In our Rehab Your Skin series, we’re taking things back to basics to help you reset your skincare regimen in the new year and reclaim positive skincare habits.
In many ways, brightening routines are the end-game of any true skincare addict: you’ve made your way through the balancing and hydrating stages of basic skincare, you’ve folded in the actives that work on your anti-aging interests, and finally, you’re ready to make your main skincare goal the attainment of luminosity as opposed to just plump or smooth skin. In that sense, one might expect a brightening skincare routine to be incredibly fussy, but the ABCs of a brightening routine are actually pretty simple, and for that matter, they’re much closer to the CDEs if you actually consider the basics: use lots of vitamin C, don’t skimp on moisturizer, and exfoliate regularly. A brightening routine should focus on resurfacing fresh skin and plying it with plenty of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing goodies, and thankfully, all that and more is achievable with a set of just five products. Here’s the low down on what would work best to get your glow on ASAP:
An effective brightening cleanser is one that is both deeply cleansing and gentle on the skin as its never a good idea to overwork your face before you start stacking on the goodies. Vitamin C’s a superstar, yes, but it can be pretty zesty and sting for folx with sensitive skin; Ole Henriksen’s The Clean Truth Foaming Cleanser ($38) has a light enough concentration of vitamin C that it’s beneficial without being biting, and the foam has a lovely red tea scent as an added plus.
Exfoliation for brighter skin is not a wet almond meal or honey and sugar deal–you have to aim for exfoliation at a more cellular level, and in that case, nothing works better than a good exfoliating acid. Pixi’s Glow Tonic ($18) contains just the right concentration of glycolic acid to really brighten things up with daily use, and is suitable across all skin types as well.
Here’s the step that matters the most in a brightening regimen: the essence/serum. It really doesn’t matter whether you like them thick or thin, but it does matter that you use a high-performance product bursting with nutrients and let your skin drink it up. Missha’s Time Revolution First Treatment Essence ($49) is to the brim with fermented yeast, which promotes cellular renewal, while Erborian’s Yuza Double Lotion ($44) contains yuzu-derived vitamin C, which is both uplifting and brightening.
A vitamin C-heavy moisturizer would keep the good times glowing, but it’s important to get one that also soothes the skin to offset the active vitamin. Biossance’s Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil ($90) forms a lush, protective layer of plant-derived squalane on the skin to seal in the underlying layers, effectively creating a hydrating barrier between your skin and the outside world.
Finally, no routine is complete without sunscreen, and one of the best in the game is Murad’s Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum ($72), with a broad spectrum SPF of 30, a final layer of vitamin C and a range of patented ingredients that work on repairing your skin while protecting it.