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Your Guide To Glass Skin

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The Violet Files

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It’s the K-beauty term for a seemingly poreless, brilliantly radiant, so-clear-it-looks translucent complexion. Celebrity makeup artist Nam Vo shares her ultimate how-to on getting the glow at home.

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Your Guide To Glass Skin

You might assume that the technique to glowing up involves a one-and-done swipe of highlighter. But the reality is that discipline, dedication, and a few very deliberate tricks are all part of the process to getting that crystal-clear, almost wet-looking radiance made famous by Korean women the world over. The term—and the addictive luminosity that comes with—have become full-blown Internet sensations (a quick Google search reveals nearly 602 million hits). To get your dew on IRL, we asked Nam Vo, the preternaturally glowy NYC-based makeup artist and inventor of the “dewy dumpling” look, for her own take on the megawatt trend.

Fact: The better your skin is, the better your makeup is going to layer and look. “You can create the illusion of good skin by piling on, like, 14 highlighters, but trust me when I say it’s worth working for actual glass dumpling skin instead of faking it,” says Vo. Building a basic skin care wardrobe is the backbone of a glass-like glow, but “being extra a few times a week is what will take things to the next level,” says Vo. “I'm always masking, peeling, exfoliating and massaging, and that’s where I really see results.” Every few days, slough off dead skin cells with a gentle yet hydrating formula like iS Clinical Tri-Active Exfoliating Masque. Or slip in a quick wipe down with Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel after cleansing and before serum at night to keep the surface consistently clear and bright. Could not be easier. The road to glow also involves insane amounts of moisture. So whether it’s a plumping concentrate like 111Skin Hyaluronic Acid Aqua Booster, a serum-drenched sheet mask like Joanna Vargas Euphoria Mask, or Vo’s hydration of choice, Tatcha’s Dewy Skin Face Mist, take any opportunity for hydration. To give your face the best possible chance to retain all that moisture, apply a nourishing face oil like Sisley Paris Black Rose Oil as your last skin care step, advises Vo. “Massage it in, then blot the excess with a dry Beautyblender sponge—that way the oil penetrates the skin, but doesn’t look greasy.”

Contour is like the makeup equivalent of Spanx: It defines, nips, and tucks, but isn’t actually meant to be seen. The trick to achieving a super sculpted, second-skin finish, says Vo, is to use three different shades of base. “It’s more work, but it makes skin look like actual skin—not like a patchwork quilt.” Start by smoothing a hydrating liquid like Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation in the exact shade as your skin tone all over with a synthetic brush (editor’s pick: Westman Atelier Foundation Brush), then dab a damp sponge dipped in foundation that’s one shade lighter under the eyes, on the smile lines, and in the center of the forehead, so “it looks like there is a spotlight coming from within,” says Vo. For added sun-kissed dimension, blend just a dot of bronzer like Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base along the hairline, on the highest point of the cheekbones, down the sides of the nose, and along the jawline. “This layering technique is what delivers that signature dewy dumpling effect—it’s about being fully contoured but looking like you barely have anything on,” explains Vo.

This is what breathes life into the skin. Just be sure to get the placement right. Do that by tapping a cream formula like RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek Blush on the fleshy part of your cheeks with your fingertips so it looks “like it's a sheer, post-gym” flush. Then take a fluffy brush and sweep a powder in a similar shade (editor’s pick: Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic) along the tops of your cheekbones and boomerang it up the temples and to the edge of your brow bone. “This two-texture strategy not only makes blush last longer,” says Vo, “but also makes everything look more three-dimensional.”

Now that your face is frrresh, don’t mess it up by powdering down everywhere. “That might work if you're a news anchor, but if you want to look like a glowy dumpling, do not mattify all over,” advises Vo. Instead, dip a dome-shaped shadow brush into some loose powder like By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder, tapping off the excess. Then dust just the sides of your nose, under the eyes, and in the T-zone to take down a bit of shine. Use a light touch and marvel at your glowiness.

Highlighter, although a delicious way to add instant sheen, is also a product worth wielding with a delicate hand, says Vo. “It’s not body glitter, people—it’s the cherry on top of the sundae, that beautiful finishing touch.” Here’s how to hit the mark: skim the top of your cheekbones, brow bones, and cupid’s bow with a dewy cream highlighter like Westman Atelier Lit Up Highlight Stick. Fingers are fine for this, but a pointed brush will give you more precision. Just stop before you hit any fine lines or crow’s feet, says Vo, because no matter how finely milled your formula is, highlighter will accentuate lines. Looking to level up? Pat on a high-gloss metallic luminizer like Kevyn Aucoin Face and Body Gloss on top of it all. “The thing about dumpling makeup is that it's never flat,” says Vo. “Everything has to look multidimensional—a play on shadow and light.”