Ah, the “glow up.” Some people like to hate on the term for incurring images of weight loss and implying we aren’t good enough as we are. But I see it differently: to me, a glow up is about being the best version of yourself. It’s not about changing what you look like. It’s about practicing self-care.
And sure, self-care can take the form of meditation and journaling — but it can also take the form of slathering on fake tan or doing a DIY mani-pedi. Us girls need to stop self-care shaming one another for not taking care of ourselves the “right way.” Whatever you see as self-care, whatever leaves you feeling refreshed, is the right way!
That being said, this is not a glow up post that will teach you how to get a peach-shaped butt or slim down your waist. This glow up post isn’t about changing your body: it’s about embracing your natural beauty. Beauty products are meant to enhance you as you are, not to change your appearance significantly. You should still look like yourself when you’re doing it right.
Nor is this a post about how to look more attractive so you can land the “perfect” BF or GF. To me, a glow up is about self-love, not about earning someone else’s approval. By all means, you do you when it comes to love and sex. But if you feel the need to change yourself to peak someone’s interest, then they’re not the right person for you, babe.
I like the idea of a glow up. I like the idea of going back to school or work, feeling rejuvenated from a little extra TLC. Most importantly, I think glow ups are meant to be fun. Why does everything need to be so serious? Why do we need to turn a fun makeover into a social commentary?
Glow up for the right reasons, and a glow up can be a powerful form of self-care and self-love. And on that note, here are 50 tips for achieving that glow up from the inside out.
Glow Up Tips
- There is no need to spend money on a mani-pedi. Kiss press-on nails look just as good as a full set of acrylics and are far cheaper. You can also DIY a mani-pedi at home with tools purchased from the dollar store, like cuticle clippers and a four-way buffer.
- Freeman’s Feeling Beautiful face masks are a well-kept drugstore secret. Their clay and charcoal masks work just as well as more expensive formulas from Sephora or Ulta.
- Choose a signature scent. Try to match your deodorant, body lotion, and perfume to feel more put-together. For example, I use vanilla deodorant and PINK’s Warm & Cozy scent, which also has notes of vanilla.
- If you choose to remove your body hair by shaving, do it right. Change your razor frequently for a close shave. Start by exfoliating for a smoother glide.
- Always use shaving cream. Choose unscented, “sensitive” formulas if you’re going to shave “down there” — I like the brand EOS.
- Biotin can help with hair and nail growth and strength. But, it can also trigger acne. Consider stopping those skin, hair, and nails vitamins if you’re someone who struggles with breakouts.
- Never, ever use a tanning bed. Skin cancer is no joke. You can get a natural-looking glow from Jergens Natural Glow body lotion, which adds gradual color and won’t damage your skin.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! I don’t know which girl needs to hear this (I certainly did), but you still need to moisturize if you have oily skin. Acne treatments used to keep oil at bay can dry out your skin. This actually causes your skin to produce more oil to replenish the moisture — unless you moisturize to counteract its effects.
- Speaking of skin, you NEED to check out the brand The Ordinary. They make dermatologist-grade products for a fraction of the price. Their niacinamide serum costs $6 at Ulta and is a godsend for acne-prone skin.
- Go to bed earlier. Sleep is more important than you think. Young people in their teens and 20s need at least 8 to 10 hours each night. That may sound like a lot, but any less than that will leave you feeling foggy and drained.
- Putting fruit in your water may not “detox” your body, but it does make water taste better and might encourage you to drink more! I like Spindrift sparkling water, which has a splash of fresh fruit juice for taste.
- Green tea is also a great option for staying hydrated. It’s full of antioxidants, which make your skin glow and keep your body healthy. Choose caffeine-free for maximum hydration. (Caffeine is dehydrating.)
- Want to upgrade your wardrobe? Nasty Gal is my favorite affordable place to buy clothes.
- The online thrift store ThredUp is also a great option if you’re looking to avoid fast fashion and save the environment.
- Make a Pinterest board before you shop to stay focused on your ideal style. You’ll save money by focusing on finding certain pieces, instead of grabbing whatever catches your eye.
- Glossier’s Balm Dotcom is my favorite beauty product of all time. It’s super versatile and comes in tons of yummy flavors (Mint is my favorite). At $12, it’s a little pricey, but one tube can last for months.
- I don’t believe in changing your body to glow up. That being said, nothing makes you glow like serotonin and endorphins! Working out is good for both your body and your mind. Focus on finding something you love to do, not something that will make you skinny or look a certain way.
- Please, for the love of all things holy, stop buying those scented perfumes, deodorants, and washes for your vag. Fragrance can seriously irritate you and offset your natural pH, leading to nasty infections. Stick to unscented washes and warm water ONLY.
- NEVER wash inside the vagina (only on the vulva). Douching is a fast-track to infections.
- Stop gossiping. The ultimate glow up is deciding to treat others with kindness. Gossip only makes you look bad, and won’t do anything to change that person’s behavior. If you don’t have the guts to confront them to their face, you shouldn’t be complaining about them behind their back.
