Intrigued by Glass Skin Makeup? A Pro Explains How to Create the Look

it’s all in the skincare

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glass skin makeup: sunmi, minnie and jisoo
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We love a good makeup trend, and ever since Fall/Winter 2024 Fashion Week took place, the internet has been abuzz with the work of Pat McGrath. (What’s new?) The legendary makeup artist may be behind Taylor Swift’s iconic “kiss-proof” red lipstick, but she truly outdid herself with looks for Maison Margiela and Schiaparelli. Models’ faces were transformed into those of porcelain dolls’, and shortly after, Google Trends reported that “glass skin makeup” was a top trending beauty search term. Here, makeup artist Jenny Patinkin explains the secret to achieving the look.

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Meet the Expert

  • Jenny Patinkin is a Chicago-based makeup artist, founder of an eponymous beauty brand and the author of Lazy Perfection: The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying. Her brand has created an award-winning line of beauty tools loved by the likes of Allure, Cosmopolitan, Oprah and Better Homes & Gardens. Patinkin has contributed her expertise to outlets such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show and Martha Stewart.

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What Is Glass Skin Makeup?

As the name suggests, glass skin makeup is designed to make your skin look as smooth and as reflective as a mirror. Here in the States, it became the talk of the town when Pat McGrath sent models down the Maison Margiela runway in February. However, glass skin makeup has long been popular in Korea, where K-Pop idols are known equally for their performance chops as they are their seemingly poreless and porcelain skin.

How to Prep Your Skin for Glass Skin Makeup

The term “glass skin makeup” is a bit misleading, because the key to achieving it lies not with makeup but with skincare. A word of warning: If you don’t have a skincare routine that preps your face for this look, you can’t expect to just roll out of bed one morning and execute it flawlessly. Patinkin says this is something you need to build up to. “You can’t fake it with just foundation,” she notes. “Glass skin is almost completely about skin care and skin prep.”

What makes a good skincare routine? According to Patinkin, it’s consistency. The hallmark of glass skin is a smooth, blemish-free complexion, and consistency in your skin care routine is crucial for achieving that. Additionally, Patinkin recommends dermaplaning and daily exfoliation on top of your usual suspects, which include moisturizer, retinol and a serum for intense hydration.

“It's about exfoliating so that you are completely smooth, and you’ve got even tone that’s nice and bright,” she elaborates. That said, exfoliation should be done gradually. If you’re new to it, start with once or twice a week and build up a higher frequency, so you don’t irritate your skin. “Dermaplaning is very important, [too, because] you’re removing peach fuzz from your skin,” Patinkin continues. “[Removing it allows] skincare [to] come in more direct contact with your skin, and you get more reflection when there isn’t peach fuzz to dull the look of light on the skin.”

Applying Glass Skin Makeup

When it comes to choosing makeup for glass skin, Patinkin says you want a thinner formulation. Liquid foundations will reflect light better and give a glowy, dewy effect. She recommends products like ILIA’s viral Super Serum Skin Tint ($48) (it’s PureWow editor-approved) or Westman Atelier’s Vital Skincare Complexion Drops ($68). Should you require fuller coverage, Patinkin likes Haus Labs’ Triclone Skin Tech Foundation ($45). To apply, use your fingertips or a brush, and then pat with a damp sponge to eliminate any streaks. As for concealer, less is more.

“Use the least amount possible,” she advises. “Because concealer is so much more concentrated than foundation, it can sink into fine lines, accentuate pores and get caught in dry skin. [Set] with powder only if you absolutely need it.”

Ultimately, know that a true glass finish is difficult to achieve, especially on more mature skin. Sure, the Maison Margiela look is great for inspiration, but don’t forget that it’s stage makeup, so it’s important to set your expectations. Doubling down on your skincare routine and easing up on foundation application can get you closer to a glassy finish.

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