We have all heard of last year’s beauty keyword, “glass skin”, with products hailing from the West even, promising this haloed term. The keyword stems from the modern Mecca of beauty, South Korea, where it was coined to refer to skin not only smooth and flawless, but clear, transparent and lit from within, much like a glass marble. Similar terminology include “honey skin” and “black pearl skin” also exist, although to a lesser fame. All these terms are easy to confuse but the key features to remember are splitting them into three categories to choose from according to personal preference for base – dewy skin, referring to keeping the base moisturized and almost reflective, matte, which is soft and velvety and betrays no signs of oil or moisture, and lastly semi-matte, a good in-between. Now that you have picked your poison, here’s a breakdown of each look and how to get it.
- Glass Skin (Dewy)
For the famed glass skin, the care you give your skin prior to makeup is the most crucial step. Make sure you’re skin is fully prepped by restoring its moisture using a serum or ampoule product. Lotions and creams are great for this too, but the often sit on the skin surface and take a long time to absorb, causing the foundation to slip around. Serums and ampoules are often thinner, making for fast absorption. We recommend the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair ($81, 20ml) for its glow and slightly thicker texture that leaves the skin glowing after use.
A key feature that is often overlooked when it comes to glass skin, is the need for the skin to look as transparent as possible. It is not just simply about achieving perfect, blemish-free skin – Koreans enjoy skin that looks thin and clear, with the barest hints of a healthy flush peeking through. Whitening products are therefore a must for this look, although we understand that looking as pale as porcelain may not be everyone’s cup of tea. K-Bright’s Icy-Lock Miracle Booster Pearls ($62,16 pearls), edibles for brighter skin, as well as their Crystal Bright Illuminating Serum ($89, 30ml) will help facilitate the look.
- Black Pearl Skin
Not a fan of looking like the Cullens for all their deathly fair but glittering skin? The K-Beauty bibles have recently expanded their repertoire to include those on the tanner end of the spectrum, dubbing a look that incorporates a natural tan with a luminous glow, the Black Pearl look. A celebrity almost synonymous with the term includes Yuri of Girls Generation girl group fame, for her tanned look that still mystically managed to look both youthful and as if it was lit from within.
The look is similar to Glass Skin, with more of a focus on a healthy, sporty look. Beauty YouTuber PONY Syndrome, demonstrated the look to her 5 million subscribers, focusing on minimizing pores and oiliness with a semi-matte primer, such as the YSL Touche Eclat Blur Primer ($75, 30ml), to create a smooth canvas without making the skin too dry. She recommends cream-based bronzer over powder as well – Glossier’s Cloud Paint ($18 USD, 10ml) in dusk is a good option across the cheeks in place of a powder blush, while the cheekbones can be further accentuated with NARS Weightless Liquid Face Bronzer ($65, 30ml) in Laguna.
Black Pearl Look as on Yuri
- Mochi Skin
More of a winter-exclusive look, inspired by the sweet treat dusted in flour, the Mochi Skin look is actually just like how it sounds – smooth, poreless skin coated with a translucent setting powder. Although the skin has a velvety, matte finish diminished of any shine, the skin should be kept well-moisturized on the inside, perfect for those with combination skin that is dry at its core but oily on the surface. The skin produces more oil and sebum to combat dryness, which results in a skin-type that is hard to deal with. For those afflicted by this but hate the glossy, dewy look, Mochi Skin may be your solution. Start with an oil-based cleanser to melt away debris and whiteheads, such as the Shu Uemura Porefinist Refreshing Oil Cleanser ($115, 450ml), followed by a coat of water-based moisturizer. We recommend Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum ($74, 50ml). The Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($70, 30g) will give the skin that cozy velvet finish without taking away too much moisture.
Mochi Skin Look by Youtuber YoonSae
- Fruit-based Looks
The age-old adage, “You are what you eat” stands true for most aspects of health and beauty – a good diet will lead to more energy, cleaner skin and a fair BMI. The world of K-beauty seems to have taken this a step further, with many of their makeup look concepts and names taking inspiration from the food we eat in our daily lives. Originating from Peach Makeup, a look that was inspired by Sulli, a singer-turned-actress that was famed for her nickname “Human Peach”. The iconic look is exemplified by a fuzzy matte base and the use of coral-tone eyeshadow and lipstick to create a warm and youthful look. The look is constantly being reproduced by Youtube Gurus, with a launch by YouTuber Soyoon seeing 2 million views in the past year. Koreans have a tendency to create personifications for different looks, often matching a fruit to a representative celebrity. Another popular look is Cherry Makeup, focusing on bright ruby lips and blush on pale skin, comparing it to Nayeon of girl group Twice, or YooA of Oh My Girl
Peach Makeup by Soyoon
Human Peach” Sulli
Cherry Makeup, Nayeon
Makeup often ends up being something rather personal, based on individual preferences and styles. In our extended pilgrimage of K-beauty, we have witnessed its expansion in inclusivity and
diversity, despite a large focus still being placed on the cornerstones including pale skin and straight eyebrows. Perhaps in years to come, we will be able to see a broader spectrum of looks in what was previously a rather narrow standard of beauty.