How To Get Glowing Skin: The Definitive List


It’s come to my attention recently that we at ITG may be shirking some of our main duties. We’ve been talking a big, glowing skin game for the past, I don’t know, five years? In the annals of this website, hundreds of tips lurk, promising to give you the complexion of your dreams. In this regard, I’d like to think we and the women we feature have been very helpful. But we can do better. We can put it all in one place so if you ever find yourself wondering how to glow up, you need only check this page (bookmark it, maybe!) and go on your merry way. Honestly, it’s the least we can do for you.

To test the waters on this kind of project, I emailed four ladies who I know to have very stunning skin, to get their take. Answers follow:

Phoebe Lovatt: “When I'm feeling gray, I go back to the basics: a good night's sleep, a few liters of water, a few days off alcohol, some green vegetables, and a sweat session—usually hot yoga. That, plus a mask of some variety—maybe Peter Thomas Roth's Pumpkin Enzyme Mask—usually has me looking half-human again. A swipe of your Stretch Concealer doesn't hurt, either! :)”

Fernanda de la Puente: “I never put makeup on, and by never I mean never. I try to buy aloe vera leaves whenever I go to Whole Foods and I put those on my skin, sometimes with a few drops of lemon and coconut oil. I drink sheep yogurt and kefir almost on a daily basis, plus tea with turmeric, cinnamon, dandelion, and nettle leaf!”

Marguerite Wade: “For me, there are a few things that I think make a huge difference. It’s pretty much the same stuff everybody else says but here it goes: Water, water, water. Exercise, sleep, good food, and a couple of key products, including a sunscreen. Have you heard that expression, the best cure for anything is salt and water: tears, sweat and the ocean? It’s true! And did I mention water?”

Aurora James: “I think the key to maintaining a good summer glow is lots of hydration. I drink about 15 glasses of water everyday. At night I use Aesop Fabulous Face Oil which is fantastic for hydration!”

Sensing a theme? It’s…

The easiest, quickest, free-est line of defense if you find yourself looking a little less than fresh. Your skin is 64% water, first of all. So when you’re dehydrated, you’re more than likely to look less plump. In a study published by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, researchers found that drinking at least 2 liters of water (if not more) increased skin thickness and density. So start counting those eight glasses a day, just like your mother taught you. And carry around those little baby Avène Eau Thermale spray cans and mist yourself like a delicate air plant.

Increased cortisol levels can trigger breakouts and other unsavory skin things. Maybe meditation seems like just one more thing you have to do every day, but have you ever met a stressed out person who also meditates? I haven’t. If you’re not convinced, there’s always the game theory approach to meditation, as explained here. You really can win at everything.

Which is to say, eat more vegetables. Humans don’t create their own vitamin C, so we have to get it from other sources. Leafy greens are an obvious place to start. (Let Gaultier’s new Popeye perfume be your summer body goal.) Your other saving grace here is fatty acids. Salmon! Eggs! Avocado toast for everyone!

Serums are important, people. But you knew that. Basically you want something that goes on right after you cleanse that’s going to deliver super potent ingredients all the way deep inside your skin (at least that’s how I think about it). I’m a well-known pusher of Pai’s Rosehip Bioregenerate Oil to save skin that’s just not feeling it—be that acneic, rosy, whatever. But once things have settled and I’m working with a satisfied canvas, I switch to Odacité’s C For Colette Serum. In addition to the 15% vitamin C, it’s got wheatgrass, açai, and goji berries for a glow that can only be described as “I live in Malibu.”

Maybe I’m just a simple girl, but for the longest time, I didn’t moisturize before going in on color face makeup. That was dumb—don’t be like me. Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer was made to layer under makeup and is very no-fuss so it’s what I reach for most mornings. There’s also Tatcha’s Beauty Oil, which is made with flecks of real gold floating around in there. It’s hard not to glow when you’re applying gold straight to your face.

Sunscreen is good for preserving glow: It protects you from sunspots and also cancer. But Dr. Jart’s new UV Illuminating SPF 36 goes one step further. While shielding you from UVA and UVB rays, it brightens up your face with micro opal pearls that are almost too obvious without going overboard. Many thanks to the good doctor on this one.

Take it from Aurélie Bidermann: “I don’t use foundation… I like the skin to glow, and when you use too much foundation, the skin doesn’t glow anymore.” So, if you’re inclined, skip the foundation and go straight to the fun part: highlighter. I’m just going to go through these rapid fire:

  • Marc Jacobs’ new Glow Stick Glistening Illuminator is a whole lot of fun in what looks like a mini deodorant tube. At once, it is both icy and warm, making it work on just about all skintones when blended well. It’s iridescent, not sparkly—an important distinction.

  • Gloria Noto’s line Noto Botanics includes the tiny pot of Hydra Highlight, which is a highlighter made for bopping around town on the weekend. It’s more of a holistic balm (ingredients include cocoa butter, shea butter, rosehip seed oil, coconut oil, I could go on…), but with added mica for an almost-imperceptible glow. This is your no makeup-makeup version of a highlighter.

  • There are plenty of powder highlighters and luminizers on the market, but Stila’s Eyeshadow in Kitten works just as well, if not better. It’s eyeshadow-sized, too, making it easier to have on you at all times. Tap on cheekbones with your fingers and run to find the closest light source to reflect with your face.

—Emily Ferber

Photo via ITG.

Glow away. First, read our suggestions for the best highlighters on the market. Then, find out how to apply them with certified strobing expert Vincent Oquendo.