Glass Skin

Monday July 15th 2019
The pearl by Frederick Sandys illustrates porcelain skin and a selfie

The Pearl by Frederick Sandys, painted during (or just after) the last tour of Neptune through Pisces

Until last week, I’d never heard of it either — “glass skin”; skin so luminous, transparent and flawless that it might be sculpted from glass. Apparently, it’s the “latest beauty trend”. 

The marketers of certain cosmetics can hear the kerching of cash tinkling into tills across the globe. Although these days, money changes hands silently, sliding from one account to another with invisible efficiency, so perhaps its more of a slither than a kerching.

Glass skin is achieved — apparently — with a 10-step cleansing routine first made popular in Korea, and spread through social media. And there’s the key of course, with “glass skin” you achieve the perfect selfie — and you get sold 10 separate products.

We have become inured in the past decade to the peculiar beauty standards of social media, exemplified by numerous and varied Kardashians. During the 20teens, the skin has been “contoured”, coloured in, oddly glowing, otherworldly. Beauty was as far from “natural” as possible. Instagram stars looked like aliens or fairies. The look is achieved with make up, plastic surgery, fillers, botox and by manipulating the image with filters and airbrush. 

Glass skin is the pushback to that artificiality — skin so clean and pure, you don’t need the make up — apparently. Of course, it’s a different kind of illusion, and just as lucrative.

It’s easy to dismiss make-up as frivolous, but it’s a huge business. And since the rise of the selfie, there’s been a bonanza: people are buying more. While other industries have languished in the twentyteens, cosmetics sales have gone from about $270bn annually to around $360bn. Just look at Kylie Jenner, who has become a billionaire at the age of 21 by selling make up on Instagram. 

This has happened under Neptune in Pisces. Here is the planet of illusion and mirrors, glamour and film; moistness — the skin must appear dewy; fairies — the skin must not look real — in its own otherworldly sign. Neptune is the planet of old-fashioned glamour. Last time Neptune was in Pisces, the Pre-Raphaelites created those unforgettable, ethereal, magical fantasy images of women. The time before that, the fashion industry was invented, to bank roll Louis XIV.

Philippe de Lorraine as Ganymede by Baldassari Franceschini

Philippe de Lorraine, boyfriend of Louis XIV’s brother, as Ganymede by Baldassari Franceschini. The brother of Louis XIV was a bit of a fashion icon during Neptune’s tour through Pisces in the 17th century (time before last). At that time there was also an obsession with skin. It was fashionable to have skin so pale, and so transparent that you could see the blue veins underneath. You’ll notice wrists turned out in portraits of the time to show off this perfect skin. It’s also interesting that then, as now, fluidity was high fashion.

And hydration is key to “glass skin”. According to Space NK Pro Artist Arif Khan: “Over the last 100 years, we have seen matte takeover the makeup industry, but we’re currently in a new wave makeup generation where glossy, dewy skin is officially in.” Skin that looks like you’ve just emerged from a forest pool perhaps.

The rise of the selfie took place, of course, also under Uranus — computers, technology, mass communications — in Aries, which rules the head. Uranus is also associated with the “common man”, the ordinary person, the lay-person. During those Uranus in Aries years (2011-2018/19), we saw the rise of the blogger, the vlogger and latterly the Instagram star. One of their charms, was the appearance, at first, that these were often non-professionals creating extraordinary art on their faces — in their own bedrooms.

How intimate an Instagram selfie is; that close up of a a face staring out at us from the small screen. It gives the illusion that we know this person as we lock gazes. The intimacy of that gaze is, of course, a Neptunian illusion. We don’t know this person any more than we know Rapunzel or the Glynda the Good Witch. They are a construct, and so is the glass skin.

The term “glass skin” implies something that is both fragile and perfect, unreal and alien, in short something unachievable. It’s interesting that the fashion in beauty has moved away from the perfect body to the flawless skin. Indeed, some of the make-up social media stars are plus-size — or men.  In this world, gender becomes fluid too, and each of us can become an artist in her own bedroom. Boundaries are blurred in the best Piscean fashion.

2019’s answer to The Great British Bake-Off was a programme called Glow Up in which people competed to be the best make up artist (MUA). The artistry was fantastic — and continued another noticeable theme of Neptune in Pisces — art spilling out of the confines of museums and galleries and into the streets and across the web. Street fashion has always been a thing, but since Neptune in Pisces, the street-fashion bloggers have forced those long-established magazines, Vogue, Harpers, Women’s Wear Daily, to change their game.

With rebellious Uranus now in Taurus, one of the “beauty” signs, we might expect to see more outrageous ideas of what is beautiful to become fashionable. Marry that to Neptune in Pisces imagination and perhaps we will all be wearing peacock-feather eyelashes and Georgian wigs by the mid-2020s. 

This article first appeared in my Phenomena column in IAM Infinity Astrological Magazine.

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  1. JR says:

    This rings so true. I wonder, will there be pushback at the Whiteness of this trend? As a Taurus my rebellious reaction to reading about glass skin was outrage.

  2. Jane says:

    Fascinating Christina. And wigs of every shape and hue are now a “thing” and big business too.

  3. Maharani says:

    Philippe de Lorraine was a Prince of Lorraine, not Louis XIV’s brother. That was Philippe de France Duke of Orleans, correct court title “Monsieur”. Please check your “facts”.