The universal dream: Wake up with beautiful, glowing skin — no makeup or Instagram filters required. If you feel like you’ve lost your youthful glow, or are just incredibly busy and sleep-deprived like the rest of us, you’re probably feeling like the dream is slowly slipping away.

“As we age, cell turnover slows down, leading to a build-up of dead skin cells, resulting in a dull and uneven complexion,” says Dr. David A. Sieber, a San Francisco physician. “Skin appears to have a healthy glow when it is smooth in texture, allowing light to reflect evenly off the surface of the skin.”

A fresh, dewy complexion may seem out of reach, but it doesn’t have to be. We asked experts on RealSelf for their top tips for gorgeous, glowy skin. Here’s how to get it.

1. Start with the basics

A glowy complexion comes from the inside out. Enough sleep, healthy diet, proper hydration, not smoking and wearing sunscreen are all essential for getting glowy skin.

“Prevention is the first step,” says Dr. Richard E. Moore from Saint Louis, Missouri. “Fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and areas of pigmentation cause the skin to absorb light and lose its luminescence. Proper hydration and rest combined with a healthy diet and a good skincare regimen can slow this process.”

In fact, doctors tell us that not smoking is one of the top things you can do — along with wearing sunscreen. “Sunscreen is the easiest way to promote healthy glowing skin and to look longer for the rest of your life,” says Dr. Matthew Elias, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, dermatologic surgeon.

“Smoking causes disruption in blood flow causing wrinkles and aging of the skin,” says Dr. Jean M. Casello, a Northborough, Massachusetts, physician. “To add a glow to your skin, you should consume a diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that help to build collagen and reduce inflammation.”


Related: Experts share their favorite sunscreens at every price


2. Exfoliate and moisturize

Dr. John Tang, a Los Gatos, California, physician, recommends exfoliating three times per week to keep your skin looking fresh and bright.

Additionally, exfoliated skin is better able to absorb topical treatments.

“Dead skin needs to slough off regularly in order to treat the skin with serums and moisturizers,” says Dr. Jason Emer, a Los Angeles dermatologic surgeon. “If you aren’t exfoliating regularly, you are wasting your products as they will not penetrate. Regular at-home exfoliants should be a part of everyone’s skincare regimen.”

Emer likes a combination of gentle chemical exfoliants, like alpha hydroxy acids [glycolic peels] and beta hydroxy acids [salicylic peels], enzymes and physical scrubs.

Once you’ve exfoliated, it’s time to moisturize. Serums work really well: “Think of them as a big drink of water for the skin,” Emer says. “Since serums are made of smaller molecules they’re able to penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin and impact the health of the skin at a cellular level.”


3. Don’t forget the retinoids

A hydrating serum is great for keeping the skin supple and smooth, but a quality moisturizer, especially one with retinoids, is another good option.

“After sunscreen, the next best tip to promote glowy skin is to wear a retinoid every night,” says Dr. Elias. “Prescription-strength retinoids — derivatives of vitamin A — help promote youthful, beautiful glowing skin by treating acne, plumping your skin, evening out your skin tone and just generally making your skin more glowy.”


4. Microdermabrasion

At-home treatments not cutting it? It might be time for a trip to the dermatologist for a professional facial or microdermabrasion.

Microdermabrasion is a skin treatment that typically uses crystals or diamond microparticles for gentle abrasion and exfoliation. With a 94% Worth It rating, it removes a layer of dead skin cells to reveal healthy, fresh skin. The treatment can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and also encourage new cell growth. Since there is no recovery time, it can be done on a lunch break.

Other types of in-office facials can also be effective.

“I’m a big fan of a salt facial, as it gives deep exfoliation while promoting the hydration content of the skin,” says Dr. Emer. “A salt facial is a mechanical form of exfoliation, similar to a microdermabrasion, but far more advanced.”

“The device uses vacuum suction to lift dead tissue, as its sprays microfine medical grade sea salt,” he continues. “Salt is a known antibacterial and healing element, and it is also imperative for proper hydration. Since salt retains water, we see hydrated, plump skin post-treatment.”

According to prices reported on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $175 on microdermabrasion.


Related: 7 top cosmetic treatments that skin experts swear by (and use themselves)


5. Lasers

Popular in-office treatments also include laser treatments, especially the Halo laser, which has an 84 percent Worth It rating.

“My top treatment for restoring a healthy glow is with the Halo laser by Sciton,” says Dr. Sieber. “The Halo laser is a hybrid fractional laser, so it targets both the top layer and deeper layers of skin at the same time, removing skin pigmentation, stimulating collagen production, and sloughing off the dead skin cells to reveal new healthy glowing skin.”

According to prices reported on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $1,400 on a Halo laser treatment.



6. Chemical peels

Chemical peels are another way to bring a glow back to your complexion. There are a variety of peels, but Dr. Emer’s favorite peel for glowy skin is the Cosmelan peel, which he recommends yearly. The Cosmelan peel works by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme in the melanin-formation process. It brightens the complexion, smoothes pores and improves facial scars.

According to Dr. Emer, “It is the gold standard for hyperpigmentation, melasma and pigmented scars.”

The Cosmelan peel is popular with people on RealSelf with an 84 percent Worth It rating. According to prices on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $650 on a Cosmelan peel.


Related: Everything you need to know when choosing a chemical peel


7. Dermaplaning

Dermaplaning, or shaving your face, is an in-office technique to remove dead skin cells and reveal a smooth, glowy complexion. The treatment doesn’t use any chemicals, so it’s even safe for pregnant and nursing women.

There are no side effects or downtime, and your peach fuzz will grow in just like it was before — no extra thick, dark hair. At only approximately $150 per treatment, dermaplaning is a great way to achieve extra-glowy skin.


Ready to contact an expert and learn more? Find a doctor near you today.