The Glow Recipe to ‘Glass Skin’

The K-beauty world has always had a flair for unique terms to describe its coveted complexions. First, there was chok chok, which translates to “moist” or “damp” and denotes a juicy, dew-saturated glow. Then, kkul-gwang, a moniker for a hyper-glossy (kkul means honey) finish on the face. And now there’s “glass skin.” The last K-trend has nothing to do with fun products and everything to do with the final result.  “It’s when your skin is so healthy, even toned, and plumped with hydration that it’s almost translucent, like a shard of glass,” explains Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1 Clinic.

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Made viral by celeb bloggers and makeup artists such as Los Angeles-based Ellie Choi, skin-care obsessives have been vying for the techniques and products that yield the glassy visage. But as one can imagine, given the average Korean woman’s relentless dedication to her beauty regimen, it doesn’t come easy.

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The Glass Skin trend is basically all about moisture, moisture, moisture! Getting your complexion to a place that it’s so intensely hydrated and smooth that it looks like, well, glass! Hydration and moisture = youthfulness and just like anything, it doesn’t come easy. Though I wish it could be as easy as a few products and a good night’s sleep- getting your skin where you want it doesn’t happen overnight! Remember to trust the process.

And depending on where your complexion is at the moment, your road to glass skin can be less or more convoluted.

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1 | PROBLEM SOLVERS

If you are watching the many Instagram tutorials that showcase each blogger’s path to ‘glass skin’, you will realise one thing they all have in common is a clear complexion. For glass skin effect to work, you cannot start with anything less than clear. If you have acne or blemishes, the fastest way to attain clarity is to undergo a series of Vbeam anti-acne lasers and to clear clogged pores with a total detoxifying session of aqua.dermabrasion. If pigmentary issues are the only thing standing in your way, don’t beat around your ‘pigmentation’ with anything less effective than Pico Pigment laser, currently one of the best systems to treatment facial pigmentation.

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2 | CLEANSE LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW

To get your best skin, it’s important to get rid of all the dirt/makeup/pollution off! I use a cleansing balm to really melt everything away and leave my skin refreshed and ready for moisture. The trick is to find a balance: over-cleansing disrupts the skin’s pH and may lead to paradoxical over-production of sebum while under-cleansing will lead to poor absorption of active ingredients.

Use a non-alkaline gentle cleanser that does not remove skin’s natural ceramides and lipids. Try Skin Laundry Gold Cleanser for normal skin. For dry skin types, opt for cleansing balm like Warm Vanilla. Proper cleansing (which translates to the gentlest cleansing technique for your skin to be clean) can make a significant difference to how your complexion looks.

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3 | MASK

We never said that the process to glass skin will be short. And when we say to infuse it with water and light-reflecting properties, it has to be done from the inside out, not the other way round. Our secret is to start with a super hydrating sheet mask such as Water Infusion mask. What’s the purpose of this? The name says it all.

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4 | PRIME

To rebalance skin after cleansing, especially if you are in an area where you are using hard water, it is a must to use a toner or essence on your skin. The main purpose of this step is to rebalance your skin’s pH and replenish your skin barrier with soft water and lipids. We advise staying away from toners with alcohol or witch hazel, as the key to Glass Skin is to layer on multiple layers of water-rich products. Our favourites? Unicorn Tears, which is a replenishing essence with the consistency of tears works wonders to lay the base for a dewy complexion.

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5 | ACTIVATE

The next step is to activate skin with a serum filled with glow-inducing actives. Serums may be a little pricier than normal moisturizers but with good reason. Also know that not all serums are made the same, precious actives may cost more but your skin will be thankful in the long run. Ingredients to seek for Glass Skin: (1) Vitamin C is the predominant vitamin used to brighten skin, try Citrine fresh powder vitamin for best effect. (2) Hyaluronic acid is what makes your skin look dewy and plump, its levels in your skin naturally deplete with age. Try Dermadoctor ultimate revenge hyaluronic acid serum.

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6 | HYDRATE

Like I said before, the key to glass skin is smooth and MOISTURIZED skin! Typically, moisturisers are water-in-oil or oil-in-water formulations that work harder at binding water to your skin, forming a water barrier to help you attain the glassy visage of your dreams. But its also vital to choose a moisturizer that has skin benefits to ensure your skin is being enhanced every step of the way. Our favourite is Pink Sake, a multivitamin and tranexamic acid enriched soft cream, which has the consistency midway between a mousse and a cream. This moisturizer leaves my skin feeling super dewy and radiant. I really like that a little goes a long way, too! Another of our favs is Giorgio Armani’s Primer Glow-in moisturizing balm

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7 | MIST

A good face mist is essential to skin hydration. This one, Reset, is infused with tons of minerals and antioxidants to not only give you moisture but nutrients as well! It is created from soft water that will not only leave your skin supple and smooth but help it reflect light and glow. There’s also a special technique to misting. If you think a cursory spray and go is adequate, that’s where you are in for a re-education. Mist in layers, which means mist and pat in then repeat. Do this for 3-4 times.

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8 | SUNSCREEN

This is a vital step to ensure your glass skin effect is long term. Even small amounts of UV can make you one shade darker. Don’t forget: the key is ‘glass skin’ not ‘tinted glass skin’. Most reliable sun protector, look no further than one used for post-laser patients sold at SW1 clinic, aptly termed Umbrella. If you want a lighter though less full-proof coverage, you can go for Kate Somerville Daily Deflector Waterlight Broad Spectrum.

One trick is to apply your sunscreen with a powder puff for an even dewy finish. Physical blockers such as Umbrella is specially formulated for skins that are pigmented or sensitive as it is free from chemicals. It can also prime the skin by making it fairer when applied evenly with a powder puff.

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9 | LUMINOUS BASE

Now that your skin is prepped, you can be sure that makeup application on your skin will not be cakey. Start with a luminous skin base such as Erdorian Glow Crème. This ensures your complexion has the watery-reflective effect of glass.

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10 | COLOUR BASE

Try a colour foundation or BB cream that is close to your skin colour. If you are Asian, always make sure your base has yellow undertones and not pink undertones. It is best to use a liquid foundation rather than a stick one as the former is lighter and more fluid. Try Nars Sheer Glow Foundation.

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11 | SET

Set your makeup with Soap & Glory’s One Heck of a Blot powder to eliminate too much shine.

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12 | HIGHLIGHT

Finally it’s important to highlight along the cheekbones for an extra glow. We recommend theBalm’s Mary-Lou Manizer. One word of caution: many ladies skip all the steps listed above and try to compensate their lackluster complexion with a heavy hand on their highlighter stick. This just makes their faces look awkwardly shiny and streaky. Don’t make this mistake. Limit highlight to cheekbones and nose bridge. And blend, blend, blend in an area with good lighting. Poor lighting can make makeup look deceptively even if you have unicorn streaks on your face.

theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer

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