Pearl Skin Is Trending (Again) – Here's How To Get The Look
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Pearl Skin Is Trending (Again) – Here’s How To Get The Look

The glowiest trend of the year is here

You’ve likely already heard about glass skin – but what about pearl skin? The skincare and makeup trend is sweeping through TikTok as we speak, with searches for #pearlskin set to hit 40 million views by the end of the month. Here’s how to nail the luminous, glowy look, according to experts.

What Is Pearl Skin?

‘Pearl skin is a term used to describe skin that appears radiant, luminous, and translucent, resembling the sheen of a pearl,’ explains Izabela Pawlitka, Head Aesthetician at Dr DAVID JACK. ‘It is characterised by a smooth, even texture, with a healthy glow that reflects light evenly. It’s also a term that is often associated with Korean skincare trends.’

‘It’s a trend on social media that has had people applying products to their skin to give them a youthful, luminous, glistening finish,’ says Sharon Hilditch MBE, a skincare expert, celebrity facialist and founder of Crystal Clear Skincare. ‘It comes in different levels, with some people opting to achieve a luminosity across the entire face, but this can be scaled down into an extremely wearable style that sees the high points of the face, like the cheekbones, have a slight sheen.’

‘Its key element is glowing skin,’ adds Melanie Baresse, a BY TERRY Global Makeup Artist. ‘As the name suggests, the trend alludes to the pearlescent overall look of the skin. The application is similar to highlighting but with some small tweaks in terms of placement. While you would traditionally place highlighter along the tops of your cheekbones, with pearl skin we see it blended onto the apple of the cheek and along the cheekbone, as well as onto the forehead. The pearl skin look is less shimmer and more strobed, iridescence.’

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How Does It Differ From Glass Skin?

The trend comes hot on the heels of glass skin, another skincare trend which took over the internet; picking up speed in 2023, it has since become a popular red carpet fad this awards season (in combination with glass hair) to give and ultra-shine appearance. It sounds pretty similar to pearl skin, but Sharon assures us the two are vert different from a skincare perspective. ‘Pearl skin is all about creating a luminous, iridescent glow without the face looking or being wet. Glass skin, on the other hand, is primarily focused on a super high shine, wet-look finish,’ she explains. ‘We saw glass skin takeover the internet last year with people applying layers of hydrating products to their face to encourage the face to look reflective or translucent. This look was also achieved by people “slugging” with hydrating products. This trend saw people slathering their faces in products that help prevent water loss to the skin, leaving a layer of wet product to be absorbed. To achieve pearl skin, there is no need to apply unnecessary amounts of product to the skin.’

As for makeup, Melanie says the difference lies in the application of product. ‘Glass skin is all about sheen and shine, you could say it’s transparent,’ she says, ‘While pearl skin has a milkier, low-level iridescence to the highlight. It’s also more strategic in its application, whereas glass skin tends to be all-over sheen and shine.’

Does It Use Actual Pearls?

Let’s set the record straight. ‘Pearl skin is not created using actual pearls; rather, it is achieved through a combination of skincare practices, lifestyle habits, and makeup techniques,’ explains Izabela.

Contrary to what the name implies, pearl skin does not use pearls (whole or dust) on the skin to recreate its signature luminescence. ‘Pearl skin is created using skincare products to brighten and hydrate for a glowing base, and is emphasised with carefully placed makeup,’ reaffirms Sharon. ‘Achieving pearl skin should be possible with the right skincare ingredients to suit your skin type, and complementary makeup products.’

‘You are looking for highlighting products that give a touch of light to the skin, with low level shimmer particles that reflect golds, pinks, silvers depending on the product you have or the look you want,’ adds Melanie.

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How To Achieve Pearl Skin Using Skincare

When it comes to skincare, aka your base for pearl skin, there are a few things you can do with your regular routine to help enhance that signature glow. ‘To achieve pearl skin from a skincare perspective, it’s important to prioritise hydration, exfoliation, and protection,’ advises Izabela. ‘This involves using hydrating serums, moisturisers, and face masks to keep the skin plump and moisturised, exfoliating regularly to remove dead skin cells and reveal a smoother complexion, and using sunscreen daily to prevent sun damage and maintain skin health.’

