But as the natural look becomes more popular, people are less willing to cover up their faces with makeup, so getting clear, glowing skin is more important than ever.
Between acne, scarring, redness, sunspots, fine lines, and just plain old dull skin tone, many of us feel like we’ll never achieve “glowing” skin. But there are some ways to improve what you’ve got.
You’re never going to look like the Instagram or Snapchat version of yourself (because let’s face it, those are FAKE), but you can make the best of the skin you have with these tips that don’t involve using makeup.
No matter what the season or weather, sunscreen is a must. They make them in all styles, so there’s no excuse not to find one you like.
It’s never too late to stop the continual damage the sun does to your skin, so even if you have sunspots and wrinkles from your sun-worshipping days, you have the option not to make them worse.
If you do end up in a warm shower, the best thing you can do is moisturize the minute you get out, while your skin is still damp, with a thick coat of something like CeraVe in the tub.
Consider putting on a thick coat of moisturizer, a sheet mask, or even some Vaseline to protect that skin and keep it from getting dry and flaky.
Just remove it when you get out of the shower and go about your regular skincare routine.
However, it’s important to know that a lack of sleep can affect your skin, especially the skin around the eyes, leaving you with dark circles.
You can only cover up your lack of sleep so much. Finding the opportunity to get some more zzzs is key, whether it’s stopping your binge-watching a bit early or laying off the phone and computer light before bedtime.
You don’t even need a special tool to do it (although there are plenty available). Simply use your clean fingertips to massage in your products for a minute or two each morning and/or night.
And always work outwards and upwards.
But exfoliation of some sort is a must in order to get rid of dead skin that sits on your face and speed up skin cell turnover – but it’s easy to overdo it.
You almost certainly don’t need to exfoliate every day, so leave the skin scrubbing and acids for a few times a week to prevent irritation and redness.
Everyone’s skin is different, so it’s always a good idea to talk to your facialist or dermatologist about the condition of your skin.
For those who wear foundation and mascara, a double-cleanse is likely in order. The first step involves an oil or balm that dissolves the cosmetics, then a good cleaning soap clears off the debris as well as the oil.
If you’re left with a tight feeling after washing your face, you likely need a more moisturizing soap.
It’s a naturally occurring molecule that already exists in your skin, but the addition of a skincare product that includes HA can help hold in the moisture we lose over time due to aging or dehydration.
This may require some trial and error since there are products with low and high molecular weights and your skin may prefer one over another.
Regardless of what you choose, you should use it on damp skin (so it has water to draw from instead of drawing it out of your skin) and seal it in with a moisturizer.
The key with this ingredient – which is also one of the rare ones with science to back it up – is to start with a low concentration (but at least .25%) and work your way up. Don’t go crazy and get that 1% retinol right away or you will end up with dry, flaky skin.
Used correctly, retinol can help with acne, scarring, hyperpigmentation, and skin smoothing, leaving you with a healthy glow. It can even help keep fine lines at bay.
If you’re worried about the dosage or have sensitive skin, it’s best to consult a dermatologist. They can also prescribe higher doses of retinol for those dealing with acne.
Just remember to use a moisturizer with this one and look for products that list retinol (or retinaldehyde) and not retinyl palmitate, which is a far weaker formulation.
Unless you’re an inveterate moisturizer, chances are you experience some dryness and wrinkling on your hands. It’s also a place we forget to put sunscreen, so sunspots can also be an issue.
One good way to take good care of them is to rub any extra products you’re putting on your face onto the back of your hands so they get the same treatment.
If you have beauty products that you didn’t like for your face, you might also consider using them on your hands instead of letting them go to waste.
Regardless, you have to keep that area sunscreened and moisturized so your hands look youthful and glowing.
While the evidence isn’t conclusive in humans, there are studies that show a topical application of vitamins C and E can help prevent UV damage and possibly reduce the effects of UV damage such as fine lines – and there is plenty of chatter online about people having luck with this combination to even out skin tone.
The problem is that good, shelf-stable products tend to be expensive (think over $100). Anyone who tells you to just rub a lemon on your face is a quack – and a dangerous one at that! You might as well just eat your vitamin C if you want a cheap alternative.
If and when you do invest, be sure to use the best version of vitamin C, called L-ascorbic-acid (look for it in the ingredients), because that’s what all the research is on.
Self-tanner is your only option to stay UV-free and keep your skin healthy if you want your glow to be of the bronze sort.
Tanning beds can and do increase your risk of cancer by 75% before the age of 35!
