of Pyunkang Yul Sleeping Mask at the moment. The hyaluronic acid and panthenol-packed formula has a non-sticky jelly texture that feels light on the skin, and it replenishes moisture for a deeply hydrated, radiant appearance. Simply smooth a dime-sized amount of the mask onto your skin after moisturizing and hit the sheets—you’ll be one step closer to glass skin by sunrise.

Next Up: How To Get Healthier Skin in 2024

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