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What Is Glass Skin and How to Get It?

fashion beauty runway what is glass skin and how to get it

Ah, glass skin! That elusive, difficult to obtain incredibly smooth, super dewy, and luminous finish that literally looks like a sheet of glass. It started showing up around 2017 on the Korean beauty scene and then achieved star status all over the world through podcasts, Instagram feeds. And TikTok, obviously. 

And now, just recently, at the Maison Margiela by John Galliano couture show of January 2024 porcelain skin caused a commotion on social media, with incredibly shiny, poreless perfect complexions created by the visionary team of makeup artists and beauty wizards at Pat McGrath. 

Purists believe the look can only truly be achieved through an extremely regimented skincare routine. However, you can fake it before you make it with the aid of cleverly formulated makeup products that exist to help you achieve that porcelain doll, translucent, luminous finish.

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But First, Skincare 

According to many beauty professionals, glass skin requires a specific skincare routine — either that, or the best genes in the universe— because it starts with impossibly flawless skin.

First, you must adhere to the idea that double cleansing is a thing. Yes, that’s right. An oil-based cleanser helps removes makeup and sebum, followed by a water-based cleanser to get rid of dirt and sweat. Next, a gentle exfoliant eliminates dead skin cells to create a smoother, more velvety texture. 

Although not everyone believes toner is an important skincare step, toner is essential to balance the skin’s pH level and create the canvas where other skincare products will bloom. But ‘essence’ is what truly sets K beauty apart. 

But what is that essence? A magical halo that instantly purifies skin? A poetic, evanescent potion? Well, turns out it’s a bit more pragmatic. 

Essence is a lightweight liquid that deeply hydrates the skin and prepares it for better absorption of subsequent products. It’s applied after cleansing and toning, but before serum and moisturizer. It is said an essence helps to enhance the skin’s natural cell turnover rate, which improves the skin’s texture, brightness, and elasticity. Essentially, everything we all want. An essence can also target specific skin concerns, such as wrinkles, fine lines, dullness, and uneven skin tone. In Korea, essence is considered the holy grail of a high performance skincare regimen. 

After the essence, a serum or face oil is applied. This helps target specific skin goals such as hydration or brightening. Next, moisturizer will help seal in hydration and all the nourishments that have been added, while creating a protective barrier for the dermis. And you finally finish with the application of a sunscreen to help protect skin from damaging UV rays which, as we all know, cause premature aging and other potential health hazards. 

So, here is the ten-step basic K beauty skincare regimen that should be followed to create the base canvas for glass skin. 

For those who like help in a syringe, there is a new product category coined as ‘injectable moisturizers,’ or “skin boosters” currently entering the North American market. With the promise of a natural, filter-like effect, Skinvive speaks to a contemporary consumer where great skin is the ultimate accessory. It remains to be seen whether Skinvive is a true game changer when it comes to creating a dewier skin texture. The jury’s out there because the product has just been launched. In Canada, expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,800 for Skinvive treatments. 

But, there is more — more is always more with K beauty! So now we move on to the actual makeup application to create glass skin. 

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Glass Skin Basic Makeup Plan 

Obviously, there is nothing ‘basic’ about creating a face so smooth it looks as if it’s been plucked off an antique porcelain doll collection. But since that’s the finish we are collectively in awe of currently (‘we’ being the true blue people passionate about fashion and beauty), here are some tips and tricks to try to recreate the coveted look. Red carpet or not. Selfie or not. 

Step 1: The key to achieving a super glowy skin look is to make sure your skin is intensely hydrated before you even begin your makeup. So, off you go with the application of a super-hydrating sheet mask to give your skin a shot of moisture that leaves it looking soft, supple, and plump. Don’t hesitate to follow with a good moisturizing cream to amp up the hydration. Your base is ready for the glass skin look. 

Step 2: Prime your skin with a dewy primer to blur your pores, fill in fine lines, prep your skin, and add an extra layer of hydration. 

Step 3: Next pick a lightweight foundation to give your skin a natural-looking radiant finish. Tip: You can mix in a few drops of liquid highlighter to transform any matte foundation into a dewy finish. Remember, less is always more for glass skin, so use only a small amount of the foundation with a makeup sponge to add a light, seamless coverage to your skin. Building it from the ground up is the way to go. 

Step 4: Use a brightening concealer to eliminate any darker shadow under your eyes. Go for a colour that’s one or two shades lighter than your natural skintone for a full brightening effect. 

Step 5: Unless you have extremely oily skin that looks like a shiny disco ball by the end of the day, use the tiniest amount of loose powder to set only the parts of your face that tend to get oily, like your T-zone. Keep the powder away from your cheeks! 

Step 6: To finish off the glass makeup look, use a highlighter stick to add some extra glow to your already glowing complexion. Highlight the top of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, Cupid’s Bow, and your forehead for the ultimate sheen. 

Step 7: To complete the rest of your glass makeup look, bring some colour to your face by applying just a touch of cream blush to the apples of your cheeks. Alternatively, you can use a shimmering blush or mix in some highlighter with your blush colour to add extra shine. Use a rosy lip oil to bring a tinge of colour to your lips.   

Step 8: Keep the eye makeup to a minimum. Or glide a light wash of peach or pink eyeshadow on the top of your lids. Finish with a few swipes of your favourite lengthening mascara to get soft and fluttery lashes. 

If you want the supernaturally lustrous skin like the one created for the Maison Margiela couture fashion show for a very special event, you will have to mimic the process Pat McGrath came up with for the enchanting effect. Turns out the high-shine skin was the result of a custom concoction combining four different peel-off masks and Skin Illustrator Clear Gloss, a professional makeup product, blended with distilled water. To achieve that waxy finish, the makeup team sprayed on eight layers of the mixture using an airbrush tool, drying each layer with a blow dryer before applying the next. 

Sounds complicated? For sure. Like couture… 

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