We’ve highlighted some more suggestions from our experts below:

Cleansing

‘The starting point for any skin care regime should be cleansing, whether you are looking to achieve pearl skin or not,’ begins Dr Leah Totton, a medical and cosmetic doctor and the founder of Dr Leah Cosmetic Skin Clinics and Dr Leah Skincare. ‘If heavy makeup has been worn throughout the day, I would recommend double cleansing. This involves cleansing the skin twice, this is most effective for the aim of the first cleanse is to remove excess oil, makeup and dirt. The second part of the cleanse looks to exfoliate and hydrate the skin. You can use the same cleanser twice if your cleanser has broad enough qualities to be both cleansing and hydrating, or you can use two different cleansers – the first oil-based and the second water-based.’.

Exfoliating

The next step, Dr Leah tells us, is exfoliation. ‘Exfoliating can also help to achieve pearl skin, as it will improve the skin texture by removing dead skin cells and unclogging the pores,’ she explains. ‘Exfoliation will also boost the radiance of the skin, allowing for a natural glow – a key component of pearl skin. To effectively exfoliate the skin, you should look to use alpha-hydroxy acids.’

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Hydration

Making sure your skin is well-hydrated is also key when it comes to achieving a more luminescent appearance. ‘I would recommend using a hyaluronic acid serum as part of your morning and evening skincare routine as it has a hydrating effect,’ advises Dr Leah. ‘Aim to use it twice a day to get the maximum benefits. Hyaluronic acid should be applied after cleansing, whilst the skin is still damp so it can lock in the moisture. Always wait at least one minute before going onto the next stage of your skincare, so the skin has time to absorb the ingredients.

‘When looking to achieve pearl skin, it is really important to use a lightweight moisturiser that does not leave the skin looking greasy, but hydrated,’ she adds.

Brightening Ingredients

There are also certain ingredients that can help boost the look of bright skin, as Sharon tells us: ‘To achieve glowing skin, there are certain ingredients that are going to brighten and hydrate better than others. Hyaluronic acid can lock in moisture and stop the skin from looking dry and dull, and introducing vitamin C will also brighten the skin.’

LED Light Facial

If you’re looking for a bigger add-on to your skincare routine, a special skincare treatment such as an LED light facial could also help deliver the results of pearl skin. ‘The LED light treatment can improve a dull complexion and restore the skin’s natural glow, perfect for pearl skin,’ says Dr Leah. ‘This facial involves a cleanse of your skin using a gentle cleanser suitable for sensitive skin. This is followed by the application of a hyaluronic gel rehydrating mask to restore moisture to your skin. An LED light facial mask is then applied to the face which will soothe inflammation and brighten your skin to restore its glow. Finally, medical moisturising products known to repair the skin barrier are then applied along with an SPF.’

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How To Achieve Pearl Skin Using Makeup

As for makeup, you can use a combination of products to emphasise the qualities of pearl skin. Melanie takes us through the steps of creating a pearl skin makeup look. ‘Apply your complexion as normal,’ she begins. ‘Typically with this trend the skin is natural, so aim for a low coverage foundation or tinted moisturiser. The highlighter can be cream, liquid or powder, but it must be lighter than your complexion so that it offers a shot of light to the skin. Ideally, the product will have a low-level shimmer finish.

‘When it comes to the application, start to apply to the tops of the cheek directly below the middle of the eye,’ she continues. ‘We want the pearl to be lower and more central than traditional highlights. You can then start to blend the product up along the top of the cheekbones. When it comes to the forehead, apply the highlighter along the upper brow bone, even blending to the centre of the forehead. If you struggle with oily skin, and like to keep your skin shiny, apply your mattifying powder strategically on the areas where you get oily, so you can have the pearl skin while maintaining your skin’s overall look and finish.’

The Future Of Pearl Skin

As for the future of pearl skin, our experts see the trend shifting towards more seasonal looks. ‘We typically see dewy, glowy skin trends as we start to head towards spring and summer; everybody wants their makeup to be lighter and fresher in these months,’ says Melanie. ‘I think we’ll see it move towards a more golden pearlescence that compliments sunkissed skin or that offers warm undertones for a summer skin look.’

Izabela also sees the trend taking on a bigger focus in nurturing natural, healthy skin. ‘Advancements in skincare technology may lead to even more effective products for achieving pearl skin, such as targeted treatments for specific skin concerns and innovative formulations designed to enhance luminosity and radiance,’ she suggests. ‘Additionally, as societal attitudes toward beauty continue to evolve, there may be a greater emphasis on embracing natural skin texture and individuality, leading to new interpretations of pearl skin that celebrate diversity and inclusivity.’

Featured image: Kate Tepl, Unsplash