Korean beauty: How to achieve glass skin

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Smooth skin texture and clarity are essential for a glassy complexion, so regular exfoliation is also key. (Photo: Thinkstock Images)

It’s been a few years since Korean skincare first landed on our radars (also known as our Twitter and Instagram feeds), but the beauty world’s collective fascination for all things K-beauty shows no signs of slowing down. With this year focused on achieving glowing skin, which happens to be one of the biggest beauty trends of the year, it doesn't come as a surprise when Korean skincare is making formulations that are no less than groundbreaking, incorporating surprise ingredients with flat lay-ready packaging. In the beginning, it got us obsessed with sheet masks, introduced us to bee venom and snail mucin and even prompted us to google words like “chok-chok,” “ampoule” and “essence.”

If you do not know what glass skin is, allow us to explain. We all love skin that's clear and healthy; glass skin is exactly that. Glass skin is meant to evoke the idea of a crystal clear piece of glass, meaning it’s all about skin that looks completely clear. Poreless, dewy, baby-soft skin is the ultimate goal.

What is the Korean glass skin routine?

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It comes as no surprise that this beauty regimen has sent people all around the world in a tizzy. So, let’s break down the steps to follow for the glass skin routine. (Photo: Thinkstock Images)

Glass skin routine is a step-by-step guide to achieve flawless, dewy and practically spotless glass-like skin. It starts with double cleansing your skin, followed by a serum, lotion, moisturiser and mist, all specifically formulated for your skin type. What sets this beauty regimen apart from the Western ones is that it does not make use of astringents but relies on hydrating ingredients that maintain the pH balance of your skin.

It comes as no surprise that this beauty regimen has sent people all around the world in a tizzy. So, let’s break down the steps to follow for the glass skin routine.

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Here's how you can get glass skin at home with these 7 steps

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Drenching your skin in moisture is the hallmark of this approach; it's what gives your face that liquid highlighter (without actually using a drop of highlighter) glow. (Photo: Thinkstock Images)

1. Double cleansing
Asian skincare introduced us to double cleansing, and we haven’t looked back since. A clean canvas is a must when it comes to your skincare routine, especially at night, when your face has collected all that dirt, grease and makeup residue. This method involves removing your makeup with an oil-based cleanser and washing your face with a water-based face-wash. Choose a makeup remover and face-wash that are specially formulated for your skin type and maintain the pH balance of your skin without drying it out.

2. Toning
Traditional toners are often ignored because some find them too drying, but in Korean skincare, they take on an entirely different role. K-beauty toners are formulated with refreshing and moisture-enhancing ingredients (like green tea, ginseng and floral water) and are applied not only to restore the skin’s pH levels but also to provide base hydration and allow better absorption of incoming products. Cleansing opens up your pores and leaves them open if you do not follow it up with a toner. Use a gentle, non-alcoholic toner that closes your pores, softens your skin, restores its pH balance and plumps it up.

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3. Essence
Essence is the epicentre of the Korean skincare routine. Essences, the less-concentrated relatives of serums, tend to be more lightweight and watery in consistency (a cross between serums and toners). Like targeted treatments, they’re formulated to address skin concerns like pigmentation and redness but with the added purpose of delivering mega moisture and hydration. The main ingredient of any essence is water.

4. Serum
At this point, your skincare routine gets serious and is elevated to the next level. A serum does more than hydrating your skin – it evens out your skin tone, plumps up your skin, reduces fine lines, and maintains the moisture balance in your skin throughout the day. Switch to a hydrating serum with moisture-boosting ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides and vitamin E. For structural firmness, vitamin C and retinoids will encourage collagen production most effectively.

5. Moisturise…a lot!
Moisturising is a no-brainer in any skincare routine, but when you’re aiming for that luminescent look, you’ll want to reach for one that is lightweight yet packs maximum moisture. Sometimes, the whole point of following a skincare routine is to moisturise your skin and find ways to keep it hydrated for the longest time. You need to use a moisturiser that is meant for your skin type, does not cause breakouts, and has a calming and brightening effect.

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6. Apply an eye cream

You can’t make glass skin happen if you’re rocking dry patches and bags under your eyes. Add an eye cream or serum to nourish the fragile eye area that tends to be drier than the rest of your face (and that regular moisturisers may not be able to fully quench.)

7. Seal with a mask

K-beauty has given us some of the best skincare tips and tricks, but masks are arguably the ones the beauty world is most obsessed with. They also happen to be the easiest way to soothe tired skin, repair damage and lock in and replenish moisture. Simply pop one on to give your skin a quick dose of TLC.