Are you ready to finally glow up and drastically improve your appearance? Are you tired of being a background character rather than the main character of your life? Are you ready to become the best version of yourself?
“Glowing up” is a term used to describe what happens when a person levels up the way they present themselves. Usually, glow-ups happen over a relatively short period of time – a few months or so.
We’ve all seen that girl who seems to glow up over summer break and shows up looking like a whole different person. Or that guy you run into on the street after not seeing him for a few years and your jaw drops when you see how he’s suddenly transformed into Prince Charming.
Anyone can have a glow-up. The truth is, we all have areas where we can improve in life. All it takes is a little bit of dedication and commitment.
If you’re here, we’re guessing you have made the decision that it’s time for your own glow-up journey!
Are you looking for the ultimate glow-up checklist? You’ve come to the right place. This guide has all the steps you need to improve your hair, makeup, skincare, health, fitness, and mindset to start improving your looks and your life right now.
So, if you’re ready, let’s dive in!
One of the first things people notice about you is your hair. If your hair is healthy, clean, and well-styled, you’ll instantly look better and more put-together.
If you feel like your hair could use a glow-up, here are the things you can start with:
The Right Hair Cut
Whether you were blessed with thick healthy locks, or your hair is naturally thin and flat, one thing remains true for all: a fresh haircut is imperative for your hair to look good.
This means you should make sure to trim your ends once every few months to keep them looking healthy and smooth.
If you have a lot of split ends and damage, your glow-up is a perfect time to chop it off. It’s better to have short healthy hair than long damaged tangles.
Take a dive into Pinterest for some trendy and flattering haircut ideas to bring to your stylist. Try to look for images of people whose hair is similar to yours.
Don’t hesitate to ask your stylist for advice, as they can help you figure out what haircut would look best with your face shape and hair texture. Your hairdresser is also a great resource on how to style your hair, what products to use, and how to keep it healthy.
The haircut is step 1 to getting your glow-up started. The next step is keeping your hair healthy so that it always looks good.
Keeping your hair healthy means two things: cleaning and nourishing. In order for your glow-up to be successful you’ll have to clean your hair frequently – once a day or once every few days.
Maybe your hair can even go longer between washes. But as soon as you notice your scalp developing visible grease, you’ll need to wash it.
In addition to keeping it clean, you’ll want to keep it healthy, shiny, and smooth. One way to do that is to invest in products that won’t damage your hair.
Look into sulfate-free shampoos, which can clean your hair without stripping it or drying it out. Make sure to use a leave-in cream or conditioner after you shower on the ends of your hair to replenish some of the lost moisture.
Try to keep heat damage to a minimum. Of course, you should still feel free to style your hair, just try not to use the hottest heat settings. And use a heat protector if you do it daily.
Adopt a weekly hair mask ritual. Once a week, take an extra 20 minutes before you wash your hair to soak it in a nourishing hair mask. This can help soften, nurture, and rebuild your hair after the week.
Those who glow up do so by learning how to take care of themselves, and their hair is no exception.
Styling your hair makes a huge difference in your appearance. When you get your haircut, make sure to pay attention to how your hairdresser styles your hair. Does she use a round brush and a blow drier? Does she use a curling iron? Does she apply any product?
Feel free to ask questions, too! The more you know, the better equipped you are to style your own hair so that it looks like you just came from the salon.
Leaving your hair to air-dry rarely results in a good look. Some people are blessed with hair that dries perfectly straight and voluminous or in gorgeous natural spirals, but most people don’t have the kind of texture that looks good from air-drying.
Give yourself at least 10-15 minutes after you get out of the shower to dry and style your hair. Figure out what looks best for you and style your hair that way. And, if you’re using heat, make sure you’re also using a good heat protectant, so you don’t fry your hair.
If your hair needs to be pulled up, don’t just pull it into a messy bun. Find one or two tutorials for cute updos that you can learn. A little bit of effort can go a long way when it comes to your hair!
One of the most impactful things you can focus on to achieve an incredible glow-up is skincare. When your skin is smooth and clear, you will be glowing. Unfortunately, there are so many imbalances that can cause issues with your skin.
Skincare is a long game. It might take a few months to years for you to see real results from implementing your new skincare routine by yourself, which is why we always recommend seeing a dermatologist.
But trust us, the results of a good skincare routine are so worth it! Once your skin is glowing, you’ll be thankful that you stuck with it!
Not only does clear skin look beautiful, but it also gives you a boost of confidence. You will shine brighter and smile wider when you feel comfortable in your skin.
Here is how you can get started on the journey of skincare:
The first thing you need to do is establish a 3-part skincare routine. This is the most basic minimal routine that everyone should be doing if they want to have a glow-up.
Skincare doesn’t need to be complex. It can be, but it doesn’t need to be.
