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From 'Honey Skin' to 'Skinimalism', Meet 2021's Top Skincare Trends

For decades, we’ve been conditioned to thinking shine was the ultimate enemy when it came to beauty standards. The beauty industry glorified mattifying gels and setting sprays, blotting papers, pressed powders and any product that would eliminate any signs of oil. Additionally, Instagram aesthetics popularised contouring and heavy foundation that was baked and blended to perfection.

But in recent years these standards have taken a 180-degree pivot. Now, scrolling through Instagram, you’re continuously graced with glowy, glass-like skin that illuminates your screen with minimal makeup. It’s the look that says you’ve had eight hours of quality sleep, meditated and had a green smoothie bowl for breakfast all before 7am.

Looking glowy has become an amalgamation of lifestyle and skincare as more people are becoming aware of how their lifestyle contributes to their overall skin health and appearance (hello, sleep quality and stress levels).

Now that everyone has become obsessed with “glow”, we sought the help of skincare expert and founder of Australia’s number one K-beauty online store STYLE STORY, Lauren Lee, to give a full rundown of everything there is to know about the most popular glowy skin trends of the moment - and how to achieve each one.

Where did the rise of the "glowy skin" trend originate?

We can take it all the way back to 332 BC when Cleopatra was said to have used olive oil for a shiny, dewy complexion.

The Elizabethan Era had Shakespeare who was obsessed with radiant skin as author and Harvard professor Stephen Greenblatt wrote in Shakespeare’s Freedom: "Shakespeare often conveys the sense of beauty’s radiance with the word 'fair'…Fair can denote lovely clear, fine, or clean, but it also has the distinct sense of shining lightness."

In the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe was a huge advocate for using Vaseline as a makeup product where her artist applied it as a primer, highlighter and eye gloss to give her skin a glow on-screen.

But the exponential rise in radiance is fundamentally linked to the Korean beauty influence on the Western market, and the foundations lie within the Korean beauty term “chok chok”, according to Lee.

"The term “chok chok” is actually a Korean word that literally translates to ‘moist or slightly wet’”, Lee tells Bed threads Journal. “This has been the goal of Korean skincare for at least the past 15 years and Korean celebrities have a lot to do with that. When they appear on TV, you'll notice celebrities have this glossy, glowing skin that looks almost wet. Achieving this look has spurred a rise in skincare and makeup products to achieve "chok chok" skin, as well as a host of in-clinic treatments.”

From “chok chok”, the term “glass skin” became an official K-beauty trend in 2013 - and it was only until four years later in 2017 did it take a hold in the US when Korean makeup artist Ellie Choi shared her skincare routine on social media - which went viral. People became mesmerised with Choi's poreless, dewy, glass-like “newborn” complexion and thus the need to glow became a beauty sensation loved by brands, celebrities and artists.

As a result, other artists have become responsible for coining certain glowy skin trend terms throughout the years. For example, in 2018, makeup artist Nam Vo rose to fame for turning her clients into “dewy dumplings” and most recently, brands like Glossier and Go-To have championed the no-makeup look of “skinimalism” in the western world.

It can be confusing trying to wrap your head around all these different glowy skin trends being thrown around (aren’t all glowy skins the same?), so here, Lee breaks down each one.

What is "honey skin"?

“This is skin that looks soft, hydrated, healthy and glowing no matter the weather,” Lee explains. “This trend has been popular in Korea for years, and a whole range of honey-based products have specifically been created to perfect this glow.”

How do you get honey skin?

“While it’s not absolutely necessary to use products with honey in them, honey-based products are perfect for supplying the hydration and nutrition to the skin that’s essential for this look. Try layering honey or propolis-based products for the best results.”

What is "water skin"?

“The "water glow" is best summed up as the look you get after showering, when the skin looks juicy, plump and with an almost wet sheen to it. If you watch Korean TV or K-dramas, you’ll notice many celebrities favour this look.”

How do you get water skin?

“Although Korean BB creams are perfect for achieving “water skin”, the condition of the skin itself is also really important. In order to nail the dewyness you need, you’re going to want to pump the skin full of hydration,” Lee says.

“Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and oils are ideal for this and again, layering products will help. After cleansing, try a sheet mask, followed by a misting spray and then lock it in with a rich, nourishing cream that combines an oil-in-cream formula with the benefits of a serum.”

And of course, don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking water.

What is "lustrous skin"?

“This skin trend is similar to strobing, which involves placing a strategic sheen on the high planes of the face.”

How do you get lustrous skin?

“It’s important to start off with the right base for this look. Korean makeup often starts with a rose or pink coloured primer that will leave the skin looking instantly fresher and healthier before you even start your foundation.

“Instead of foundation, opt for a Korean BB Cream or cushion, which lets the skin’s natural light shine through before moving onto strobing. Strobing is a makeup technique that uses shimmery shades of highlighter to accentuate the places where the light naturally touches the face.”

What is "lit-from-within skin"?

“Also known as "inner glow skin", this is the subtlest of all the glow trends, and refers to the healthy glow you get from taking care of yourself from the inside out.”

How do you get lit-from-within skin?

“A diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of water and supplements like soluble collagen are the keys to a healthy, lit-from-within glow. Korean people usually finish a meal with fruits rather than a sweet dessert, and this is one way to ensure your skin and body stay healthy and naturally glowing.”

What is "dewy dumpling skin"?

“The term “dewy dumpling” was coined by makeup artist Nam Vo in 2018 and gives an effect similar to that of the water glow and lustrous skin.”

How do you get dew dumpling skin?

“The skin itself needs to be prepped with skincare products that fill it with hydration to leave it looking plump and juicy. Makeup needs to focus on creating a subtle, almost wet look.

“Start your prep the night before with a sleeping mask to give your skin that juicy plumpness. The next morning, after toner and essence, add a makeup serum into your routine before your moisturiser. This instantly boosts the skin's radiance and acts as a primer for your makeup. When it comes to your makeup, skip any mattifying powders or foundations and opt for dewy BB creams, cream blushes and highlighters instead.”

What is "skinimalism"?

According to Pinterest’s Pinterest Predicts 2021 report, skinimalism is “the end of the caked-on makeup look” and instead “letting your natural skincare texture snake through.”

Lee explains “the trend of "skinimalism" involves pairing back your skincare routine so that you're only using the products your skin really needs - it's the opposite of a multi-step routine.”

While K-beauty is famously known for their complex 10-step routines, simple "skinimalism" has been a trend in Korea for a few years where it’s known as “skip care”.

“This trend has seen the rise of 2-in-1 and even 3-in-1 products that do the work of several steps in your skincare routine in a single product.”

How do you achieve skinimalism?

You firstly want to strip everything back and only use the basics for a little while (put a pause on using serums and acids). Try to find multi-use products that are calming, nourishing and protecting.

Then, it’s all about embracing your texture, imperfections and saying yes to natural beauty.

Lauren Lee is the founder and CEO of STYLE STORY and host of podcast 'The Korean Beauty Show'. Follow her on Instagram @lauren.kbeauty and STYLE STORY @stylestory_kbeauty.

Want more skincare tips? Here’s a rundown of how long each skincare product takes to work.

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