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Glowing, healthy skin is far from a fad. From Cleopatra (who is said to have used olive oil to keep her skin fresh) to modern-day movie stars, that just-shiny-enough and moisturized look has been a coveted one.

Essentially, it’s hydrated, fresh (think: post-exfoliation) skin that has a kind of glow to it.

“Dewy skin refers to skin that is supple, glowing, and smooth,” explains Annie Gonzalez MD, a board certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, Florida. “The supple look that many associate with dewy skin is actually, in part, a result of light bouncing off of the water your cells are retaining.”

As for how to achieve it? The methods vary, but everything from a healthy diet to a thoughtful skin care routine can play a role.

Here, a glimpse at the changes you can make if you want dewy skin.

Your skin care routine goes a long way in promoting dewy skin, Gonzalez explains. “You need to hydrate, exfoliate and promote cell turnover, and nourish your skin with antioxidants and vitamins, as well as protect the skin from damage using sunscreen.”

Below are four steps to leveling up your skin care routine for glowing, dewy skin:

Cleanse

This is an important step in maintaining or achieving healthy skin,” Gonzalez says. She recommends steering clear of harsh cleansers that dry out your skin and reaching for something with calming ingredients instead.

Try the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. If the 3,000+ reviews are to be believed, users love this product for its creamy and non-drying texture. It contains rosewater and comfrey root extract, which reviewers say make it a must-have cleanser for those with dry or sensitive skin.

Exfoliate

This is a major part of the cleansing process, Gonzalez notes. “Exfoliation, whether chemical or physical, removes layers of dead skin cells and promotes new cells in their place for a smoother and more radiant look.”

Physical exfoliation can be effective, but it has room for error, as some people can be too harsh on their skin. “Physical exfoliation is usually done with a soft-bristled tool, micro-beads, or other abrasive materials within a cleansing solution,” she says.

Chemical exfoliation entails using chemicals, like:

  • alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)
  • beta hydroxy acids (BHAs)
  • polyhydroxy acids (PHAs)

Gonzalez recommends looking for products with:

  • salicylic acid (a BHA)
  • citric acid (an AHA)
  • glycolic acid (another AHA)

Have sensitive skin? Stick with PHAs. These are gentler and don’t penetrate your skin as deeply as their counterparts.

Moisturize

There’s a difference between hydrating your skin and moisturizing your skin.

“Moisturizer seals in moisture, while humectants, which hydrate the skin, draw several times their weight in water towards the cell,” Gonzalez explains.

This is important to know if you have dull, dry, or damaged skin and you’re applying moisturizer. Moisturizer alone might not yield the results you need.

To get a dewy look, use a humectant, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid.

“These usually come in serum form, but they could also appear in products that seek to fill in a hybrid slot between a serum and a moisturizer,” Gonzalez says. Try a budget-friendly option, like The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid.

A gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer can also lock in moisture. Similar to cleansers, Gonzalez recommends looking for calming ingredients, like milk or chamomile.

Users love the Éminence Organic Skin Care Calm Skin Chamomile Moisturizer for its redness soothing abilities. Many say that using it is almost spa-like.

Add vitamin C

Vitamin C is another potentially helpful ingredient to look for in skin care products when it comes to promoting dewiness, Gonzalez says.

Not only does it promote cell turnover, but it “brightens the skin and helps stabilize uneven skin tones, all while also helping to neutralize free radicals,” she adds.

While the ingredients you put on your face go a long way in promoting clear, dewy skin, you can get the same results by making a few lifestyle changes.

Follow a healthy diet

Stay hydrated

Hydration is an important facet of overall health. But it’s also an important part of skin health — and how healthy your skin looks.

In fact, a 2018 review suggests that, when your body is properly hydrated, your skin appears less dry and rough — dewier, if you will.

One 2007 study even found that drinking 9.5 cups (or 2.25 liters) of water per day for a month changed both skin density and thickness, helping skin appear healthier.

Another small study suggested that drinking as little as 2 cups of water increased blood flow to the skin, aiding in a more supple look.

How much water you need varies from person to person. But, in general, clear, pale urine is a good sign that you’re hydrated. You’ll also want to pay attention to your thirst cues.

Try healthy fats

A 2014 study found that what you eat may have an effect on what your skin looks like. And when it comes to dewy skin, good fats are a good place to start.

In fact, omega-3 fatty acids play a role in keeping your skin thick and moisturized. When you’re low on omega-3s, you might even notice dry skin.

One fatty food to fill up on: avocados. A 2010 study of 716 people found that a higher intake of healthy fats in the fruit was linked to young-looking, supple skin.

Other options that are high in omega-3s:

  • mackerel
  • salmon
  • oysters
  • flax seeds
  • walnuts

Stock up on antioxidants

Research found that antioxidants — found in sky-high levels in specific foods, like berries — also play a role in skin health.

Berries are also full of vitamin C, which helps in the production of collagen, a protein that works to keep your skin firm and healthy over time.

Of course, what you drink matters, too. On top of the importance of hydration, the catechins (antioxidants) in green tea were found to improve skin moisture, elasticity, and thickness.

Go easy on sugar

Sugar has negative skin implications. For example, the same 2014 study mentioned above found that foods with a high glycemic index are rapidly absorbed by the body, which can contribute to high blood sugar and insulin levels.

Some foods with a high glycemic index include:

  • white bread
  • white rice
  • soda
  • fries

Insulin and IGF-1 have been shown to increase the amount of sebum (an oily, waxy substance produced by your glands) your body produces. They’re also shown to stimulate the synthesis of hormones called androgens in the body. Both play a role in acne creation.

Furthermore, a 2020 study found that a traditional Western diet rich in fat and sugar may lead to certain inflammatory skin diseases, like psoriasis.

This doesn’t mean you have to give up sugar entirely, of course. But it’s important to consume it in moderation.

Limit smoking

Just as a healthy lifestyle plays a role in healthy-looking skin, certain habits have consequences.

In particular, smoking has a negative effect on skin health, since nicotine can cause blood vessels to narrow, reducing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the cells of your skin.

A small study of 28 smokers and 24 non-smokers found that smoking negatively impacted multiple characteristics of their skin, including skin thickness, elasticity, and the appearance of wrinkles.

Prioritize sleep

Beauty rest really is a thing — and if you’re not sleeping well, your skin may show as much.

A 2017 study, for example, found that, when people were sleep-deprived for just 2 days, they were seen as less attractive, less healthy, and sleepier than those who had slept well.

And, over time, this may take a toll on both your appearance and your skin health. Research has linked chronic poor sleep with more signs of aging, a diminished skin barrier, and a lower satisfaction with skin appearance.

Try to stress less

Stress seeps its way into every aspect of your health, and your skin health is no exception.

In fact, stress has many consequences on the skin, research finds: from contributing to acne to aggravating skin conditions, like psoriasis and contact dermatitis.

When you’re stressed out, your body cranks up the production of the stress hormone cortisol. This plays a role in how much oil your body releases from its sebaceous glands.

When you have excess oil production, it can lead to acne. A 2017 study linked high levels of stress to severe acne.

Another way stress might impact skin health has to do with the outer layer of your skin, called the stratum corneum. This layer plays a role in skin hydration.

A 2014 review of research found that stress could impair the barrier function of that outer layer, which may limit its ability to retain water (contributing to dry skin).

Skin health — and achieving that healthy, dewy look — goes a lot deeper than the skin. It can be both positively and negatively impacted by lifestyle choices, including a healthy diet, sleep, stress, and your skin care routine.

To optimize your skin health, consider making these small changes to see bigger (and dewier) results.