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Brrr it’s cold out — and chances are your complexion isn’t looking very dewy these days. The good news: a gorgeous glow can be had with a few simple lifestyle and skin care tweaks.
Staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day, getting seven to nine hours of beauty sleep (sleep deprivation can reduce blood circulation, zapping any type of natural flush) and avoiding foods high in sugar, saturated fat and salt are all good places to start when it comes to boosting your complexion, notes Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology in New York City. Applying sunscreen (UV rays can mess with your skin’s texture, even in winter), exercising and keeping anxiety at bay are also important. “Cortisol levels go up when you’re feeling stressed, which kicks in a fight or flight response, interfering with your skin’s natural barrier and contributing to dryness,” said Zeichner. “Stress also directs blood flow to your vital organs and away from your face.”
This is all good advice, but there are also several other approaches and products that can take your skin to the next level of glow.
How to get glowing skin, according to experts
1. Exfoliate dead skin cells
“We shed millions of skin cells every day, but when that process slows down, dead cells can interfere with light reflection, resulting in a dull appearance,” said Zeichner. “Exfoliating can reveal a brighter, more dewy skin.”
There are two ways to exfoliate: using a physical exfoliator that contains ingredients like granules of salt, sugar or water-soluble beads; or with a chemical exfoliator, like an alpha hydroxy acid, that will break apart and dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin in place, while increasing cell turnover and encouraging the creation of new skin-plumping collagen.
With almost 26,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon alone, CeraVe's exfoliating cleanser is loaded with buzzy ingredients like salicylic acid to remove pesky, dead skin cells.
Prep your skin for maximum glow with Clarin's plant-based, cream-gel facial scrub. It's also formulated for all skin types, so you won't need to worry about post-exfoliating irritation.
2. Add moisture to your skin
Loss of skin hydration can lead to flaking, thwarting any natural glow. Look for a lotion or serum that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which act like sponges and bind to water, advised Zeichner. “Moisturizers that contain ceramides, shea butter or natural oils like coconut or olive [will] soften the outer skin layer for a dewier look.”
A dry climate will also affect your skin. Consider adding a small-sized humidifier to your home that can move with you from room to room or using a facial steamer once a week to hydrate your skin.
Replenish your skin barrier with La Roche-Posay's top-rated face and neck serum, which combines hyaluronic acid and panthenol for maximum effectiveness.
Hundreds of Sephora and Kohl's shoppers have rated this daily moisturizer a perfect five stars — and we don't blame them. It's formulated with powerful ingredients like peptides and ceramides that double down on hydration and elasticity.
Combining nano steam with ionic water particles, this bestselling facial steamer claims to be up to 10 times more effective at penetrating your skin.
3. Wash your face - every night
“The debris from pollution can sit on your face all day, promoting free radical damage that can damage the skin,” said Zeichner. “Wash your face before bed with a nonirritating exfoliating cleanser that contains things like fruit enzymes and jojoba beads, which will dissolve dead skin cells on the surface and allow moisturizers and serums to absorb more easily, leaving you with a brighter complexion.”
Formulated with glycolic acid and a calming blend of marshmallow extract and chamomile, this Mario Badescu cleanser works effectively with breaking down buildup while leaving your skin with a luminous glow.
Get rid of the daily impurities affecting your skin barrier with this recent release from Rose Inc. It utilizes pomegranate fruit enzymes and mushroom extract to dissolve debris and tighten pores simultaneously.
4. Massage your face
Facial massages stimulate blood circulation and unblock lymphatic congestion, resulting in a post-treatment glow. “Use your fingertips to massage the lower part of your neck to get the lymphatic system working, then move up towards your jawline, ears, and hairline to further support lymphatic draining,” said Karen Fernandez, a master aesthetician at SkinSpirit in San Francisco.
You can also massage skin with a facial roller for five minutes each day, which can improve blood circulation and make your skin glow while decreasing puffiness. “Consider applying a facial oil prior to massaging so there’s no skin tugging,” suggested Fernandez.
Trying a facial roller for the first time? Give this top-rated face tool made with 100 percent jade stone a try!
Ice globes are another tool you may want to incorporate into your beauty routine. It's not only trending on TikTok, but this version from Aceology claims to accelerate product absorption.
5. Incorporate a topical retinoid
“Retinoid creams increase cellular turnover and the production of new collagen, resulting in plumper skin cells, less pigmentation, and an added glow,” said Zeichner. “Apply in the evening along with a moisturizer, but start off every other night so your skin doesn’t get irritated.”
Equally silky soft and powerful, this retinol-loaded moisturizer aims to deliver a more refined, youthful glow in a short amount of time.
This night serum combines a strong concentration of retinaldehyde (a potent form of retinol) with nourishing ingredients like niacinamide, squalane and tea extracts to boost radiance and lessen irritation. "Sometimes I look forward to going to bed just because it means I will be putting on this magic," added one Maelove shopper who rated it five stars.
Leave it to Peter Thomas Roth to make a resurfacing serum that targets your skin's clarity. It's made with a potent combination of glycolic acid, plus other active ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, to add much-needed moisture to your face.
