While in Seoul, South Korea, earlier this year, I met Ban Jae Yong, a 50-year-old board-certified dermatologist at Banobagi Dermatology with the ultra-smooth complexion of decades younger. He lovingly referred to it as his “mochi skin.”
Like glass skin, mochi skin is a skin ideal sought after not only in Korea, but also Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries across Asia based on the Japanese rice cake of the same name. For those unfamiliar, mochi is a deliciously chewy snack that is typically round and often filled with red bean paste or ice cream.
In human form, mochi skin is soft, plump, and free of lines or dryness — “just like baby skin,” says Marie Jhin, a board-certified dermatologist based in San Carlo, California.
The Glass Skin Difference
The overall goals of mochi skin and glass skin are basically the same: suppleness, hydration, and elasticity, according to New York City-based board-certified dermatologist David Kim. The main difference comes down to the glow factor. The pinnacle of glass skin is dewiness, which can easily be enhanced with highlighter. Mochi skin, on the other hand, is matte. It’s all about shine-free luminosity. Because of this, many tips that apply to glass skin don’t apply in the realm of mochi skin.
The Ultimate Mochi Skin Routine
In the morning, you can skip face wash and start the day with splashing water on your face, Kim says. However, if you’re acne-prone, he recommends reaching for a cleanser formulated with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, such as the CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser. Those with rosacea should try prescription sulfacetamide washes.
For your nighttime routine, double cleansing should kick things off. One face wash should require water while the other shouldn’t, Jhin notes. For example, slather a cleansing lotion, like Revision’s SkinCare Gentle Cleansing Lotion or the Kiehl’s Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser, onto dry skin to melt away your makeup and debris on your skin before wiping it off with a dry cloth or cotton pad. Cleansing balms and micellar waters are alternatives.
Then, dampen your skin and suds up with a water-based face wash that requires rinsing off, like the AHC Aqualuronic Facial Cleanser.
Now, it’s time to replenish moisture that may have been stripped from your skin from cleansing. “The key to mochi skin is hydration and not exfoliation,” Jhin says. You can pat on a hydrating toner or essence like the I’m From Rice Toner and Tatcha’s The Essence. Both are spiked with mochi’s main ingredient: rice.
The grain is packed with skin-nourishing nutrients and can clarify skin with its toning effect. “When I was a kid, my mom always asked me to wash the rice because rice water has enzymes that help make my hands brighter,” recalls cosmetic chemist Ginger King. “I do see this firsthand.”
If you eat rice every day as King does, you can also sub in rice water for toner in a pinch.
Another mochi skin must, according to Jhin, is serum. She recommends ones with skin-smoothing peptides, hyaluronic acid, and growth factors on their ingredient lists to achieve the firm-yet-bouncy texture of mochi. The Neogen Dermalogy Probiotics Double Action Serum and The Inkey List’s Collagen Booster Firming Peptide Serum fit the bill.
Kim, on the other hand, suggests vitamin C as the star of his mochi skin serum. His top choice is Skinceuticals’ C E Ferulic.
Lock in all the layers of moisture with a lightweight formula. Kim prefers the Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream.
Jhin seeks out ceramides in her moisturisers for mochi skin. (The Dr. Jart Ceramidin Cream is a great option.) The reason being: ceramides help skin retain hydration and protect it from environmental aggressors while keeping it soft and supple.
If you have oily skin, Kim advises against moisturiser in favour of a moisturising serum, like the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Intensive Hydrating Serum, or a water-based lotion, such as Cetaphil’s Daily Hydrating Lotion.
Unless it’s winter and your skin is extremely dry, Kim says you can skip the oil step of your skin-care routine. “It can really cause or exacerbate comedogenic acne,” he explains. “I see so many patients in the clinic with this.”
During the daytime, follow up your moisturiser with sunscreen, Kim says. Either physical or chemical works. Need some suggestions? The EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 and the EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35 are Allure favorites.
Beyond your daily skin-care routine, you can visit your dermatologist to support your mochi skin dreams with in-office treatments. Be sure to skip acid-based peels, though, as they’ll give your skin more of a glassy glow, Kim says. You may want to reduce the frequency of your acid-infused liquid exfoliants, too.
If you’re interested in lasers, Clear + Brilliant “would be perfect to achieve that supple, poreless, clear, healthy skin,” Kim adds. It’s one of the gentlest laser treatment options and improves the overall texture of skin by targeting fine lines, as well as reducing the appearance of pores and hyperpigmentation.
The true secret to Ban’s mochi skin is Derma Shine Balance, though. Like Aquagold, which is more widely available in America, the treatment uses a special microneedle-like gun to plunge a hyaluronic acid solution (often mixed with Botox and vitamin C) below the skin’s surface to hydrate and brighten on a deeper level than any skin-care product can.