Growing up in the age of beauty vloggers and their makeup tutorials, many girls these days wear makeup that is always on point. Expertly applied base, blush to give a healthy glow, and highlighter that’s strategically swiped on can give anyone an Instagram-worthy, no-filter complexion. But if you’ve seen those unbelievable makeup transformations online, then you might wonder: What do they look like underneath all that makeup?

beauty Basics to Brightening Your Face

While it’s possible to fake good skin and a bright complexion with the right base, blush, and highlighter, not everyone has the time, inclination, or budget to invest in cosmetics. Your best bet? Take good care of your skin so that, makeup or not, you’ve got it glowing for you. Here are a few simple beauty tips for bright skin:

  1. Cleanse. If you live in an urban area, chances are, you’re exposed to pollutants on the daily, especially if you take public transportation. Icky smoke and dust particles don’t just settle on your skin, making it appear more dull, but they also contain free radicals that damage collagen (the stuff that makes your skin taut, springy, and smooth).

Make sure you get rid of all that gunk at the end of the day by using a cleanser that is formulated for your skin type. Also take care not to over-cleanse as this can affect your skin’s pH balance and cause other skin problems.

  1. Exfoliate. Your skin sheds loads of dead skin cells on the regular and these can accumulate on the surface, giving you a grayish appearance. Regularly scrub away these dead skin cells to reveal a brighter complexion underneath.

Depending on your skin type, you can exfoliate at least once a week. Take care not to be over-enthusiastic when scrubbing away—be gentle when you exfoliate so as not to irritate your skin. 

  1. Moisturize. Dry skin is never attractive. Make sure you stay hydrated with a moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin type—and drink up! Getting enough water can help make your skin appear fresh and dewy.
  2. Eat right. Love your skin from within: Eating the right kind of food can help you get a healthier-looking complexion. Load up on foods that are high in omega-3s such as fatty fish (salmon), walnuts, and flaxseed. Minerals like zinc and iron can also help give you a youthful glow, so add fortified cereal (the non-sugary kind!), lean meat, and poultry to your diet.

Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate (upwards of 70% cocoa) in small doses may also help improve your skin’s appearance. Also consider probiotics (fermented foods with live microorganisms like kimchi and yogurt), which helps you maintain a healthy gut, which in turn is associated with healthy skin. What you should avoid: sugar. Studies have shown that sugar may be one of the culprits behind acne.

  1. Get your dose of Vitamin C. Vitamin C has some impressive skin-saving powers, including being able to fight hyperpigmentation and discoloration. A 2017 review in the journal Nutrients notes that Vitamin C also assists in wound healing and minimizes raised scar formation. No wonder it’s currently one of the darling ingredients of the skincare industry.

You can introduce skincare products infused with Vitamin C to your skincare regimen but start off by getting some Vitamin C from citrus fruits, strawberries, and red peppers, among other fruits and vegetables. (Read more about Vitamin C for your skin here.)  

  1. Stay out of the sun. Sun exposure is one of the biggest culprits behind premature skin aging. Those dark spots on your skin aren’t called sunspots for nothing. Be sure to wear sunscreen every day, whether it’s sunny or not, to protect you from UV damage.

If you already have spots that make your complexion appear dull and uneven, consider using bright skin products that aim to minimize the appearance of spots. It’s best to consult with a dermatologist about the best product for you, especially if you have sensitive skin or other skin concerns.

  1. Breathe in, breathe out. Stress is never good for you—or your skin. Sleepless nights, working overtime, issues at home…all these lead to your stress hormones kicking in, directing blood flow to other organs and leaving you with a sallow complexion.

Have some go-to exercises to help you cope with stress, like taking deep breaths, going for a quick walk outside, or chatting with a supportive friend. You can also try gently massaging your face as you cleanse and moisturize to encourage blood flow and give you a rosier complexion.