Skin that’s dry and rough is a problem. Sure, it feels nasty, but more importantly, it isn’t smooth enough to reflect light, which means rather than looking fresh and radiant (awesome), you appear grey and dull (bummer). This is particularly so for women in the 30-plus age bracket, says dermatologist Dr Amy Wechsler. “By the time you reach your 30s, your skin begins to thin and becomes more vulnerable to the environment,” says Dr Wechsler, author of The Mind-Beauty Connection (Simon & Schuster). “At the same time, natural enzymes in your skin begin to work less effectively at removing dead skin cells, so they hang on and prevent your skin from reflecting light. The result? You look ashy and grey.”
Demoralised? Don’t be. The great news is that luminous skin is relatively simple to reclaim. Here’s how:
Turn back the clock
When it comes to skin concerns, women tend to focus on tone (tautness), texture (how it feels) and lines. Here in New Zealand our skin woes are exacerbated by a harsh climate and outdoorsy lifestyle. Combine those factors (and toss in naturally pale skin for a high percentage of us) and you’re looking at sun spots, redness and brown patches. A few more years and you’ll likely also be faced with fine lines and wrinkles. This is because sun exposure causes the breakdown of collagen, which spreads the development of fine lines and wrinkles. The cold hard truth: add all of those factors together and it is goodbye glow. Thankfully, you can get it back.
Try: 1. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution, $108. 2. Dr. Brandt Dark Spots No More Serum, $94. 3. Bobbi Brown Extra Bright Advanced Serum, $160. 4. Estee Lauder Cyber White Extra Brightening Moisture Lotion, $84. 5. Lancome Genefique Youth Activator, $125.
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate
Exfoliation sloughs away dead cells on the top layer of the skin, leaving it more even and better able to reflect light. The result? Radiance! Those with normal skin can use any exfoliating product they fancy, once or twice a week. Oily and combination skin types will benefit from a weekly scrub that contains microbeads or sugar, combined with a daily cleanser that contains salicylic acid.
Those with sensitive skin need to be a tad more careful. Good options include lactic acid peels once a week. “Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don’t need to use these products every day, especially if you’ve got sensitive skin,” Dr Wechsler says. “Start by using them once every other day, or simply a couple of days per week.”
Visit a professional
If you want a more aggressive approach to exfoliation, book in to see a dermatologist or skincare therapist. Good options include peels and microdermabrasion. During a microdermabrasion treatment, a machine is used to remove the very top layer of skin cells. Some machines use tiny crystals to blast the skin, while others have diamond-encrusted wands. Once the skin cells have been dislodged, a hand-held mini vacuum sucks them away, revealing a brighter, smoother complexion.
A peel involves concentrated solution of active ingredients (often glycolic or salicylic acids) applied to the skin until the very top layer of skin cells is removed. Some peels are deeper than others, so choose carefully.
Both types of treatment may leave skin looking flushed and pink, but within a day or two, you’ll positively glow. Alternatively, try using an at-home cleansing device. We love the affordable and effective Olay Regenerist Advanced Cleansing System, $35.
Ingredients that work
– Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are water-soluble and come from fruit and milk sugars. Effective but can cause sensitivity.
– Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are oil-soluble, so help to clean clogged pores. BHAs tend to be less irritating than AHAs.
– Retinols improve fine lines and skin roughness.
Three glow tricks from the pros
1. Watch what you eat
Overdoing the sugar can age your skin by breaking down collagen and elastin. It can also cause breakouts, depending on your skin type, plus uneven patches, diminishing that gorgeous glow. Excellent skin foods include fresh, brightly coloured veges. Drinking plenty of filtered water is beneficial, too.
2. Be happy
One of my favourite sayings is that happiness is the best cosmetic,” says beauty guru Bobbi Brown. “And one of the best ways to be happy is by taking great care of yourself. Honestly, the healthier you are, the better and prettier you’ll look and feel.”
3. Breathe deep
Take a deep breathe in to the count of three. Exhale to the count of three. Repeat while gradually increasing your exhale to the count of six, longer if you feel comfortable. “Slow, controlled breathing returns the body to a more balanced state and removes signs of stress,” Dr Wechsler says.