When your Instagram feed is bombarded with posts of bare-faced, blemish-free beauty influencers with hashtags such as #IWokeUpLikeThis, #GlassSkin and #NoFilter, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of believing that your less-than-glowy skin is in dire straits. The truth is that we all have good and bad skin days; if it’s not a pimple, it’s enlarged pores or blotchiness. Put down that high-powered magnifying mirror and stop scrutinising every inch of your face. We’re here to show you how you can achieve the best version of your skin.
Discoloration Defense, $159, SkinCeuticals
Re-Nutriv Ultimate Radiant White Brightening Youth Serum, t$490, Estée Lauder
Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter, $150, Clinique
Diorsnow Essence of Light Pure Concentrate of Light Brightening Milk Serum, $230, Dior
Whitelogist Brightening Correcting Serum With Kojic Acid, $210, Decorté
Clearly Corrective Accelerated Clarity Renewing Ampoules, $155 for 28 vials, Kiehl’s
For a radiance boost, add a serum to your basic cleanse-tone-moisturise routine. Typically formulated with active ingredients in higher concentrations, a serum targets specific concerns such as dullness and pigmentation. A brightening serum, in particular, can do wonders if you’re gunning for the envy-inducing luminous complexion of Aussie beauty Cate Blanchett. Brightening serums work by inhibiting the overproduction of melanin, which can lead to hyperpigmentation, and by breaking down existing pigmentation and gently exfoliating the top layer of skin to instantly reveal brighter, healthier-looking skin. Decorte’s Whitelogist Brightening Correcting Serum With Kojic Acid is a fine example of a two-pronged approach. Anchored by star ingredient, kojic acid, it inhibits the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme that stimulates the melanocytes or melanin-producing cells, while reinforcing the skin’s ability to break down and disperse melanin clusters.
SkinCeuticals’ Discoloration Defense Serum ups the ante by throwing tranexamic acid into the mix. This powerhouse ingredient counters in ammatory triggers such as sunlight and hormonal changes, and is especially e ective on UV-induced spots and melasma—one of the more di cult forms of hyperpigmentation to treat. Concerned about age spots or sunspots? Look to serums with alphahydroxy acids. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Accelerated Clarity Renewing Ampoules, with a blend of glycolic, lactic and phytic acids to boost skin cell turnover, promises brighter, clearer skin in 28 days. Bonus: It also tackles complexion woes such as uneven texture and enlarged pores.
“Brighter skin can be achieved by inhibiting melanin production and improving skin cell turnover.”
Related article: The 17 Best Night Creams For Every Skin Type
OUT, DAMNED SPOT!
For stubborn pigmentation that is not spread over a wide area, spot pens deliver big results in a small package. These targeted treatments pack a punch when it comes to lightening dark spots. The most potent ones employ a day and night regimen that works around the clock to lighten dark spots. Case in point: Chanel’s Le Blanc Intensive Brightening Spot Treatment – Day And Night Duo, a pair of brightening pens that works with your skin’s natural circadian rhythm to correct hyperpigmentation. The day pen shields skin against external aggressors that trigger melanocyte response while the night one focuses on boosting skin cell renewal, accelerating the rate at which melanin reaches the surface of skin to be shed off naturally.
L’Occitane’s Reine Blanche Dark Spot Care Duo works in a similar fashion—inhibiting melanin production during the day with vitamin C and liquorice extract, and exfoliating skin at night. Others feature a concentrated formula. SK-II’s GenOptics Spot Pen, for instance, has the highest concentration of the proprietary conditioning and brightening WH Smart Cocktail (niacinamide, inositol and hexyl decanol) among the brand’s products. The Kosé Infinity Advanced White Stick XX and ALBION Excia Whitening Intensive Spots both use high doses of kojic acid to suppress melanin production.
Related article: The 8 Best Virtual Makeover Tools
EASY ON THE EYES
OptimaLift A+ Eye Repair Capsules, $156 for 60 capsules, ést.lab
Abeille Royale Eye Cream, $135, Guerlain
Smoothing Eye Cream, $99, RE:ERTH
Black Rose Eye Contour Fluid, $175, Sisley
Auto Correct Brightening And Depuffing Eye Contour Cream, $92, Sunday Riley
Eye Repair Concentrate, $310, TOM FORD Research
Neglecting the eye area can derail your luminous-skin goals. Those dark under-eye circles or crepey skin can be caused by multiple factors: extrinsic ones such as too many late nights, eye strain from long hours spent in front of the computer or other blue light-emitting devices, and allergies such as hay fever, as well as intrinsic ones such as a genetic predisposition—which, unfortunately, means that the issues can’t be easily solved with just eye-care products. Compounding the issue is the fact that the skin in the eye area is thinner than that on the rest of the face, which means that the blood vessels underneath and any discoloration show up easily. The skin here is also not as elastic compared to that in other areas of the face, making it susceptible to expression lines. There are fewer sebaceous glands around the eyes too, which makes the area more prone to dehydration than the rest of the face. If fine lines are your concern, go for a lightweight eye cream such as the Smoothing Eye Cream from RE:ERTH. It’s formulated to be absorbed quickly, locking in moisture and stimulating collagen production to plump up skin. Deep-seated wrinkles call for a stronger formula like the OptimaLift A+ Eye Repair Capsules from Оst.lab, which target expression lines with argireline, which contracts muscles (similar to the way botulinum toxin injections work), and Eyeseryl, a tetrapeptide that works on improving skin elasticity.
Life as an urbanite comes with its cons, particularly in the form of an addiction to our tech gadgets. If you notice fine lines, puffiness and dark circles developing, the Eye Repair Concentrate by TOM FORD Research can help salvage the situation. Its formula has white porcelain cacao, gyokuro and caffeine, which is akin to giving your tired peepers a shot of espresso to energise and brighten them. Hyaluronic acid hydrates and plumps up the skin while vitamin C offers protection against free-radical damage. Use a light touch when applying to avoid exacerbating the problem.
“Dehydration is the root cause of many skin concerns. Supercharge skin with moisturising masks at least once a week.”
Related article: 15 Essential Beauty Treatments To Try Now That You’ve Got The Time
DON’T BE FLAKY
A lack of hydration not only robs skin of radiance, but is also often the root cause of many other skin issues, such as uneven tone and texture. Dehydrated skin can appear scaly or irritated too, with lines and wrinkles looking more obvious. How do you smoothen the texture and restore the glow? Parched skin benefits from the use of a hydrating overnight mask such as HERA’s Aqua Recharging Sleeping Mask and Fresh’s Rose Deep Hydration Sleeping Mask, especially if you sleep in an air-conditioned room. Sleeping masks form a hydrating veil over skin while you sleep, preventing transepidermal water loss, or water loss through evaporation, which can exacerbate the look of fine lines and wrinkles. In particular, mature skin, which tends to lose water more easily, will benefit from these overnight masks, which improves the barrier function of skin.
For three-in-one action, try Chanel’s Le Blanc Healthy Light Creator Mask, which simultaneously cools, hydrates and brightens, for glowing skin come morning. If the prospect of waking up with product smeared all over your pillowcase doesn’t sound appealing, there are masks you can rinse or tissue o , such as Eve Lom’s Radiance Transforming Mask, which uses a natural alpha-hydroxy acid to exfoliate without drying out skin. Quick-absorbing leave-on treatments are another option.