How To Glow Up in 2021: 7 Glow Up Tips

glow up

Wondering about how to glow up?

It begins with a feeling of wanting to be more confident with every step and every social interaction.

You want to feel more secure about yourself, but aren’t sure where to start.

Let us guess.

Quarantine messed with your vibe, so your recent Internet search is something like, “how to glow up fast” or “how to glow up fast easily.”

We’ve got you covered.

Here is our comprehensive guide on how to improve as a human being so you can wake up feeling like your authentic self every single day.

From solidifying your skincare routine to exploring different types of clothing styles, we’ll review everything you need to finally transform from caterpillar to butterfly.

Without further ado, let’s look at our how to glow up handbook in detail.

What is a glow up?

A glow up can be a bit of a complex process.

You might know it as the caption your peers use when they post a picture of themselves from five years ago next to another picture of themselves from today.

Generally, they look better and more confident in the second photo.

It can be an incredible transformation from being an awkward high school freshman to an outgoing high school senior with impeccable posture.

It might be an unbelievable change from an unstylish young professional to someone who looks fresh in any outfit.

In other cases, it can be a rebirth of a person who’s ashamed of their skin to someone who’s proud of their scars and beauty marks.

The different types of glow ups are infinite (yes, you don’t need to abide by the definition in urban dictionary).

For the lucky few, glowing up just means letting genetics do the work.

They might come out of puberty looking like a whole different person. Nevertheless, this change can happen over months or across a span of several years.

Glow ups are physical and mental

To be frank, a glow up is not just a change in physical appearance. It’s also an internal process where you gain the courage to be yourself. In the end, you’re standing proudly in front of the world.

If you want to focus mainly on the external factors of glowing up first, we recommend that you look into fashion, makeup trends, and moderate exercise.

And of course, these tips on how to be more attractive.

However, if you want to tackle some internal elements like mental health and nutrition, consider drinking more water and penciling in time for relaxation.

Popular techniques for improving mental health, reducing stress, and boosting confidence are meditation, exercise, and regular self-care.

The benefits not only include better overall health and higher self-esteem, but an unmistakable, vibrant aura or glow around you.

For high school teens with cystic acne, a glow up is usually both physical and mental.

If you’ve ever been that kid who finally found the right skincare routine that dramatically improved their skin, then you’ll know what we mean.

The right cleanser or spot treatment can lead to unbelievable changes both on your skin and in your self-esteem.

So let’s begin with something most of us are concerned with — healthy skin.

How to glow up tip #1: Adopt a solid skincare routine

Skin loves routine in order to glow.

This is even more important for sensitive skin and/or acne-prone skin. Granted, appearance isn’t everything.

But when we feel good about what we see in the mirror, it typically shows in how we act outside.

A good intro to skincare would be our top 20 tips for clear skin.

The first step to building a good beauty routine is determining your skin type.

The basic categories are dry, sensitive, oily, combination, and normal. Once you dive deeper into the skincare world, you’ll find that you might have normal-to-dry skin or another combo.

Skin conditions like acne or eczema can also affect your skin type and therefore, your ideal routine.

If you have concerns about skincare products, reach out to skincare groups or a dermatologist.

We especially recommend seeking out professionals if you’re a high school student or have current conditions that affect your skin.

Skincare essentials

If you’re just starting out with products, you’ll need to get your hands on the elite trio: cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

Note that broad protection sunscreen is best for all skin types. It protects you from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B rays (UVB).

Sunscreen not only prevents early symptoms of aging like wrinkles, but more harmful sun effects like skin cancer.

Then, you’ll slowly add in more specialized products like toners, serums, creams, or oils, depending on your skin’s preferences.

But what if you have sensitive skin?

Most skincare gurus recommend waiting two to three weeks between adding new products in your routine.

This allows you to see whether or not certain ingredients irritate your skin.

How do you know what’s worth purchasing?

Many companies and brands offer product samples, which is a great way to test out creams, cleansers, and oils on small patches of your skin before committing to a whole container.

You might get a beauty routine pat down on your first try, or you might need to shop around for different brands for a while.

Hang in there — the resulting glow on your skin will be worth it!

How to glow up tip #2: Drink more water

The good news is, you can reach your skin goals through additional methods.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, most of us need at least four cups and up to six cups of water a day (1).

This number might seem low considering most people swear by eight cups a day.

