Dewy Dumpling Skin Just Got So Much Easier To Master, Thanks To Nam Vo
Long before terms like Jello skin, cloud skin, or glazed-donut skin entered our everyday lexicon, Nam Vo has been a champion for glowing, dewy dumpling skin. The moniker, of course, refers to a basket of freshly steamed dumplings: moist and supple, with a slightly reflective sheen.
"Being a dewy dumpling is about looking healthy and having plump cheeks," the iconic makeup artist shares with mindbodygreen. "There are some people that just look like they eat vegetables and drink water—that's what you want to look like." Yes, it's a makeup look, but it's arguably just as much about skin care; after all, the best face beats always start off with a healthy, fresh canvas.
And since Vo coined the buzzy term years ago, she has introduced some updated skin and makeup tricks to the scene (after meeting her at an event, I received multiple messages begging for her dewy dumpling wisdom). Ahead, you can find Vo's tried-and-true steps no matter your skin type, along with some of her most underrated hacks:
Find your exfoliating sweet spot
First things first: You can't achieve a dewy dumpling glow without focusing on skin care. "Instead of investing in the best concealer and foundation then creating the illusion of good skin, you should work for the real thing, right?" Vo quips.
So she starts off by emphasizing the basics—sunscreen, exfoliation, and moisturizer—but she really touts the power of a good exfoliation game. Of course, everyone has a different cadence and product choice (toners, gentle scrubs, peels, et al.), but "sloughing off the dead skin so you could see that dewy baby skin underneath is important," she notes.
Even those with super-dry, flaky skin might want to dabble in a little skin buffing, especially if it seems your skin just won't stay moisturized. "Your moisturizer isn't working because you have so much dead skin, so it's not able to absorb," Vo adds. "That's the reason why you have so much dead skin—your moisturizer isn't able to sink in."
Personally, I'm a fan of a gentle physical scrub, like Tatcha's The Rice Polish, an enzyme mask, like Savor Beauty's Manuka Honey Mask, or an acid-infused toner, like Alpyn Beauty's Pore Perfecting Liquid Exfoliator. But again, everyone has their own preferences; feel free to head over to this guide to discover your own exfoliating schedule.
Use a creamy sunscreen to highlight
Dewy dumpling skin is known for a moist, glistening appearance—but according to Vo, you don't want to go heavy on the highlighter. "The honest truth is if you have textured or mature skin, a lot of these high-shimmer highlighters do not look good," she notes. Glitzy highlighters do have their time and place, but those glitter particles can easily accentuate fine lines and large pores as they catch the light.
Rather, Vo recommends using a hydrating cream to strategically highlight your cheekbones: "The INKEY List Polyglutamic Acid Dewy Sunscreen SPF 30 has that really moist, healthy, dewy effect," she notes. "I'll put it all over my face, but I'll also use a makeup brush and paint it on like the high [points] of the cheekbone, so it just has that really wet-looking, reflective quality… Whether you have textured skin or more mature skin, the light bounces off of the face, and it just looks really healthy."
A little extra sun protection can't hurt, no? Proper sun care is a cardinal rule of dewy dumpling skin, so consider highlighting with a creamy sunscreen a supercharged tip. (I can also attest that The INKEY List's polyglutamic acid-infused formula is especially hydrating.)
Powder with precision
Like shimmery highlighters, baking (aka, pressing a loose powder on top of your concealer and letting it set) does have its time and place. "Baking looks good if you're on the red carpet and you're working with flash photography," Vo explains.
But for everyday, dewy dumpling skin, baking is a big no. "I am such a powder minimalist, especially for under the eyes," Vo adds. "A really big mistake people do is they just start powdering their face like a pancake."
That's not to say Vo is against setting powder entirely; she precision powders with a small eye shadow brush, pinpointing wherever she accrues the most oil, like the sides of her nose, the middle of her forehead, and along her nasolabial folds. You want to avoid over-powdering, even if your skin naturally runs oily. "It just makes you look older," she declares.
If you're hoping to secure fresh, dewy dumpling skin, who better to tap than the person who coined the term? Vo is certainly a wealth of knowledge when it comes to luminous skin, but at the end of the day, just do your best to deeply hydrate your complexion. That's all "dewy dumpling" means, anyway! As Vo adds: "Trends will come and go, but glowing, moist skin is here to stay."
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness 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. 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 New York City.