The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Glass Skin

The Korean skincare trend of crystal clear, dewy skin shows no signs of abating. Discover the step-by-step routine to attain that radiant, flawless complexion

By Ingrid Wood
Lupita Nyong'o

If you have less than perfect skin or are over 30, the idea of a flawless complexion is probably a moot point. But being on the wrong side of 30, I recently discovered that getting close to the perfect dewy skin is possible if you have access to the right products. My revelation started with a visit to We Are EGG in Rosebank, a beautifully curated store that stocks local and international style, home and beauty brands.

According to Philippa Abbott, who hosted a mix of media and influencers, and introduced us to Korean brands Mary & May, Erborian and Neogen, glass skin refers to the appearance of dewy, hydrated skin that is so radiant that it resembles glass. It’s all about diligently layering multiple lightweight products to achieve that luminous, flawless effect.

The routine includes multiple hydrating, brightening and nourishing products. While all these steps may seem high maintenance, prioritising your beauty routine and self-care will ultimately result in low-maintenance, natural beauty.

It’s important to be aware of ingredients. Don’t mix highly active ingredients and monitor the results, keeping in mind that different skin types need different products and sensitive skin, for example, should be treated with mild formulations.

Step 1: Double Cleanse

Cleaning twice is not a new concept. Sebum (oil), most makeup and SPF are lipophilic, meaning that they dissolve in oil, while sweat, pollutants and other impurities are water soluble so the only way to get squeaky clean skin is by double cleansing. Start with an oil-based cleansing balm or oil to lift grime and follow with a gentle water-based hydrating cleanser to leave the skin clean but not dry.

Step 2: Exfoliate

Regular exfoliation (two to three times a week) is necessary to lift dead skin cells and promote cell turnover. A chemical exfoliator is generally gentler than a mechanical or granular one – using enzymes to dissolve the bonds between cells. This will also help unclog pores and even out skin tone. We love gentle exfoliating acids like PHAs, which exfoliate without irritation.

Step 3: Toner

Apply toner to the skin with a cotton pad to remove excess cleanser or the last traces of dirt and make-up. This product balances the skin’s pH and prepares it to receive all the benefits of your following steps.

Step 4: Essence

Essence is a water-based product that should be patted lightly into the skin. The additional hit of moisture and active ingredients (such as antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and plant extracts) allows the skin to act like a sponge and drink in the serum and moisturiser that follow.


Step 5: Serum

Intended to target specific concerns, serums are highly concentrated and are the beauty grail. The glass skin trend calls for smoothness and moisture so a serum rich in peptides, hyaluronic acid and vitamins that can penetrate to a deeper level is the answer.

Step 6: Eye Cream

Formulated with powerful ingredients to tackle dark circles, fine lines and puffiness, a lightweight eye cream is essential to reduce signs of fatigue and revitalise the delicate eye area.

Step 7: Moisturise

This is the step that locks in the previous layers and prevents moisture loss, while encouraging healthy skin function and should be the thickest formulation that you apply.

Step 8: Face Oil

Face oils will not make your skin oily – if you choose the right one. One of the most versatile beauty products, a lightweight face oil, applied after your moisturiser, will seal the moisture and give a radiant glow.

Step 9: Sunscreen

Protection is a no-brainer if you want to maintain your super smooth, even-toned skin. You don’t want a mattifying sunscreen as it’s also about the glow, so look for a ‘glow screen’ that contains adequate SPF or a BB Cream that doubles up as a moisturiser and sunscreen.

Step 10: A Touch of Tint

A sheer skin tint (not matte) will give a healthy glow to go. Apply on the high points of your face where it catches the light.

Sunday Self-Care

Sheet masks are our current beauty addiction – they offer a boost of extra moisture and brightening while soothing skin, and the results are immediately visible. As they are best applied when you have time to lie back and switch off for 15 minutes, we suggest you make this part of your weekend “defrag” routine as Philippa calls it, adding an eye and lip mask while you mentally plan your glowing week.

Lupita Nyong’o image credit: @instagram

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