Last updated: Feb 04, 2014
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Is there any better compliment than "You're glowing"? It's high praise because it means you look relaxed and rested—with great skin, too. So how do you lock in that luminosity? "It's more than what you put on your face," notes Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD. Glow comes from healthy daily habits, like getting enough sleep, snacking on carrot sticks instead of gummy bears and handling pressure well. (Stress zaps radiance—it stimulates cortisol production, causing inflammation, explains Miami dermatologist Fredric Brandt, MD.) Luckily, there are some simple skin-care and nutrition moves that will boost your G force.


Treat your skin right

Ever noticed how children's faces look lit up, while grown-ups' faces don't? There's a scientific reason: Younger skin appears more radiant because it has better surface reflectivity, per a study in the journal Skin Research and Technology. In other words, smooth, plump skin reflects light more uniformly. But you can reclaim that glimmer with proper hydration and regular exfoliation.

treat-your-skin
Lisa Shin
First, get a moisturizer containing humectants, like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which help skin retain water for an instant plumping effect. We like (1) Olay Regenerist Luminous Tone Perfecting cream ($25; drugstore.com). Also consider investing in a bedside humidifier, advises Dr. Hirsch: "Just putting that little bit of water in the air can make a real difference."

To remove dulling debris, most derms recommend bypassing grainy scrubs that buff skin in favor of chemical-based exfoliators, which use acids to dissolve dead cells. "They take off the dead layer, lighten abnormal pigment and induce collagen production," says Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. Look for one with salicylic, beta-hydroxy or alpha-hydroxy acids, such as (2) Peter Thomas Roth Professional Strength 40% Triple Acid peel ($88; sephora.com). Retinol, another derm go-to, also exfoliates. "Plus, it evens out tone and stimulates collagen growth," adds Dr. Brandt. (A study in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology found that daily application of tretinoin, the prescription-strength version of retinol, made skin develop a rosy glow.) (3) Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot corrector ($20; drugstore.com) is a good OTC choice: It has retinol and hyaluronic acid.

Fake it with makeup

fake-it-makeup
Lisa Shin
Is your glow a no-show? Raid your makeup bag. "The goal is not to shimmer like the Tin Man but to create a soft-focus effect," says Los Angeles celebrity makeup artist Molly R. Stern. Start with a subtly luminous foundation, like (4) Philosophy Miracle Worker ($40; philosophy.com). Next, apply a gel blush to cheekbones—we like (5) Tarte cheek stain ($30; sephora.com). Then use a highlighting pen, such as (6) Physicians Formula Nude Wear Touch of Glow ($13; at mass retailers), to add interest to the high points of the face—tip of the nose, chin and right above the Cupid's bow. But "avoid the forehead," warns New York City celebrity makeup artist Troy Surrat. "Too much light bouncing around can make you look oily." Powders, like (7) Clé de Peau Beauté Luminizing face enhancer ($95; saks.com), are a great finishing touch over cheeks.



gym-convenient
Hit the gym for great skin

Exercise that uses your body's full range of motion "flushes the circulatory and lymphatic systems, keeping all your organs—especially your largest one, the skin—running optimally, adding to your luminosity," says Lashaun Dale, senior national group fitness creative manager for Equinox.

Post-o glow—it's real!

One more reason to have sex tonight: It'll help your skin. "Having an orgasm releases a cascade of hormones that affect vascular flow in the skin," says New York City dermatologist Doris Day, MD. "This improves circulation, vibrancy and healing of skin," giving you a healthier complexion. And there's a bonus benefit. "When you're happy," Dr. Day points out, "you look more beautiful."

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Lisa Shin
Take a power shot

If you'd like to brighten up without buying a whole new skin-care line, you're in luck: Two just-launched luminosity products blend right into your daily serum or moisturizer. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Clinical Concentrate Radiance Booster ($68; sephora.com) has a combo of acids, such as pyruvic, tartaric and linoleic, that exfoliate, minimize fine lines and stimulate new cell growth—all key to glowy skin. And three drops of Clarins Golden Glow Booster ($30; clarins.com) in your face lotion gives a natural sun-kissed effect, thanks to a touch of DHA (the ingredient that tints skin in self-tanners).

Feed your face

"A healthy diet is the cornerstone of good skin," says Ellie Krieger, RD, a nutritionist in New York City. "Your body is always producing new cells, and it needs the right raw materials—and enough of them—to do so successfully." Strong cells resist damage from stress and pollution and retain moisture, which is necessary for maintaining glowy skin. Beyond keeping a well-balanced diet, there are key superfoods that will make your complexion even better.

Load up on...
Foods high in vitamin C: This vitamin is "so important in combating skin dullness," says Los Angeles certified nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, owner of Glow, a smoothie bar in West Hollywood. "It helps repair collagen and has brightening effects." And you can find it in more than just citrus fruits: "Red bell peppers are great for blending and packed with vitamin C."

Beta-carotene-rich fruits and veggies: "Foods that are orange (carrots, squash, mangoes) contain beta-carotene, which is a form of vitamin A," says Krieger. "Having a couple of servings per day can give your skin a very appealing tone."

Dark leafy greens: "For me, greens such as spinach, kale or chard are some of the top foods for glow," says Snyder, who uses the antioxidant-rich plants as the base of her celeb-adored Glowing Green Smoothie. "I really believe that the more greens you get, the more beautiful you become."

Healthy fats: Hydrated skin is dewy skin. "Healthy fats are the most critical for moisturizing tissue, and we really don't get enough of them," Krieger says. Consume omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, flaxseed and chia seeds, and monounsaturated fats, which you can find in walnuts, avocados and olive or canola oil.

Fermented foods: "Raw sauerkraut and kimchi help keep your system clean," Snyder says. "You absorb nutrients better, and it gets your gut in balance."