A non-exhaustive list of everything my skin should resemble according to the internet: glass, a dolphin, a donut, a slug, honey, and an actual human baby. I get that these are just metaphors and euphemisms used to drive home a point, illustrate results, and—above all—market some beauty products. But those trendy, often TikTok-generated "skin goals" can be admittedly frustrating and even discouraging. As a 29-year-old woman with freckles, scars, lines, marks, and one pretty funny sunglasses tan line, there's no world in which my face skin will ever truly resemble glass, dolphins, or a fresh Krispy Kreme.
I thought I was done with the alienating terminology, but the latest term might actually be one I can get behind. Jello skin might sound like every other viral TikTok moment of the year, but it's one of the first skincare trends that's actually attainable.
What Is Jello Skin?
Jello skin, one of TikTok's latest obsessions, is skin that's plump, hydrated, and bouncy, almost like the consistency of fresh Jello. The term was coined by user @glowwithava, who shared a video of herself getting a facial. The esthetician is seen pinching her cheeks and remarking on their suppleness, elasticity, and bounce. "It's like the perfect consistency of Jello!" he says in the TikTok, which has since amassed more than 1.5 million likes. Almost immediately, the term took off and fellow creators, brands, and experts all waded into the Jello skin discussion, swapping tips and tricks on how best to nail that coveted, jelly-like feel.
While the trend isn't without its controversy (the facialist in the original video attributes the bounce to "perfect collagen levels" which are largely genetic), this is the first viral skin movement I've seen that seems to value how skin feels as opposed to how it looks. Things like hyperpigmentation and pore size might be mostly out of my control, but the way my skin feels is incredibly responsive to massage, moisture, and nutrition. In other words, I finally found my skincare goal: everyone's least favorite dessert.
How To Get Jello Skin
According to Dr. Lian Mack, board-certified dermatologist, there are three key factors behind Jello skin's plump, trampoline-ish bounce: collagen, elastin, and water. "All of these molecules are essential to having skin that looks youthful," Dr. Mack explains. Because humans lose these naturally-produced proteins with age (and some are just born with less), that bounce can diminish over the years. "By the age of 30, we no longer produce collagen and start to lose it," she says. "With age, there is also an overall thinning of the skin, which can compromise the skin barrier leading to dehydration."
While halted collagen production makes scoring Jello skin seem dismal, Dr. Mack says there's plenty that can be done to help. We all know that prevention beats cure, so hang on to the collagen you already have by protecting it from the sun and environmental toxins. Dr. Mack suggests a daily dose of antioxidant vitamin C and a robust SPF of at least 30 to minimize environment-expedited collagen breakdown, as well as a retinoid, moisturizer, and regular exfoliation. "My colleagues and I would agree that using a topical retinoid is key when trying to achieve Jello skin," she tells Byrdie. "Retinoids have been well studied and have proven to be the most effective at driving collagen production." Consider speaking with your own doctor about a prescription-strength retinoid like tretinoin—my own before-and-after shots of a month on tret are staggering.
Finally, don't discount the power of moisture. Dr. Mack points out that it's impossible to measure the true effects of topical skincare on skin bounce without clinical studies, but does mention that most people (me!) anecdotally report improved hydration and plumpness when using active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, AHAs and BHAs, and collagen peptides. "One of my favorites is Monat's Rewind Age Control Nectar ($128). The nectar has skin-perfecting natural superfruit AHAs (which help exfoliate) and hyaluronic acid (which is like a moisture magnet for your skin)," she says. "Adding a boost of hydration to your moisturizer with products like Monat's hydration booster will have your skin looking like it just had a tall glass of water and will help achieve Jello skin."
The Bottom Line
Personally, I notice a difference in my skin's bounce (and radiance overall) when I'm drinking enough water, getting a good daily sweat in, and sleeping on my back—all habits I need and want to do anyway to feel my best. There's no million-step routine involved, no pricy products to layer upon each other hoping for a miracle cure. The Jello skin concept might not be without its flaws (what buzzy catchphrase wouldn't be?) but the emphasis on feeling and vitality is a refreshing change of pace. Knowing we'll all surely be on to something like egg skin or titanium skin by next week, I'm going to enjoy this moment.