Pearl Skin Is About to Be Everywhere

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Pearl Skin Is About to Be Everywhere featured image
igor Rand / 500px / Getty Images

When it comes to beauty trends, a good name can be half the battle. If that’s the case, then pearl skin has already won the war. It instantly evokes a soft, diffused aura with so many pearls having the subtlest of rosy tints. And after what feels like a thousand years of clean girl skin, seeking to replicate the natural look and texture of skin, pearl skin is set to get us glowing into regency-inspired, fairy tale beauty.

Featured Experts

  • Terry Barber is the director of makeup artistry for MAC Cosmetics
  • Catt Quinn is the director of trends for MAC Cosmetics
  • Natalie Drescher is a makeup artist based in New York City and Miami

What Is Pearl Skin?

MAC Cosmetics director of makeup artistry Terry Barber explains that for his team, the journey to pearl skin actually started years ago on an Alexander McQueen runway. “Wanting this kind of skin was part of the reason we invented Strobe Cream ($36),” Barber says. “The look is very much inspired be the McQueen shows of the late 90s where everyone had very highlighted skin that had a very romantic feel to it.”

Pearl skin might seem like it falls in line with last year’s major standout: glazed skin. “My standard when I go to bed at night is that if I’m not getting into bed looking like a glazed donut, then I’m not doing the right thing,” said Hailey Bieber last year, not knowing that the beauty world would become frothing-at-the-mouth maniacs for the phrase.

“The last ten years or so have been very sparkly and reflective,” says MAC Cosmetics’ director of trends, Catt Quinn. “And pearl skin is actually refractive, so it takes that light and blurs it on your skin. The result is instead of having bright hot spots, your skin has a glow that wraps around your features.”

That diffused glow is what makes Barber think of old regency oil paintings. “I’m really referencing 18th century portraiture,” Barber says. “You’re looking for a shipwrecked aristocrat feel that those McQueen shows had.”

Pat McGrath‘s latest creative direction on the NYFW runway is a great example of a similar aesthetic. Her porcelain doll–inspired direction employed a delicate combination of smooth, flawless skin with a soft shine that gave skin a glass or fine-china texture.

How to Achieve The Look

According to makeup artist Natalie Drescher, the main trick to achieving Pearl Skin is throwing out our preconceived notions of highlight.

“Pearl skin is all the rage ala Pat McGrath’s runway and I am LOVING it,” Drescher says. “I love using MAC’s Mineralized Skinfinish Soft & Gentle ($31.50) all over the skin, not just the high points that we would traditionally use highlighter for. It helps achieve that diffused glass skin look that’s still wearable.”

“It’s not about highlights on hot spots,” Barber agrees. “And it’s not that sharp placement of metallics, either. Instead, you’re looking to soft focus your skin, blur your imperfections and establish an all-over sort of glaze that won’t draw attention to features you want to downplay.”

Pearl Skin Products

1 / 5

Drunk Elephant B-Goldi™ Bright Illuminating Drops with 5% Niacinamide ($38)

A stand-out from last year that would not stay on shelves, Drunk Elephant’s Illuminating drops are the perfect companion to Pearl Skin. Control your glow with light-reflecting particles while niacinamide works to improve skin dullness and even tone.

BUY NOW – $38

2 / 5

MAC Cosmetics Studio Radiance Serum-Powered Foundation ($46)

“This is the hero product for this trend,” says Quinn. “I personally love this because it has a lot of glow to it, but it doesn’t sacrifice coverage, which lets you get the glow of a more sheer foundation while still blurring imperfections beautifully.”

BUY NOW – $46

3 / 5

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight ($25)

A second-skin liquid highlight designed with pearlescent glow in mind, it’s even got pearl particles in the formula! You can even mix bit of this with your liquid foundation to create a lit-from-within radiance.

BUY NOW – $25

4 / 5

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish: Sublime Skin Highlighter ($62)

The newest shade from the celestial-inspired line of starry, shiny highlighters is all about the pearlescent glow. And the formula’s gel-like powder makes application and blending a breeze.

“Each application is a caress of multidimensional pearls, casting a soft, celestial sheen,” McGrath says.

BUY NOW – $62

5 / 5

DIBS Beauty GlowTour Duo: Aurora ($38)

Recommended by Drescher, this double-duty blush and highlighter help create that perfectly diffused rosy glow Pearl Skin is all about. pH-powered to give you the perfectly bespoke shade of your dreams, the lavender blush stick brushes on pink at application.

BUY NOW – $38

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