We always hear about the “glow up,” but what about a glow down? After all, lackluster skin happens to the best of us, whether it's a result of a late night or the natural affect of aging. While highlighter can help, sometimes a dull complexion needs more than just the latest strobing technique. That’s why it’s important to know how to get glowing skin without relying on your makeup bag alone. Here are seven pro-approved steps that’ll let you recapture your radiance.
Exfoliate more often
As you know, regular exfoliation is crucial since it removes build-up and triggers skin cell renewal. “It instantly helps to reveal more radiant, youthful-looking skin,” confirms Sephora Beauty Director Jeffrey English, so make sure to exfoliate once a week or just on those mornings when your skin needs a boost. However, if you want a more concentrated glow, try limiting exfoliation to the high points of the face. “It ups oil production and minimizes pores, creating the perfect 'glass skin' effect,” says Romero Jennings, director of makeup artistry at M.A.C.
Embrace vitamin C
Out of all the antioxidants, vitamin C is the biggest glow-getter. It’s a brightening agent that evens out skin tone and diminishes the appearance of dark spots, which is why it’s an ideal solution for dullness. That's why English suggests adding a vitamin C serum into your morning regimen. “A lot like a glass of orange juice, vitamin C awakens and energizes dull, lackluster skin, leaving it brightened, lightened, and tightened,” he explains. Try Farmacy Very Cherry Bright 15% Clean Vitamin C Serum ($62; sephora.com).
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
While drinking enough water absolutely improves luminosity levels, the type of hydration we’re talking about here is a nourishing facial moisturizer. “Hydrating the skin creates an instant topical shine that reflects even more light,” says English. Look for a product with hyaluronic acid since it’s an ingredient that traps moisture into the skin, resulting in a brighter, plumper complexion. One good option: Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream ($38; sephora.com).
Apply a primer to create contrast
Typically, primer is thought of as a product that keeps makeup in place, but you can actually use it to create different textures on your skin as well. “After moisturizing, apply a primer like the M.A.C. Cosmetics Prep + Prime Skin Refined Zone ($23)to mattify and recede those areas [you don’t want highlighted] allowing the cheeks and high-points to glow,” explains Jennings.
Use facial oil for glowing skin
For an all-over sheen, follow celebrity face designer for Armani Beauty Tim Quinn's advice, and mix a few drops of a facial oil into your face cream, tinted moisturizer, or foundation before applying. “Facial oil can be a great substitute for highlighter,” he says. “I love the Giorgio Armani Beauty Armani Prima Nourishing Glow Enhancer Oil In Gel ($110), as it gives the skin a natural-looking glow and glossy finish.”
Highlight with unexpected products
For those times when you want a more pronounced glow, you can use other reflective formulas instead of highlighter. Jennings likes spritzing skin with a brightening face mist like this one from M.A.C. while Quinn suggests using a creamy eye shadow if you’re in a pinch. “I’ll apply a champagne eye shadow color to the top of the check bones, right above the lip, and under the brow bone,” he explains. “Lightly tap it on to create the illusion of glowing skin.” Get the look with a shade like Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerize Cream Eye Shadow in Jean ($32; sephora.com).
Get your beauty sleep
Lastly, the secret to I Woke Up Like This skin is actually getting enough sleep. “Getting eight hours of rest ensures that your skin can fully repair the damage it faced during the day,” says English. And his advice if you have a hard time falling asleep? “If you need a little support to unwind and calm your mind before bed, try HUM Nutrition’s Beauty zzZz Sleep Support Supplement ($10),” he continues. “These are a personal favorite of mine when I travel because they help me to doze off faster. When I awaken, I feel alert, never groggy, and I always notice my skin has an extra glow that I just can’t fake with product.”
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