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Honey Skin Is K-Beauty's Most Popular Look: How To Get The Glow In 6 Steps

Jamie Schneider
June 18, 2020
Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
By Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
June 18, 2020
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Add this to the growing list of K-beauty looks to try: honey skin, perhaps the most popular of them all. But rather than glazing some Manuka honey across your face (which might have its own benefits, actually), this makeup look is all about the hydration. So how do you get your skin to resemble the gorgeous bee sap? Here's a step-by-step guide, from makeup artists themselves.

First, what is honey skin? 

You might regard it as a relatively newer trend in the K-beauty space, but honey skin is actually a much older and more widely used term. "Honey skin became trendy in Korea long before glass skin became a thing in the U.S.," says makeup artist Alexandra Compton, product development manager at clean beauty retailer Credo. In fact, the term "honey skin" remains a popular Korean slang term (the hashtag yields over 300,000 posts on Instagram), referring to skin that's healthy, plump, and baby-smooth.

The key difference with honey skin is texture: "Glass skin and dumpling skin are reflective and multidimensional looks, whereas honey skin appears semi-glossy, plump, and poreless, like a baby's skin," Compton adds. Think of the supple texture of honey rather than the radiance of glass or the three-dimensional feel of a dumpling. Consider it another skin care metaphor to add to the roster—one that emphasizes the dewiness of a dollop of honey, not necessarily the golden color of the nectar. Again, a hydrated texture is the goal here.

How to get honey skin: 6 steps.

While honey skin may overlap a bit with the other K-beauty looks, there are some slight nuances in order to create that subtle glow. Let's dive into it:  


Hydrate with humectants. 

As with other K-beauty ideals, starting with skin care is key. You want a great base to lay your makeup over—that's what gives you the plump, hydrated texture you're looking for. In order to maximize that hydration, consider humectants your best friends; those ingredients draw moisture from the environment into your skin and give you that fresh, honey skin look. (Think ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, or honey, says Compton.) Just remember to seal it all in with a good moisturizer: If humectants don't absorb into the skin, they can actually pull moisture from the dermis and into the atmosphere and actually dry your skin further. 

Celebrity makeup artist AJ Crimson is partial to a silky moisturizer to add some sheen, so you don't have to add as much highlighter later on. "I like to use a great moisturizer that has a lot of slip to create that fresh, beautiful look," he says. 


Keep your base lightweight.  

Rather than applying a face full of foundation, Compton recommends sticking to a lightweight mineral sunscreen with active skin care ingredients to "smooth over the pores and soothe the skin." That way, you can provide a great base without necessarily filling in those pores (honey skin is all about letting your natural skin texture breathe).  

That's not to say you can't use a foundation at all if you'd like; for more coverage, Crimson recommends cream-based products that also contain active ingredients (like vitamin E, for instance). "Use products that always have a glow and radiance to them. It gives a really beautiful appearance without weighing down the skin."  

If you do opt for foundation, here's a celebrity makeup artist hack: Crimson routinely glazes a thin layer of baby oil (like this gentle option) across the high points of the face before applying any base makeup. That way, any product you build on top maintains that natural dewiness and sheen.  


Strategically place concealer. 

Grab your dewy concealer and place it only where you really need it, says Crimson—usually, that's the T-zone, under the eyes, as well as around the nose and mouth area. "You don't want to powder down the skin so much to where you're losing all that sheen you've created with the skin care products." Just where you may be facing some discoloration, or perhaps a blemish here and there. As Compton agrees, you want to "achieve a hyper-even skin tone."


Go easy on the blush. 

Here's where honey skin is most unique: You may want to go easy on the blush to achieve the aforementioned polished skin tone. If skipping the color is simply not an option for you, Compton says you can mix a liquid or cream blush with a bit of moisturizer or sunscreen before applying. "It creates a sheer, barely there wash of color," she says. 


Skip the shimmer. 

Unlike its glass skin counterpart, honey skin does not place emphasis on radiance. While highlighting is still important (accentuating certain features gives you that dewy, fresh look), opt for shimmer-free products instead. Or, you may want to skip the highlighter altogether and reach for a jelly balm to press onto the high points of the face. 

Try Crimson's trick: Take a clear or slightly tinted lip gloss, applying the goop on a beauty sponge before tapping it in. "It gives you this really great highlighter effect without using high levels of mica and shimmer." It is the year of multipurpose beauty looks, after all. 


Use face mists to your advantage. 

A nonnegotiable for honey skin, as you want to keep your skin looking hydrated all day. Rather than reaching for a powder to freshen up your look, a facial spray can help absorb excess oil from the skin, says Compton (a toning mist, in particular, can be extra balancing). Crimson agrees: "It makes your skin look and feel very dewy, hydrated, and refreshed." Which is exactly what honey skin is all about, no? 

Key takeaways. 

If there's one overarching theme for honey skin, it's that less is more. "It's really easy to go overboard with product and into the realm of oily and sweaty," Compton explains. So keep it simple: A hit of concealer or two and a wash of color here and there is really all you need on the makeup front. The kicker is keeping your face fresh and hydrated all day long, so your skin can resemble the sweet, glowing nectar.

Jamie Schneider author page.
Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.