When it comes to skin care goals, the word “glowing” seems to universally rank top of mind. In pursuit of a healthy, radiant complexion, we scoured the research and tapped some of our favorite experts. Here, 25 proven—and natural—ways to maintain glowing skin:
1. Use a safe, mineral-based sunscreen daily.
If you take any of these tips to heart, make it SPF—which should be applied daily, all year round, regardless of whether the weather is rain or shine. “Ultraviolet radiation is unequivocally carcinogenic,” explains board-certified dermatologist Heidi Waldorf. “If you don’t care about cancer, think vanity—UV rays are the primary cause of the texture and color changes of skin aging.” To protect your skin, Waldorf recommends using a mineral-based sunscreen (look for active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) that is SPF 30 or higher and applying it as the final step in your skin care routine every morning. Because mineral sunscreen is a physical barrier, it should be applied as the last step before makeup: Any skin care actives you try to apply after won’t penetrate.
2. Use vitamin C.
One of the best topical ingredients for glowing skin, plain and simple, is vitamin C—which works on all skin types to even out and brighten tone. The research to back up these claims is sound and vast: Vitamin C can fade hyperpigmentation, protect against environmental aggressors, brighten skin tone, and promote collagen and elastin production. Bottom line: It’s key for glowing skin.
“I am not recommending a harsh scrub or cloth,” explains board-certified dermatologist Nancy Samolitis, M.D., who lists exfoliation as one of her top tips for glowing skin. “Light exfoliation daily, with either a nonirritating acid cleanser or toner that dissolves dead skin cells on the surface, [will] lead to glowing skin.” How so? Removing the outer layer of dead skin cells will help smooth skin texture, increase the absorption rate of your skin care products, and brighten up your complexion.
4. Take care of your gut.
Research shows that underlying gut health issues can manifest on the skin in many ways, from acne to eczema. The connection even has a name: the gut-skin axis. Overall gut health is nuanced and complex, and it’s important (for so, so many reasons) for everyone to take the time to learn how to care for and nourish your own unique gut flora. However, for the purpose of this article, here’s a general guideline: Anything that will damage your gut (sugar, processed food) may also damage your skin. Also, see: Here’s why you should heal your gut if you want clear skin.
5. Incorporate healthy fats into your diet.
“Healthy fats like those found in nuts, flaxseed, and avocados can help to replenish your body’s ability to make healthy and strong cell membranes, [which] can protect against environmental damage by restoring the skin barrier,” Samolitis explains. Waldorf agrees, explaining that “not eating adequate healthy fats can cause the skin and hair to be dry, and increasing these fats in the diet may help in certain skin conditions characterized by excessive dryness.” Other healthy-fat foods to know for glowing skin include salmon, chia seeds, olive oil, and whole eggs.
6. Keep your skin microbiome balanced.
Just like the gut, a healthy, balanced skin microbiome is essential to maintaining healthy, balanced skin. These microscopic bacteria keep skin hydrated and supple, fight off free radicals, stave off infection, and even protect against harmful UV rays. Keep yours in check by avoiding harsh soaps and scrubs, which can strip away the essential oils and bacteria that make up the skin microbiome. On the flip side, use skin care products that are formulated specifically to boost the skin microbiome, such as those that contain pre- and probiotics (here’s our list of the best products to support a healthy skin microbiome).
7. Apply skin care products right after bathing.
Perhaps one of the most essential components of healthy skin is moisture. In addition to a quality skin care routine, the timing in which you apply your products can affect moisture retention. Waldorf’s top tip: Take to your skin care routine immediately after hopping out of the shower. “Applying a moisturizer daily on face and body after washing replenishes and seals in moisture,” she says. “It is much better to maintain good skin than to try to catch up after skin is dry, inflamed, and uncomfortable.”
8. Practice a facial massage routine.
Not only does it feel enjoyable, but facial massage can lessen tension and increase circulation, thereby helping to keep skin cells healthy and aiding in lymphatic drainage. Commit to a daily facial gua sha routine or use a jade roller. It only takes a few minutes a day, and the post-facial massage glow (courtesy of aforementioned increased circulation) will be so worth it.
9. Eat antioxidant-rich foods.
“The more colorful, the better,” Samolitis says. “My favorites are dark, leafy greens and berries.” Indeed, fruits and vegetables are considered the best sources of antioxidants. Some antioxidant-packed foods to incorporate into your diet include blueberries, kale, spinach, and—bonus—dark chocolate.
10. Stay active.
Exercise increases blood flow throughout the body, thereby bringing vital oxygen, nutrients, and minerals to the skin. Bottom line: Working out leads to brighter, better-looking skin