- Don’t apologize for things that are out of your control. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to resist the urge, but think of it this way: over-apologizing makes your real apologies less meaningful.
- Cetaphil and CeraVe products are a lifesaver for acne. Dermatologists recommend them for a reason! I use the Cetaphil face wash and CeraVe moisturizer.
- If you’ve been crying, ice cubes, cucumber slices, and under-eye gel masks (I get the Peach Slices Magic Panda Eye Mask — it’s $4 at CVS) will all help you de-puff. Choose one to get rid of redness and soothe those irritated eyes.
- Don’t like your body? Losing weight will not fix the problem. If you’re uncomfortable in your own skin, you’ll still feel that way at any size. Focus on being confident and loving yourself instead of shrinking yourself.
- Confident girls carry their own condoms and lube. Condoms and lube packets are free at most universities. If you’re not in college anymore, buy them at the drugstore. You have no reason to be embarrassed — you’re a grown-ass woman and you should do whatever makes you happiest!
- But seriously, don’t forget the lube, because a guy WILL. Lube is a game-changer!
- Happy girls shine the brightest. Try using positive affirmations like “I am strong” or “I am worthy” to boost your mood. Say them to yourself several times a day, out loud, in the mirror.
- If you love facial brushes like the Clarisonic and Foreo but don’t love their prices, you can get cheaper versions at Target or Ulta for $10-15.
- Don’t rub your hair when drying it with a towel. The friction can cause frizz. Wrap your damp hair in a towel and squeeze out the water instead.
- Shape your brows if you want to, but avoid over-plucking, shaving, or waxing. Stick with your brow’s natural shape and only pluck the stray hairs. (Trust me, if you over-pluck, you’ll regret it later!)
- If you have oily hair, don’t wash it every day. It sounds backward, but washing your hair too much can actually trigger more oil production because it strips your hair of its natural oils.
- Dry shampoo is a game-changer when it comes to washing your hair less often. The Dove brand is inexpensive and works great. Use it between washes to absorb grease.
- When it comes to exercise, start small. You don’t have to sweat it out at the gym for hours for it to “count.” A 10-minute YouTube workout is better than sitting all day.
- Read! Reading offers the ultimate mental glow up. People who read more have larger vocabularies. It’s also important to get out of your bubble and explore different perspectives.
- Keep track of healthy habits. You can create a habit tracker in your bullet journal or use an app like Done.
- Journaling helps you purge your brain of negative thoughts and worries that are distracting you from your goals. Write it all down, get it out, and move on. (Easier said than done, I know.)
- As a dancer, I know a thing or two about gross feet. Foot peeling socks will remove all those callouses. The Tonymoly ones cost $6.50 at Ulta and work in about 4-6 days. Google pictures (warning: they’re graphic) to see how well they work!
- In this house, we usually end up eating unhealthy foods when we’re busy because we don’t feel like cooking or have time to cook. That’s why I like to have a list of easy, healthy meals to throw together on busy days. Quinoa bowls (made with pre-made quinoa from Trader Joe’s — find it in the freezer aisle) and soup with gluten-free crackers are two of my go-to meals.
- My boyfriend is a doctor and says the number one way to eat healthier is to cook more of your own meals. Most of the salt, sugar, and fat we consume comes from restaurant or takeout meals.
- That being said, NEVER diet. Dieting wrecks your metabolism and mental health. Focus on adding in healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, and veggies, instead of subtracting foods you love.
- Feeling anxious, depressed, or generally crappy? Ask yourself if HALT applies. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. These are common triggers for extreme emotional responses. If you address the root cause of your feelings — by eating a snack if you’re hungry or working out if you’re angry, for example — you can make yourself feel better.
- Drink more water and use a humidifier if you have chapped lips. All the chapstick in the world won’t help you if you’re surrounded by dry air or dehydrated.
- Delete and block all of your exes phone numbers right now. You’ll thank me later when you’ve been drinking and are ready to dial.
- Use Differin gel as a spot treatment to dry up a big zit overnight. It contains a prescription-strength retinoid that works to rapidly address acne.
- Kill them with kindness. Mean girls are usually looking for attention, and it drives them crazy when you act like you aren’t hurt. Being happy and refusing to let them get to you is the best revenge.
- Trust me when I say that no one can tell the difference between Bath and Body Works and your $90 Chloe perfume. You are the only person who knows how much your scent costs, so save your money for better, more important things.
- A common misconception on glow up TikTok is that cranberry helps with your vaginal health. Cranberry pills are actually for your urinary tract. So, if you get UTIs, take cranberry. If not, what you really want is a lactobacillus probiotic to keep that vag happy and healthy.
- Ask more questions and talk less about yourself. Showing genuine interest in someone else’s life is the fastest way to make friends or get asked out.
- You don’t need to wear a lot of makeup (or any!) if you don’t want to. If makeup is your thing, pick 2-3 “daily essentials” — mine are mascara, brow gel, and highlighter — to wear for everyday, and go bolder for special occasions.
- Only wear 100% cotton underwear. As someone who’s had recurrent infections, just trust me on this one.