We all deal with sallow, tired-looking skin from time to time, but it’s feeling like all the time lately — you, too? The one-two punch of more time spent indoors coupled with increased blue light exposure (oh, and fitful nights’ sleep) have knocked out our complexions, despite our commitment to our skincare regimens. That’s why we’re bringing in reinforcements to bring back our radiance — the most potent glow-getters in our skincare arsenals — and sharing them with you. Whether you’re hoping to look fresh on FaceTime® (like, right now) or work towards a glowy goal, keep reading. Here, we share our favorite formulas to brighten things up, both instantly and over time.
Fenty Beauty® Body Lava® Luminizer in Limited Edition Copper Candy
Who: Joslyn Winkfield, Creative Lead, Digital
What I use when I need a glow now: Fenty Beauty® Body Lava® Luminizer in Limited Edition Copper Candy
Why: I have medium brown skin, so I don’t necessarily “need” tanners, per se. However, that doesn’t mean my skin can’t develop a rather sallow, yellow dullness from lack of sunshine, especially my legs. Now that I am desperately seeking that warmth again, I’m on a mission to use this limited-edition sparkling copper shade from my feet all the way up to my neck for glow and shimmer. Summer is coming, whether we are inside or not, and I plan on looking like I’m glistening on a beach — even if I’m just taking a selfie in my backyard.
Goldfaden MD® Doctor's Scrub
What I use when I’m working on my glow long-term: Goldfaden MD® Doctor's Scrub
Why: Since being home in my rather dry apartment, my skin has been facing some new challenges, including some dullness and unwanted texture on my forehead and cheeks. As a result, sometimes I feel the need to just scrub it all away — but there is always the fear of damaging my epidermis with formulas that are too harsh. Enter this wonder from Goldfaden MD, an exfoliator gentle enough for daily use that is fused with ruby crystals to buff away roughness and brighten, hyaluronic acid to hydrate (yes to a scrub that doesn’t dry me out!) and antioxidant powerhouses like seaweed and red tea. Using this three times a week has been working great for my skin, especially helping to improve texture and fade my remaining dark spots.
Glossier® Futuredew® & Tournesol® Sun Serum Glow Boosting Tanning Drops
Why: I’m very fair to begin with — so spending my days in dim rooms hunched over a glowing monitor isn’t doing my complexion many favors. I knock out sallow tones and dullness with a quick concoction several times a week: I simply mix a pump and a half of Futuredew with a pump of Tournesol’s tanning drops. The balmy texture of the former blends beautifully with the silky feel of the latter, and I quickly smear this combo across my face, focusing on the high points but being sure to work it in everywhere (particularly around my mouth and near my hairline), then rinse my hands. Here’s why: Futuredew is loaded with nourishing jojoba, squalane, and mica, lending my skin a dewy luminosity that lasts. The Tournesol drops boast shea butter and DHA, hydrating while delivering a realistic gradual tan. The duo makes me look so much less tired and more refreshed, to the point it’s garnered me compliments on videoconferences.
BeautyStat® Universal Vitamin C Skin Refiner
What I use when I’m working on my glow long-term: BeautyStat® Universal Vitamin C Skin Refiner
Why: After reading writer Lindsay Kirkman’s review of BeautyStat Universal Vitamin C Skin Refiner, I had to try it for myself — and I haven’t been disappointed yet. The consistency is like a creamy, dimethicone-based primer (so it lends itself beautifully to pre-makeup application!), and smooths across the skin to help blur away the look of any dryness or enlarged pores. It sometimes tingles when I put it on, which makes me feel extra confident that it’s working — but honestly, I don’t even need that little confidence booster, because I’ve watched it fade dark spots caused by errant face picking. Lastly, it’s made my skin look brighter and more even, so I feel like I need to use less concealer under my eyes and around my nose.
Tan-Luxe® Super Glow Body Serum
Who: Thia Laurain, Senior Social Media Editor
What I use when I need a glow now: Tan-Luxe® Super Glow Body Serum
Why: Because my fair skin leans more ghost than goddess, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to tanning. That’s why I love gradual self-tanners. Lucky for me, one of my all-time favorite formulas — the Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Face Serum, which I wrote about here — is now available in a much larger size for the body. With 4% DHA, one application leaves me looking like I spent the day at the beach; three consecutive days of use and I look like I just came back from that vacation to Mexico I’ve been dreaming about for the last three months. Bonus: the unique blend of caffeine, superfoods, and hyaluronic acids in this lightweight, quick-drying formula ensure your skin looks ultra-smooth, taut, and nourished after application — before your faux glow develops and long afterwards.
