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What is a Glow Up and How to Achieve It
With the rising popularity of self-care gurus and Youtube videos dedicated to shocking transformations, it seems the theme of the year is glowing up.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re looking for ways to transform yourself and to do it right. Whether you want to impress your crush or simply improve your attitude towards yourself, the desire to become more beautiful and confident is universal.
The good news is, anyone can glow up, and how that happens is entirely up to you. There aren’t many things we can control, but we have full capacity to improve ourselves everyday!
A lot of the time, glow ups have to do with physical appearance: you’ll see people on TikTok proudly show off their weight transformation or a positive change in their personal style. But, dear reader, know that a glow up isn’t just about buying a new wardrobe or achieving an hourglass figure. So, what is it, exactly?
What is considered a glow up?
According to UrbanDictionary, glow up is a phrase that refers to “a mental, physical, and emotional transformation for the better. Glow ups can be both natural or planned, as well as being gradual and permanent, or fast and temporary.” Often, you’ll see people online “waiting” for their glow up, or wishing they had more money or more time to attain it.
But there is no one way to describe a glow-up, because what makes us feel our best is different for everyone. For many, glowing up is finally losing that stubborn belly fat after years of trying. It’s drinking 8 glasses of water a day, every day, and never forgetting to wash your makeup off before you sleep so you wake up with healthy, plump skin. In short, glowing up is becoming your best self.
For some, this means finally being able to show off their personal style. For others, it simply means becoming confident enough to take care of their body through exercise. But only YOU can define what a glow up means to you.
On the internet, many people associate a glow up with puberty. The development of certain physical features like facial hair for men, breasts for girls, or simply looking older can constitute a glow up.
But everyone looks different from middle school to high school, and the same applies for the later stages in life. That’s why we don’t want to put too much emphasis on puberty as a way to glow up, because it can happen differently for everyone. This often ends with people comparing their progress to others, which is not a positive mindset to have.
What causes a glow up?
A huge part of a glow up relies on self-care mentally and physically. Things like increasing your water intake, maintaining good posture, and eliminating processed foods — basically just doing things that are good for you — all help you attain that natural glow inside and out.
Developing habits like meditation, yoga, and even having strict time management can drastically improve your mental health. Because a glow up should be holistic, taking care of your mental health can make a huge difference in your personal appearance and can even completely alter it.
How do you know if you’re glowing up?
A glow up won’t happen overnight, but we’re going to let you in on a little secret: the things you’ve been doing to better yourself are all part of the process, even if you didn’t realize it at the time! Now, you can fully realize your transition to your best self. Whether you’re trying to get that summer body or improve your skin, glowing up is for everyone and it’s never too late to start.
With these tips, you’ll be able to begin that incredible transformation. Here’s how you can glow up in 12 steps.
Step 1: Set Concrete Goals
The first part of your glow up should be goal-setting. Grab your journal and take a second to write down your priorities, things that are most important to you, and have them be your motivation. You can set long-term goals or short-term goals.
The important thing is to create a measurable plan for what you want to attain. An example is writing down “I want to gain 10 lbs. by the end of the month,” instead of just “I want to build more muscle.”
Step 2: Get Smooth Skin With a Solid Skincare Routine
One way to signal that you’re glowing up? Attaining clear skin. While this can be achieved in a number of ways like changing your diet or simply drinking more water, the best way to improve your skin’s appearance is by sticking to a simple skin care routine! All it takes is determining your skin type and finding the right products to help it glow.
If you want to go all-out on your routine, take a look at our guide to the 10-Step Korean skincare regimen. Prefer something more minimalist? Try out tips from our beauty on a budget routine. And if you’re looking for some much-needed pampering, we talk about our favorite treatments from the Belo Medical Group and the Aivee Clinic here.
Step 3: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Another tried-and-tested way to glow up is simply moving your body! Exercise can help you lose or gain weight and release happy chemicals from your brain, so it’s a win-win situation. Moving your body through exercise, dancing, yoga, or sports can give you the boost you need. Sign up at your local gym or start taking those dance classes you’ve been dreaming of.
One way to motivate yourself is to try a time-bound glow up challenge. Giving yourself a timeframe to attain a goal is guaranteed to work, whether it’s that 2-week shred you’ve been seeing on the internet or a month-long no-meat diet.
Oh, and don’t be discouraged if you aren’t seeing results right away. A glow up should take enough time if you want it to last. Many experts say 6-8 weeks is when you’re really going to see a difference when you try a new workout.
