Everything You Should Know About “Glass Skin”

If you’ve never heard the term “glass skin,” don’t be embarrassed. The idea has only just begun to enter the American beauty scene, having come from Korean skin care products and practices. As k-beauty products continue to pervade American culture, terms and ideals like this star bubbling to the surface of our social media feeds. 

So, what is “glass skin”? It’s an easy term to comprehend. The phrase describes exceptionally smooth, even-toned and lustrous skin so flawless it looks like glass. Remember when everyone was using the terms “honey” and “dewy” to describe faces? It’s the new, hip term for that. Glass skin aims for an intensely moisturized surface that appears to be almost transparent in complexion. Think youthful, glowing, and naturally lit.  

How do I Get Glass Skin? 

Like a lot of k-beauty routines, this one is far from simple. Achieving the sought-after glass-like complexion requires a consistent routine that includes cleanser, toner, serum, an exfoliator, and a moisturizer. Intense, constant hydration is at the core of a glass skin regimen, so you’ll want to opt for watery products with humectants and hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Here’s a brief, step-by-step guide for you to follow. 

  1. Double cleanse. Start with a cleansing oil or micellar water for the first cleanse, then follow up with a foam wash or cream cleanser. 
  2. Exfoliate. Choose between a chemical exfoliator or a physical one, like those with crushed walnut or jojoba beads, but don’t overdo it. Exfoliating two to three times weekly is the sweet spot. 
  3. Tone. Find a k-beauty toner with moisture-enhancing ingredients, like ginseng and floral water. Apply up to seven layers of the toner. 
  4. Use an essence. These less-concentrated types of serums are lightweight and watery, and they’re designed to address pigmentation and redness while delivering a ton of hydration. 
  5. Serum. This concentrated product provides firmness, minimizes pores, and evens out skin ton. Look for one with moisture-boosting ingredients like hyaluronic acid or vitamin E. 
  6. Moisturize. Look for something with botanical extracts, which can be powerful hydrators.  
  7. Eye cream. The skin covering and surrounding your eyes is among the most delicate on your body. Take care of it by adding an eye cream or serum for added moisture. 
  8. Mask. This is a great way to soothe tired skin and repair damage while locking in and replenishing moisture. 

Repeat this routine each morning and evening. I told you it was intense.  

It’s Not Easy to Achieve 

It’s easy to forget that the images on social media hash-tagged “glass_skin” are often airbrushed or otherwise altered to make the subject appear clearer and cleaner than in real life. There is no shortcut to achieving flawless, ethereal-looking skin. Like most Korean beauty trends, this requires consistency and commitment to the skin care regimen. Plus, adding sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are crucial to improving your skin’s health.  

That said, there is no harm in trying out trends, especially something like this. Sure, it’s probably more intense than you’re used to, but I’m a huge supporter or skin care trends than make us slow down and actually examine our routines and features. If you want to try this, don’t get discouraged after a few weeks. Stick it out and see what happens! 

Why Does Skincare Happen at Dawn and Dusk?

If you’ve read my About page, then you know this site, like me, is named for Thea, the titan goddess of sight and sparkle. If you paid attention, you’ll also know that Theia was often worshiped at dawn and dusk – which is also when most skincare routines happen. That got me thinking: Is there a connection? 

I did some research, and while the connection isn’t necessarily with Theia, it makes quite a lot of sense. A lot of people use dawn and dusk skin care routines as a sort of meditation, and these times of day mark easy reminders to take care of oneself.  

More simply, dawn and dusk are natural occasions for skin care and other self-care routines. We do these things before embarking on the other part of the day, whether it’s living or sleeping. It can be quiet, peaceful, and meditative – just like how I prefer to imagine the Greeks praying to gods and titans. 

We treat our skin when we get ready for the day and when we get ready for bed. But what happens during those routines should be very different – just like how worshipping Theia was different in the morning than it was from the evening. To expand on this idea, I decided to write up a little guide for how your morning and evening skin care routines should look, point out where they should differ. Your skin’s needs change with stress, dirt exposure, oil production, UV rays, and pollutants, and your process should reflect those changes. 

Morning  

The biggest problem with nighttime skin? Oil production. While you sleep, your skin is hard at work expelling the dirt and grime from the previous day. Most of the time, this comes in the form of oil production. Use a sulfate-free wash to get rid of nighttime oil, as well as any lingering nighttime products that may still be on your skin. Then, use a lightweight moisturizer to hydrate your face. Ideally, this moisturizer should have a high SPF. The idea of preparing your face in the morning is to do what you can to clean and protect it for the day ahead. 

Evening 

Doesn’t it feel nice to sit down in front of the TV with a glass of wine after a long, hard day of work? Well, you should be doing the same thing for your skin! Deep cleansing and nourishment are essential to any nighttime skin care routine. After washing with your morning cleanser, user a richer moisturizer – the skin equivalent of eating a healthy dinner. If you’re into anti-aging stuff, this is the time to use your reparative serum. Finally, use an eye cream in the evening to provide extra hydration to the extremely sensitive area.  

Why is Skin Care Important?

While some people need to look their best for work and some people want to look their best for social media posts, skin care is important for everyone. Healthy, moisturized skin is the best protection we have against infection. Extremely dry skin can crack on its own without any detectable trauma. When a cut or abrasion is made to dry, neglected skin, the body must work harder to heal itself. If an opportunistic infection does get a foothold, you may have to take a full course of antibiotics and extra precautions to protect the wound. Left untreated or with complications related to the immune system, skin infections can take a very serious, potentially life-threatening turn. Alternatively, you may have a bad reaction to the antibiotics with side effects that have the potential to disrupt your everyday life for weeks or even months.

Sunscreen and Skin Cancer Prevention

Applying sunscreen, covering the skin, and guarding against extensive sunburn and UV radiation is another essential part of most people’s skin care routine. Rates of skin cancer are on the rise and among the fastest growing rates for all cancers, including both general incidence and mortality rates. From the early 1980s to the early 2010s, rates of melanoma in particular have doubled, according to the CDC.

Like so many things, prevention is the best treatment. It’s also worth doing. You may have heard that many sunscreen products contain their own carcinogens. While this is technically true, most dermatologists and skin care professionals will tell you that the evidence suggests the benefits of using sunscreen still greatly outweigh the risks. It is generally believed that heavy and daily use is required to significantly elevate one’s cancer risk from these products. If you want to follow best practices, try to cover more of your skin to protect against the sun. You might also splurge on higher-end products that deliver adequate protection without these carcinogenic ingredients.

Skin Care and Quality of Life

Building personal confidence and improving others’ perception of you shouldn’t be overlooked, either. It’s not all about vanity. Improving your prospects in social and/or professional settings can deliver mental health benefits as well as new financial resources. Healthy skin also feels better. Touch can be a powerful force that connects us to other people and offers a range of preventative health benefits. In this area, the best advice tends to be more personalized and typically starts with moisturizing dry skin or managing excessively oily skin. Moreover, you shouldn’t have to completely upend your daily routine or get a second job to make substantive improvements in the quality of your skin.

There are a lot of preventative measures that are good for your health, but basic skin care is too often something that doesn’t get done or even gets left off the list altogether. Just because you don’t have the resources or the impetus to use the “fancy stuff” is no excuse to ignore a skin care routine altogether. For health and for beauty, it’s certainly true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.