Glass skin is a K-Beauty trend that took the beauty world by storm in 2017. It's that juicy, dewy, glass-like complexion that most of us aspire to; the kind of skin that looks like it's treated to regular facials. It's smooth, radiant, and, of course, glass-like. In other words, a no-no for the acne-prone among us, right? Wrong. We caught up with Alicia Yoon, founder of K-beauty brand Peach & Lily, who shared that it's actually possible to get glass-like skin, even if you're dealing with stubborn acne. Keep scrolling to read her advice.
Hi Byrdie readers!
There is a fear around already having oily skin and whether trying to make it dewy will magnify that or make the skin become more oily. If you want to achieve glass skin when you're dealing with acne, you should try to tackle the root cause of your breakouts—you don't just want to put a band-aid on. With acne, there's a vicious cycle of breakouts and lingering scarring, which you have to take into account as well.
Meet the Expert
Based in New York, Alicia Yoon is a Harvard Business School graduate and esthetician who received her training in South Korea. She is the founder of skincare brand and online retailer Peach & Lily.
Step 1: Double Cleanse
Always start with an oil-based cleanser. A lot of people worry because this sounds counterintuitive, but not all oil cleansers are created alike. Some leave a greasy residue and that feels pretty terrible, while some oil cleansers can actually strip the skin dry. Be The Skin Daily Complete Cleansing Oil ($35) is very effective at dissolving oil-based impurities. It degunks your pores and you won’t need to tug at the skin as you do with makeup wipes, which can spread bacteria around so the skin barrier has a high chance of being compromised. [Ed note: if this item is out of stock, check out the Natural Coconut Cleansing Oil ($45) which is also recommended for acne-prone skin.]
This cleanser dissolves everything easily, and then once it's emulsified, it turns milky so you don't feel any residue on the skin. In South Korea, it's well known that if you get the cleansing step right, it can resolve [many] skincare issues. Not cleaning down to the pores or stripping the skin barrier can lead to a chain reaction of issues. A good cleansing routine gets to the root of breakouts; it keeps the skin barrier strong and can break that breakout cycle rather than just covering symptoms.
Next, follow with a gel cleanser. Peach & Lily Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser ($28) is a water-based cleanser that is sulfate-free, pH 5.5 and really hydrating. The skin barrier is left undisrupted. It contains soothing ingredients like chamomile, calendula and hyaluronic acid, which are ideal for acne-prone skin that tends to have a lot of inflammation and irritation. [Ed note: check out the travel size Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser if you aren't ready to commit or if the full size is out of stock.]
Step 2: Toner
Peach & Lily The Good Acids Pore Toner ($39) balances skin pH and hydrates, but also contains tiny amounts of AHA and BHA to keep skin polished on a daily basis. The toner removes any dead skin cell buildup gently without causing micro-tears on the surface of the skin like some scrubs can. With soothing ingredients like turmeric, the skin is left polished and refined. [Ed. note: we also love REN Ready Steady Glow Toner and Glossier Solution.]
Step 3: Essence
For acne-prone skin, dehydration causes an interesting chain reaction. The body is smart—it goes into protective mode and a hormone is released that tells your pores to produce more oil. As a result, skin cell turnover slows down, and that leads to breakouts and scarring, as dehydration can also trigger melanocytes to go into overdrive.
The Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence ($39) keeps skin hydrated so that the inflammatory process can be stopped. It's one of my favorites because it is formulated with different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, so all layers of the skin are getting hydrated—not just the surface. With 2 percent niacinamide, it helps with scarring and inflammation, as do the antioxidants like lotus and bamboo. It doesn't feel like you have anything on your skin. [Ed note: we also recommend Shani Darden Sake Toning Essence and Renee Rouleau Moisture Infusion Toner.]
Here's a tip to get the most out of your essence: When watching TV with cleansed skin, apply 20 layers of this with clean hands. It's like a mini facial! It's non-irritating as it contains no fragrance or alcohol; it simply gives the skin the hydration it's craving.
Constantly hydrating the skin from deep within can curb the overproduction of oil. I went from having shiny skin to skin that is less oily with a luminosity from within.
