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10 steps to brighter skin

July 16th 2015 / Anna Hunter



Want skin that positively beams with health? Walk right this way…

Or rather, read, digest and possibly nip to the shops. You won’t be the only one cruising the aisles for luminosity boosters, as according to the NPD Group the prestige brightening product sector experienced double digit growth between 2013-2014, having been valued at £25.5 million last year. Radiance is clearly on our radar, and no matter what our skin tone, we want to sidestep dullness, pigmentation, scars and blotchiness. It’s a big ask, but there are a number of ways to achieve ‘lit from within skin’, the main mantra being ‘give it time’.

No butts

Cigarettes are the saboteurs of sparkling skin. If you’re a smoker, try to quit if you can. Your skin can recover and perhaps even spring back to its former glory, as ELEMIS co-founder and director of product development Noella Gabriel emphasises:

“Bringing nicotine in with the inhale breath, which is our cleansing breath and only way of transporting oxygen into the body, we have interchanges of oxygen and toxins which takes place with every exhale breath we have. If we do this with nicotine, the skin cells reduce in shape and size so ageing speeds up and the skin becomes depleted and looks tired and dull. With sun and alcohol this is one of the three deadly sins.”

“As we inhale nicotine it is then distributed directly to the skin cells which in turn, lose their shape and plumpness, and the result is more like a shrivelled dried up raisin – dramatic you may say but having analysed smokers’ skins for many, many years the result is always the same. The ‘good news’ however is that the skin responds very quickly to any changes made to your lifestyle. Once you make the decision to give up smoking the skin will begin to restore and repair at a very rapid pace; it should be visibly noticeable within 21 days.”

Luminosity and healthier lungs? It’s worth a shot…

Assess your city life

Pollution, the daily grind and a desk bound lifestyle can all eclipse your skin’s light, without you even realising it, as Noella highlights:

“Our skin can change dramatically once we start living in the city. Statistics show that we run on a much higher stress level as a side effect of city life. As a result the skin gets very depleted – tired, dull and lifeless. This increased level of stress can also dictate how we eat and what we eat, for example lunch on the run, breakfast in a bag at your desk and a greater absence of fresh food. Thirdly, the water that comes through the tap today is not as pure as it once was (we just look inside our kettles for proof– higher levels of limescale). City related changes in the skin can include more incidences of acne for mature women and higher levels of dehydration for girls in early 20s.”

Conquer the dermatological detractors of city life by keeping an eye on your lifestyle and escaping to a green space whenever you can. From meditation to running to simply reading a book under a tree, do what you need to offset stress. From a nutrition aspect set aside a little time at the weekend to plan a week’s worth of healthy lunches, or if that’s impossible seek out a fresh food vendor near you, and preferably somewhere calm and non-corporate to eat said food. Buying a water filter won’t go amiss either. Bright skin will likely be a pleasant side effect of all of the above, as feeling at the top of your game in the urban jungle will be the main draw.

Blast build up

Exfoliation phobe? According to Noella that’s likely where you’re going wrong…

“All skin types need to exfoliate to reduce the build-up of dead skin cells on the surface. This will aid a glowing radiant complexion, also allowing it to function better. Another key benefit of exfoliation is that the products that we use afterwards will absorb more easily into the skin. As we age, the rate at which we produce new skin cells slows down and this can lead to a dull, tired looking complexion. Regular exfoliation will help reduce this lifeless appearance. Look for ingredients that will give a gentle polish and have a nourishing effect on the skin, avoid harsh ingredients that will drag, scratch or irritate the skin.”

On that subject, choose your method wisely…

Be picky when polishing

Skincare is rarely ever ‘one size fits all’, but this is especially true when it comes to exfoliation. Choose a formula that makes you radiant, not red in the face, with a little help from Noella:

“The amount of times you exfoliate per week is dictated by skin type and the type of exfoliation used, for instance granular, cream or enzyme. For sensitive skin I’d recommend gently exfoliating once a week, for oily and combination skins try 2-3 times a week with an enzyme or granular exfoliator.”

“There are many different exfoliating ingredients that can be used, however it is always important to use ingredients that will not have a harsh effect on the skin. When selecting a granular exfoliator, ingredients that are spherical are best as they can roll over the skin, picking up the dirt and grime as they move and gently polishing the skin ridding it of dead skin cells.”

“Jojoba beads work fantastically for the more fragile, sensitive and mature skins as they have a gentle exfoliating effect yet also leave a layer of jojoba oil on the skin. For an even more brightening effect use fruit enzymes an alternative to the more traditional exfoliators.”

I can vouch for the sheer brilliance of the humble fruit enzyme- a couple of sessions of ELEMIS Papaya Enzyme Peel, £32, on very ‘blah’, jetlagged skin before a foreign wedding last year sorted me out good and proper. It feels comforting and moisturising on application, which is especially important when you’re feeling tired and delicate, and it leaves skin fresh and smooth with pretty much zero effort on your part, with no weird peeling or inflammation. If on the other hand you want to get physical and get those jojoba beads rolling, go for Gentle Rose Exfoliator, £30.


