A glowing complexion is often more about optics and the reflection of light, and less about being fairer. For skin to appear radiant and “glow-y”, light should penetrate the complexion’s top layers, diffuse laterally and then reflect back. As Dr Joyce Lim, consultant dermatologist of Joyce Lim Skin and Laser Clinic, explains, “If light reflects back to the eye, you see a glow. The more the light is bounced back the better the glow. The smoother the surface, the better the reflection. For example, a mirror reflects light very well because the surface is smooth.”

One of the most obvious factors that affects your luminuousity is skin roughness. When your complexion is rough and uneven, light is less able to reflect off your skin. One simple way to treat this is through exfoliation, as it smoothens out your skin’s surface, thus allowing light to bounce of it. However, exfoliation alone is not the solution as radiance is the sum of many neglected parts. Here, we break down the different factors that are stopping you from achieving your desired radiance.


Living in sunny Singapore, our skin is constantly under attack from harmful UV rays. This causes our skin to produce extra melanin to protect our skin. However, age, stress and environmental pollution sometimes causes melanin to go faulty, resulting in a permanent pigmentation on our skin commonly referred to as brown spots.

Pigmentation on the skin caused by melanin absorbs light instead of reflecting it. This is true whether the spots are visible on the skin’s surface or microscopic and invisible to the naked eye. To help treat this, you can try products that contain lightening agents such as hydroquinone, azelaic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C, glucosamine, soy or arbutin.


While the expression having a ‘peaches and cream’ complexion sounds wonderful, having blotchy patches of red skin around our face is not. Blotchy skin might be a result of damaged capillaries or a reaction from sensitive skin. Commonly found around the cheeks and nose area, blotchy skin prevents your skin from having radiance because the redness on skin absorbs light instead of reflecting it.

Large Pores

Pore size is also a factor that affects how luminous our skin appears. Collagen makes our cells nice and fat, which in turn makes our pores small and tight. A plump, thick dermis will reflect more light as the surface is smoother. On the other hand, skin with large pores do not reflect as much light. To treat this problem, you can try to keep your complexion moisturised and plump through hydrating skincare, as well as pore care products.

Facial Fuzz

While admitting to this problem might not be the most glam thing, it is actually a fairly common occurrence. The fine hairs on our faces not only give the appearance of darkness, Dr Joyce Lim also tells us that “the hairs either absorb or scatter light,” thus preventing light from reflecting to give your skin the glow you want.

Images: Showbit.com

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