In certain circles, where the difference between ampoules and essences needs no explanation and double cleansing is practically a religion, "glass skin" is a term you'll hear spoken in reverent terms. I've scrolled through plenty of pictures depicting its awe-inspiring results and have tried countless times to replicate its mythical gleam. But as any expert will tell you, the real secret to glowing skin will never come from the pan of a highlighter palette, no matter how amazing the formula is.
So when Peach and Lily founder Alicia Yoon recently asked me whether I had tried a complete glass-skin routine before, I saw my chance to finally attain the reflective cheekbones of my dreams. I've known Yoon for a long time, and let me tell you, the woman has no pores and always manages to look the exact right amount of dewy. If I were to have someone guide my foray into this radiant land, she was the ideal candidate.
What is glass skin?
“Glass skin” is a phrase that originated on the K-beauty scene and quickly went viral on social media. It's used to describe a complexion so luminous, it could be modeled from glass.
To get there, a certain amount of work is required. When I first opened Yoon's email, I'll be honest: I immediately cringed at the sheer amount of meticulously detailed steps I should take starting from the moment I woke up. Yoon encouraged me to think of the process "as a meal plan—giving your skin the 360-degree care it needs to thrive: proper cleansing, exfoliating, balancing, antioxidants, humectants, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and protection!" My actual meal plan is about 75% croissants, and baguette-shaped blood cells flow through my veins, so we were perhaps on different pages about that one. Nevertheless, slathering my face in assorted creams and serums is literally my job, so I persevered.
While the experiment Yoon had me run through consists of 11 different products, she stresses that it's not necessary to purchase that many things to duplicate the results. "It's not so much about the number of steps, but what your skin needs to be at its absolutely healthiest," she says. "Cleanse properly; either double cleanse or use a cleanser that can both dissolve makeup and remove water-based impurities. Balance your skin's pH with a toner. And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate."
How to Get Glass Skin
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. There are other things you should add too: sunscreen, exfoliants, and face masks. The most important thing, according to Yoon, is to keep everything gentle. "Don't overdo it with too many acids or harsh actives," she advises. "In the long run, your skin will get inflamed." Check your ingredients labels. If you're using products with vitamin C, be very careful about cocktailing them with high concentrations of AHAs, BHAs, or retinol.
I followed the routine below for a full week (Yoon estimates you need anywhere between one and three weeks to see "profound results"). However, I will prematurely reveal that I was already impressed after only seven days. So when you see the results below, imagine them given additional time. My arsenal of topicals would have been completely overwhelming if not for the accompanying instructions, so I will now selflessly bequeath them to you. Use this list as your starting point and modify it according to your skin type and needs.
1. Start your day with a gentle cleanser.
I began each morning with Peach and Lily's Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser, a crystal-clear gel that emulsified into a translucent lather when I wet it. While the sulfate-free formula deeply cleansed my pores, it was also gentle, something I require from any face wash I use. The combination of coconut fatty acids, sugars, and soothing botanicals prepped my face beautifully for the 239,840,328,402 steps (fine, 10) to come.
2. Flood your skin with a moisturizing essence.
Next up was the Wild Dew Treatment Essence, which looks like water but is packed with a complex of short-, medium-, and long-chain hyaluronic acid molecules—one of the most popular hydrating ingredients on the market. Add 2% niacinamide to combat inflammation and a balancing pH of 5.7, and you have what amounts to a super-toner, albeit one that I applied with my hands because I haven't purchased cotton rounds since 2005.
3. Add additional hydration with essence pads.
Speaking of cotton rounds, I was instantly drawn to the Lazy Day All-in-One Moisture Pads solely because the name contained lazy, which is my favorite beauty word. While the essence-soaked pads are designed to condense some of the other steps into a single delivery system, I went ahead and applied them after the essence—because the more moisture, the better. (On the other hand, if your head is already starting to spin at this point, consider replacing a few of the products mentioned with these for an efficient shot of fatty acids, humectants, and antioxidants.)
