Monday, February 13th, 2012

By Angela, Cosmetic Chemist

One of the leading brains behind beauty, Angela is an industry-renowned Cosmetic Chemist with over 11 years training and experience in developing cosmetics and toiletries. Having been immersed in the wondrous beauty world from an early age, she was instantly captivated by the rituals, the artistry and the allure. This initial intrigue soon developed into an unequivocal beauty obsession partly fuelled by teenage skin dilemmas but also stemming from a deep seated creativity and desire for self expression. This was quickly followed by a behind the scenes role in new product development where she formulated make up and skin care for an array of global brands.

Still not content with the industry offerings, especially those for women of colour, she still indulges herself with customised formulations to suit her specific beauty needs! Despite her wealth of scientific knowledge Angela takes what she calls a “feelosophical” approach to the industry. So whilst analysing ingredients and technologies, addressing safety fears and generally aiming to reveal the truth she never loses sight of the one essential thing about beauty and that is appreciating how it simply makes you feel! Check out her blog Beauty Feelosophy!

NARS Orgasm Illuminator

Complexion SOS: Skin Brightening Solutions

As the days grow shorter, the nights grow longer, and the  sun becomes but a distant memory, the skin can start to look a little lackluster.  For many of us around the globe, especially women of colour, maintaining a bright complexion, combating hyperpigmentation, and maintaining an even skin tone is a problem all year round!

There are many lightening, brightening and illuminating products out there, but here are just a few of my top solutions for getting through the dull winter months:

Exfoliate but don’t over do it!

One of the easiest and quickest ways to rejuvenate the skin is to remove some of the outermost skin cells that make up the surface of the skin. This also helps to clear hyperpigmentation and speed up the turnover of new skin cells being produced.

Skin takes up to 24 days to create new surface cells, which are, by this time dead and rich in keratin, then about three days for these skin cells to naturally shed. An at home microdermabrasion once a week like Kiehl’s Epidermal Retexturising Microdermabrasion ($41.00) will help to achieve instant radiance (I get compliments on my skin every time I use it!). The scrub uses fine particles of alumina as the main exfoliant along with diatomaceous earth, combined in a creamy emollient base to prevent it feeling too harsh or drying out the skin.

However as easy and amazing as it is, it is still important to remember that those dead skin cells are still there for a reason:  to protect your skin from the elements! Don’t over do it and always make sure you moisturize and use sunscreen after you exfoliate, especially if you suffer from dry skin or sensitive skin!

Vitamin C boost!

Vitamin C is an effective ingredient for brightening the skin and reducing hyperpigmentation. However, it quickly breaks down when used in certain formulations, therefore adding the pure powder yourself will ensure you get the real benefits.

Many people rave about Philosophy’s Turbo Booster C Powder ($35.00) which is (nearly) pure ascorbic acid, which is the stabilized powder form of Vitamin C.  A cheaper way to get your fix is from your local health food store where you will also find Ascorbic Acid powder ($6.95). Dissolve a small amount every day in water, add a bit of glycerine if you can find it in your local chemist as otherwise it can be a bit tingly, then apply directly to the face or with your moisturiser or serum. Be on the look out for 100% ascorbic acid without fillers though!  It is a great antioxidant that helps to protect the skin but that is whole other post in itself!

Fake it with illuminators and highlighters!

Adding a touch of pearl to your bare skin, mixed with foundation, or on key areas of the face to capture the light is a quick-fix way to bring your complexion to life.

For an all-over radiance, NARS Orgasm Illuminator ($30.00) is the type of product that’s great to use even in the day time. I use it mixed in my foundation and on a dull, sleep-deprived day, this is my saving grace. The great thing about this is that it works on all skin types. Products like MAC Strobe Cream or Benefit That Gal or Girl Meets Pearl are great on fair skins but on darker skin barely make a difference.

To enhance contours, an old favorite of mine is Benefit Moon Beam ($26.00)! In the beginning, I wasn’t sure the color, looking at the bottle, would work well for darker skin, but it does and it is a true classic–again great on all skin tones! Other highly recommended products are NARS Copacabana, but this is only really good for the night and has to be used very carefully on dark skin tones to avoid looking like a ghost!

Glow from within!

No discussion on complexion would be complete without a mention about diet and lifestyle so three important ingredients are vitamins (especially B, C and E), water, and sleep!

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7 thoughts on “Complexion SOS: Skin Brightening Solutions

  1. Tiffany

    Nars Laguna Illuminator, Mac vanilla pigmet, and The Balm louminizer are also great for darker skin, I use them every day.

  2. LJ

    Angela this is a really interesting and fun-to-read post!

    This really caught my attention: “For many of us around the globe, especially women of colour, maintaining a bright complexion, combating hyperpigmentation, and maintaining an even skin tone is a problem all year round!”

    I have all these problems, although my skin is lighter than NC15, but I look so dull and my skin is not even in tone at all – very blotchy, mostly with red scars and otherwise just red, but very cool in tone and just not attractive at all.I find it hard to get the balance right with my oily skin between having a ‘bright complexion’ and looking greasy…do you think Benefit that gal would suit my oily skin type?

    Other than that, I’m definitely going to start using my Moonbeam more, I’ve used it only once as a highlight, but now I can see that contouring with it is a better idea!

    Thanks for a really great post!

  3. Frenchie

    Great post. Was just noting my Winter dull skin this morning! What about mixing the Vit C powder in with pure aloe; would that work as well? Also, I use Proactive. Do you think the Vit C mix would cause any reaction on top of that?

  4. Nikki

    Hey Angela,

    I just wanted to think you for your contributions to Temptalia! I love having a chemist’s perspective available on my favorite beauty site and look forward to trying out your vitamin C recommendation. I bought rose hip seed oil because of your previous article and have been very happy with it. :)

  5. Denise

    Love this article! Lately I’ve been rather obsessed with illuminators. My caramel colored skin looks pretty good even without foundation. But I recently purchased two products both by Laura Mercier that I love , the peach mosaic shimmer bloc and the rose face illuminator. I apply on my check bones to get a healthy radiate gleam. Some of the other illuminators I’ve tried have been too light, so happy with these two! I also like the Nars orgasm one too.

  6. Dini

    Thanks for the post. I am always looking for ways to brighten and even out my skin without spending a fortune. Glad to see at home and health food store suggestions that yield results!

  7. Nikki A

    Thanks so much for this! Will definitely look for the vit C (just finished a very pricey kit, glad to know there’s a cheaper option), and just ordered samples of moonbeam and orgasm.