Updated 04/20/22. Clients of all ages and skin types have asked me how to get glowing skin. While an effective, circulation-boosting skincare routine is the first and most important step, makeup can certainly help, too. In this post, I’ll share my favorite makeup products to use for bright, smooth, and radiant-looking skin.
The 4 Traits of Glowing Skin
Everyone’s definition of a “glow” might be different, but here are the four traits I believe give the appearance of glowing skin.
1. Small Pores and Smooth Texture
One of the best ways to achieve smaller-looking pores and smooth texture is with exfoliating acids. Exfoliating acids work to remove dry, dead skin cells and reveal fresh new cells underneath. These fresh cells reflect light better than dry, dead ones, which helps to give the skin a radiant look.
For a smooth, bump-free texture, look for products containing salicylic acid, like the Pore + Wrinkle Perfecting Serum. This will do double-duty, helping to keep pores clean and sloughing away dead cells.
2. Good Blood Circulation
Good circulation gives the skin a rosy, dewy look and prevents it from looking sallow. You can easily increase blood flow to the face by giving your skin an at-home facial massage. 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 stimulates blood flow and brings nutrients to the skin.
3. Even Skin Tone
This means an absence of both sunspots and post-breakout marks. This is much easier said than done and can take some time to achieve, but it’s certainly not impossible!
One of the best ingredients for improving hyperpigmentation is vitamin C. It helps suppress melanin activity and fade spots. It’s also important to wear sunscreen every day! This will keep existing hyperpigmentation from getting darker and will help prevent new discoloration from ever appearing.
4. Moisture for a Natural Sheen
This one is all about strengthening and supporting the moisture barrier. If your barrier is compromised (most often by using harsh products or over-exfoliating), it means your skin has little invisible cracks, and light won’t reflect off of it as well. Remember, glowing skin means light-reflective skin! Make sure you read up on how to fix a damaged moisture barrier.
If you have an oilier skin type, consider yourself lucky. You’ll need less help with this. Your skin naturally has more moisture because your oil acts as a form of protection to retain water in the skin cells. (Don’t know your skin type? Take the Skin Type Quiz to find out.)
To learn more about how to achieve a glow through your skincare routine, read this post.
The Makeup I Use 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. Here are the products I use—especially on days when I’ll be attending a special event or have a photoshoot.
1. A Brightening Primer
These days, I’m loving the “no-makeup makeup” look. My go-to foundation is the Chanel Ultra Le Teint Foundation. If I really want a natural finish, I mix it in my fingertips with the Giorgio Armani Neo Nude True-to-Skin Foundation.
Sometimes, when I want really radiant-looking skin, I’ll apply the By Terry Cellularose Brightening CC Serum in the shade Immaculate Light underneath it. This primer gives a really nice sheen to the skin, but it doesn’t make me look like a disco ball.
This may come as a surprise, but up until my early 40s, I only ever used powder foundation. Liquid foundations would break me out (I had an oily, breakout-prone skin type). These days, I don’t seem to have that issue, but I know many people do. So, here’s my list of the best foundations for oily, acne-prone skin.
2. A Brightening Powder
Once the foundation is blended in, I lightly dust my entire face with a brightening powder. I like using the Chantecaille HD Perfecting Loose Powder. 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.
After that, if I really want to glow, I take 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 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 watch YouTube tutorials to learn new makeup techniques. When done correctly, strobing looks amazing and it’s so easy to do.
After using a highlighter, I do a little contouring with a neutral bronze color (I actually use a MAC blush, believe it or not). I apply it under my cheekbones to give the appearance of a slightly slimmer face. If you’ve never contoured before, Temptalia has a great tutorial that I recommend.
5. Pink Blush
The finishing touch is Benefit Dandelion Blush applied to the apples of my cheeks to give the final, rosy glow. I have used this forever! I absolutely love it, but sometimes I’ll switch it up and use the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush instead. When I’m going for a more bronzy look, I’ll use the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in the shade Luminous Bronze Light.
Both work well and give my skin a really radiant look.
The final result is all about bright, luminous, and glowing skin, and it gets me a lot of compliments. Makeup can be powerful, so if you feel like you’re in a rut, I really encourage you to sit down with a makeup artist and treat yourself to a new, updated look.
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. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skin care expert has created a real-world solution — products that are formulated for nine different types of skin so your face will get exactly what it needs to look and feel its best. 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.”