Get glowing: 8 ways to revive dull skin
"Your complexion looks radiant when it's smooth enough to reflect light," says Jeannette Graf, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. When you're under 20, your skin cells turn over every 28 days. But by your 20s, turnover slows, and between 30 and 40, that rate slows to every 40 days. "Dead skin cells pile up, diffusing the light and making skin dull," says Graf. Slough them away by exfoliating at night as opposed to in the morning—you'll also remove all the gunk from the day.
Use a glycolic acid peel once a week. "It's one of the most effective exfoliators because it penetrates deeply," says Frederic Brandt, a dermatologist in New York City and Miami, who recommends using the peel once a week. We like Bliss Incredi-Peel.
Double down on exfoliating. Your skin can handle, and in fact requires, deeper exfoliation than other skin types. Brandt recommends using a salicylic acid–infused cleanser daily (try Clearasil Daily Clear Refreshing Superfruit Wash) and a gentle scrub with microbeads once a week (we like Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Regenerating Cream Cleanser). "The scrub sweeps away dead cells so the salicylic acid can clean clogged pores," he says.
Go extra easy on the exfoliating: Your skin is especially prone to irritation, which can lead to even more dryness and age spots (yes, really) over time. Brandt recommends using a lactic acid peel, like Dr. Brandt Laser A-Peel System or Philosophy The Microdelivery Peel, once a week. Because lactic acid is comprised of relatively large molecules, it doesn't penetrate the skin as deeply as other acids.
Now that you're diligently exfoliating and your skin is baby smooth, make your face glow-y and dewy and—for lack of a better word—radiant with these hydrating, firming, and brightening ingredients.
Ceramides: Your skin has natural enzymes that help slough away dead cells, but they become inefficient if your skin is dry, explains Graf. Always choose moisturizers with ceramides. In addition to hydrating, they reinforce your skin's natural moisture barrier. Our pick: Elizabeth Arden
Ceramide Premiere Activation Cream SPF 30.
Retinoids: "Your skin reflects light even better when it's firm," says Brandt, who recommends a prescription-strength or over-the-counter retinoid (we like RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream) to stimulate collagen production.
Vitamin C: This potent antioxidant brightens skin and helps fade the sun spots that make your skin look flat and dull—a double whammy. We like Dr. Dennis Gross Hydra-Pure Vitamin C Brightening Serum.
Choose a champagne shade ("It looks good on everyone," says makeup artist Mally Roncal) and take it easy on the application. If your skin is normal or dry, apply a cream formula with your fingers: "Tap up and down your cheekbones, and dab whatever's leftover on your brow bones, the center of your chin, and the tip of your nose." If your complexion is oily, dust a powder formula over the same areas with a small fluffy brush (tap off excess powder first). We like Eau Thermale Avène Cleansing Foam and Mattifying Fluid andVictoria's Secret Luminous Cheek & Face Highlighter in Showtime.
Instead of body lotion, try botanical oils: They contain the same lipids as your skin's own moisture barrier. Cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson's favorite is coconut oil: "It's rich in fatty acids, so it gets absorbed really quickly and leaves behind a glow instead of a shine—it looks more like your skin is lit up than lotioned up."
"If your face is radiant and your body is ashy, it can look jarring," says Roncal. "Your glow will be much more believable if you highlight your body, too." But not with straight-up highlighting cream. "Tinted moisturizer is easier to blend, and it still gives you a glow," says Lopez. Smooth a little over your collarbones, shoulders, and (if you want to get really crazy) shins.
Regularly drinking booze and caffeine dehydrate the skin, and sugary foods break down collagen and elastin over time, dulling complexions. If you can't bring yourself to cut back on coffee or coffee cake, drink lots of water and eat more colorful vegetables—they help balance your body's pH levels, which can make skin glowier, says Graf. If all of that sounds like a lot of work, take a nap: "Skin cells turn over while you sleep, and getting rest makes a big difference," says New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler.
Radiance: It's one of those words that gets thrown around so much that it ceases to have meaning. We asked the top dermatologists for tips on how to get skin that is...well, you know.
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