Step 4: Eat Healthy
Having a positive relationship with food is part and parcel of starting a new workout regimen. This means no fad diets! You’ll need nutrition and energy if you want to stay strong and healthy, so remember to stick with a balanced diet that can provide you with protein, healthy fats, and calories. Who knows, you might finally get your glow up with glow foods.
Also, stay hydrated. Your body gets bogged down when you don’t have enough water in your system, and it’s going to show. Plain water is enough, but if you want to treat yourself, try out infused drinks like lemon water.
Step 5: Try A New Hair Style
Your hair is your crowning glory. If you want an immediate transformation, why not try a new hair style? You may look like a completely different person after you change your hair, so make your Pinterest boards a reality and get the streaks you’ve been dying to try. Or maybe even chop it off! Who knows, you might find self-confidence in a different ‘do or a bold new color.
Step 6: Dress According to Your Body Shape
We all know that your body goals won’t happen overnight. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But one way you can drastically improve your appearance in a snap is by dressing according to your body shape.
If you haven’t heard it enough: ALL bodies are beautiful, and the one you’ve got right now is worthy of love! But if you’re lacking confidence to wear your favorite clothes, or maybe wish there were a few parts of your appearance you could completely change, one way to feel comfortable in your own skin is by picking clothes that flatter your body type.
Take the time to learn your body, try new things, and find ways to emphasize your favorite parts (while maybe hiding those ones you’re not so in love with).
Step 7: Improve Your Makeup Game
Sometimes, even if we’ve hit a certain point in our life, our appearance won’t have looked any different than it did years ago. And that’s okay! But if you want to look more mature (or baby-faced) or just experiment with different styles, improving your makeup game is the way to go.
Why not go from a winged liner to a fox eye, or try a new contouring technique that will bring out your cheekbones? Makeup can bring out your beauty in so many different ways, and it’s a great tool for self-expression too.
Step 8: Be Strict With Your Hygiene
You know how attractive people just look clean and shiny? Hygiene plays a major role in looking your best. Even simple things like brushing your teeth regularly and going to a dentist for a teeth cleaning will improve your smile and make you more charming.
Step 9: Love Your Physical Appearance As It Is
Cheesy as it may sound, sometimes all you need is to look in the mirror, fight those negative thoughts, and love yourself. It’s easier to notice flaws, but creating a healthy self-image means choosing to feel confident no matter what society tells you.
This doesn’t mean you’re going to feel beautiful 100% of the time. It just means that you love your body for what it does and what it looks like, good days and bad — and understanding that a glow up isn’t just about looking amazing.
Developing this confidence can be a challenge, but the positive changes are going to be visible. People will notice that you carry yourself a different way, whether it’s changing your posture or trying to smile more that got you there.
Step 10: Get Enough Sleep
We don’t know each other, but I’m telling you now, as a friend: stop working late hours into the night or binge-watching that new Netflix show knowing you’re going to regret it when you wake up. Get. Enough. Sleep!
Step 11: Develop A Gratitude Habit
In meditation, many practitioners develop a culture of gratitude: being thankful for the good and accepting the bad.
Adopting this gratitude culture allows us to let go of stress, stay calm, and improve our focus. It can also be practiced in a number of ways: changing your attitude towards stress, developing mindfulness in difficult situations, and starting a journal. Even if the so-called glow up culture focuses on external appearance, it’s important to have a positive inner life, too. That’s where confidence and maturity begins.
Step 12: Don’t Compare Glow Up to Your Friends’ Glow Ups
You think you’re finally beginning to be confident in who you are, then the beast of jealousy rears its ugly head. Let’s face it: it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing your progress to others.
Sometimes your friends have super awesome careers while you’re stuck trying to make ends meet at a lousy job. Or you’ll find yourself wondering why all your peers are dating and you’re the only one in your class that isn’t. Maybe you see someone farther in your yoga practice than you’d like to be, and you start to doubt yourself. All of that is natural!
When you’ve gotten to this point, you simply have to trust the course of life. You’re the star of your own movie, so don’t compare your character arc to others.
If all that seems a little intimidating, don’t worry. Just take it bit by bit — the important thing is taking the first step! So, what are you waiting for? Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself for the better and start taking care of yourself like you deserve!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a glow up on TikTok?
Glow up compilations can be found all over the internet and on Youtube. In TikTok culture, a glow up pretty much means the same thing as a physical transformation. Usually, people will show their before-and-after or past-to-present photos from middle school to senior year, or during a toxic relationship and after the breakup.
Joey is an AB Psychology graduate of the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. Her life’s passions include writing, film, and spending hours on end binge-watching fashion vloggers on Youtube.