Dewy Skin: 11 Easy Tips & Steps For Every Skin Type
There's no shortage of ways to describe skin goals: lifted, sculpted, hydrated, clear, radiant. One that has become fairly popular of late is "dewy," a word that inspires images of a lit-from-within glow, supple skin, and a moisture-rich sheen. It's skin that looks sprayed with morning mist or, you know, dew.
There are several ways to achieve dewy skin: It takes the right balance of moisture, exfoliation, nutrients, and tenderness. (Or, as any makeup artist will tell you, you can also mimic the look with the right products and tricks—which we're all for faking a natural glow if your skin just isn't having that type of day.) And ultimately, your skin care path will look different from that of someone who has another skin type.
But, here, we've rounded up the best dewy skin tips around; just find the right combo for you:
Find a balancing face wash.
Face cleansers are a very personal thing—well, all of skin care is a personal thing, but I'd argue face washes are particularly so. There are so many different ways to wash your face (from something as simple as a light splash of water in the morning to a double-cleanse to a potent salicylic acid option), and you'll want to find one that brings your skin back to a balanced state.
What does this mean exactly? Well, if you're oil-slicked normally, you'll want to find something that helps alleviate excess oil, like washes with enzymes. If you're prone to congestion, find an option that gently unclogs pores. If you're dry and inflamed, find something that respects the barrier and infuses moisture-rich ingredients.
This step is so key to getting it right, as cleansers essentially make your skin ready for all the dew-enhancing steps to follow. "Impurities on the skin can prevent active ingredients from penetrating," says board-certified dermatologist Jennifer Herrmann, M.D.
Opt for antioxidants.
Antioxidant serums are your best brightening friend. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the skin—which will help skin appear more vibrant and youthful. "People often ask how many antioxidants you should be using regularly; the answer is: the more the better," says board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group. "The more you can help neutralize unstable molecules caused by free radical formation, the longer you can salvage the health of your cells and skin. There's really no limit to how much you can protect and repair your body!"
The good news is that there are plenty of antioxidant options out there: Vitamin C not only helps tone but is an essential part of the collagen synthesis process, thereby making it ideal for aging skin. Vitamin B3 is the soothing antioxidant, ideal for inflamed skin. Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) does so by strengthening the skin barrier, something that's essential if your skin is easily irritated or sensitive. Or there's the naturally present CoQ10, which is found in all human cells wherein it scavenges free radicals, protects our mitochondria, and prevents DNA from oxidative stress.
Hydrate with barrier-supporting ingredients.
Dewy skin is hydrated skin, and you simply cannot achieve that plump, misty skin aesthetic without proper moisture. One way to make sure skin is consistently hydrated is by focusing on barrier health. See, when your barrier is compromised, your skin isn't able to accomplish one of its primary functions: inhibit transepidermal moisture loss (i.e., the evaporation of water through the skin).
You support your barrier health by, first, not stripping the skin via over-exfoliation. And, second, by using nutrient-dense lotions or creams that provide vital ingredients your skin needs to stay strong.
There are several topicals to look for. To start, ceramides come to mind. "Ceramides are fatty molecules that make up the natural skin barrier and help to retain moisture," elaborates Marisa Garshick, M.D., FAAD. "Specifically, ceramides serve as the glue that helps keep the skin cells together." There are also vital humectants like hyaluronic acid, which pulls and holds water in the skin. Or look for naturally occurring lipids like squalane. "Squalane is a natural oil produced by the sebaceous glands in your skin. It plays a role in skin hydration and barrier protection," says board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D.
Top with a lightweight oil.
Oils are occlusive by nature and help create a superficial sealant—trapping in the many nutrients below them. (This is why they go at the end of your routine.) "Occlusives form a protective seal over the skin to lock in hydration and the products applied under them," says Zeichner.
And since dewy skin tends to have a bit of reflective quality, this will help impart that glassy shiny finish. Jojoba and argan tend to be favorite oils for skin, as they are both lightweight and don't clog pores.
Exfoliate—but not too much.
