How Glow Can You Go?

The “glow up” trend took social media by storm but can it be done in a week? Em Hudson takes on the challenge…

By Em Hudson | @_emilycarol_ |

If you have been avoiding social media for the past year, might I add how? We have been living through a global pandemic. What have you been doing with all that time? Actually, don’t answer that, then you may have missed one of TikTok’s biggest trends: having a “glow up.” If, like me, you spent the majority of last year binging Netflix shows, spending hours on YouTube or scrolling through social media to pass the time then you have definitely seen people “glow up” and post their results on TikTok or Instagram.

However, if by some miracle you have missed this viral phenomenon (again, may I ask how?) you might be wondering “How do you glow up?” Well, many people online have tried to “glow up” by changing physical aspects of themselves, whether that is trying out a different style/aesthetic or dyeing and cutting their hair:  thousands of people have tried it all.

But if thousands of people have done it then why are you doing it?

In an age where social media can and often is affected by filters, photoshop, facetune and suchlike,  you can never be sure if what you are seeing on your screen is legit. For example, your favourite influencer’s makeup may look flawless online but ask yourself this, “How many hours of editing has that selfie or video gone through?” Does their makeup look like that IRL– chances are probably not.

But the age-old question that you’ve probably been asking yourself since you started reading this is “Can you have a glow up in a week?” Well grab some snacks, get comfy and find out how/if I glow up.

For this glow up challenge I had some rules that I had to follow:

  1. I need to work on two specific things
  2. I need to follow the best “glow up” advice to see if it works
  3. I only have one week to do it.

Day one – My glow up week started with getting the things I needed for the first task I wanted to work on: skincare. So I deal with a lot of body acne primarily on my back and across my jaw – thanks covid – , so I went out and bought skincare products with three ingredients in mind. Vitamin C, Hyaluronic acid and Salicylic acid.

Now what did my skin care routine look like?

  • Morning:  

First I washed my skin with a gentle face wash that had hyaluronic acid and micellar water in it. This was to get rid of any dirt or oils from my skin and to open up my pores and prepare it for all of the products. 

Then I put the vitamin C serum on my skin and allowed it to soak into my pores and to give it time to start working on my skin. 

Finally, I put a spot treatment with aloe vera in it on any major blemishes I saw to reduce inflammation from them. 

  • Night:

I started by washing my skin with the same cleanser as the morning. 

Then I put an overnight blemish cream with salicylic acid in it on all the blemishes I saw.

I kept my routine very simple because I don’t have time to spend three hours on my skincare everyday whilst balancing college work and other responsibilities, so for me the simpler the better.

The second thing I focused on was working out. Due to the pandemic I went from someone who went to dance three times a week for an hour or two, to scrolling through TikTok for seven hours at a time. So it’s safe to say I was a little out of shape. I wanted to get back into shape and fast. So I tried to get abs in a week. Easy right?

“..why did I think this was a good idea? Am I supposed to be enjoying this? Does this make me a masochist?”

As the week started I quickly found out that if I wanted abs I was gonna have to work for them. My abs routine only lasted five minutes however it felt like an eternity. Who knew five minutes would be so long? Not even 30 seconds in and I was ready to call it quits but I pushed through to the end and immediately collapsed into the floor hoping it would swallow me whole and save me from my self inflicted nightmare.

It didn’t. And it only got worse from there.

The next day I realised my mistake. Whilst at college, I seemingly died after one of my friends made me laugh which immediately I was met with arguably the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. And the pain only got worse. Day three and I had to take a rest day because my stomach hurt so much that if I breathed the wrong way I would be doubled over in pain.

Day four with painkillers in hand I struggled through my workout and was proud of myself for still being able to breathe.

By day five my body had gotten used to the horrendous pain I had inflicted upon myself and found with every sit-up I did I asked myself different questions such as why did I think this was a good idea? Am I supposed to be enjoying this? Does this make me a masochist?

Day six was like the rest of the week. Painful yet slightly more bearable than the day before. Is this what progress felt like?

And before I knew it, day seven had arrived and I was done. Finished. And whether it was the rush of endorphins or knowing my week of hell was over I was full of glee and probably the happiest I’d been that week.

Now the week was over it was time to add the finishing touches to my “glow up transformation”.

I got my hair cut, my nails done and treated myself to a mini shopping spree in Primark. After fully completing my look I snapped a few quick selfies and compared them to some selfies I took the week prior and realised I LOOKED THE EXACT SAME!?!?!?!?!?!? All of my hard work for NOTHING!!!!

Apart from having slightly clearer skin and some new clothes, I looked the same. The abs that I was promised by the influencers whose videos I had watched, where they went from tub to toned were nowhere insight. All I had were some sore muscles and the feeling of failure because I did not “glow up”.

In the end what happened?

Well for starters I didn’t have the “amazing glow up” I expected to have, but I did see a slight change; my skin did improve. I don’t have incredibly clear skin but all the major blemishes have either disappeared or are a lot smaller.

After all that I think it is safe to say that if you want a dramatic transformation you have got to put the time and effort into it, but if it’s something small you want to change then go for it.

Honestly, what do you have to lose?


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