Take your complexion from dull to dazzling in just a few days. Here, Shonagh Walker shares some tips and tricks to help restore your skin's glow in time for the weekend.
Late nights, hectic schedules with the kids, long hours at the computer... they quickly leave your complexion far from vibrant.
While sensible diet and lifestyle choices are paramount (think fresh fruit and vegetables, regular exercise and two litres of water each day), topical skin care and some clever use of cosmetics can also significantly help restore your glow.
"Cleansing and exfoliating are the cornerstones of great skin," says skin therapist Will Fennell from Sydney's Will and Peta beauty salon. "Cleansing twice daily is a must and healthy skin should be exfoliated weekly. If your skin is fatigued, increase this to twice or three times a week."
An exfoliant that uses beads or grains to buff skin offers a two-pronged approach to rejuvenation. As the beads slough away the dead cells and impurities that cause dullness, their gentle massaging action will stimulate blood flow to help restore luminosity both immediately and in the long term.
Introduce serious radiance-restoring ingredients, such as vitamin C, into your regular skin care regime.
"It's a skin therapist's favourite brightener," says Will. "It quickly helps to smooth and clarify a muddy complexion, while its antioxidant properties better enable skin to protect itself from environmental aggressors. Apply at night to cleansed skin."
If you can't splurge on vitamin C skin care, simply blend some powdered vitamin C into your moisturiser, advises Will Fennell. "It is the most stable form of vitamin C there is and you can just buy it from the health food store."
"Dehydration is a major cause of skin fatigue, so always use a quality moisturiser," says Will Fennell. Take five minutes each day to massage moisturiser into skin. It improves blood flow to the skin, decreasing puffiness and improving radiance.
Some skin-care formulations aim to not only restore your skin's luminosity with long term use, they also provide immediate tightening, refining and brightening benefits. With botanical brightening and refining agents, they give your skin short-term clarity, while their continued use will help restore a more permanent glow.
Skin is in "rest and repair" mode while you sleep, repairing the damage inflicted by the day's environmental assaults. Skimping on eight hours, even for one night, will leave you puffy-eyed and lacklustre. Aim to be asleep by 11pm, sleep in a well ventilated room and never sleep with make-up on. "Just one night without cleansing can equal a month's worth of poor skin care," warns Will Fennell.
Apply an antioxidant-rich night cream to freshly cleansed skin before bed. It can assist skin repair as you sleep.
Eyes quickly succumb to dark circles and puffiness and you need to address the problem before it becomes permanent. Again, regular, quality sleep is essential. Sleep with your head elevated to allow fluid to drain from the face and always use a cleanser specifically for the eye area.
Always use a radiance-enhancing eye cream and don't apply regular creams around the eyes. "The skin around the eyes is very fine and can easily be overloaded," says Will "A lighter formula eye cream will hydrate, brighten and de-puff, without causing bumps under the skin from product overload."
Brimming with skin-brightening botanicals, these masks can get your skin special-event-ready in minutes. They refine pores, mop up oil slicks and firm and brighten the skin. Apply to cleansed, slightly damp skin and leave on for the specified amount of time.
No matter what cosmetics you use, if your lymphatic system is not working effectively to flush toxins from the body, your skin's radiance will be compromised.
Boost lymphatic flow by dry-body-brushing daily, exfoliating all over twice a week and finishing each shower with a cold water rinse. Eat a nice balance of fibre-rich foods and drink plenty of water. And don't forget to get plenty of exercise that involves jumping, like skipping, jogging, trampolining, all of which contribute to a healthy lymphatic system.
Some salon treatments can take your skin from woe to glow in your lunch break. One treatment will show immediate results, while a series of six can deliver luminous, long term radiance.
Stress zaps skin of vitality and health. "It affects it in two ways," says Will Fennell. "Firstly, it creates internal free radicals, which damage the cells and cause dullness. Secondly, people tend to reach for emotional crutches during stressful periods – coffee, alcohol, cigarettes - and they skip exercise, all sure-fire routes to dull skin.
The best thing is actually to get a good workout and drink plenty of water. You need to boost your antioxidant intake and employ relaxation techniques."
"Emotional Self care is important," says Dr. Howard Murad, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Few things do as much to restore your radiance. Say yes to plenty of sleep, exercise and spa time. You need to reduce cell-damaging stress in order to look and feel your best."
Consider taking up yoga, which works out both the body and the mind by employing meditation techniques as it stretches and strengthens the body. The deep breathing techniques involved also help to better oxygenate the body, which will reveal more radiant skin.
Stop the environmental assault
We now know that pollution and other environmental aggressors, such as extreme temperatures or air that's too dry, can damage and dull the skin as quickly as exposure to sunlight.
Many skin care formulas are introducing an Environmental Protection Factor (EPF) which rates the effectiveness of antioxidant ingredients in protecting skin from free radicals, in much the same way as SPF does your sunscreen.