Exfoliation helps slough off excess dead skin cells, allowing for more radiant and younger ones to peek through. However, people do tend to get a little overzealous with exfoliation (it simply has an addicting instant gratification), which can lead to irritated skin. Both ends of the exfoliation spectrum can hinder your dreams of a dewy complexion.
"The most important tip is that 'less is more.' You want to exfoliate just enough to increase cell turnover and reveal fresh new skin," says Ife Rodney, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Eternal Dermatology. "But be sure to not scratch or damage your skin by overusing these devices or products."
OK, but let's put it into numbers, shall we? "Most people with normal or combination skin can get away with twice- or even thrice-weekly exfoliation," she says. "Those with more mature, dry, or sensitive skin, may only want to exfoliate weekly."
Inflammation can appear in a variety of ways: Some get dry, rough patches; some get tonal changes (like flushing); others get dullness. Regardless of how inflammation appears on your skin, the end result is something decidedly less than dewy. So if your skin is irritation prone, you'll want to take a few extra steps to calm it down. A few ingredients that derms swear by for finicky skin are aloe vera, colloidal oat, honey, turmeric1, and centella asiatica2.
Take a supplement.
Young, healthy, moisturized skin cells reflect light. When your stratum corneum is supple, it naturally appears more vibrant and reflective. This is exactly what highlighters are trying to do with their light-reflecting pigments, mica, and oils.
You can do achieve this naturally with supplements. Just look for smart formulas with targeted, skin-supporting bioactives. First up: Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that tempers inflammation, neutralizes free radicals, and manages photodamage.* It's a member of the carotenoid family of antioxidants, which have been shown to enhance the overall tone of your skin.*
We also are big fans of phytoceramides, which are plant-derived ceramides provide cells with hydration, enhancing moisture levels and smoothing texture. Studies show that they can help reduce fine lines and smooth skin.*
All of these enhance one another's performance; the end result is a supplement that works thoroughly to give your skin cells energy, moisture, and nutrients.*
Use light, airy makeup.
So you've gone through the steps of your dewy skin care routine. Now it's time to show it off with the right makeup tricks. To start: Use light, slightly satiny foundations, blushes, and so on. The thought process here is simple: Why go through all this work to make your skin appear supple and hydrated only to go back and use a matte makeup?
Another key tip, notes makeup artist Jenny Patinkin: "The key to makeup application is to use creams and liquids." That's where your cream blushes, liquid highlighters, and velvety shadows come into play. With these products, in particular, skip powders: "Powders can grip and look caky," says Patinkin.
Find a glassy highlighter.
Even on your best days—when you've put in the skin care work—your complexion may not have that supple glow. In which case, highlighters are your best friend. And using them correctly is the difference between dewy and sweaty. You want to highlight the high points (aka, the spots on your face the sun would naturally hit) while leaving low points alone. What does this mean practically? You'll want to highlight your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, your brow bones, and your cupid's bow. However, skip the T-zone—this is the key to avoiding looking too sweaty. "Shiny spots here can look like oil instead of glow," says Patinkin.
Massage the skin regularly.
Facial massage is skin care experts' not-so-secret weapon. "Through facial massage, tension around the jaw is released and tightness in the scalp loosens. Studies even show that massage improves circulation in the face3; this helps firm the facial tissue by stimulating muscles, smooths fine lines, and helps aid in lymph flow," says licensed holistic esthetician Leah Klasovsky. "Not to mention, experts note that massaging in products may allow for deeper penetration of topical creams and serums since you're spending more time working in the elixirs. This all comes together to help achieve a natural glow."
Get some rest.
While your skin works to protect itself from many external factors throughout the day, it shifts to a recovery mode at night, with the regeneration process up to three times faster than during the day. Most notably, the skin sees a surge in HGH (human growth hormone) in the nighttime sleep cycle. The release of HGH helps rebuild body tissues and spurs increased cell production to replace cells that were damaged throughout the day. So if you're skipping valuable hours, you're going to notice the dulling effects.
Heal Your Skin.
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Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.