But your skin can and will get overwhelmed and may turn out dry and inflamed if you use a ton of different things.
It’s tempting to try the latest and greatest product – and that’s precisely what marketers are hired to make you do – but your best bet is to stick with a few good products as long as they’re working.
It typically takes a few weeks for products to start to do their jobs anyway.
Slapping a bunch of serums and essences on your face every 30 seconds is no good – most people don’t even give them time to absorb.
We require different products at different ages and your skincare routine might have a few extra steps if you’re 60 as opposed to 20 – and that’s ok!
Just remember that the more you put on your face that harder it is to figure out the culprit if something goes wrong.
Moisturizer, for example, may need to be a bit creamier and heavier in the winter to make up for dry, warm air and constant temperature changes.
Just listen to your skin and not the hype when it comes to making a change.
And remember that sunscreen is a year-round need!
You need to keep your blood flowing to keep your skin looking its best – after all, it needs the oxygen your blood cells carry to feed its needs.
Just like you would massage your face to get those muscles moving, you should also consider exercise and even massage as an integral part of your skincare regimen, especially if you’re concerned about your skin from the neck down.
Even a daily short walk is better than nothing.
So drink your water and cut back on the booze if you want glowing skin. This is especially important if you’re prepping for a big event. A good facial can only do so much if you’re not taking care of your body.
Alcohol can also alter blood flow and make your skin flush or lead to broken capillaries.
Try blotting papers for starters so powders don’t clump around your face in the oily spots.
No matter how many mattifying products you try, your skin might still be oily by lunchtime. Many people use harsh cleansers and toners and skip moisturizers as a result, thinking they can dry out those oil-producing sebaceous glands. But the opposite is true. Drying out your skin will only lead to MORE oil production.
Look for oil-free and noncomedogenic moisturizers and makeup in order to keep oil production at bay. And for heaven’s sake, do NOT touch your face during the day if you can help it.
Instead of keeping all of that product on your face, bring it down a bit and make sure you’re cleaning and hydrating the skin below it as well for a youthful glow.
It won’t take the place of a good moisturizer or skincare routine, but it can certainly help keep the skin all over your body hydrated.
And now you can get personal-sized humidifiers for your desk or bedside table as well.
But it’s also important to think about the outermost layer of your face when it comes to locking in your products.
If you’re dealing with very dry skin (or even a localized area of dryness – say, where you had a breakout and went a little crazy with the salicylic acid), you should consider an oil or even a jelly to lock in all the hard work you’ve done during your skincare routine.
If you find your skin is dry or failing to plump up no matter what you do, you might need to add one more layer to the outside.
You need to do your own assessment (or have a professional look at it closely) to get a sense of what you need in a face soap. Assess how it looks, its moisture levels, any problem areas you want to address, and buy a special facial cleanser that addresses these issues.
If you don’t have acne, for example, you might not need a cleanser with salicylic acid. You can probably use something much gentler.
If your skin gets inflamed or “angry” from time to time, consider keeping some aloe around, or at least a product containing aloe.
It’s one of those rare natural ingredients that really do work to soothe and calm your skin.
Not getting enough water can affect your digestion, circulation, the transportation of nutrients, and much more – and all of these things show up on your skin.
It’s a lot like sunscreen – it’s a non-negotiable when it comes to getting glowing skin.
The only people who know your skin better than you are your facialist and dermatologist and that’s because they see it magnified and are trained to look for certain signs. Your friend sitting across the table is not the same kind of expert no matter how many websites they’ve read.
While websites tout the “natural skincare” effects of weird concoctions made from fruits and vegetables, they’re really not a great idea to put on your face (especially if they’re not organic).
Seriously, just eat them instead and you’ll glow from the inside out!
When your skin’s outer barrier is compromised, redness, dryness, and irritation can result and your skin will show more fine lines. Ceramides in skincare can help restore that barrier – and there’s some science to back it up.
As with any important ingredient, look for it near the top of the ingredients list. Once you get to the 6th ingredient or lower, things tend to be present in very tiny doses.
Pollution, as well as bacteria and other germs from your phone and the other things you touch, can easily cause breakouts and irritation.
Washing your face at night isn’t simply about avoiding mascara raccoon eyes, it’s a way to take the day off, quite literally, and start with a clean slate.
No more leaning on your hand or fist or reaching up to feel if you’re getting oily.
If you need to touch your face during the day, wash those hands first!
Not so easy, sadly.
When you’re stressed, your body produces a hormone called cortisol that can not only make your skin more sensitive but tell it to produce more oil as well.
