Radiant glowing skin is something most of us desire as it not only makes one feel and look good but subconsciously signals good health.
With youth on your side, this is a natural attribute that we all take for granted. Younger people tend to have a thicker and healthier epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) with a thinner stratum corneum (the dead layer of the skin). Therefore, a more compact stratum corneum is able to reflect more light more easily, giving the skin a natural radiance.
The stratum corneum is replaced every 28 days but with ageing, hormones and changes in the environment this can slow this process down. With ageing, the epidermis becomes thinner due to the natural depletion of lipids and cellular turnover slows down, making the stratum corneum thicker due to a build-up of dead skin. This creates a dull barrier trapping light and making the skin less reflective.
As Dermatologists, when we examine the skin for aesthetic purposes, we mainly concentrate on sun freckles, pigmentation, fine lines, and deep wrinkles but we often note that people with sun-damaged skin have a dull, lifeless complexion.
We also note that when people start to use the correct products, light is reflected off the skin and this produces a radiant glow to the skin. This is something that is quite difficult to quantify but with the right active ingredients and treatments, not only will there be an improvement to the sun freckles, pigmentation and damaged collagen and elastin, but also a healthy, radiant complexion.
How to Achieve a Healthy Skin Glow
You can play an active role in keeping your skin smoother, brighter and more radiant. With the correct skin care routine, which includes regular gentle exfoliation, active ingredient products and resurfacing treatments, the desired glow, and optimum skin health can be achieved.
Products to Use for a Glowing Skin
You will need to use active ingredient products with a keratolytic action. This includes ingredients that stimulate cellular turnover and that remove the dry dead layer on the surface of the skin. These ingredients include Retinol, Vitamin C, Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Poly-Hydroxy Acids/Bionics. This process not only keeps the skin looking vibrant and healthy but it also prepares the skin for the penetration of active ingredients which enhances their efficacy.
Star ingredients like topical retinol not only remove the dull layer of dead skin and make it more radiant but it makes the stratum corneum more compact and the epidermis thicker. It also improves damaged collagen and elastin fibres in the dermis.
Regular, gentle exfoliation reduces excess dead skin in the stratum corneum but how often you exfoliate with a separate exfoliating product will depend on what other exfoliating ingredients are in your daily skincare routine and on your skin tolerance.
Some people can use peel pads and exfoliators every day, while others can only tolerate them once or twice a week (this also depends on the concentration of actives). At the end of the day, only you can determine your own skin’s tolerance, always remembering that less is more. A good weekly routine of using either a physical or chemical exfoliator, followed by a mask and a hydrating product is not only a nice relaxing treat for your skin but it is the equivalent of having a weekly facial at home!
It is important to note that it is not easy to remove the dead layer of skin using harsh physical exfoliators like plastic microbeads, brushes or loofahs as the dead layer, which is dead keratin, is ‘glued’ together and too much scrubbing or vigorous massaging can lead to a disrupted skin barrier and sensitivity.
Exfoliators can be divided into two categories:
Physical Exfoliators – these include professional grade crystals, ground oatmeal, jojoba wax microbeads. All plastic microbeads should be avoided as they pollute our planet. Cleansing devices would also fall into this category.
Chemical Exfoliators – these have a keratolytic action (shedding) which gently breaks down the dead layer of skin and increases cellular turnover. These include enzymes like Papain/Papaya, Cathepzyme, Hydroxy Acids (AHAs, PHAs,/Bionic, Salicylic), Hydroxyethyl Urea/Aminosulfonic Acid and Retinoids.
Using Masks to Get an Instant Glow
A great way to add more lustre and radiance after exfoliating is to use a hydrating, replenishing mask as a quick pick-me-up or the mask can be left on overnight to work its magic as you sleep by providing deep hydration. There are various masks available that multiple benefits – either brightening, hydrating or with growth factors. You can use a different mask depending on your skin’s needs at that time of use.
Two ingredients that really give the skin a natural glow are topical Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide. Once you have exfoliated and used a mask, it is hard to find two more suitable ingredients to lock in the glow.
A tip for an instant glow if your skin is looking dull is to place a small amount of either of these two ingredients onto the palm of one hand, rub the palms together and distribute the product evenly and lightly by patting it over the face – in this way it does not disturb your make-up.
In-Office Treatments to Help Achieve a Radiant Skin
Chemical Peels vary from mild chemical peels, which are usually fruit acids that remove dry, flaky skin, to stronger chemical peels like TCA peels – they all have resurfacing benefits. Most peels will help to lighten solar lentigines (sun freckles), improve fine lines and wrinkles. Regular chemical peels keep the skin looking healthy and youthful.
Dermapen 4, is advanced medical micro-needling and is another option for healthy glowing skin when used with Redensity, a topical hyaluronic acid filler which contains antioxidants, amino acids and Vitamin B – we do this treatment in my practice and it is incredible to see how well the skin responds to this dual treatment – the results speak for themselves resulting in a dewy, radiant complexion.
Fractional lasers such as the Mosaic or Clear & Brilliant, both stimulate new collagen production in the dermis but at the same time help to produce radiant glowing skin. Always be mindful to prepare your skin pre and post skin treatments.
A Skincare Myth …
One skin myth that persists is that using topical Retinoids makes the skin thinner. Topical retinoids make your stratum corneum i.e. the top dead layer of the skin more compact and actually makes the epidermis as a whole thicker.