Step 4: Serum
This is the hero step of the whole routine. The Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum ($39) is completely non-irritating—there are no silicones, toxins or alcohol, but lots of power ingredients.
There is 2 percent niacinamide (not too much to pair with the niacinamide in the essence), a peptide complex, as well as a peach extract; it's like a gourmet meal feeding your skin with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. It also contains cica, which is a very calming ingredient that heals wounds and is anti-inflammatory. In fact, in facials, I sometimes use half a bottle! People with acne-prone skin who use this find their acne gets so much better, as does the scarring and texture.
Step 5: Ampoules
Eco Your Skin Meso Ampoule ($130) is a really interesting product. It's a unique ampoule that can be applied after the Glass Skin serum or after moisturizer. It contains a hydrolyzed sponge that has a micro-needling type effect on the skin to help with scarring. It's particularly great for people with texture or "ice pick acne" issues. About 30 to 60 seconds after applying this, you start to feel tingling.
The reviews of this product were so surprising to me because it can really help with stubborn scarring. It comes in a big bottle, but a little goes a long way.
Step 6: Moisturizer
Now you want to seal all this moisture in with a light moisturizer. Opt for something that has a lightweight cream texture that also soothes redness. [Click here for our roundup of the best oil-free moisturizers for acne-prone skin.]
Short on time? Yoon suggests using the May Coop Raw Sauce. "It's a great hybrid product that combines toner, essence and emulsion."
Step 7: SPF
Every morning, use a great SPF. It's key, whether you have acne or not. Village 11 Factory Daily Mild Sun Cream ($12) is a weightless physical and chemical sunscreen that leaves no white cast and won’t break you out or irritate.
Add a Resurfacing Mask
Try a gently exfoliating mask, like the Peach & Lily Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask ($43); it has a powerful combination of 10% AHA and 5% BHA. The AHA gets rid of the traffic jam of skin cells, while BHA is oil-soluble and degunks the lining of the pores. You can use it one to two times a week.
I used to have severe eczema—I struggled for so long until I went to aesthetician school and realized I could transform my skin. It brought me a lot of joy. If you have acne, you can also have reactive, sensitive skin. Acids are a great way to exfoliate because physical exfoliants can spread bacteria around.
Struggling with blackheads? Try a Kaolin clay mask, like the Peach & Lily Pore Proof Perfecting Clay Mask ($43), which draws out impurities from the pores and uses cherry and strawberry to brighten.
Keeping your skin hydrated is important. so misting throughout the day or between your layers of makeup can help [if you make sure to seal in the moisture]. I like to mist my BeautyBlender before applying makeup.
Troxederm Repair Essence Mist is a product that went viral in Korea. The Brad Pitt of Korea, Lee Jung Jae, spent $15k on buying the mist and gifting it to his fans. It contains Tiger grass extract, which is used by derms to soothe and hydrate. It's a clean, anti-inflammatory formula that was a hit with celebrities who need to wear a lot of makeup and wanted something calming. It's great to use in-flight and also wears well over makeup.
Makeup and Glass Skin
Take a close look at the primer you're using, as many of them can be irritating or pore-clogging. I like to use the Peach & Lily Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream ($40) as a primer. It won’t pill and leaves skin velvety and hydrated. You can also consider using a hydrating serum as a highlighter or to add a glow to high points of the face. Or, try taking your favorite face oil and mix it in with your makeup.
Also, try a much lighter layer of makeup. Rather than piling on powder or heavier formulas that can dehydrate your skin and clog the pores, try spot concealing problem areas and using a light layer of foundation everywhere else. There is such great technology in makeup these days. Regardless of what makeup you wear, when you're properly cleansing—with an oil cleanser for five minutes—a lot is resolved. But, if you only have a minute to cleanse, then give your skin a break and use makeup formulas that are lighter and easier to remove.
When it comes to makeup and skincare, avoid using high amounts of fragrances or alcohol. Some people don’t react to fragrance, but there are different types of fragrance—synthetic and natural—and you don't always know which type or molecules can irritate your skin. As for alcohol, it can be very drying, which can can lead to inflammation.
One last note: Much like fragrance, not all silicones are alike and not all will break you out. But, if it's too hard to work out which silicones do break you out, try to avoid them for the time being, as they could exacerbate your acne.