The Evolution of Glass Skin: What is it and How Do We Achieve It?

The Evolution of Glass Skin: What is it and How Do We Achieve It
Ruby Feneley

Beauty & Health Writer

Jan 22, 2022

Glass skin has been around for a while and is showing no signs of abating. Popular in Korea, the trend kicked off in 2017 when amateur makeup artist Ellie Choi shared her glass skin look accompanied by her skincare routine.

The image of her poreless, luminous and wet-looking complexion went viral. There is something hypnotic about glass skin – it has a hyperreal opalescent quality to it. The look celebrates naturally flawless skin and tutorials often focus on skincare. So it’s no surprise the popularity of the look has been capitalised on by skincare companies.Peach and Lily’s “Glass Skin Serum” sold out the moment it launched, and Estee Lauder suggest using their Advanced Night Repair serum as a “glass skin highlighter”.  This all makes sense when you consider changes occurring in the industry. With prestige skincare outstripping colour sales for cosmetic giants Estee Lauder and Loreal, and the New York runways awash with glossy complexions, from Diane Kendall’s transparent complexions at Tom Ford and Romy Soleimani’s rose hued dew-drop cheeks at Kate Spade,  we can infer the pursuit of glass skin is here to stay.

While the philosophy behind the look is naturally flawless skin, makeup artists still use multiple cosmetic products to fake it. Lisa Eldridge’s “Glass Skin” tutorial features 20 different colour products while “Dewy Dumpling Queen” Nam Vo uses 17. Below I have submitted my own litany of products that I use to achieve the look, along with some tips and tricks for application.

A little art history:

The key of glass skin is to imitate and exaggerate the way light reflects off real skin. Painters have been trying to achieve this for centuries and makeup artists can learn from them. In the past, painters used the “transparent oil glaze” building colour in thin, transparent veils to better achieve the impression of light moving through three dimensional space. When I am aiming to achieve a glass-like effect on the skin I approach formulations with a similar attitude. I generally work with liquids and creams that have translucent rather than opaque pigments and work in thin layers.

Becca Pressed Luminizer
Becca Pressed Luminizer

Prime your canvas:

My skin is far from flawless. I have dark circles around my eyes, and hyper-pigmentation from sun damage. To start with I take Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter in shade 1 all over, including my under eyes. The Flawless Filter primer has the perfect apricot-golden tone to lift shadows in the skin. It is one of the first illuminating primers I have tried that doesn’t exacerbate dryness or texture – instead it’s a cushioning base that smooths skin and diffuses light perfectly. To amp up the glow I add a dab of Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl to the high points of the cheeks – the white shade pops against my super fair skin tone and catches the light.

Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation

Build your base:

I am looking a little more sweaty than glowing in here, but this kind of slick base you want. Now I even out my skin tone further with foundation. The foundation you use is up to you. What is most important is that it matches your skin tone EXACTLY. Glass skin aims to create the illusion of bare skin – nothing ruins that more quickly than a mismatched foundation. I am mixing two to achieve my perfect colour, The Dolce and Gabbana Perfect Luminous Foundation in 100 which is very yellow in undertone and the Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation in Light which is very pink. Together they mix the perfect neutral for my skin tone. Both formulations have a medium coverage and a glowy finish, my personal preference. I use a damp Beauty Blender so only a fine layer of product is deposited on the skin.

Makeup brushes
Makeup brushes


Now for the detail work. I highlight under my eyes with the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat in #1. Because of it’s strong pink undertone the Touche Eclat Makes an excellent corrector.Ultimately, correcting translates to less concealer under the eyes, and a more natural look. I follow corrector with RMS Un-Cover Up Concealer in 00 – this concealer from makeup artist to Victoria’s Secret Angels Rosemary Swift, has a perfect medium coverage and slightly waxy finish that mimics the look of real skin. I use the shade 11 on the rest of my face for any areas that need extra coverage. If I have any significant blemishes (read aggressive hormonal acne) I will use Cover FX Custom Cover Drops – this is a water weight liquid with 100% pigment. Intended to be added to foundation or moisturiser, I love using the product for big blemishes as the fine formula adds zero texture.

