It used to be that calling someone’s skin “shiny” was seen as an insult—in the ‘90s and early 2000s, a completely matte look was what everyone was after. But beauty standards change, and in recent years, glowy, dewy—even, yes, shiny—skin has taken over. The look is called glazed donut skin, and it’s incredibly popular, with the hashtag #glazeddonutskin accumulating more than 1.8 million views on TikTok alone.
That being said, the goal isn’t to look like you’ve dipped your face in honey: There is, after all, a fine line between gorgeously glazed and overly-oily. Here, we’ll explain what glazed donut skin looks like and offer our best tips on how to achieve the look. Plus, you’ll learn which Kiehl’s products are a must-have in your glowy skin routine. Find all the highlights ahead.
What Is Glazed Skin?
Think of a perfectly glazed donut and what it looks like: smooth, shiny in all the right places, unblemished. That’s the concept behind glazed donut skin (which, as far as we can tell, was given its moniker on social media). Popularized by models and influencers, the look is centered around smooth, soft, even-toned skin that appears glowy and radiant. A slight sunkissed effect is also a hallmark of the dewy, minimalist look—this is what differentiates it from “glass skin.” Glazed donut skin can, to an extent, be replicated with makeup, but overall it’s more of a skincare trend. As such, it’s best achieved via proper skincare (hydration is a must).
How Do You Get Glazed Donut Skin?
Now that you know what this fresh, model-off-duty beauty trend entails, we can get to what you really want to know: how to achieve it. Ahead, find seven essential tips for getting a smooth, glowy, glazed donut face without makeup.
Start with a Gentle Cleanser
No matter your skin type or concerns, every good skincare routine starts with a clean canvas. We suggest beginning with a gentle, non-stripping cleanser, such as our classic Ultra Facial Cleanser. Suitable for all skin types, this pH-balanced face wash with squalane helps dissolve dirt, oil, and other impurities, without stripping your skin of essential moisture. It also helps maintain your skin’s natural protective barrier to help promote healthy-looking skin. Massage a dime-sized amount of the cleanser onto damp skin morning and evening, lather, and rinse with cool water. When you’re done, pat—don’t rub—your face with a clean towel to remove excess moisture.
One of the main characteristics of the glazed donut look is having smooth, even-textured skin. While all skin has some texture (it’s normal!), exfoliating regularly can help it appear smoother and more even. Try a mild chemical exfoliant, like lipo-hydroxy acid. You’ll find this ingredient in our Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner, which also contains almond milk and 23% emollients. The gentle dual-action facial toner exfoliates and dissolves impurities while helping to replenish the skin’s moisture levels. It’s clinically-demonstrated to smooth, soften, and brighten skin within one week, and the non-irritating formula is suitable for daily use.*
*Results based on expert grading in a clinical study of 44 panelists, age 30-50, after four weeks of use.
Try Brightening Face Products
Clearly Corrective Brightening & Soothing Treatment Water
Another key aspect of this skincare trend is radiance—that sort of undefinable, lit-from-within glow. Exfoliating can definitely help boost radiance, but for an added glow, we recommend incorporating brightening products, like Clearly Corrective Brightening & Soothing Treatment Water, into your regular routine. This daily face toner with activated vitamin C and licorice root extract soothes, hydrates, and helps refine the skin. It also contains illuminating minerals and gives the skin a soft, subtle glow.
For optimal skin-brightening results, pair the toner with Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector. This iconic Kiehl’s serum with activated vitamin C and buffered salicylic acid helps visibly reduce dark spots, including those caused by age and UV exposure. Additionally, it’s clinically-demonstrated to diminish sallowness, minimize redness, and boost skin’s luminosity.* It’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and can be used daily to reveal a more even, radiant appearance over time.
*Results based on expert grading in a 12-week clinical test. Sallowness results based on expert grading in a 14-week clinical test.
Use Retinol at Night
We’ve sung the praises of retinol on more than one occasion: The powerhouse ingredient is known to help diminish wrinkles, firm the skin, and improve skin’s overall texture. It’s also a must-have for glazed donut skin. We recommend using a gentle retinol serum, like Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum with Ceramides and Peptide, as part of your skincare routine for glowing skin. In addition to visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles, the serum helps minimize the appearance of pores and works to improve skin’s texture and tone. Plus, it delivers visible results with minimal dryness, redness, or peeling, making it a great option for all skin types. Apply a pea-sized amount to your face after cleansing for more youthful, refined-looking skin.
If you’re already acquainted with retinol and are looking for something a bit stronger, try Fast Release Wrinkle-Reducing 0.3% Retinol Night Serum instead. Formulated with our highest percentage of pure retinol, this potent night serum helps accelerate skin surface renewal and visibly diminishes deeper wrinkles within two weeks of use.*
*Based on expert grading in a 10-week clinical study of 27 panelists.
The secret to glowy, glazed skin: moisture (and lots of it). The more hydrated your skin is, the more dewy and radiant it will appear. The specific facial moisturizer you use is up to you—creams, gels, and lotions are all great—but for extra-dewy looking skin, we love Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream. Made with calendula flower extract and glycerin, this lightweight gel moisturizer provides up to 24 hours of hydration for skin that feels soft and refreshed. Continued use over time helps diminish dullness, improves skin’s texture, and visibly reduces redness, too. The soothing, weightless formula is suitable for all skin types, and you can use it day and night to give your skin a burst of refreshing hydration.
Daily Reviving Concentrate
To really amplify your glow, pair your moisturizer with a few drops of Daily Reviving Concentrate. It’s a daytime facial oil that’s designed to help defend your skin from damaging free radicals for an energized, radiant appearance. And if you’re wary of applying oils to your face, rest assured that this sunflower oil-packed formula is non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types. Pat the lightweight formula onto the high points of your face (think cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, and your cupid’s bow) for a naturally glowing look.
Don’t Neglect Your Eye Area
The overall purpose of glazed donut skin is to give yourself a fresh, rested, sunkissed appearance—and that’s hard to achieve if your eyes are weighed down by bags or dark circles. That’s why keeping your eye area well-cared for is a must. You can hydrate the delicate skin around your eyes with a lightweight eye serum, like Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum. The vitamin C and hyaluronic acid-infused formula works to diminish the appearance of dark circles, under-eye wrinkles, puffiness, and crow’s feet. Plus, it’s layerable, so you can wear it with a richer eye cream for added hydration or wear it under makeup to help keep your eyes looking fresh and bright.
Maintain Your Glazed Skin With a Weekly Facial
Last but not least, for smooth skin, we recommend deep-cleaning your pores once a week with a clay mask. Our TikTok-viral Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask is ideal for this purpose. The cult-classic formula, which contains two types of clay (bentonite and kaolin), helps detoxify skin by drawing out the dirt, oil, and impurities that can lead to clogged pores. It’s clinically-demonstrated to visibly diminish blackheads in a single application, while continued use over time helps reveal a brighter, fresher, and more refined appearance.* You can use it all over or multi-mask to target different concerns simultaneously (a great option if you have combination skin).
*Results based on expert grading in a two-week clinical test on 54 subjects.