Rashes, itchiness, bumps, breakouts – stress can do it all. And it’s hard to fix it with a product without addressing the root cause.
Of course, there’s no evidence on this and there never will be (how does one really run a real scientific trial on it anyway?) and anyone who tells you that rubbing products on your face is enough to break down the collagen doesn’t know a whole lot about physiology – but some people notice that tapping or patting in products does make them absorb faster.
So give it a try and see if it helps – at the very least it tends to distribute your product more evenly than rubbing.
Any moisture that you add to your face that ends up evaporating there can add to dry skin (that’s why some people skip the essences and toners if they have dry and sensitive skin).
So invest in a few towels and make sure you keep a clean one in rotation for your more sensitive areas.
It may sound like overkill, but this is your skin we’re talking about.
Now, we’re not telling you to shell out a bunch of money for something you can make at home, but the thing about the products you buy from companies is that they have to go through cosmetic testing to ensure they’re safe to apply to skin. That doesn’t go for the topical application of food products.
And let’s be honest, if you’re taking care of your skin, you probably don’t need a face mask of any kind – the results last a few hours, at most. There’s better self-care out there that doesn’t involve scraping oatmeal and honey off of your face.
Products you can use frequently with active ingredients are going to be the ones that keep your skin glowing. If you want some real, free, self-care, give yourself a facial massage.
Since your skin in an organ, it works in tandem with all of your other organs (your body is a pretty cool, interconnected system – when it works right). That means what you’re doing to it in one area will affect others.
Now, we’re not saying cut all the fun out of your life, but if you have a serious penchant for sugary drinks and candies or look forward to the pre-dinner bread plate a little too much (it’s ok, you’re not alone), chances are you can see some of that on your skin.
Flushing, immune reactions, puffiness, sagging, breakouts – they can all visit your skin after indulging in bad food. Your own personal reaction just depends on how your body processes the food and what else you’ve got going on.
Your skin is not a place where toxins come out. All of that work is done by your liver and kidneys.
When a beauty product promises a toxin flush or detox, just know that you’re reading pseudoscience. That should call into question some of their other claims as well. And while that doesn’t mean a product won’t work for you, it should give you pause.
Your skin glows because you take care of your body inside and out, not because you invest in some wacky detoxifying treatment.
Pores also don’t open and close. We know, mind-blowing, right?
The only things you can do to your pores are to clean them (a good facial will use a suction instrument and manual extraction to get the job done) and to use a product that obscures them. But nothing will actually shrink them.
Frankly, when we’re all more honest with ourselves about what we can and cannot achieve with our appearance, it makes life a lot less complicated (and saves money too!).
Forget the “pore-shrinking” nonsense and strive for clean pores. Regular facials and good exfoliation (that’s not too rough on your skin) are key.
Of course, some people do see a drastic improvement in the quality of their skin after using devices, but that’s typically only with very frequent use. If you have the time and money, there are FDA-cleared devices (which are not the same as FDA-approved!) that could help make your skin look more taut, clear, and glowy.
But if you don’t have 20-30 minutes to set aside 3-4 times a week, you’re much better off spending the money on a good facial or a skincare product that fits your needs.
There’s no beauty product that’s going to eliminate the damage if you continue to smoke. And while you might be able to get away with the occasional cigarette and still look youthful in your 20s, that’s not going to be the case in your 30s and beyond – and those bad habits from years ago will come back to haunt you.
Let’s face it, there are a lot of reasons to stay away from tobacco and none to use it.
They don’t have to be done all that frequently to be useful – in fact, you can get one once a year just to check in and get an assessment of what your skin needs.
Just remember to ask questions about the condition of your skin, what it might need, and don’t feel obligated to go home with a big pile of products sold by the facialist. Ask them instead why they recommend a product and what its active ingredient is so you can research your own products.
They might even give you some samples to try.
If you’ve never had a facial, there’s nothing to be afraid of. And if you don’t like the idea of extractions or if something hurts, just ask the aesthetician not to do it.
Glowing skin isn’t just for your face. Those summertime legs can benefit from a good natural glow as well.
One thing that can keep the skin on your legs from looking their best are ingrown hairs and the red spots they leave behind.
In this day and age of shaving and then immediately putting on yoga pants, fitted jeans, or stockings, we’re all practically begging those hairs to turn back around and grow in the wrong direction.
Invest in an oil like Fur or Bio Oil to soften stubble and keep it from leaving you with redness and bumps.
Dry brushing your legs once a day will also help improve circulation and loosen any hairs that are getting the wrong idea.