Donut skin, dolphin skin, jello skin, and glass skin—no matter which term you’ve heard to describe it, they all refer to the same trend of smooth, glowing skin.
The dewy skin look has been popular for a while now, and it’s definitely been pushed to the extreme (I’m sure you’ve seen influencers emptying full pipettes of oil or serum onto their faces for the ultimate glow). While it makes for great Instagram and Tik Tok content, most of us just want enough of a sheen to make our skin look radiant. After all, glowing skin is synonymous with healthy skin, and who doesn’t want that?
The one thing that has changed is the method people are using to achieve a fresh-faced glow. For a while, it was all about exfoliation, but as many learned the hard way, too much exfoliation can backfire and damage the moisture barrier. This led to the focus pivoting towards rich face oils, heavy creams, and even ointments. While these products will work for some skin types, it is not realistic for everyone. Keep reading to learn how to achieve glowing, dewy skin, no matter your skin type.
What Does It Really Mean to Have Dewy Skin?
First, I want to look past the trendiness of it all and dig a little deeper into what it actually means to have glowing skin.
From my esthetician’s point of view, the crux of glowing skin is a healthy moisture barrier. The moisture barrier is the outermost layer of the skin that helps retain water and provides protection from external aggressors. Think of it as your skin’s personal bodyguard. When it’s intact and functioning properly, it keeps the skin looking calm, plump, and radiant.
Let me explain. A healthy moisture barrier will retain water. When the skin’s water levels are balanced, it is able to better reflect light, which makes it look naturally dewy. On the flip side, when the moisture barrier is damaged, the skin develops tiny cracks that prevent light from bouncing off. The result? Dull, dry, and dehydrated skin.
How to Achieve Dewy Skin, No Matter Your Skin Type
1. Determine Whether Your Skin Needs More Oil or Water
Right now, the skincare products I see associated with this trend mainly focus on oils and rich creams. I can see why—after all, adding oil to your skin is one of the most immediate ways to give it a dewy, light-reflective appearance. While this is great for some, not everyone wants to use lots of oil in their routine (I was breakout-prone for most of my life, so I totally would’ve had an aversion to putting products like this on my skin!).
The key here is determining whether your skin is dry or dehydrated.
Dry skin types, like those who fall into Skin Types 7, 8, and 9, naturally produce very little oil. This means they can take full advantage of all the facial oils and rich creams associated with this trend! Since the skin barrier is made up of lipids, you definitely want to replenish them with lipid-rich products. (Fun fact: your moisture barrier usually starts to become more vulnerable in your mid-40s).
I suggest looking for creams with barrier-repairing oils and ingredients such as shea butter, soybean oil, jojoba oil, and ceramides (to name a few). These can be found in a product like the Glow Enhancing Cream. At night, you can also pat a few drops of a lipid-rich, antioxidant face oil over your moisturizer to seal everything in and take your glow to the next level.
Just don’t use face oil in the morning, as it could interfere with the effectiveness of your sunscreen!
Those with dehydrated skin usually fall somewhere within “normal” to “combination” skin types, or Skin Types 2-6. When your skin is dehydrated, it means it produces enough oil but it doesn’t retain enough water.
In this case, I suggest layering water-based products under your regular moisturizer. First, use an essence like that Moisture Infusion Toner after cleansing. This will provide your skin with an immediate boost of moisture, and the silky texture will give your skin a beautiful sheen. It also includes niacinamide to help support your moisture barrier.
Second, be sure to apply a hydrating serum. During the day, a stable vitamin C serum is a great option (vitamin C is an ingredient known for bringing a natural glow to the skin). If you’re just looking for hydration, use a hyaluronic acid serum like that Skin Drink Concentrate.
Finally, remember that all skin types can benefit from water-based hydration. Our skin cells cannot survive without water! If you’re not sure which products your skin needs more of—water-based or oil-based—take them Skin Type Quiz. It will provide you with personalized product recommendations.
2. Exfoliate regularly
While overly zealous exfoliation definitely isn’t a good idea, some exfoliation is necessary for glowing skin. Actually, it helps your moisture barrier function in a healthy way by boosting cellular turnover (by removing dry, dead cells, you’re helping to reveal fresh new ones underneath). Additionally, removing build-up from the surface of your skin will allow your moisturizers and hydrating serums to penetrate more effectively. All of this combined will make your skin a lot more light-reflective.
Try using an exfoliating acid serum formulated for your skin type two or three nights a week. You can also incorporate an at-home chemical peel once in a while for more of a reset.
If I Have Really Oily Skin, Can I Still Participate in This Trend?
Since dewy skin so often comes from applying rich oils and creams, people with very oily or breakout-prone skin (like those who fall into Skin Type 1) may feel left out of this trend. To them I say, embrace it! You already have naturally glowing skin thanks to your genetic oil production.
For this type of skin, I recommend sticking with your regular tried-and-true skincare routine and relying on makeup when you want more of a glow. Even if you don’t have naturally oily skin, I always tell people not to discount the power of makeup for achieving instant radiance. Yes, a good skincare routine should always be your base, but makeup is a powerful tool. Here are the five makeup products I use for glowing skin.
Next, read my thoughts on the slugging trend (some people tout this as a way to achieve dewy-looking skin, but I see it as more of a temporary measure).
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skin care expert has created a real-world solution — products that are formulated for nine different types of skin so your face will get exactly what it needs to look and feel its best. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”