6. Apply your vitamin C
Adding a vitamin C serum or moisturizer that contains the antioxidant to your skin care routine will promote a radiant glow by minimizing damage from pollution’s free radicals, stimulating collagen and elastin production and lightening dark spots, shared Zeichner.
With stellar ratings across Target and Ulta, Olay's vitamin C and peptide-loaded moisturizer is a top-notch option to give you the luminous glow you've always wanted.
Using two concentrated forms of vitamin C plus restorative ingredients like niacinamide and a firming peptide complex, Summer Fridays' serum delivers instant brightness — even during the dullest wintry days.
"This is my holy grail!" chimed one Sephora shopper who rated this squalane-loaded brightening serum a perfect five stars. "I’ve been using it for a few months now and my skin is more even toned and glowing. I love this because it also instantly gives a glow and makes my makeup go on so smooth and last all day."
7. Slather on a face oil
“A face oil, filled with vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, can be more effective than a standard moisturizer and is often the one missing step in someone’s glow routine,” said Zeichner. “Because they’re lipophilic, they can penetrate deep into the skin, leaving you with a more luminous glow. They can also strengthen the skin’s barrier by keeping water in and irritants out.”
For the best results, apply a pea-sized amount to your driest areas at night.
Formulated with antioxidant-packed, plant-based oils and extracts, this oil serum is equally hydrating and easy to use. "It’s so smooth and leaves your skin silky soft with a fantastic glow. A little goes a long way!" added one verified buyer who gave it five stars.
Designed for every skin type, this bestselling facial oil is packed with rich ingredients and vitamins that are deeply nourishing and will leave your skin feeling rejuvenated.
8. Consider an at-home microcurrent treatment
“Microcurrents deliver very low levels of electrical energy to boost circulation, stimulate facial muscles and collagen and elastin production and enhance the penetration of skin care products, leaving skin firmer and more luminous,” said Zeichner. “For best results, use the [microcurrent] device every night, as it can take weeks or even months before you start noticing results.”
You can also opt for a topical at-home microdermabrasion face polish that contains professional grade crystals and enzymes for a soft feel and glow.
"Although this is expensive, it is by far the best microdermabrasion cream I have tried," a verified Ulta shopper said about this treatment filled with physical, chemical and enzyme rejuvenators. "I have lupus and get deep lesions that don't heal when I'm in a flare-up, leaving scabs that peel and crate deep scarring craters. The gentle cleaning cream helps to heal the lesions, then once healed, the microdermabrasion cream gently takes away the dead, dark and flaky skin that is left."
NuFace's microcurrent device has been the talk of TikTok thanks to popular videos showing the before and after results of using one (this one from user @sarahgalyean has over 5.3 million views alone!). While the regular-sized version can be a bit pricey, its travel-sized sister is available at a more reasonable price tag.
9. Use a highlighter
A highlighter will not only add dimension to your face, it will also enhance your foundation and give your cheeks a dewy glow.
“Look for a powder or shimmer stick that’s one to two shades lighter than your natural skin tone and apply it to the tops of your cheekbones and down the center of your nose after applying blush,” suggested makeup artist Alison Raffaele Tatem. You can also consider a liquid powder highlighter that comes with a dropper, so you can dab it on your skin or mix it into your foundation for a more luminous finish.
Nailing an effortless, beachy glow is as easy as swiping on this lightweight, creamy highlighter from Makeup by Mario.
Simplify your beauty routine while embracing the 'no makeup' makeup look with Jones Road Beauty's multipurpose balm.
10. Choose the right blush or bronzer
To maximize glow, opt for a cream blush over a powder as they’re more naturally dewy, said Tatem. “Apply one to the apples of your cheeks before blending upward along the cheekbone using either a damp sponge or synthetic blush brush. If you prefer bronzer, make sure it’s sheer and sparkle-free for the most natural look.”
Once applied, tap your cheeks with a damp sponge for a dewy finish.
Instead of leaving a sticky finish, this lush tint provides a hydrating, dewy finish.
91 percent of shoppers have recommended this creamy blush from Merit. "The consistency is fantastic and feels hydrating," chimed one verified Sephora customer. "The color is buildable and I’ve never had an instance where it seems like I’ve applied too much, because it blends into the skin very nicely."
11. Add a few drops of luminizer
Give your skin a radiant boost by using your fingers to apply a luminizer to your cheekbones, tip of your nose and cupid’s bow. Or, add a few drops to your moisturizer or foundation to create a soft-focus finish.
Perfect for every skin type, Versed's glow drops delivers a subtly natural glow using hydrating ingredients like peptides and vitamin E.
Looking to give your skin a glassy finish? Iconic London's got you covered with their concentrated liquid shimmer that's loved by celebs and shoppers alike.
12. Spray on some hydration
Post makeup application, spritz on a setting spray that contains humectants, antioxidants and vitamins to attract moisture, leaving your skin with a dewy glow.
Set your makeup while giving yourself a refreshing lemony spritz with this facial mist from Jane Iredale.
Tatcha is renowned for their luxe products, and their fast-absorbing, moisturizing skin mist is no exception. With over 1,700 five-star ratings on the brand's website, shoppers keep raving about how "radiant" and glowing it leaves their face.
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