What The Hell Do All These Skincare Trends Mean?

It seems like every other day, there’s a new skincare trend taking over TikTok—as if we don’t already spend enough money on various serums and moisturizers. Of course, the same could be said about almost every other beauty trend, but the pursuit of flawless skin is a toxic, never-ending cycle that leaves most of us feeling bad about ourselves (not to mention broke).

And what’s worse, most of them are either uncreative or downright confusing. So, if you’re curious about what the hell these skincare trends actually mean, settle in while I break it down for you.

Skincare Trends To Know 

Glass Skin

Arguably the most popular K-beauty trend, glass skin describes a complexion that’s smooth, poreless, and clear, to the point of being damn near translucent. You know, like glass.

Dolphin Skin  

Coined by celebrity makeup artist Mary Phillips, dolphin skin is super dewy, radiant and glistening, like the smooth, reflective body of a dolphin. To get this look, you’re going to start with well-hydrated skin and use light-reflecting products like highlighter and glossy foundation for a truly luminous glow.

So… glass skin but with makeup.

Mirror Skin

An updated take on glass skin, mirror skin is so smooth, hydrated, and glowy that you can practically see your reflection in it.

Honey Skin

Honey skin, another popular beauty trend from Korea, describes skin that looks bright, plump, and hydrated. There’s a supple, glowing sheen reminiscent of honey.

Jello Skin

This term, coined by TikTok user @glowwithava, means having well-hydrated, healthy skin that’s so supple, it’s damn near bouncy—just like jello.  

Glazed Donut Skin

Thanks to Hailey Bieber we now have another food-based term for good skin (I’m guessing this was before the whole Armie Hammer thing happened).

Not to be confused with the glazed donut nail trend, glazed donut skin is extremely hydrated skin that’s shiny, dewy, and so luminous it could be mistaken for a Krispy Kreme glazed donut.

Mermaid Skin

Basically, this is the glazed donut skin trend with makeup. It’s an ultra-dewy, just-got-out-of-the-shower look achieved by slathering yourself in super hydrating skincare products followed by sparkly makeup that makes you look like a glittering mermaid.

Vampire Skin

This trend is almost synonymous with the mermaid skin trend, but with vampire skin, you’re mixing shimmery eyeshadow or a creamy glitter product with your foundation for an all over, Twilight-esque sparkle.

Celeb Skin

Another makeup trend, this one promises the type of flawless, photo-ready complexion that you see on the red-carpet. According to the creator, @officialsavannahrae, to get celebrity skin you start with a really hydrating primer and then use two products for coverage: an illuminator (like the oft-cited Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter) and a skin tint.

Cloud Skin

Rather than a super dewy appearance, cloud skin has a radiant, yet slightly matte look, almost like a hazy, soft-focus filter. The key with this one is that your makeup isn’t fully matte, but rather semi-matte. For this, you’ll want to use a blurring primer and a slightly dewy foundation followed by powder. To make it work, though, you’ll have to start with well-hydrated and healthy skin.

Cloudless Skin

Like a beautiful, blue sky without a cloud in sight, cloudless skin is clear, radiant, and completely unblemished. It’s smooth and dewy with no visible pores, redness, or uneven texture to speak of. In other words: flawless. The big difference with this trend is that it’s all about the notion that good skin comes from the inside. So, there’s a focus on eating healthy, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep along with a highly moisturizing skincare routine.

Status Skin

Last (on this list, not in the TikTok universe), status skin is the latest obsession. According to Ada Chen, founder and CEO of Chuan’s Promise, status skin doesn’t refer to the specific look of your skin, but rather how you get it. Basically, she says, it’s “when you’re flaunting healthy skin and the products you used to achieve it”—in other words, using your bathroom vanity to showcase your status.

But Wait, How Are They Different?

After looking at all these buzzy skincare terms, it’s hard not to notice how similar they are. Glass skin, mirror skin, honey skin, jello skin, and glazed donut skin all equal dewy, glowy, and super hydrated skin. Dolphin skin, celeb skin, mermaid skin, vampire skin, and cloud skin, then, take glass skin and add makeup. Sure, there are subtle differences (honey skin is brighter, jello skin is bouncier, cloud skin is softer), but in the end, they all mean the exact same thing: perfect skin.

But just how attainable is that goal? I put this question to Dr. Adrienne O’Connell, president and medical director at Laguna Beach Aesthetics, who told me that with the right products, a good skincare regimen, and an even better makeup artist, sure, it’s attainable.

She even gave me the basic formula: double cleanse with a hydrating face wash, then exfoliate and tone, and finish by layering on your hydrating serums, emollients, and a light (but still hydrating!) moisturizer. “With the right [sheen-based] makeup, we can achieve glistening and gleaming skin,” she says. To get that, “stick with dewy foundations and lightweight blendable products.”

For most women, though, it’s not so easy. “It is time consuming and somewhat costly [with] multiple products and multiple steps,” she says, adding that for the average woman (herself included), there’s simply not enough time in the morning.

And that is the problem with all of these viral skincare trends. They’re for those who have the time, money, and genetics to actually achieve flawless, J.Lo-level skin. For the rest of us, they’re just another TikTok reminder that we’re not that girl.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels.

Katie Mannion
Katie Mannion
Katie Mannion is a proud millennial whose childhood dream was to be a singer. When she discovered she was tone-deaf, she landed on writing. She lives in St. Louis and frequently writes about health, relationships, and pop culture. Her interest in true crime and celebrity gossip may make her seem basic, but she's also a cool mom, despite what her son says.