Get even

If pigmentation and dark spots are your bright skin bugbear, Noella clarifies what’s at the root of your issue:

“Pigmentation and dark spots are caused when UV light activates melanin producing cells, called melanosomes, deep within our skin. These melanosomes increase in size and number, while at the same time, the enzyme tyrosinase, responsible for the creation of melanin pigment is synthesised. Melanin pigment then migrates up to the skin’s upper layers and darkens, creating pigmentation on the skin’s surface.”

Hormonal imbalances, pregnancy, medication and lifestyle can all cause excess pigmentation, but there are a few topical solutions to fade dark spots over time, or prevent them forming in the first place. Vitamin C is a notoriously brightening antioxidant, due to its capacity for regulating melanin production. It’s tricky to keep it stable, so if it’s in a see-through bottle, steer clear. ELEMIS Advanced Brightening Even Tone Serum, £59, boasts both effective vitamin C and natural, skin brightening lactic acid, and in a consumer trial involving 40 women aged between 30-35 85% reported that irregular pigmentation was reduced, while 90% agreed that their skin appeared brighter. I’ve just started using it pre-summer break so I’ll report back. I’ll also be putting up the defences in a different way…


Wear sunscreen

As dark spots and pigmentation are triggered by UV light, there’s no point trying to fade patchiness if you’re not taking the necessary precautions in the first place. It’s boring, but wear sunscreen. The future will be brighter with it, and that goes for your visage too. If you’re in the market for a new sunscreen, pursue these five failsafe protectants, and give your body a leg up by incorporating these natural SPF boosters into your summer routine.

Dabble in oil

Oils are finally losing their greasy reputations, with beauty editors and teens alike coming around to the fact that the right oil won’t, in fact, bring about a breakout or clog pores. Quite to the contrary, a light, fast absorbing oil can balance and moisturise like nothing else, and your usual cream can’t come close to the gleam that you get from an oil. Noella concurs:

“By using an oil you can ensure that the skin looks supple, nourished and cared for at all times. It’s lovely to put an oil over a tan in the evenings to give it that healthy, cared for sheen.”

For instance, ‘who turned the light on’? brightness, you could also turn to the following…

Create an illusion

A ‘tortoise and hare’, slow and steady path to brightness is sensible when it comes to skincare, but sometimes you want supermodel skin, like, now. Instead of ‘perfecting’ skin via layers of foundation, prep skin with a smoothing, enhancing balm such as ELEMIS Pro-Radiance Illuminating Flash Balm, £35. It moisturises, evens out the skin’s texture and makes skin look far ‘juicier’ than your average day cream.


If a slip of luminous skin ‘underwear’ isn’t quite cutting it, add a dab of highlighter to areas where your face normally catches the light.

Be in-flight bright

Travelling can suck the vitality from even well conditioned skin- aircon and a lack of sleep and fresh food aren’t ideal conditions for beaming skin. Noella recommends making a little more effort to counteract the radiance robbing impact of travel:

“The skin gets very little oxygen during flight time as you are enclosed in an encapsulated environment without fresh air, depending on recycled air. This immediately results in dehydration, sensitivity and tired, dull skin. It’s important to travel with well cleansed skin. Also, if you can, apply two layers of moisturiser and avoid makeup. Always carry a travel size moisturiser to apply during your flight.”

Know when to go pro

The likes of microdermabrasion and strong peels may be effective in brightening terms, but they’re better performed by the pros, as Noella explains:

“Let a treatment like this be performed by expert hands, where the treatment design ensures that the client gets the desired results, but also that the skin is brought back to a state of calm. It is much more difficult to achieve this at home. Often at home we like to OD on things despite the instructions, and will almost always use more than advised. A lot of clients embark on treatments and do not see them through, and in this way they waste a lot of time and money.”

Investing in a results-driven facial every now and again will help you to attain your skin goals without jeopardising either your skin or your bank balance in wrongly applied, wasted product. A consultation can also be invaluable to understand exactly what your skin needs, why and how often. You simply can’t get that from a packet. If remarkable, perceptible results, rather than a relaxing experience, are non-negotiable for you, Noella would prescribe the ELEMIS Visible Brilliance facial. It reaps tangible rewards and is clinically proved to up both hydration and elasticity, which when combined with stimulating massage and smart exfoliation, can’t help but make you look brighter than possibly, ever. Facials have most definitely moved on from snoozing and whale music.

Want makes your skin look its healthiest? If you’ve got any tips or experiences I’d love to hear them, simply comment below or tweet @GetTheGloss

Follow me @AnnaMaryHunter on Twitter and @AnnyHunter in Instagram

This feature was written in partnership with ELEMIS


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