(Malin + Goetz)® Resurfacing Face SerumTM
What I use when I’m working on my glow long-term: (Malin + Goetz)® Resurfacing Face SerumTM
Why: Face it: If there is a layer of dry, dead skin cells on your face, it’s near impossible to create a lit-from-within glow — with skincare or with makeup. That’s because those dry, lifeless cells literally dull the shine of the fresh, glowing skin underneath that’s just waiting to make its grand entrance. With regular use, this new resurfacing serum from Malin + Goetz will ensure your skin shines its brightest 24/7. With an exfoliating, acne-friendly blend of 6% glycolic acid and 2% lactic acid, plus 2% stabilized vitamin C, this lightweight gel-serum will brighten, smoothe, and clarify skin in a single step. For the last four weeks, I’ve patted this into my skin (under my night cream!) twice a week, and my skin feels significantly softer and looks bright and clear. Consider that lit-from-within glow achieved.
Sugared + Bronzed® Bronzing Mist
Who: Madisen Theobald, Senior Social Media Editor
What I use when I need a glow now: Sugared + Bronzed® Bronzing Mist
Why: I am a huge fan of sunless tanning, so whenever there is a new launch in the category, I have to get my hands on it to test for myself and my fellow beauty fans. But while I’m handy with a bottle of self-tanner, I do occasionally love to get a professional spray tan, and one of the best I’ve received was in a California-based salon called Sugared + Bronzed℠ in 2015. (Yes, I still think about it!) I loved the purple-undertone base and bronzed sheen that it left on my medium-toned skin — and I was even more impressed by the fact that it lasted a whole weekend spent soaking up the Las Vegas pool party scene.
After thinking about that glorious spray tan for five years, I finally got my hands on one of the brand’s products, Sugared + Bronzed Bronzing Mist. I instantly fell in love with it and have been applying it to my face every other day since first spritzing on the product a month ago. I like to spray the glowy, bronze solution about five to six inches away from my contouring makeup brush, then swirl the brush in circular motions on my skin for an even application. Pro tip: Concentrate on your cheekbones for an extra bronzed sculpt. This bronzing mist is my secret glow weapon for a quick, easy and faux-contoured tan!
M-61 Powerglow® Peel Gradual Tan
What I use when I’m working on my glow long-term: M-61 Powerglow® Peel Gradual Tan
Why: If you are looking for a streak-free, natural-looking gradual tan without the hassle but with the instant glow, then the M-61 Powerglow Peel Gradual Tan will be your new go-to. As someone who loves a constant sunless bronze, it’s hard to keep my pores clean and free of all the DHA (the active ingredient most often used in sunless tanners), which can make them appear congested. But not with these petite peel pads — in addition to bronzing, they also provide a deep exfoliation to resurface the skin. They even contain some glycolic and salicylic acids to help make pores appear even smaller. It’s my weekly “peel” that won’t strip the spray tan I already have going on.
Kevyn Aucoin® Glass Glow FaceTM Liquid Highlighter in Solar Quartz
Who: Sophie Wirt, Beauty Editor
What I use when I need a glow now: Kevyn Aucoin® Glass Glow FaceTM Liquid Highlighter in Solar Quartz
Why: This ultra-dewy face gloss is not for the faint of heart. But if you’re into the whole glass skin genre as much as I am, I assure you: it will not disappoint. In a split second, a pea sized dollop delivers glistening, wet-looking skin — skin that looks like you’ve just finished a 7-step skincare routine. Better yet, this gloss remains dewy hours after application.
Dr. Dennis Gross® Skincare Pro Facial Steamer
What I use when I’m working on my glow long-term: Dr. Dennis Gross® Skincare Pro Facial Steamer
Why: The whole DIY extraction thing is all fun and games — until I press so hard, I end up with red marks (and, more often than not it seems, a pore that’s still clogged). To add insult to (literal) injury, my red marks often turn into brown spots, AKA postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. One reason professional extractions don’t mar your face, I’ve realized — aside from the fact that estheticians are pore-cleaning pros, of course — is because the pros steam your skin before they even think about using extraction tools. Why? Because steam can soften stubborn buildup, allowing the “gunk” to practically slip out of pores. So, in an attempt to channel the pros, I’ve recently added this at-home face steamer into my routine. Now, before I touch my tools, I steam for five minutes. To my delight, this practice has actually resulted in easier extractions, less pore aggression, and ultimately, fewer brown spots. Plus, steaming allows subsequent products to absorb more effectively, making this device a one-two punch for helping me reach my glow goals.
Discover more product reviews here:
- Why This Vitamin C Serum Is Garnering a Cult Following
- Glossier’s Futuredew Serum Crosses Uncharted Territory
- I Attribute My Even-Toned, “Amazing” Skin to This 1 Cica Serum
Some complimentary products were provided to the authors for the purpose of writing this article.
Product prices may vary from the time this article was written.
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