We’ll let you in on a little secret: You don’t need to have poreless, wrinkle-free skin to look like you just stepped out of the pages of a glossy magazine. Everyone’s skin has some texture and minor imperfections (as it should). What you do need, however, is radiance. Radiant skin is difficult to describe—there’s no quantifiable measurement of how radiant skin appears, after all. It’s that lit-from-within glow that celebrities and athletes always seem to have. But unlike the je ne sais quoi of a Hollywood starlet, you can get naturally radiant skin on your own. The answer, of course, is skincare.
Ahead, we’re breaking down what it means to have radiant-looking skin. We’ve also curated a simple (yet effective) seven-step routine for boosting radiance and giving your skin a gorgeous, natural-looking glow. Plus, discover the best Kiehl’s products to get your skin looking its glowy best. Read on to learn how to get radiant skin sans a professional airbrusher.
What Is Radiant Skin?
Skin radiance refers to skin’s ability to reflect light. If that sounds vague, it’s because it is: Unlike measurable skin concerns like acne or wrinkles, radiance—or lack thereof—is subjective. Researchers typically characterize radiant-looking skin by its luminosity, smoothness, and evenness, but not even those parameters are universal.I For the purposes of this article, we’ll define radiant skin as smooth, elastic skin with a relatively even tone and texture. Naturally radiant skin also tends to have a subtle, healthy-looking glow (the kind that can’t be faked with a healthy dusting of highlighter). Keep reading to learn our top tips and products for vibrant, radiant-looking skin.
How To Get Radiant Skin: A 7-Step Routine
You know that healthy-looking skin requires following healthy skin habits, like drinking lots of water and getting plenty of sleep. But for truly radiant skin, a proper skincare routine is vital. Read on for a simple, seven-step routine you can follow to promote a healthy-looking glow—plus a few expert-approved tips for radiant skin.
Step 1: Remove Dirt, Oil, and Impurities
Your skin is constantly shedding dead skin cells and secreting oils to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. Unfortunately, these substances can accumulate and attract dirt and other pollutants, ultimately causing your skin to look dull and tired. Enter: Exfoliation. Exfoliating helps remove this buildup and lays the groundwork for smooth, glowing skin.
For the first step in your radiant skincare routine, wash your face with Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser. This exfoliating cleanser stars pearlstone, a natural exfoliant that helps remove dead skin cells and other impurities without disrupting skin’s natural moisture barrier. The unique formula smoothes and helps refine skin for a more radiant appearance. Despite its efficacy, this mild scrub is suitable for all skin types and gentle enough for daily use.
Step 2: Hydrate With a Gentle Toner
After cleansing and gently patting your skin dry with a clean towel, reach for a gentle toner, like Clearly Corrective Brightening & Soothing Treatment Water. This lightweight, hydrating liquid contains brightening licorice root to help even the skin, plus illuminating minerals to impart your skin with a subtle glow. The soothing formula helps refresh tired-looking skin and boosts clarity for a brighter, more even appearance.
Step 3: Layer On a Serum
You already know that your skin barrier is responsible for defending your skin against damaging environmental aggressors, like pollution. If left unchecked, these aggressors can result in a host of visible skin issues—from premature aging to dark spots and discolorations — all of which can hinder how radiant your skin appears. Therefore, keeping your skin barrier well-hydrated and healthy (so it can work properly) is vital for supple, radiant-looking skin.
We recommend incorporating a hydrating, skin-strengthening serum into your daily skincare routine. Try the top-rated Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum, which stars 11kDa hyaluronic acid (a unique form of hyaluronic acid capable of penetrating skin’s deeper layers) and adaptogenic herbs, including red ginseng. This potent serum is clinically-demonstrated to double skin’s strength while improving the appearance of skin concerns such as roughness and dullness.* It also helps visibly diminish some of the signs of aging, including fine lines. This powerful daily serum is suitable for all skin types and can be used daily for radiant, youthful-looking skin.
Step 4: Care For Your Eye Area
The skin around your eyes is among the first to show visible signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles. In other words: You can have beautiful, radiant-looking skin, but if your eye area isn’t well cared for, your skin won’t look as vibrant as it could.
Add a hydrating, brightening eye cream into your daily skincare routine to help keep your eye area looking its best. Our pick: Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum, which contains hyaluronic acid and antioxidant vitamin C. This best-selling formula instantly smoothes and hydrates the under-eye area while helping to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness over time. It’s lightweight and absorbs into the skin easily without migrating into the eyes. For extra hydration, you can also layer it under a richer daytime or nighttime eye cream—see some of our favorite options here.
Step 5: Moisturize Your Face (and Neck!)
Hydration is the key to radiance, which is why moisturizing is vital for smooth, radiant-looking skin. For a radiant appearance, we recommend Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream. This unique gel-like moisturizer is formulated with 99.6% naturally-derived ingredients, including New Zealand manuka honey and adaptogenic red ginseng root.** The lightweight formula helps boost skin’s strength and resiliency for vibrant, healthy-looking skin.
To boost radiance and help diminish visible signs of aging, try Super Multi-Corrective Anti-Aging Face and Neck Cream. This potent anti-aging moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid, phytomimetic vitamin A, and Chaga mushroom, which work together to help visibly firm the skin and diminish wrinkles. The effective formula is clinically-demonstrated to smooth skin texture and even skin tone within four weeks, while continued use helps promote more resilient, radiant-looking skin.*** It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used daily on the face and neck for smoother, younger-looking skin.
Step 6: Smooth On SPF
After applying your moisturizer and allowing it a minute or two to sink in, you’re ready for the final step in your daily skincare routine: Sunscreen. We know you’ve heard this before, but sunscreen is essential for healthy-looking skin. Wearing a broad-spectrum SPF regularly can help prevent fine lines, wrinkles, and discolorations, and limits the damage UV radiation has on components of structural tissues, like collagen and elastin. To make a long story short: You can’t have naturally radiant-looking skin if you don’t protect your skin properly.
We recommend using a lightweight facial sunscreen, like Super Fluid Daily UV Defense 50+. This top-rated sunscreen contains antioxidants to help defend skin from environmental stressors, including sun exposure and pollution. The lightweight formula is non-comedogenic and absorbs quickly with a non-greasy feel. It’s suitable for all skin types, but for extra sensitive or reactive skin, try a mineral sunscreen like Super Fluid Daily UV Mineral Defense instead.
Step 7: Boost Brightness With a Mask
We know we said sunscreen was the final step in your routine. It is—in your daily routine, anyway. But we also recommend incorporating a brightening mask into your weekly skincare routine anytime your skin looks dull or could use a hydration boost.
Try Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Mask, which contains turmeric root and cranberries to gently exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin. The invigorating formula helps revitalize dull skin for a visibly brighter, more radiant appearance. For a step-by-step guide on how to apply your mask properly, check out our article How To Apply a Face Mask The Right Way.
*Based on a four-week clinical study on 58 subjects tested in urban and polluted environments. Results based on the Skin Strength Index, a composite average score of skin suppleness, plumpness, and resiliency.
**We consider ingredients to be naturally derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.
***Results based on a 12-week clinical study of 53 panelists in the U.S.
I. Dumoulin, Marion et al. "Clinical effects of an oral supplement rich in antioxidants on skin radiance in women." Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology vol. 9 315-324. 18 Oct. 2016, doi:10.2147/CCID.S118920