Radiance: It’s one of those words that gets thrown around so much that it ceases to have meaning.
What is glowing skin? Skin with that ineffable glow is hard to define. It seems to come from eight hours of sleep, a well-balanced chi, and inner beauty. But good news for those of us short on any of the above and suffering from dull skin: It also comes from a few great products and some excellent advice on how to use them. We’ve identified every saboteur standing between your skin and that elusive lit-from-within-ness — and come up with a very concrete plan to unseat it. (And by “we,” we mean us and top aesthetic doctors.)
Whether you need a simple at-home solution or more intense professional backup, here’s your guide to fixing whatever is dimming your epidermal wattage.
PROBLEM: Dead skin cells — they’re everywhere.
No, you’re not seeing things — that probably is an ashy tint on your face. We shed millions of skin cells a day, so unless you do something to actively remove the ones that don’t fall off naturally, you’re going to have a grayish look no matter your skin tone. “Think of that dead-cell buildup like dust. Until you wipe it clean, it’s a dingy layer that prevents your skin from reflecting light” says Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1 Clinic.
“Your complexion looks radiant when it’s smooth enough to reflect light,” says Dr Low. “When you’re under 20, your skin cells turn over every 28 days. But by your 20s, turnover slows, and between 30 and 40, that rate slows to every 40 days”. This explains why dead skin cells pile up more easily as you get older, diffusing the light and making skin dull. Slough them away by exfoliating at night as opposed to in the morning — you’ll also remove all the gunk from the day as well!
SOLUTION: Daily exfoliation is an art. Use products that are too harsh ad you run the risk of irritating the skin. Too gentle and you’re not thoroughly removing the gunk. An AHA cleanser kills two birds with one stone when it comes to daily exfoliation. The gentle fruit acids stay on just long enough to dissolve dead cells efficiently. On a weekly basis, a deeper exfoliation is recommended especially for those who live in makeup. Rather than trooping down to your facialist, invest in this new age Crystal Healing exfoliator. This dual purpose treatment acts as a mask which draws out impurities as well as a scrub which works to get rid of dead cells.
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Oh, yes, that’s not just an environmental problem but also a skin-care concern. With relaxed environmental regulations and a fossil-based economy, our air is increasingly polluted. Polluted air contains a host of tiny particles, like dirt and sulfur dioxide, that create free radicals on skin. Free radicals damage collagen (hello, new wrinkles!) and stimulate pigment production over time and when your skin’s tone and texture are uneven, it diffuses light and looks dull.
SOLUTION: Some types of pollutants linger for far longer than we’d like and is not as easy to remove as we think. A professional deep cleanse may sometimes be what your skin needs to start afresh. Besides the more complicated luxuriant facials, you can also simply go for the basic no-nonsense deep cleansing facials such as sonic cleansing. It uses sound waves to remove stubborn debris and grime that’s standing in the way of you and glowing skin.
Fortify your skin with the antioxidants they need to defend against skin ageing free radicals and glow-robbing grime. Newer antioxidants such as Astaxanthin confer greater benefits than the traditional ingredients. Other important ingredients to look out for to win this fight against the environment are Vitamin A (we love it in a fruit serum) and good old Vitamin C.
PROBLEM: The Stress Cycle
Skin issues cause stress, which causes skin issues, which… you get the point. A work deadline, an argument, or a bad night’s sleep has you a little on edge. Then you hear the most obnoxious three words ever strung together: “You look tired.” Whatever form stress takes, the result is the same. Cortisol levels go up, your fight-or-flight response kicks in, and blood flow goes to your vital organs, not your face, leading to skin looking sallow.
SOLUTION: Being told to relax or get more rest tends to raise cortisol levels further rather than lower them, so we’ll skip the obvious advice for now. Instead, go for stress-relieving facials which kills two birds with one stone—improve the complexion while relaxing the psyche. And in case you think it’s all in the mind, facial therapies such as LED Red photobiomodulation lights and Oxygen therapy have been shown to improve mood and promote an increased feeling of well-being. There’s nothing as good as a quick nap under the soothing hands of a skilled therapist, the endorphin release will give you an instant pick-me-up in more ways than one.
PROBLEM: Your skin is dehydration station.
Without moisture, your skin looks dull, but the problem is deeper than you may realize. And we mean that literally. “Loss of hydration from below the skin’s surface — in the dermis and the lower levels of the epidermis — causes a decrease in the thickness of the skin,” says Dr Low. “Think of a deflated balloon: It doesn’t shine as well as an inflated one.”
If your skin is merely dry, topical options are your first line of defense, Pat on a hyaluronic acid serum onto damp (not dry) skin to drive moisture deep into skin. (Try unicorn tears.) Then layer a moisturizer with powerful emollients such as Rose Gold serum, which has been touted to transform even the most dehydrated of skins. Emollients create a thin, transparent film over the skin’s surface. That film will help skin cells lie flat and reflect light better.
If your skin is chronically dry and aged looking, your skin may be more depleted than you think. For an instant and lasting complexion replenishment, consider Youth Savant. This anti-aging therapy restores the integrity of your skin’s DNA which gets weaker with age. By fortifying your skin, the skin’s collagen layers and moisture levels will naturally be restored.