If you're tapped into the beauty community, you know glass skin has been a buzzy trend for some time. The hydrating K-beauty skin technique has influenced how some of our favorite MUAs and estheticians approach skin and inspired countless products. Achieving radiant, reflective skin is possible no matter your skin tone, but a new trend has emerged specifically for Brown skin: liquid gold skin.
The glow-boosting complexion trick involves using dewy moisturizers and products with ingredients known to make Brown skin shine. Ahead, Ayurvedic and Pacific beauty strategy consultant and founder of Love, Indus Surbhee Grover, makeup artist Shruthi Rampalli, and board-certified dermatologist and medical advisor for docent Dr. Farhaad Riyaz share their tips on how to get liquid gold skin.
Meet the Expert
Why Is It Called Liquid Gold Skin?
"When I think of Brown skin, I think of melted honey, liquified sunshine, or liquid gold because we have tones of yellow, brown, and red," Grover says. "Glass [skin] also connotes pristine perfection, which can be a bit of a myth to chase."
There seems to be a lack of representation within the glass skin trend, causing many brown-skinned people to feel like the look isn't suited for them. "If you think about the glass skin look and research the hashtag, you would probably see lighter skin tones," Rampalli adds. "It starts with terminology and awareness. If I had to describe the shine of Brown skin, it would be a melted gold look. It feels more alluring and attainable."
How Can Liquid Gold Skin be Achieved?
Instead of an eight-step routine, our experts have something more sustainable in mind. "You've got to have beauty hacks instead of a bunch of steps," Grover says. "Often, we're told we need 45 minutes to an hour to create a glass skin look for Brown skin, which I don't think is realistic. Liquid gold skin breaks down into a couple of things. The skin has to be smooth and firm. It has to be even."
Skin preparation goes a long way in creating liquid gold skin. "Exfoliation is key," Shruthi says. "Great makeup application comes down to flawless skin, not meaning there is no texture or pores. It's about removing dead skin so moisture will hug the skin better."
Removing facial hair is another major component that isn't always discussed within skin trends. "For those who choose to remove their peach fuzz, sometimes mechanical processes like threading or waxing can cause skin irritation," Grover explains. "Our Velvet :08 Broadway Bright Detox Mask ($58) has transformative Thanaka wood. The bark of the Thanaka tree has powerful properties that purify and tighten your skin."
If you don't desire to remove any hair, it can be helpful to incorporate other methods to cleanse your skin. "You can alternatively incorporate a treatment like a chemical peel to slough away dead skin," Shruthi says.
Darker skin tones are more prone to dryness, but that doesn't mean it's automatically time to pack on heavy creams and thick cleansers. Instead, light hydrating serums and lotions with hyaluronic acid are the way to go.
"Hyaluronic acid is one of the best ingredients to make our melanin-rich skin luminous and dewy," Dr. Riyaz says. "It boosts hydration, smooths, and helps prevent aging. This key ingredient helps the skin hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it a literal drink of water for your skin."
Focus on Skin Healing
"Healing the skin helps enhance softness, smoothness, and cushiony feel," Grover mentions. "The Amrutini Transforming Serum ($120) contains vegan ghee that improves skin regeneration." Dr. Riyaz notes some vegan ghees contain PUFAS, EFAS (Omega 6 and 9) and are rich in vitamins A and D that can nourish the skin.
Pay Attention to Ingredients
Liquid gold skin requires the skin to be plump with moisture to create a dewy finish. "You need moisture inside and outside," Grover says. "Only applying products on the top layer won't give you that bounce."
According to Dr. Riyaz, "studies have shown Black and Brown skin types have more cell layers with more cell cohesion which could impede product penetration." That's why it's extra important to focus on layering moisturizing ingredients that help retain as much water in the skin as possible. But you have to be careful as Brown skin has a higher presence of natural oil than lighter skin.
Dr. Riyaz recommends products with ingredients like squalane and macadamia oil. "Squalane and macadamia oil are similar to the oil that is within the human body, which makes them highly compatible and therefore more readily absorbed for deep moisturization on the face and body," Dr. Riyaz explains. For example, the Love, Indus Amrutini Precious Potion ($110) contains squalane from renewable sources to restore the skin's suppleness and flexibility. He also lists shea butter, avocado oil, and sesame oil as other great ingredients for making melanin skin look marvelous.
"Shea butter is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and nourishing fatty acids that help maintain healthy moisturized skin, leaving it protected against free radical damage and the environment," Dr. Riyaz notes.
Rampalli recommends a few tried-and-true hydrating and radiance-boosting skincare products. "Summer Friday's Jet Lag Mask ($63) gives you a moisturizing, hydrating look from within, and Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil ($95) is fabulous for a glowing look no matter what type of skin you have," she says.
Focus on Important Skin Concerns
Unfortunately, many brown-skinned people think that their melanin is enough to protect their skin from the sun. For that liquid gold glow to last, wearing SPF is a must.
"I honestly didn't know a lot about sunscreen until post-college," Shruthi says. "While there's a lot of focus on hair and taking care of your skin with quality ingredients, sun protection wasn't part of our rituals in the same way as going to bed with oil in your hair or doing turmeric face masks. Though wearing SPF isn't something we learn about in our culture, we should be wearing it for sun protection."
Dr. Riyaz says melanin in darker skin is reported to confer a natural SPF of about 13, while the melanin in fair-skinned people lends roughly three. "That's not a lot when dermatologists recommend most people use SFP 30 or more," he says. "People with darker skin tones need to be vigilant about sun protection as sunburn, sun damage, and skin cancers may occur."
Hyperpigmentation and dark circles are other common concerns for people with melanin-rich skin. "Dark circles are something people with brown skin tend to have more of, so that's why mulberry is incredible for them," Grover says. "Their [radiance-boosting] impact is really important. Another challenge is hyperpigmentation because of the nature of melanin-rich skin. Mulberry is in a lot of our products, and it slows down the production of dark pigment, so it helps even out skin tone," Grover says.
Implement Healthy Skin Habits
It's not just enough to apply products and go on with your day if you want to maximize the effects of liquid gold skin. There are daily habits you can adopt to help your skin have a sunkissed glow. "Massaging the skin increases the blood flow and reduces toxins," Grover says. "[You can also] try icing the area under the eyes with rose water."
Know What to Avoid
It's also beneficial to know which ingredients you should refrain from applying to your face. "Avoid moisturizers with petroleum-derived mineral oil, which gives the illusion of hydration by forming an occlusive film over the skin that can thin skin over time," Dr. Riyaz says. "Vegan collagen supplementation is a hot topic for debate as some proponents swear by its plumping effects, but there isn't enough evidence yet."
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Sarkar R, Arora P, Garg KV. Cosmeceuticals for hyperpigmentation: what is available? J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2013;6(1):4-11.