"Radiance" - it's the latest buzzword in the beauty industry. Visit any skincare counter or open any magazine and you can't help but notice a profusion of new products promising radiant, glowing skin. It seems no matter how old we are, when we look in the mirror, what we really want to see gazing back is a luminous complexion: natural, rosy, blemish-free skin. And the good news is, from creams and balms to serums and foundations, there is a product out there for every age and every skin type.
"Radiant skin looks glowing, healthy with an even tone," explains Brigitte Weber, beauty director at The Strand hair and beauty salon. "Everybody would like to have a clear complexion with a healthy glow, without having to wear any make-up. This has been considered the pinnacle of beauty for hundreds of years."
It certainly sounds wonderful, but how exactly do you go about getting that elusive flawless flush, and which new products should we be using? Weber suggests a multipronged approach. "First, use products with exfoliating ingredients that remove dull and dry skin. Also use products that stimulate cellular circulation and give the skin a healthy glow," she says. "Skincare that contains light-reflecting pigments will give a shimmer effect to the face, and always look for products that tackle uneven pigmentation. And let's not forget dietary supplements which nourish the cell walls and plump out the skin."
According to Samantha Chow, senior marketing and public relations manager for Swiss beauty giant Bellefontaine, the key to achieving radiant skin is patience. "Radiant skin is achievable at any age, but being patient is the key to success. Dull, lifeless skin doesn't happen overnight," she says. "The good news is after at least a month on a steady, glow-inducing regimen, using products like our Radiant Energizing Serum, which contains vitamins C, E and B5, you can expect to have substantially smoother, more radiant skin."
Many of the big beauty brands are taking radiance-boosting products to the next level with new combination products that do a lot of the hard work for you. In May, luxury British spa and skincare brand Elemis launched a hybrid moisturiser that promises "beautiful skin in a flash".
"Radiance is linked to youthfulness," explains Noella Gabriel, director of product and treatment development at Elemis. "Our Pro-Radiance Illuminating Flash Balm is a day cream, primer and make-up base all in one. It moisturises and brightens, targeting the upper and lower levels of the skin to give an immediate effect." Packed with natural ingredients including purple orchid, acai berry and fruit acids, the balm promises to tighten and brighten the skin while evening out tone and targeting early signs of ageing.
It sounds almost too good to be true, but experts agree that choosing a product with the right ingredients can indeed improve the appearance of dull skin, fine lines and blemishes. Leading the way are antioxidants, such as vitamin E, ferulic acid, green tea extract and key antioxidant vitamin C.
"Antioxidants are particles that can neutralise free radicals such as pollution, stress and UV [ultraviolet rays], and prevent their harmful effects on skin tissues," says Hong Kong dermatologist Dr Tinny Ho from SkinCentral. "Anyone who wants to slow down the ageing of the skin, especially those who spend time outdoors, should consider using a vitamin C [L-ascorbic acid] product. Studies have shown vitamin C supports collagen production in the skin and reduces pigmentation."
The vast majority of the new radiance products are indeed packed full of antioxidants with several on the market focusing on vitamin C. Boutique Australian beauty brand Aesop's B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel combines one part vitamin B to three parts vitamin C along with green tea extract to hydrate the skin. The gel is quickly absorbed and doesn't leave the skin greasy - perfect for a humid climate. Burt's Bees, best known for its lip salve, has released a Radiance collection infused with Royal Jelly and packed with more than 100 nutrients including vitamins C, E, niacin and folic acid. Japanese brands Clé de Peau Beauté and Shu Uemura, meanwhile, have introduced innovative serums designed to "awaken" the skin and restore a youthful glow.
Make-up brands are also jumping on the radiance bandwagon with products promising to enhance, rather than cover, the skin's natural luminosity. NARS, for instance, recently launched its new Radiant Cream Compact Foundation collection.
"Mr [Francois] Nars believes pretty skin should appear radiant and natural," says the company's lead make-up artist, Priscilla Yu. "He wanted to start a new make-up trend, so he began with the catwalk - over the past few seasons we can see radiant skin from different fashion shows [such as] Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang and Thakoon. Mr Nars started the trend in the fashion world, and gradually it has spread to everyone." According to Yu, the new cream compact collection builds on the company's skincare range, which combines minerals, antioxidants, marine algae extract and Polynesian seawater with its Light-Active Micro-Prisms to hydrate and boost clarity.
But it's not just what you put on your skin that makes a difference to your inner glow. Lifestyle changes can also impact how your skin looks and feels - taking years off your face. "To improve and maintain the skin, it is essential to combine the use of homecare products with regular professional skincare treatments. We advise regular visits to the salon every 10 days if you are aiming to improve a specific skin concern - dull skin and fine lines, pigmentation, acne and so on," says Weber, who recommends the Murad vitamin C facial to tackle pigmentation and boost radiance. "Also, remember to maintain a healthy diet and eat lots of fruit and vegetables with high water content, as your body will retain the moisture."
Chow agrees having facial treatments can help improve and maintain skin complexion. "Our Radiant Energizing Treatment, for example, will fight free radicals and fight the ageing process. It's also important to learn how to manage stress. Being overly stressed can lead to acne breakouts and other skin problems," she says. "Avoid smoking too, as it narrows the little blood vessels in the outermost layers of the skin, diminishing blood flow and depriving the skin of oxygen and nutrients like vitamin A."
Ho's lifestyle tips for maintaining healthy, glowing and youthful skin include plenty of sleep. "It is important to get enough sleep, as not enough can lead to dull, lifeless skin. Avoid coffee, as it tends to dehydrate the skin, and make sure you have enough water - but this doesn't mean the more you drink the better, just as much as your body needs," she says. "Avoid traumatising the natural lipid barrier of the skin by over-cleansing or using too many products. Instead, build up the skin structure with products that include proven ingredients."
With a few healthy lifestyle changes and a radiance-boosting product or two, the next time you look in the mirror, a glowing, blemish-free face may just be gazing back.
From left: Clé de Peau Beauté Le Sérum; Tatcha Radiant Deep Brightening Serum; Elemis Pro-Radiance Illuminating Flash Balm; Shu Uemura Tsuya Skin Youthful Radiance Generator