Korea has become the world’s skincare capital, and there are plenty of reasons why. It has not only introduced us to unique ingredients like snail slime but also a number of new beauty techniques, including the 7 Skin Method and the recent glass skin phenomenon. While many K-Beauty trends rely heavily on the products you place on top of your skin, the latest must-try regimen is all about taking a closer look at skin health (and what will boost it) overall. So, without further ado, allow us to introduce you to cloudless skin. Or, rather, the beauty routine that promises a clear, glowing complexion so long as you stick to it.

We’ve come to know the glass-skin trend for focusing on creating a flawless, radiant, dewy finish that can appear poreless and shiny like glass. Despite that ultra-sleek finish, it can also gloss over any imperfections that might be lying underneath. Cloudless skin, on the other hand, refers to a nearly transparent, radiant, and blemish-free visage that is achieved from the inside out. “Cloudless skin is a term used to refer to the ultimate skin condition — total health and wellness radiated from within and out,” explains Audrey Kunin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of DERMADoctor. “It is the abbreviated version of ‘not a cloud in the sky,’ or in other words, not a flaw to be seen.”

Build Beauty from Within

Scoring that kind of pristine skin might sound impossible, thanks to environmental factors like UV rays, airborne pollution, and stress that our skin is exposed to daily. However, if you think about it as more of a 360-degree approach, it’s totally doable. To get that glow from within to show up on your outside, the experts advise getting your health in gear, starting with what’s on your plate and in your glass.

According to Debra Jaliman, assistant clinical professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables rich in greens, as well as foods with a low glycemic index, and lean protein is essential to feeding skin what it needs to thrive. That means staying away from processed foods — yup, we’re talking about your junk food stash — and foods high in sugar, salt, and dairy that can do a number on your skin. “Sugar glycates the collagen and stiffens it, and this ages the skin,” she says. “Also, if you drink a lot of alcohol and use those calories for alcohol instead of healthy food, then you are depriving your skin of nutrients and vitamins.” You should also consider cutting down on the caffeine, as it can not only dehydrate you but also causes your blood vessels to constrict, limiting the amount of nourishment and antioxidants that get pumped throughout the body. And, of course, keep your water bottle on hand to sip throughout the day so your skin stays hydrated and clear.

Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors when it comes to acne as well as any signs of aging that can blemish your cloudless skin. Papri Sarkar, a board-certified dermatologist based in Brookline, MA, says, “Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which makes skin oilier and leads to more breakouts.” While it might seem impossible to eliminate (especially in these times), New Jersey-based dermatologist Adriana Lombardi argues that yoga could help manage it and keep skin as bright as a sunny day.

Revamp Your Regimen… Slowly

Of course, your skincare routine could help you achieve that flawless finish, but it’s not about getting a quick fix. Cloudless skin really comes down to consistency and creating a routine that targets dullness, clogged pores, irritation, and environmental damage. “Proper cleansing, exfoliating your skin religiously, along with protecting your skin from the sun, and using products that deeply hydrate your skin and seal in moisture is a way of getting that cloudless skin look,” Jaliman explains.

So regardless of where you decide to tweak to your routine, it’s important to make the switch slowly to avoid causing any inflammatory reactions. As Kunin says, “I always recommend making a few changes at a time rather than everything at once. That way, should any issue arise, it is simpler to identify its cause.”

One easy way to start is by keeping your skin balanced and free of debris. “To prevent blemishes the big things still hold: effective gentle cleansing in addition to targeting and preventing dark spots, dullness, and acne,” says Sarkar. “A double cleanse works really well to cleanse the skin to prep it for the steps ahead.” That’s why face washes like Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser (above, $14) or Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Hydrating Creamy Facial Cleanser ($8) are key to taking off the day without stripping the skin. If you’re a makeup maven in need of an oil cleanser to double cleanse daily, Sarkar approves of Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil EX ($38) for normal, dry, or combination skin, or DHC Deep Cleansing Oil ($14) for normal or oily types.

Brighten Things Up

There are many routes to getting brighter, clearer skin. Jaliman suggests using exfoliating toners like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Astringent Skin Toner ($23) to keep pores clear and even tone, though you can use other formulas that contain witch hazel, willow bark, or gentle acids. “These [toners] help fight acne and are gentle exfoliants,” she says, noting that ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera, and rose water help those with acne as well as dry skin types.

Vitamin C serums can also ramp up your radiance and undo environmental damage that can cloud up your skin, like using Cosrx Triple C Lightning Liquid (above, $27), Skinceuticals C E Ferulic ($166), or even E.L.F. Cosmetics’s Beauty Shield Vitamin C Pollution Prevention Serum ($16). Hydroquinone, which you can find in Ambi’s Fade Cream ($6) or Pond’s Correcting Cream Clarant B3 Dark Spot Correcting Cream ($6), is another ingredient option for erasing dark spots easily.

But retinoids are the fastest route to cloudless skin, as they not only help fade dark spots but also kickstart collagen and increase cell turnover. But like hydroquinone, retinoids need to be incorporated slowly into your routine, lest you run the risk of a bad reaction. “Changing your skin care too quickly or drastically can leave your skin irritated,” Lombardi explains, noting she prefers the more potent prescription retinoids compared to the over-the-counter options like RoC’s Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Facial Serum ($16) or Ole Henriksen Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum ($58). “Specifically, adding a retinol too quickly can irritate the skin. Hydroquinone can also have irritating effects on the skin.”

Moisturize and Protect

All that brightening won’t mean much if you don’t keep your skin protected with a daily dose of SPF. After all, many of those treatments can leave skin more prone to sun damage and can make matters worse if you don’t slather on a sunscreen to protect it. The experts advise keeping a formula like Farmacy’s Green Screen SPF 30 ($36) or Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50 ($9) on hand for daily use in order to prevent the sun from fogging over your flawless face.

Even still, the real work begins when you’re ready to go to bed “Your cells regenerate themselves while you sleep,” Jaliman says. “Your skin is most able to absorb topical treatments, and DNA repair is boosted while you sleep.” In fact, many of the P.M. moisturizers come packed with reparative ingredients that can give your snooze a serious boost. Scan the labels for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin, and squalene that’ll illuminate your skin even further once you wake up, like Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Cream ($48) or Aveeno’s Absolutely Ageless Restoring Night Cream ($22). DERMAdoctor’s new Lucky Bamboo Jukyeom 9x Water Gel (above, $54) uses purple roasted-bamboo salt crystals from Korea, which are the result of a thousand-year-old process, to create that cloudless look easily.

As if you needed more reasons to snag a good night’s rest (you know, other than your sanity), the derms say that getting less than seven to eight hours of shut-eye is associated with increased signs of aging, a poor skin barrier function, and even people feeling more self conscious about the way they look. So if you want to wake up with cloudless skin, slather on your skincare essentials and get to snoozing early enough to get the recommended amount of rest. Hey, it’s called beauty sleep for a reason!

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