Your basic 3-part skincare routine should include the following products:
- Cleanser (morning and evening)
- Moisturizer (morning and evening)
- Sunscreen (morning only)
A cleanser removes sweat, oil, dirt, and leftover products that your skin accumulates throughout the day and night. It can help treat acne and it prepares the skin for any actives or treatments that you may be using.
Use it every morning after you wake up and every evening before the rest of your skincare routine.
Opt for a gentle cleanser. Your skin should not feel “squeaky clean” or tight after you use it. Instead, it should feel clean but soft, and maybe slightly moisturized.
There are many great cleansers on the market. Some work better than others, depending on your skin type. If you’re looking for a good starter cleanser, try this one by CeraVe.
A good moisturizer, like this one with skin protecting ceramides from CeraVe, is necessary to keep your skin hydrated and supple. Even if you have an “oily” skin type, you still need to use a moisturizer. In fact, sometimes not moisturizing enough is what causes your skin to produce extra oil.
Your face loses some of its moisture barriers throughout the day from cleansing, wearing makeup, and exposure to the elements.
It’s important to replenish that moisture and infuse your skin with other nourishing ingredients by using a moisturizer.
Your moisturizer should come as one of the last steps in your routine. At night, it is the final step in your skincare routine; in the morning it’s the second to last, followed only by sunscreen.
Sunscreen is a must for you to wear on your face during the day. Even if you spend most of the day in an office. Even if it’s dark and cloudy.
Whenever your skin is exposed to sunlight, it can develop signs of aging like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. In fact, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation, approximately 90% of skin aging is caused by sun exposure.
By wearing sunscreen every day on top of your moisturizer, you’re protecting yourself from cancer risk and keeping your youthful glow as long as possible.
There are lots of great sunscreens out there. Choose one that is at least 15 SPF, ideally closer to 30-50 SPF.
Your skin will start to look great after following the basic 3-step skincare routine for about 3 months. You might choose to continue the same routine indefinitely because – why fix it if it isn’t broken?
However, if you have certain conditions and concerns, like chronic acne or fine lines, you might want to start incorporating additional steps into your skincare routine. These additional products are called “actives” and they target specific skin issues that don’t get addressed by your basic routine.
It’s very important to introduce actives one-by-one and to remain patient while testing them out. You should use actives between your cleanser and moisturizer.
Some actives are not supposed to be used during the day because they make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so make sure to do your research and plan your skincare routine accordingly!
We recommend giving each active at least 3 months to see how well it’s working. Sometimes your skin takes a few weeks to get used to a new product, so you need to give it time.
Actives For Scarring
If you have scarring on your face from past acne, consider introducing a product with the following ingredients:
- Glycolic acid
- Azelaic acid
- AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids)
Actives For Acne
If you are still experiencing acne after introducing your basic skincare routine, one of these ingredients might be necessary for you:
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Azelaic acid
- Salicylic acid
Actives For Dry Skin
If your regular moisturizer isn’t enough to keep your skin hydrated, consider looking for the following ingredients:
- Hyaluronic acid
Actives For Fine Lines
If your skin is showing signs of aging, you might see some success with the following ingredients:
- Vitamin C
You can do some research to discover other ingredients that might be helpful for your specific skin concerns.
Most importantly though, remember to do your basic routine every single day, and you’ll likely see 90% of improvement from that alone.
If you’re looking to glow up, one thing you need to start paying attention to is your hygiene and grooming.
Grooming is simply the things we do on a regular basis to maintain a neat, clean, and healthy-looking appearance. It goes a lot further than makeup and clothes could ever go.
Here are the basics of grooming you need to stay on top of to achieve your glow-up:
Eyebrows play an important role in the way your face is framed. Good eyebrows are nicely shaped and neat.
Some people are born with pretty neat eyebrows, but others aren’t so lucky. If you have any loose hairs around your eyebrows, or hairs between your eyebrows, it’s best to remove them weekly by plucking or waxing.
Sometimes your eyebrow hairs might be too long in some areas, making the eyebrows look messy. In that case, you should use cosmetic scissors to trim down those hairs.
If your eyebrows are not shaped evenly, you can see a brow professional who can wax or microblade them to give them a more cohesive shape.
Stay on top of your eyebrows every week to keep them always looking fresh! Here’s a great tutorial from Smitha Deepak on YouTube.
Your smile is a huge part of your attraction. People with straight, bright, and white smiles are irresistible.
If you’ve been feeling self-conscious about your smile, it prevents you from being your true joyful self. And it prevents you from shining as your most beautiful glowing self.
So, a glow-up is not complete without you taking care of your smile.
If you’ve been self-conscious about your teeth not being straight, go see a dentist and discuss your options. There are so many services these days that can help you straighten your teeth without even needing braces.
If your teeth seem a little too yellow for your liking, invest in a whitening kit that you can do at home. Incorporate it into your weekly “grooming” routine.
Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day and take care of any cavities ASAP.
