- The glass skin care regime aims to achieve hydrated, poreless, translucent skin.
- It involves a series of steps including double cleansing, gentle toning, exfoliation, serums and moisturizer.
- While elements of it may be beneficial for the skin, steps such as over-cleansing and exfoliating may disturb the skin’s microbiome, causing irritation and dryness.
- Alternative methods of achieving glass-like skin include a healthy lifestyle, hyaluronic acid products and serums, and the use of neurotoxins such as Botox.
Skin as translucent and flawless as glass sounds like a dermatological dream. Images of women with poreless, super-quenched skin are currently infiltrating social media accounts everywhere. According to devotees of the glass skin regime, ultra-dewy skin is available to anyone so long as they follow the steps required. Is this k-beauty trend here to stay, though? And more critically, what do dermatologists think about it?
What Is the Glass Skin Care Regime?
The underlying objectives of the glass skin regime are two-fold: lock in hydration, and load the skin with moisture. Super-hydrated skin looks plump and healthy, with a slightly moist sheen. This regime is designed to accentuate the natural luminosity of the skin, while minimizing fine lines, wrinkles and hollow areas on the face.
However, dermatologists question the safety and efficacy of the rigorous cleansing and exfoliation the regime requires.
What Does the Regime Entail?
While different versions of the regime exist, most proponents adhere to a seven-step process.
The basic regime includes:
1. Double cleansing
Exfoliation two to three times per week is recommended to slough away dead skin cells, revealing fresh and radiant skin beneath.
3. Gentle toner
Hydrating toner, rather than an astringent toner, prepares the skin for the hydrating steps which follow. Followers believe moisturizing products are better absorbed after toner.
4. Hydrating serum or essence
Essence is beloved Korean skin care product that can be likened to a serum. It tends to have a more watery consistency, however, so feels akin to a toner. Its purported benefits include accelerating cell turnover and skin brightening. This step can be followed by a serum.
5. Moisture rich cream, gel or oil (ideally, with SPF)
An ultra-hydrating cream, gel or oil is applied to seal in the benefits of the essence or serum. Deep moisturizing creams should leave a mild sheen on the skin. Day creams should contain high SPF to shield the skin, or be light enough that they can be blended with an SPF cream without feeling greasy.
6. Application of an eye cream
The eyes require their own special formulation to hydrate the extremely sensitive skin that surrounds them. Eye creams that target personal concerns such as fine lines, swelling or dark circles are recommended. Creamy yet light textures that can be dabbed and quickly absorbed into the skin are also favored.
7. Application of a highlighting lotion
A highlighting lotion adds the finishing touch to the regime. Highlighting lotions contain subtle bronze or highlighting particles, leaving the skin looking healthy and bright. Some glass skin care followers use highlighting lotion for a polished, yet make-up free look.
Die-hard glass skin care devotees may follow a ten-step process, which additionally includes hydrating sheet masks and potent serums prior to moisturizing. Low-maintenance followers may follow a condensed version, and spritz their face with hydrating mists to achieve the desired dewy look instantly. Some followers change their routine up depending on their skin needs, and the time they have available.
Dermatologist Dr. Jeanine Downie is wary, however, of the intensive multi-step process the regime requires. “The amount of steps in the routine are hardly unique to skincare, but they can be simplified with combination products,” she comments.
Problematically, over-cleansing and exfoliating the skin can also be simultaneously drying and irritating. “Cleansing the skin twice, then exfoliating is particularly jaw-wrenching. To wash the face twice with some sort of cleanser then exfoliate is aggressive and should not be regularly performed,” she warns.
What Results Can You Expect to See?
Regularly undertaking the glass skin care routine purportedly helps to keep the skin super quenched and hydrated. Those who swear by it report that the benefits are almost instantaneous, but become most apparent after one to three weeks. The reported benefits include:
- Skin with a dewy appearance or almost translucent quality
- Skin that is extremely smooth
- A reduction in redness and inflammation
- A reduction in dryness
- A more even skin tone
However, an over-adherence to the regime may also produce the opposite effects.
“With my patients, I rarely suggest the use of a toner and will not advise them to wash with an exfoliator everyday for fear of drying out the skin,” says Downie. “Dry skin is not happy skin, so keeping the pH, microbiome, and moisture content of the skin balanced is paramount for homeostasis and reducing the risk of inflammation.”
Is the Glass Skin Care Regime Right for You?
Although its popularity is indisputable, the glass skin care regimen may not be ideal for everyone. Downie recommends chatting with your dermatologist before committing to it, to find out which elements might work for you, and which should be avoided. “Before starting this regimen, review it with your dermatologist making sure to point out any other skin issues like dry skin or eczema, psoriasis, acne, and sensitivities to certain ingredients,” she advises.
In general, the regime requires a significant investment in terms of both time and products, so it is unlikely to suit those who are time-poor, laid-back about their skin care, or have budget constraints.
Expert Opinion on Glass Skin Alternatives
For those interested in achieving the glass skin look, without the intensive process, Downie offers the following recommendations.
Sun protection, sleep, diet and exercise
“Sun protection is always my number one recommendation,” says Downie. “Protecting the skin from the harmful UV rays we encounter every day is one of the best defenses to fight the signs of aging.” She also lists sufficient sleep, a nourishing diet and regular exercise as taking a close second place for ensuring healthy skin from the inside out, and avoiding wrinkles.
Ultra hydrating products can also help add a healthy sheen to the skin. “Try hydrating with a hyaluronic acid moisturizer or serum with potent antioxidants and growth factor agonists, like Sente Dermal Repair and Dermal Contour Pressed Serum,” urges Downie.
Lastly, she emphasizes the speedy effects of neurotoxins such as Botox. “Neurotoxins do wonders to treat and prevent fine lines and wrinkles of the face, particularly the forehead, between the brows, and crows feet, among many other off-label uses used by your trained provider,” she remarks.
“They take 7 to 14 days to take effect–there are few products applied or taken by mouth that could impact the skin that quickly. As far as ease for the patient– they are simply injected by a trained professional – couldn’t be easier!”
- Giordano, C. N., Matarasso, S. L., & Ozog, D. M. (2017). Injectable and topical neurotoxins in dermatology: Basic science, anatomy, and therapeutic agents. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 76(6), 1013-1024. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28522038
- Harding, C. R., Watkinson, A., Rawlings, A. V., & Scott, I. R. (2000). Dry skin, moisturization and corneodesmolysis. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 22(1), 21-52. europepmc.org/abstract/med/18503460
- Hawkins, S. S., Subramanyan, K., Liu, D., & Bryk, M. (2004). Cleansing, moisturizing, and sun‐protection regimens for normal skin, self‐perceived sensitive skin, and dermatologist‐assessed sensitive skin. Dermatologic Therapy, 17, 63-68. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1396-0296.2004.04S1008.x
- Verdier‐Sévrain, S., & Bonté, F. (2007). Skin hydration: a review on its molecular mechanisms. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 6(2), 75-82. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1473-2165.2007.00300.x