How To Get Glass Skin: A Step-By-Step Guide For A Dewy, Poreless-Looking Glow

mbg Editorial Assistant By Jamie Schneider
mbg Editorial Assistant
Jamie Schneider is the Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan. She's previously written for Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Young Woman With Shiny Skin

Image by iStock

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In this day and age, it's all about the dew. We're talking glowy, luminescent skin that resembles a pane of crystal glass, otherwise known as the ever-idealized "glass skin."

But how do you get glass skin, making sure your glow looks transparent, not oily? Let's break down the basics. 

First, what is glass skin? 

The concept of glass skin emerged out of K-beauty (aka Korean beauty). It's perhaps skin care and makeup's most symbiotic relationship, as layering hydrating serums is just as (if not more) important than a dewy highlight. The final look should yield smooth, pillowy, poreless-looking skin rather than caked-on makeup. Like a dewdrop, your skin should look plump, full of moisture, and lit from within. 

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How to get glass skin: A step-by-step guide.

Glass skin is reflective but not shimmery. Luminescent but never glitzy or sparkly, and there's quite a fine line between getting the dew just right and looking, uh, sweaty. Here's how to navigate it all: 

1. Start with a smooth canvas. 

Exfoliation is the foundation of the glass skin routine. "Exfoliation keeps the skin hydrated, so it appears less lined," explains celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas. "It also allows the products you use on the face to penetrate better."

You might even want to exfoliate the night before ("The process of achieving glass skin truly starts at night," says makeup artist Elyse Frieri, store manager at clean beauty retailer Credo), so you can wake up to smoother skin. Whether you're partial to a physical or chemical scrub, retinol serum, or glycolic acid peel, exfoliating your skin is key for achieving the glass skin look. Just be sure to follow with a rich hydrating cream or moisturizing mask (even a hyaluronic-acid-based sheet mask, if you're exfoliating day-of) to prevent dryness and keep your skin looking plump. 

If you want to ensure an even cleaner canvas, makeup artist Jenny Patinkin recommends dermaplaning away peach fuzz for extra smoothness. Just once every three to four weeks is enough to achieve the smooth, reflective look you're yearning for.

Try these products:

exfoliating scrub
1

Goldfaden MD Doctor's Scrub Ruby Crystal Microderm Exfoliator


Dermstore $75
retinol serum
2

Maya Chia The Straight A Advanced Gentle Retinol Treatment

Maya Chia $125
Exfoliating mask
3

Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask

Joanna Vargas $75
exfoliating mask
4

Eco Your Skin Butter Buffing Mask

Peach & Lily $27
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2. Support your skin from within.

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Cellular beauty has arrived with this revolutionary formula.*

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Of course, there's only so far topicals can get you. If you truly want that lit-from-within glow, you should also promote skin health internally. Consider a supplement: mindbodygreen's nr+ enhances glowing skin at the cellular level through a few different pathways.* First, the star active is nicotinamide riboside a form of vitamin B3.* NR has been shown to support a coenzyme called NAD that's present in all living cells and plays a vital role in maintaining proper cell function, energy, and rejuvenation.* But the supplement takes it a step further (well, a few steps further) by adding phytoceramides, astaxanthin, and rhodiola.* Phytoceramides support your natural hydration levels.* Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that fights free-radical damage.* And rhodiola is an adaptogen that soothes oxidative stress, a key trigger for premature aging.*

3. Keep your products light. 

Once you have a smooth canvas, it's time to prep the skin for makeup. "Glass skin is better when the emphasis is more on skin care and less on makeup," says Patinkin, so this is the time to focus on getting that lit-from-within glow. 

Now is not the time for thick creams; rather, opt for light moisturizers (just don't rub it in too much; otherwise, you'll lose the texture). "Focus on protection in the form of an antioxidant serum, oil, and SPF, but it's important to limit anything too heavy," Frieri agrees. 

Try these products:

weleda skin food cream
1

Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream

Weleda $18.99
Glow Recipe Watermelon Moisturizer
2

Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Moisturizer


Sephora $39
Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener
3

Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener


Sephora $95
Olivarrier Fluid Oil Squalane
4

Olivarrier Fluid Oil Squalane

Peach & Lily $42
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4. Use serums to your advantage.

Because glass skin is technically more of a skin care regimen than a full makeup look, choosing your serums can be make-or-break. Frieri recommends tapping your serum onto the high points of the face, which helps your skin shine even before using highlighter (more on that later). 

Vargas is partial to serums that offer a skin-plumping effect. "I like a hyaluronic gel serum to also make sure the skin isn't too slick for makeup," she says. Your skin will drink it all up, but it won't make your face too slippery for a touch of blush later.  

Shop these products:

Joanna Vargas Daily Serum
1

Joanna Vargas Daily Serum

Joanna Vargas $85
Josie Maran Intensive Milk Treatment
2

Josie Maran Pure Argan Milk Intensive Hydrating Treatment


Sephora $56
Susanne Kaufmann Skin Care Line F: Face Fluid
3

Susanne Kaufmann Skin Care Line F: Face Fluid


Credo $88
Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum
4

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

Peach & Lily $39

5. Seal it all in with gua sha. 

"A good facial massage while applying products is a great way to make the skin glow, increase circulation, and stimulate more collagen production," says Vargas. So while your products are setting in, feel free to up your gua sha game or give yourself a facial massage to stimulate blood flow (five to 10 minutes usually does the trick, says Frieri).