But the truth is, your body also extracts water from other things you drink and eat.

Caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea are also decent sources of fluid, but experts recommend drinking these in moderation.

Moreover, your body will function best if you drink extra water on hot days or when you work out.

Drinking more water can even reduce acne.

It’s no secret that water is life. It has many responsibilities including flushing out waste and bacteria, helping organs (like our skin) function properly, and maintaining optimal energy levels (2).

Water also keeps us energized by making sure nutrients reach our cells and ensuring that waste gets expelled. In other words, you can kick fatigue to the curb by staying hydrated.

Overall, drinking more water means you’ll feel better and have more energy, i.e. on track to a full glow up.

How to glow up tip #3: Make time for yourself

Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed by life, whether it’s from studying nonstop for finals, working overtime to meet a deadline, or just getting your room tidied up?

To really glow, you must start positive habits that help you become a better person.

Besides, we’re all dealing with a little quarantine PTSD.

While outward appearances influence self-image, a complete glow up also happens from the inside out.

Millennials and Zoomers know all too well the importance of self-care, and its benefits are definitely rooted in fact.

Bottom line is, quiet time to yourself helps you reset, which keeps your stress levels down and your internal glow high.

This happens in multiple ways. Making time for yourself frees you up to mind-nurturing activities.

These include practicing meditation, tending to your hobbies, reflecting on your emotions, revisiting your life goals, and reciting affirmations.

Making time for yourself isn’t about avoiding other people or responsibilities.

It’s about being more self-aware.

Taking a moment to breathe and think helps you become more mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions.

Being in tune with your inner self helps you model positive behaviors for others, too.

Because, let’s face it, when your friends are with you on this glow up journey, you’ll feel more motivated to keep going.

How to glow up tip #4: Exercise!

Another great way to speed up your glow journey?

Regular exercise!

We know that starting a workout program can feel intimidating, especially if you feel particularly self-conscious in gyms or fitness classes.

But get this: there are lots of workout challenges online in the form of videos or write-ups.

Moreover, there are workout programs like 30-day challenges or 365-day muscle building challenges.

The best way to choose one is to set a goal like “run a mile under 15 minutes” or “build leg muscles.”

Then, determine the appropriate workout routine for this goal.

A study by Sharma et. al found that regular exercise improves mood by hyping up our confidence and boosting brain function.

For folks with anxiety, negative mood episodes, or depression, exercising for three days a week for 30 minutes each can help immensely.

What’s more, you don’t have to complete the 30 minutes all at once!

You might take a 10-minute walk in the morning, follow a 10-minute, medium-intensity YouTube workout video in the afternoon, then take another quick, 10-minute walk at night.

Set aside time every day (or at least three days a week) for exercise, and try to follow this schedule.

This regularity might be the best way to help you stick to a routine.

Before you know it, you’ll glow before your very eyes.

Additionally, don’t forget to snack on some energy-packed snacks like avocado shakes or protein bars and avoid trigger foods.

These boost your exercise performance, so you can get more out of every workout.

How to glow up tip #5: Smile more

When you’re having a less than great day, smiling might be the last thing on your mind. However, this simple action can lead you to feeling better — and looking better, too!

In fact, studies have shown that smiling makes you more attractive (4).

In other words, a good lasting impression on others is a beaming smile.

So no matter how you feel on the inside during a particular moment, smile and carry on.

Beyond appearances, smiling makes you and others around you feel good.

Even if you just force yourself to crack a smile when you feel sad, you might instantly feel happier.

That’s because the brain releases chemicals and peptides that lift our moods when we smile.

Similarly, when others see us smiling, their brains also inform them of these pleasant feelings.

Consequently, they instinctively feel the need to smile back.

It’s like a positive cycle that only ends in good vibes.

The best part about smiling? It’s free! So smiles all around for a quick glow!

How to glow up tip #6: Up your fashion style

Once you’ve got skincare, me-time, exercise, and the infectious, happy grin mastered, you might start tinkering with your clothes.

After all, fashion is just another form of expression that impacts our sense of self.

Even though quarantine got us used to walking around in our jammies all day…

Think about it: your clothes say many things about you even before you open your mouth in front of strangers.

But what if you feel like you don’t have a fashion sense?

To that, we say, nonsense! Fashion is a form of art, so there’s never really a wrong way to dress.

