Our skin’s appearance is mostly about optics and the reflection of light. 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.”
However, when skin is dry or gets older, its own renewal process starts to slow down, resulting in a rough, uneven skin texture. One of the fastest and easiest ways to treat this is exfoliation as it smoothens out your skin’s surface, allowing light to bounce off it. However, exfoliation alone is not the solution as the loss of radiance is the sum of many neglected parts.
Another big factor that stands in the way of your gorgeous, glowing complexion is pigmentation. 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 cause 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, Dr Cheong Wai Kwong, consultant dermatologist of Specialist Skin Clinic, recommends 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. To treat this, use skincare that has soothing, calming and repairing properties.
Something that often surprises people is that 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 either use pore-tightening skincare or try aesthetic treatments like laser rejuvenation or radiofrequency (RF) to firm skin.
And if you’re thinking to yourself after reading this entire story, “hmm, I don’t seem to have any of these problems but my skin still looks dull”, then you might be in a hairy situation. Facial fuzz is actually a common roadblock to getting radiant skin. The fine hairs on our faces not only give the appearance of darkness, they also either absorb or scatter light, preventing light from reflecting to give your skin the glow you want. So ladies, if all else fails, it might be time to wax your way to glowing skin.