A matte finish has its place in the world of beauty: on lips, it’s classic and gorgeous; on nails, it’s an unusual yet not-too-bizarre choice. But when it comes to skin, doing the matte thing can read as flat, dull and (gasp) aging. On the flipside, the elusive dewy skin we read about and naturally, want more than just about anything, seems impossible to achieve past age 15 without looking like a teenage wannabe. The good news? We investigated and—thanks to breakthroughs in skincare, makeup and nutrition—the dewy look really isn’t that hard to create. If your complexion wish list involves descriptions like glowing, luminous and fresh (yes!), here’s how to get it.
1. Encourage Your Natural Glow Dennis Gross, M.D., a New York City dermatologist, suggests flooding skin with a steady supply of ingredients that hydrate and brighten. He’s partial to radiance-boosting vitamins C and D (both are found in Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Glow Moisture), powerful antioxidants that help protect against UVA damage and prevent signs of aging, resulting in radiant skin. Vitamin A is a proven favorite, found most potentially in prescription Retinols. And, Olay Pro-X Spot Fading Treatment contains niacinamide to speed up your skin’s cell turnover to increase radiance while clearing away dark spots.
2. Exfoliate to Get Smooth Light reflects better off a uniform surface, so you need to get rid of the dead cells and flaky patches that rise from your skin like microscopic mountains. Gross suggests a routine of gentle chemical exfoliation (try REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask) to eliminate dullness. If you haven’t already been indoctrinated into the cult of Clarisonic, give it a go once or twice a week to discover why everyone’s obsessed with its ability to smooth and soften. Joanna Vargas, founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection, likes this natural exfoliating option: Mash strawberries into yogurt, spread a thin layer onto the face and rinse after 20 minutes.
3. Try a Facial Oil Applying facial oil gives your skin a super-moisturizing treat that helps heal from within, so it’s time to get over the fear they’ll break you out (they won’t; in fact, most also have anti-bacterial properties!). Check out Nude ProGenius Treatment Oil, which contains a plethora of nourishing plant oils, Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil, or the East-African favorite, Marula Oil. Use them at night and you’ll look luminous, not greasy, come morning.
4. Drink Green Juice Vargas relies on green juice—both inside and out—for a healthy complexion. Dark, leafy greens like kale pack a whopping punch of vitamin C, a nutrient that’s proven to help skin stay supple. Parsley, kale, collards and spinach also contain vitamin K, a potent anti-inflammatory that helps promote glowing skin. Vargas says green juice hydrates even better than water, and suggests her Daily Serum applied topically; it contains the green pigment chlorophyll to protect against environmental damage and help increase circulation.
5. Get Moving Gross says many celebrities work out just before an important event to give their skin a rosy hue; it’s one of the best-kept beauty secrets of those who regularly walk the red carpet. Even if you’re not headed to the Oscars, exercise is a free and easy way to give your skin a natural glow, not to mention how it relieves stress and provides an endorphin boost.
6. Try a Pro Primping Routine Dior makeup artist Ricky Wilson likes to use a mild exfoliant a few hours before getting ready (to avoid a red and or blotchy complexion). Next, slap on one of those masks so beloved by makeup artists and celebrities alike; Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask drives moisture into the skin and imparts a noticeable glow. Wilson suggests finishing with a splash of cold water to help tighten the pores.
7. Even Out Your Complexion With Care Now is not the time for full coverage makeup. Instead, Wilson suggests applying a non-matte primer, like or Glow Maximizer Primer Per-fekt Beauty Skin Perfection Gel, followed by a lightweight foundation or a BB cream (try VMV Hypoallergenics Skintangible “Faint”ation or Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector). Wilson’s trick is to never apply foundation all over the face—only add it where there are variations in the skin’s color and tone.
8. Oily Skin? Read This.Skin type doesn’t restrict your ability to achieve a dewy finish—those with oily skin aren’t doomed to layers of mattifying powder, they just need to choose products wisely. David Martinez, Nars National Makeup Stylist, is a fan of prepping the skin with Nars Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer, which reflects light but isn’t at all greasy. He also likes to dust on setting powder in the T-zone to tone down shine (try new Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder).
9. Highlight Your Best Assets Apply a slightly shimmery highlighter to the tops of the cheekbones and down the bridge of the nose for a natural and soft effect that “picks up the light but doesn’t shine a spotlight,” says Wilson. NARS Illuminator and Topshop Glow are easy to blend and add luminosity that helps accent cheekbones. To accent a dewy-skin effect, Wilson keeps the rest of the makeup less reflective, with blush diffused from the apples of the cheeks and out toward the temples, finished with a bright matte lip.
10. Keep the Glow GoingThere are quick and simple ways to maintain a fresh effect throughout the day. An occasional spritz of Caudalie Beauty Elixir helps tighten pores and boost circulation while keeping your makeup dewy, plus its minty scent is a better mid-day pick-me-up than caffeine. The lightweight formula of Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder imparts a luminous glow without risk of looking chalky, and Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector contains light-reflective pigments plus a dose of moisture that’s designed to be reapplied over makeup for anytime glow.