Wardrobe glow up

However, you can elevate your looks by figuring out what matches with what and by keeping up-to-date on clothing trends.

Finding clothes that fit properly can drastically improve your overall aesthetic, for starters.

Moreover, you might learn the basics of style like how to mix patterns correctly, what colors clash with each other, and what silhouettes work for you.

To kick things off, look for ideas in fashion icons and current events.

No matter your choice of social media platform (Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc.) you can find groups, influencers, or forums to draw inspiration from.

Next, you can pick out staples like a casual jean, a semi-casual blazer, and a type of boot.

Before you know it, you’ll have a whole wardrobe of carefully chosen articles that embody your sense of fashion.

One last tip: don’t be afraid to experiment! There are endless supposed “dos” and “don’ts” in fashion, but these rules are ever-changing.

One thing to remember is that you wear the clothes, not the other way around.

Moreover, a respectable posture with your back straight and shoulders back is an affirmation to yourself that says, “I look good, and I feel good.”

Stay true to your vision, and you’re one step closer to a fully realized you.

How to glow up tip #7: Find the perfect makeup look

If you enjoy painting your face before you start the day, an established makeup routine can save you time, effort, and money.

Why do we say this?

Well, knowing what you like and don’t like can help keep you from splurging impulsively on new beauty products (Don’t worry, we’re guilty of this, too!).

Thankfully, there are makeup dupes that can save you a ton of cash.

But that’s not all.

If you’re pressed on time in the morning or whenever the start of your day is, then mastering a makeup routine can help you cut down on minutes spent getting ready.

Check out our top 10 makeup looks for summer 2021 to stay up to date with the trends!

Lastly, a good makeup routine frees up your mind for other things. Instead of worrying about what eyeshadow colors to use for the day or whether or not you should put on cream foundation instead of mineral powder, you can focus on important dates or projects.

How to make a basic makeup routine

Fortunately, most makeup brands sell face palettes complete with everything you need to get ready.

These essentials include face primer, blush, bronzer, and eyeshadow.

Sets might also include highlighters in different shades.

Who doesn’t love a dewy highlighter that makes you glow in the sun?

More exhaustive palettes also include mattifying powders and more eye shadow pigments.
Beyond powders, concealer, lip gloss, mascara, and brow gel are also crucial.

But perhaps the most important makeup product of all?

A reliable makeup remover so your skin stays fresh and clear.

Bonus tip: try a face mask at least once a week!

What if you’re a makeup newbie and have no idea where to start? Look into tutorials that help you choose the right colors and shades for your skin tone and skin type.

Like clothing, makeup is another form of self-expression, so trial and error is key.

You might find that a bare-faced, natural look suits your lifestyle or that a classic bold lip and dark eye brings out your best features.

You’ll never know until you try, so seek out makeup samples to start, and get to painting.

All in all

A glow up is a process (and it can be a long process!) that turns you into a newer and better version of yourself.

In truth, you might already be in the throes of growing into a new person. Nevertheless, you can start today with some simple habits.

  • Start a new skincare routine
  • Stay hydrated
  • Reconnect with yourself
  • Make time for regular exercise
  • Show off your beautiful smile
  • Sharpen your fashion sense
  • Discover the best makeup look (and products) for you

The perfect time to start a new glow habit is today, but don’t feel the need to start everything all at once.

One honorable mention in our glowing up guide is finding the right hairstyle (plus the right shampoo and conditioner) that suits your wardrobe, aesthetic, and face.

Another is eating healthy foods like veggies, healthy fats like avocado, and lean protein.

Keep in mind that learning how to glow is continuous.

You might even find yourself at a point of disbelief, wondering how much you’ve changed in just a few months.

More so, you might find yourself metamorphosing every few years.

But that’s the goal — to always be the best version of yourself!

  1. Brolley, Brittany. “Why We Find Smiles So Attractive.”, The List, 4 Jan. 2019,
  2. “Fight Fatigue with Fluids.” Harvard Health, 17 June 2020, 
  3. “How Much Water Should You Drink?” Harvard Health, 1 Dec. 2020, 
  4. “The Real Health Benefits of Smiling and Laughing.” The Real Health Benefits of Smiling and Laughing | SCL Health,!,the%20serotonin%20is%20an%20antidepressant. 
  5. Sharma, Ashish, et al. “Exercise for Mental Health.” Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc., 2006, 
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