Dull. Flat. Lackluster. Blah. Do any of these describe your skin? “Blah” is a good description for how my skin used to look. I would look at celebrities and fashion magazines and inwardly lament at their perfect skin vs. my “blah” skin. Of course, retouching certainly helps nearly every advertisement or printed photo, but that’s really beside the point…. So how did I get my skin from “blah” to radiant? I followed the steps I have listed for you and use each product mentioned.
Step 1: Exfoliation
Your skin has its own exfoliation method called skin cell turnover or, more specifically, cellular renewal factor. This means over a period of time new skin cells move from the lowest layer of the epidermis to the top layer and then will shed off microscopically. This shedding prevents the dead skin cells from building up. Depending on our age, these cells will shed at a rate of every 40-80 days. Dead skin cells will then build up and create a layer of “scales” which will absorb light and make the skin dull. Products will have a difficult time penetrating this dead and scaly layer which means they aren’t working like they should. The preferred method to dissolve these built up cells is chemical exfoliation. These options are AHA’s (glycolic, lactic, phytic) and BHA (salicylic). Physical exfoliation (scrubs, washcloth, cleansing brushes) are more of a deep cleansing treatment and do very little in the form of true exfoliation.
Step 2: Antioxidants
Antioxidants will protect your healthy molecules from free radical damage. Vitamin C (one of my favorites) has MANY benefits, but when it comes to radiant skin a couple stand out. In concentrations between 15% – 25% vitamin C has been proven to lighten dark spots (freckles and sun spots). It increases the formation of collagen and elastin (yay!) as well as improving the texture and tone of the skin.
Step 3: Skin Brighteners & Lighteners
Hydroquinone is the medical gold standard for skin lightening. When used in the 4% prescription strength dark and dull spots can start fading in as little as 2 weeks. Strengths 2% and lower are found in basic skincare products and can take months to see a significant improvement.
Kojic Acid has skin lightening properties that doesn’t have the redness or irritation that aggressive lighteners have. It also penetrates deeper into the skin which will give longer lasting results.
Arbutin is produced from the bearberry plant and will convert to hydroquinone once it’s absorbed into the skin. It will prevent the production of melanin which causes the dark spots on the skin and effectively brighten uneven skin tones.
Niacinimide is a B vitamin that will not only reduce brown spots but will target red spots and uneven skin tone.
Step 4: Sunscreen
I think I mention sunscreen in almost every article, but it bears repeating: daily use of a UVA/UVB sunscreen SPF 30 or higher will decrease almost every sign of aging and prevent future damage! The rule of thumb is: one day of unprotected sun exposure will set you back 3 months in your skincare and treatment journey.
Now the fun part. My (and our skincare staff’s) favorite products!
Koji Pad: this is an intense brightening pad that contains kojic acid, arbutin, vitamin C, salicylic acid and hydrators. This is a toning and exfoliating step and is done in the morning immediately after cleansing. All skin types can use this product.
Essential C: a combined antioxidant containing vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid. This formula is superior to other vitamin C’s on the market because it is a fat soluble vitamin C which skin loves and will aid in penetration of the product. Essential C should be used in the morning, following the koji pad. All skin types can use this product.
Niaskin: a moisturizer that contains niacinamide, bisabolol (an anti-irritant and skin lightener) and multiple antioxidants. Niaskin can be used morning and night, if needed, and is done prior to sunscreen or at the end of your routine at night. This is best suited for dry to normal skin.
Reflect: a lightweight sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF 40. This sunscreen is rich in antioxidants and biasbolol. Reflect is the last step in your skincare routine in the morning prior to applying makeup. All skin types can use this product.
Hydrapeel: a chemical treatment made from moisturizers, this is a two-part treatment consisting of both chemical and physical exfoliants. With no downtime the hydrapeel will give immediate hydration and smooth texture. This is appropriate for all skin types.
Written by Heather Happy, Licensed Esthetician
To schedule an appointment with Heather to discuss how to achieve radiant skin, call 615-771-7718 for a complimentary consultation.