Finishing touches:

Now our base is covered it’s time for final flourishes. For this look I used Stila Convertible colours. Like the RMS concealers they have a slightly waxy finish that imitates the look of natural skin. I have used their “field of florals” palette – a must have in my kit.  I mixed Fuschia and Hibiscus on the apples of the cheeks, and then dab a little across the bridge of my nose. Taking blush across the bridge creates the slightly sunburnt flush of natural skin. I then used Magnolia, a earthy plum for very soft sculpting. I was inspired by Candice Swanepoel’s Vogue “Beauty Secrets” Video in this choice. The supermodel used a plum coloured MAC eyeshadow to contour. The slight pink tones in purple greys pick up on natural colours in the skin perfectly and naturally.

I love the versatility of the Stila Palette but notably all the colours are available as large singles.

I then add a dusting of powder highlighter where I placed the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl earlier. At the moment I am using the Wet and Wild Highlighter, an amazingly affordable, amazingly quality product from the United States. Unfortunately this fantastic range is unavailable in stores in Australia (get this brand Priceline!), I have included a link to an online stockist below. Any highlighter will do but make sure it’s the right shade for your skin tone – Becca have a fantastic range of liquid, cream and powder highlights in all undertones.

Dust if you must:

Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Loose Powder Pale Yellow
Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Loose Powder Pale Yellow

If you have dryer skin powder isn’t essential for this look, I will often just use a setting spray. With this said, the 40c weather lately can make even a powder-phobe like myself reach for her fan-brush. I used a used a very light weight powder, and only in my tee-zone. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders are great for this look, and are available in a variety of undertones for every complexion. The yellow undertone of Diffused Light is perfect for me, I used a small brush to dust the sides of my nose, forehead and chin.  Because I’m addicted to blush I add a dash of Hourglass Mood Exposure to my cheeks. Finally, I pat over the Wet and Wild powder highlighter with RMS Living Luminiser in Champagne Rose – all the glow of a powder highlight with none of the crisp edges.

Products mentioned:

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, $61.52 AU, Beautylish.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfecter Liquid, $62  Sephora Australia.

Stila Convertible Colour, $38 for a single, Mecca.

RMS Un-Coverup Concealer, $55, Mecca.

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat, $70, Myer.

Wet and Wild Megaglo Highlighting Powder, $10,  Crush Cosmetics.

RMS Champagne Rose Luminizer, $58, Mecca.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, $73, Mecca

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush, $61, Mecca.

Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation and Dolce and Gabbana Luminous Foundation are unavailable in Australia currently. For a medium coverage, dewy finish foundation I recommend Nars Sheer Glow or Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundations available at Mecca and Myer respectively.

Dior Diorshow Mascara (black) - RRP $28.50
Dior Diorshow Mascara (black)

Other products:

Eyes and Brows: Glossier Mascara, Benefit Lash Primer through brows. Hourglass lip pencil in Canvas on eyes with Mood Exposure Blush.

Lips: Bobbi Brown Lip Tint Extra in Blackberry.

Bobbie Brown Lip Tints
Bobbie Brown has added to their lip tint colour range.


By Ruby Feneley

Beauty & Health Writer

Ruby Feneley is The Carousel Beauty contributor. Her obsession with makeup and skincare started when she modelled in her teens. While she studied English Literature at Sydney University she pivoted from front to behind the camera – receiving her Diploma of Artistry and working as a makeup artist, assisting industry leaders across multiple top brands. In 2017, she moved to New York where she worked as a copywriter for celebrity children’s wear label Appaman Inc. Ruby is now combining her love of makeup and skincare with her passion for writing. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of makeup and skincare – she can spot a Nars lip from 30 feet and recommend skin creams and treatments from chemists to La Mer at a glance. She is always looking for the next big thing in beauty whether it’s an “unsung hero” product, a highlighter hack or a technological innovation to accelerate your anti-ageing regimen.



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