You’ll feel transformed and beautiful as soon as you are free to smile and laugh with the people around you. And trust us: they will notice, too.
So far, we’ve focused a lot on your face, but let’s not forget the rest of your body. If you’re going to glow up, you need to do it in your entirety.
We will discuss fitness a little bit later, but while we’re talking about grooming, we thought we’d mention some things that are important to do to your body so that it looks its best.
Obviously, you should shower daily, wear deodorant or antiperspirant, shave your body hair (if you prefer), and wear a moisturizing lotion.
If you tend to get body acne (backne, as we like to call it), consider using a salicylic acid body wash in the shower.
Make sure you’re using an exfoliating loofah in the shower to help increase your skin turnover and lead to smoother skin.
Lastly, if you’re anything like me and you become super pale in the winter, you’d likely benefit from using a self-tanning lotion at least once a week. It’ll give you just a little bit of subtle color so that you don’t look washed out.
Your glow-up wouldn’t be complete without beautiful nails. You don’t need to get a crazy manicure with acrylics if that’s not your style.
At the very least, make sure you pay attention to your nails (and toenails) on a weekly basis by cleaning off old, chipped nail polish, trimming the nails, pushing back cuticles, and filing them into shape.
Make sure you keep them clean and remove any dirt that’s caught under the nails. If you don’t like wearing color on your nails, you can use a clear nail-strengthening polish to keep them shiny and healthy.
Of course, if you’d rather just go to a nail salon twice a month and let the professionals handle it, that works too. Just make sure you’re keeping your nails looking neat and taken care of at all times.
You’ve probably noticed that all techniques we just discussed in the grooming category require weekly upkeep. We strongly recommend you pick one day every week, like Sunday, to do all of your self-care activities in one go. You’ll feel relaxed, pampered, and ready for the upcoming week!
If you’ve successfully implemented all the steps we listed above, particularly the skincare routine, you’ll probably have a perfect base for your makeup.
A real glow-up comes from your natural appearance, not from makeup. So, while good makeup technique is important to a glow-up, it’s definitely not the driving factor.
Treat makeup as a compliment to your naturally beautiful features. Hopefully, after paying a little attention to your skin’s needs and possibly seeing a derm, you’ll have gorgeous, glowing skin, so you won’t need a lot of foundation.
And if you followed that eyebrow tutorial, your brows will also be nicely groomed, so you shouldn’t need to spend so much time on them.
Still, learning how to do makeup well is important to avoid looking overdone or messy. We recommend nailing down two good makeup looks: natural daily makeup and going-out makeup.
For daily makeup, you’ll probably need just a few products:
- Setting powder (for oil control on oily skin) or setting spray (to add dewiness to dry skin)
- Liquid eyeliner (if you like a little something extra to make your eyes pop)
- Lip gloss or balm in a neutral shade
- Eyebrow pencil (for lighter colored brows that can use some definition)
Check out a few YouTube videos like the one below from EMAN, to learn the technique for a “natural” daytime look.
You will likely use the concealer to cover up dark circles and a few breakouts, add a glow to your cheekbones using the blush, add a little cat eye to your eyes with the eyeliner (if you want a little more oomph), and finish off with mascara and lip gloss.
Practice this look to make it work with your features until you’re happy with it. For the evening “going-out” look, you’ll probably need more products, like foundation, eyeshadow, contouring colors, lipstick, etc.
Again, try to find one look that you like and learn it well. It will become your signature look every time you’re going out, and you’ll look stunning with it.
If you’re new to makeup, to stick to natural and classic colors, such as browns, bronzes, peaches, and neutrals. This will ensure that you look classy and put-together, and these shades are very forgiving for a beginner, as they easily blend with your skin.
Here’s an example tutorial for neutrals from Nikkie Tutorials on YouTube.
Fitness & Health
Lastly, your glow-up is impossible without a focus on fitness and wellness. You might need to make some difficult lifestyle changes, but trust us, it’ll be SO worth it.
Here are the basics of overhauling your fitness and health:
- Eat a whole food diet, cook at home, and avoid processed foods and junk food.
- Drink 8 cups of water daily.
- Work out at least 4 times per week. Doesn’t matter what workout you do, as long as you enjoy it enough to stay consistent.
- Take a multivitamin daily.
- Keep alcohol to a minimum.
- Quit smoking.
- Quit liquid calories – sugary drinks and soda.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Go to bed early and try to avoid screens for 30-60 minutes before you fall asleep.
It may seem daunting and intimidating to transform every facet of your life in pursuit of the ultimate glow-up.
But once you break it down, it’s totally doable. You’ll need to dedicate some time once a week to do a series of self-care activities that will leave you feeling relaxed and confident. You’ll need to commit to a wellness routine and a daily skincare routine.
You’ll need to learn a few things. You’ll need to eliminate a few things. But in the end, you’ll feel better in your skin, and you’ll start walking through this world differently. And that’s what glowing up is really all about.