my guide to glowing skin

My skin is super dry. Like so dry that almost every foundation sinks into the fine lines of my face and ends up looking really powdery and cakey. I don't want to look powdery and cakey though, I want to look luminous and glowing. So I've long been on the search for methods to keep my skin hydrated and looking fresh and healthy, and along the way I have discovered a menagerie of awesome products. The following is a guide to having your glowiest skin day ever, just in time for colder weather.

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1. Daily Skincare

Use a gentle cleanser. If you have dry skin, it's really important that you use a gentle cleanser that isn't going to strip your skin of its natural oils every time you cleanse. As a rule, cleansing balms, lotions or gels are more gentle than foaming cleansers. I find that using a hypoallergenic cleanser is the better way to go as well. Try Cerave Hydrating Cleanser or Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser.

Moisturize. You gotta do it, even if you have oily skin. I like to put on a light, but still hydrating, daycream after I wash my face in the morning and a heavier one at night. If your skin isn't properly hydrated, you have no chance of getting your glow on! I've been using Pond's Dry Skin Cream during the day and L'Oreal Age Perfect at night. Moisturizers without fragrance are probably better because they don't contain alcohol, but it's difficult to find them.

2. Extra Steps

Exfoliate. This is a great way to liven up dull skin. Sloughing (what a gross word!) all the dead skin off your face will brighten everything up and give you baby skin. I prefer using a gentle exfoliator with really fine particles in it so that I can use it every day without any problems. I got the Vasanti BrightenUp in a recent Birchbox and it is seriously amazing. 

Try a brightening serum. I'm obsessed with serums. The texture just feels so nice on the skin. I always feel like I get an extra shot of moisture and nutrients that just isn't matched by other skincare products. I really like Ole Henriksen Truth SerumCaudalie Thirst Quenching Serum, or the Soap & Glory 6-1 Power Serum. You can put some on before bed and wake up looking fresh and bright, or you can pat some on under your morning moisturizer.

Apply an essential oil. Putting an oil on your face might sound scary, especially if you have oily skin. But essential oils, or pure oils distilled from botanicals, are amazing for your skin and will not break you out. I put some Tarte's Maracuja Oil on my face every night under my moisturizer and it leaves my skin soft and bright the next morning. Plus it smells really nutty and wonderful. Highly, highly recommend.

Use a mask. This is my favorite thing to do, skincare-wise. I use a face mask almost every night, alternating between different kinds according to what my skin might be needing. (At first I wondered if I was going overboard, but then Lisa Eldridge herself confirmed that I'm doing it right.) I have noticed a big difference, not only in how healthy my skin looks, but also in the reduction of breakouts. For clarifying and removing impurities, I like Dermalogica's skin refining mask or Origins active charcoal mask. For hydration, it has to go to the infamous Glamglow ThirstyMud hydrating treatment.

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3. Makeup

Light-infusing primer. Use this after your moisturizer but before your foundation. It will ensure that whatever foundation you put on will catch the light and look a bit more shimmery. I recently picked up the L'Oreal Lumi light-infusing primer and it is seriously amazing, but I have also heard good things about the Laura Mercier foundation primer in Radiance.

Foundation with a dewy finish. For me this has been difficult to find, but may not be as hard for people with normal to oily skin. Lately I've been liking the Revlon Nearly Naked foundation, although the formula is a little weird and may not be for everyone. On the high end, I've heard good things about the Diorskin Nude BB Cream and the Bobbi Brown Luminous Foundation.

Brightening concealer. If you're someone who likes to conceal under your eyes, try a brightening concealer to bring more light into your face. Brightening concealer can also be used just like a highlighter to highlight certain areas of the face. I like Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer.

Illuminizer. An illuminizer differs from a highlighter in that it is a liquid that can be mixed in with a foundation. However, it can also be used as a highlighter if you wish. The Shimmering Skin Perfector from Becca has basically changed my life. I've also heard that the Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer is great.

Highlighter. Use a highlighter to add light to your forehead, cheek bones, nose bridge and chin. I like Benefit's High Beam but I'm also pining after YSL's Touche Eclat, which everyone is basically obsessed with. Highlighting powders are also good, like the Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders.

Illuminating blush or cream blush. A blush that has shimmer in it or is combined with a highlighting powder is a great touch for a glowy look. Hourglass also has an Ambient Lighting Blush that is fantastic. In addition, cream blushes always look a bit shiny on the apples of the cheeks because of their cream consistency. I like NYX's cream blush.

Setting spray. A good setting spray helps moisten your makeup to add a dewey finish while also helping to keep everything in place. You can also use this throughout the day to refresh your makeup and keep your skin looking hydrated. Urban Decay's All Nighter is a winner.