If you’re like us, you’ve likely spent lockdown (and beyond) binge-watching Korean TV shows—the well-written character arcs, titillating drama and fashion inspiration are reasons enough. But it’s the glowing skin—lit-from-within, nary a pore in sight, smooth, glossy and almost translucent—that catches our eye every time. Beauty insiders refer to this as Korean “glass skin”. The visage shines and gleams so bright, it looks like it may have been cut from a shard of glass. With K-pop stars and Korean celebrities as major ambassadors for this trend, it is a skincare goal that beauty obsessives all over the world yearn to reach.

Korean glass skin

What is glass skin, and why did it become so popular?

It all comes back to traditional beauty goals. Healthy skin is one that looks dewy, hydrated, balanced, blemish-free and smooth. Korean beauty heritage is steeped in this philosophy. Seoul-based beauty brands perform lots of R&D and utilise cutting-edge technology to create formulas with ingredients that have been passed on for generations. The most common ingredients are centella asiatica, snail mucin, honey and watermelon. They focus on increasing hydration and improving brilliance. So, every product has the same end-result in mind: to leave your skin looking as luminous as possible.

Here’s what you can do to achieve glass skin!

Some might ascribe to a multiple-step beauty routine (which includes toners, essences, serums, ampoules, oils, moisturisers, lotions and much more). Others whittle it down to a few steps, but here’s what’s clear: drenching your skin with the right ingredients, when they’re in formulas that work for you, can go a long way in giving you the most balanced skin ever.

  • If you want to do the same for yours, the first step is the traditional double cleanse. Here, an oil-based cleanser whisks off all sebum, grime and leftover makeup without stripping the skin. Then, a hydrating gel or foam cleanser then removes all impurities left behind. The skin is left feeling smooth and cleansed, but not overly dried. This sets the tone for the rest of the routine. 
  • Exfoliating is important too—but Korean skincare consumers won’t pick products that dry out their skin. Instead, they’ll pick ingredients like enzymes and lactic acid, which slough off dead skin cells while boosting collagen and elastin. This also ensures that active ingredients that come after really get to where they’re needed. 
  • Korean pros know the importance of re-balancing your pH. So, they like to swipe on a toner after this step. This brings it back to its natural, slightly acidic state.
  • Then, if you want to really up the hydration factor, pat in an essence. Essences are made of smaller, penetrable molecules that sink into the skin and hydrate from the inside-out. 
  • Then, if you want to really up the hydration factor, pat in an essence. Essences are made of smaller, penetrable molecules that sink into the skin and hydrate from the inside-out. 
  • Serums, sheet masks and ampoules—which have specific active ingredients are next. They target specific skin concerns, like pigmentation or signs of ageing. 
  • To keep it all in, moisturisers and facial oils seal all this hydration into the skin, and prevent transepidermal moisture loss. 

Can you achieve the glass skin—and should you even try?

While this routine has been put on a pedestal, what works for Korean women may not work for Indian skin. For one, the warm and humid weather may not bode well for all the layers, and can actually cause breakouts if they don’t work for your skin type. Plus, for those with medium, olive and darker skin tones, hyperpigmentation is more common because of the skin’s tendency to tan in response to the sun. So the glassy, totally even complexion you’re yearning for? It may not be in your genes. Read more about hyperpigmentation and it’s effect on Indian skin here.

It is important to note that while there is nothing wrong with wanting to take care of your skin or wanting it to look brighter, having perfect, flawless skin is an unrealistic goal. This is more so if you’re grappling with a skin condition like acne or eczema, because treating those take priority over focusing on luminosity. Even healthy, super well functioning skin has pores (visible ones too!) and trying to get rid of those or hiding them won’t get you anywhere. Our take? Look for products and techniques that’ll work for you, and will leave you feeling confident, comfortable and happy.

Want to know how you can achieve healthy, glowing skin without giving into the hype? Click on our WhatsApp icon to chat with our team!