Updated 7/29/19. Clients of all ages and skin types come to me asking how to achieve “glowy” looking skin. There are a lot of filters that can make your skin look radiant these days, but what does having glowing skin really look like, and how can it be achieved?
Traits of Glowing Skin
Small Pores and a Smooth Texture
One of the best ways to achieve this is with exfoliating acids. Exfoliating acids work to remove dry, dead skin cells from the surface of your skin to reveal fresh new cells. These fresh cells reflect light but better than dry cells, which help give the skin a radiant effect. For a smooth, bump-free texture, look for products containing salicylic acid like BHA Clarifying Serum or Pore + Wrinkle Perfecting Serum. These will do double-duty by both clearing pores and exfoliating away dead skin cells.
Good Blood Circulation
Having good circulation under the skin will give the skin a rosy, dewy look and prevent it from looking ashy or sallow. At the same time, skin shouldn’t be overly red, like in rosacea-prone skin types. To boost circulation, look for products with stimulating ingredients. This will help restore a healthy flush.
An Even Tone
This means an absence of both sun spots and dark post-breakout marks. This is much easier said than done and can take a long time to achieve, but there are things you can do. One of the best ingredients for evening out skin tone and boosting skin’s radiance is Vitamin C.
A Natural Sheen
This essentially comes from having having healthy moisture levels in the skin. If you’re an oilier skin type, consider yourself lucky as you’ll need less help with this! If you have dry skin, look for a lipid-rich, reparative moisturizer like Phytolipid Comfort Creme and you’ll be glowing in no time. I’m a skin type #2 and I can’t tell you how many times people have complimented me on my skin at day’s end when it’s really just oily—but it definitely gives my skin a light-reflective sheen!
Skin Prep for Glowing Makeup
It’s hard to talk about makeup without talking about skincare. While makeup is a great way to achieve gorgeous, glowing skin, you need to use the right skincare products first to create a flawless canvas. Here’s how to prep your skin for a bright, radiant complexion.
1. Hang Your Head Upside Down for Three Minutes a Day
One good way to do this by doing yoga, especially the downward dog position. You should notice that, after three minutes, a slight redness will appear on the skin and, in the long run, it can make a big difference in getting and keeping an inner glow. Learn about my daily trick to make skin glow.
2. Use Skincare Products With Stimulating Ingredients
As I said, good circulation is key to making dull skin glow and can naturally slow down as we age. Look for ingredients like vitamin B12 (found in Energy Boosting Toner) and peppermint (found in Luxe Mint Cleansing Gel and Mint Buffing Beads). These ingredients will dilate your blood vessels and increase blood supply to your skin. With continued use, you’ll see your skin getting visibly brighter!
3. Don’t Smoke
Dull-looking skin is often an issue for smokers since smoking causes vasoconstriction and impairs blood flow. Over time, capillaries may even close off and die.
4. Massage Your Face Every Time You Moisturize
Immediately after applying moisturizer at night, close your hands to make fists and use your knuckles to gently massage the skin in small, circular motions for two minutes. This helps stimulate blood flow to the skin and bring new nutrients (as well as a vibrant glow) to skin cells. Getting a professional facial usually includes a face, neck and shoulder massage, which will also encourage proper blood flow.
5. Use An At-Home Skin Peel
If you want a glow, it’s crucial that you remove all dryness from the surface of your skin to create a smooth-as-glass canvas for makeup. Ten minutes with Triple Berry Smoothing Peel on your face gives it an instant radiance. Many of my celebrity clients use it weekly and before special events for this very reason. For best results, apply a moisturizing mask after you’ve rinsed off the peel to ensure the newly revealed cells get nourished. Once the mask is rinsed off, seal in moisture with a moisturizer for your skin type.
Makeup for Glowing Skin
Now let’s talk about the magic of makeup. The right makeup can enhance your features and give your skin a beautiful glow—especially when you’re in need of a little boost. Here is what I personally use on my own face, specially when I’ll be attending a special event or have a photo shoot.
6. Use a Brightening Primer Under Liquid Foundation
These days, I’m loving the no-makeup makeup look where your natural skin shines through, so my go-to foundation is Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous Foundation. But before I apply it, I’ve been using the By Terry Cellularose Brightening CC Serum in the color Immaculate Light. It gives a really nice sheen to the skin but doesn’t make me look like a disco ball. I will sometimes use Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation when I want more coverage.
This may come as a surprise, but up until my early 40s, I only ever used powder foundation for fear that liquid foundations would break out my oily, blemish-prone skin. For the most part, they don’t seem to break me out, but I can get little bumps sometimes so I mostly only use foundation when I’m public facing. When I do wear it, it really gives skin-smoothing benefits that powders can never do.
7. Dust Your Face With a Brightening Powder
Once the foundation is blended in, I dust my entire face lightly with Too Faced Candlelight Glow using a big brush. Two Faced offers two shades: Warm Glow and Rosy Glow. I like how Rosy Glow looks on my fair skin the best, but Warm Glow is nice, too. The thing I really like about this powder is that it doesn’t make the skin look overly shiny, rather it gives just a touch of shimmer.
8. Strobe For a Glow!
After that, I use a small brush and dust a tiny bit of Makeup Forever Star Powder along the bridge of my nose, forehead, chin and the tops of my cheekbones for a strobing, highlighting effect. A little goes a long way with this product, so I use it sparingly but it gives a great look to my face. I like to watch tutorial videos on YouTube for new makeup techniques, but strobing is AMAZING and so easy to do.
9. Contour Under the Cheeks
I then do a little contouring with a neutral bronze color using MAC blush under my cheekbones to slim out my face slightly. Temptalia has a great tutorial for contouring. (The photo shows a color called Margin, but any bronzer will work).
10. Dab a Little Blush on Your Cheeks
The finishing touch is Benefit Dandelion blush applied ever-so-slightly to the apples of my cheeks to give the final, rosy glow.
Overall, the look is bright, luminous and glowing skin that gets me a lot of compliments. A final thought about makeup: we all get in a rut with our makeup so I really encourage you to sit down with a makeup artist and treat yourself to a new, updated look. Makeup can work magic!
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”