You should have enough slip to allow the tool to effortlessly glide across your skin, but be sure to stop once your products settle in; you never want to pull at the delicate skin on your face. (To see a gua shame game in action, check out our tutorial video.)

Shop these products:

Herbivore Rose Quartz Gua Sha
1

Herbivore Rose Quartz Gua Sha


Sephora $18
Mount Lai Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool
2

Mount Lai Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool


Sephora $28
Mount Lai De-Puffing Rose Quartz Eye Treatment Tool
3

Mount Lai De-Puffing Rose Quartz Eye Treatment Tool


Sephora $30
Skin Gym Rose Quartz Gua Sha Crystal Sculpty Tool
4

Skin Gym Rose Quartz Gua Sha Crystal Sculpty Tool

Skin Gym $32
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6. Conceal blemishes, but let your natural skin texture live. 

This is important—you don't want to undo all the skin care prep by applying a heavy-duty foundation. Rather, use concealer as your base: Apply it directly to conceal any blemishes or broken capillaries, as well as discolored areas that may need a little more attention (usually under the eyes and around the nose). "Concealer is highly pigmented, so you're able to use just a little bit of product and avoid layering on a heavy foundation," says Frieri. 

With setting powder, it's a similar adventure: Only use enough product to set the areas you've concealed. A small eye shadow brush is best to really target those certain areas. (Pro tip: Frieri recommends spritzing a favorite toner on your brush before applying powder, as a damp brush can create a smoother, more even finish.)

Try these products:

Jenny Patinkin Pure Luxury Makeup Sponge Duo
1

Jenny Patinkin Pure Luxury Makeup Sponge Duo


Blue Mercury $32
Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator
2

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator

Josh Rosebrook $22
Jenny Patinkin Luxury Vegan Conceal/Buff Brush
3

Jenny Patinkin Luxury Vegan Conceal/Buff Brush



Jenny Patinkin $24
Kosas Super Creamy + Brightening Concealer
4

Kosas Super Creamy + Brightening Revealer Concealer

Kosas $28

7. Stick to liquid formulas and light application. 

"The key to makeup application is to use creams and liquids," Patinkin notes. That's where your cream blushes, liquid highlighters, and velvety shadows come into play. With these products in particular, skip powders: "powders that can grip and look caky," says Patinkin. These formulas can mold to your skin tone (and undertones) rather than sitting on top and sweating down your face midday. 

In terms of application, you want to avoid dragging a brush across the skin, says Patinkin. Use a damp makeup sponge or your fingers to pat product in. Also be sure to keep your touch light; that way, you won't disturb the skin or concealer underneath. Remember that rubbing in too much will mess with the final look—you want your skin to remain pillowy with just the right amount of shine, so let the products lay where they may.  

Try these products:

RMS Beauty Eye Polish
1

RMS Beauty Eye Polish


NakedPoppy $28
Ere Perez Carrot Colour Pot
2

Ere Perez Carrot Colour Pot


NakedPoppy $25
Supergoop! Shimmershade Illuminating Cream Eyeshadow SPF 30
3

Supergoop! Shimmershade Illuminating Cream Eyeshadow SPF 30


Sephora $24
Rituel De Fille Inner Glow Crème Pigment
4

Rituel De Fille Inner Glow Crème Pigment


NakedPoppy $29
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8. Know your high and low points. 

Think of your face as having peaks and valleys: You want to highlight the high points (aka, the spots on your face the sun would naturally hit) while leaving low points alone. You'll want to highlight your cheekbones, bridge of your nose, your brow bones, and cupid's bow (where a tap of highlighter can create the illusion of fuller lips). However, skip the T-zone—this is the key to avoiding looking too sweaty. "Shiny spots here can look like oil instead of glow," says Patinkin. 

As for the low points, either leave them alone or use the conceal and set method mentioned above to even out any discoloration. 

Try these products:

ILIA Liquid Light Serum Highlighter
1

ILIA Liquid Light Serum Highlighter

ILIA Beauty $42
Vapour Highlight Stick
2

Vapour Highlight Stick


NakedPoppy $36
Au Naturale All Glowing Creme Highlighter Stick
3

Au Naturale All Glowing Creme Highlighter Stick


NakedPoppy $35
Milk Makeup Holographic Stick
4

Milk Makeup Holographic Stick


Sephora $15

Key take-aways. 

When in doubt, always remember your peaks and valleys: That's the key to keeping skin from looking super oily, which can turn a glass skin look from glowy to sweaty in seconds. Then all you'll need is a swipe of brow gel, a hydrating lip color (again, lightly tapping in product can give you that enviable, just-ate-a-berry-ice-pop pout), mascara (if you so choose), and you're good to go. 

While achieving glass skin is a minimal makeup look, the prepping actually starts the night before with a good exfoliation routine. "Makeup is magical and transformative, but there are two things it cannot hide: texture and dimension," Frieri says.

In other words, you can't truly achieve glass skin with just makeup—it's a holistic process that starts with taking care of your skin. With an emphasis on a smooth, poreless complexion, it's no wonder glass skin has remained a top beauty ideal long past its inception. After all, healthy, youthful skin is always on-trend.

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