4. Layer on a hydrating serum.
The fourth step was the hero of the whole process: Glass Skin Refining Serum. The fast-absorbing formula is designed to quickly deliver a ton of powerful actives to your skin: hyaluronic acid, fatty acids, vitamins, peptides, and minerals.
$28.00, Peach & Lily
$39.00, Peach & Lily
$39.00, Peach & Lily
$39.00, Peach & Lily
5. Use an antioxidant-rich moisturizer.
Next, a plush layer of Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream, which I awarded points for its appealing hue and bounce, and also its antioxidant-rich ingredients.
6. Pat on a firming eye cream.
I treated the delicate skin beneath my eyes with Volufiline Eye Essence, patted on with my ring finger to avoid tugging. While I maintain that no eye cream is going to magically erase your dark circles, this formula uses a genius combo of peptides, ginseng, collagen, and glutathiones to quickly firm and smooth skin.
7. Seal everything in with a face oil.
Finally, I patted a few drops of Pure Beam Luxe Oil over my entire face. It's a cold-pressed blend of squalane, jojoba, sea buckthorn, grapeseed, and camellia oils that strengthened my lipid barrier while flooding my face with antioxidants. (If you have oily skin, don't worry; this also helps control excess sebum production.)
8. Remember your sunscreen!
"Please be sure to be a stickler about SPF, which you probably already are," added Yoon. I briefly wondered if I should delete "beauty editor" from my LinkedIn, then guiltily applied a generous coat of Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting SP35.
$40.00, Peach & Lily
$39.00, Peach & Lily
9. Repeat everything in the evening and double cleanse to remove your makeup.
When evening rolled around, I would repeat the Broadway production once more, adding in Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil to wash away all traces of my makeup.
10. Use an exfoliating mask once a week.
I treated my face to two mask formulas (one time each) during the week. Left on for five to 10 minutes, the Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask helped clear my blackheads and breakouts with a strong mix of 10% glycolic acid and 0.5% salicylic acid. I have a mild case of rosacea and a compromised skin barrier, so I kept it off my cheeks to be safe. But Yoon notes that she formulated the popular treatment with a soothing component, using chamomile, turmeric, aloe, and other ingredients to balance out the effects of the acid peel. (She informed me that she had done facials for people with sensitivity, eczema, and rosacea and saw no adverse results, but I am stubbornly paranoid.)
11. Finish off with a once-weekly hydrating mask.
The final touch and second mask: Original Glow Sheet Mask, which left my face so drenched that I looked like I had just emerged from a waterfall.
$43.00, Peach & Lily
$80.00, Peach & Lily
On no planet could this experiment be described as low-maintenance, but the results were worth it. Anyone's face will look moisturized after being slathered in 50 layers of hydrating products, but even after they had fully absorbed, my face continued to offer the mesmerizing appearance of a lightly misted crystal ball. I don't think skin is even supposed to look like this, I thought as I watched sunbeams bounce off my forehead.
The products didn't go so far as to make my hyperpigmentation and mild acne vanish, but they worked noticeable wonders where the overall glow and evenness of my complexion was concerned.
Although Yoon made no stipulations beyond the prescribed topicals, I assume that you get optimal results if you stay away from certain lifestyle decisions. For example, you should probably not conduct your own Friday night gin-and-tonic tastings or consume vast quantities of pastries while undertaking this journey. I did both those things during glass-skin week, uttering a silent prayer/apology to the K-beauty gods for my lifestyle choices. To put a positive spin on that, I think it goes to show that you can continue living your best life and still reap the rewards. I can definitely get on board with any beauty routine that allows me to cradle a cheeseburger in bed and still shine bright like a diamond.
Sarah Y. Wu is a beauty writer in Berlin. Follow her on Instagram @say.wu.
Originally Appeared on Glamour