Cassie Steer explains how to make your complexion your most precious (and affordable) commodity
The word ‘expensive’ is usually associated with super-yachts languishing in the Med or a monogrammed pochette nestled in the crook of a bouclé-swathed arm. But in the wellness era, ‘expensive’ is increasingly being applied to the idea of a fresh and sumptuous complexion too. Our skin has become the most potent indicator of the ‘wellthy’ age – where happiness, purpose and health are valued above traditional monetary wealth – explains Jessica Smith at trend forecaster The Future Laboratory. “Today, the ability to actively partake in all aspects of skin beauty, from diet and fitness to wellness, is becoming a huge status symbol. And as a result, expensive-looking skin is being re-thought of as the connection to a new kind of luxury lifestyle.”
Let’s face it, be it celebrities or the girl at work whose otherworldy epidermis draws you in like a magic-eye poster, some people just have that type of skin. The women you imagine have a facialist on speed-dial, who count the yoga studio as their second home and who mainline detoxifying juices. “My definition is skin that looks luxuriously supple and poreless, with a delicate texture. It has a radiance that says it’s been well looked after,” says Val Garland, the make-up artist who popularised the phrase backstage at the a/w 2017 catwalk shows.
And who doesn’t want that? Just ask the tens of thousands of Twitter and Instagram users who shared LA-based make-up artist Ellie Choi’s step-by-step tips to achieving ‘glass’ skin – a Korean trend for a super-reflective complexion. The reason? Skin and self-esteem go hand in hand. “Skin is inextricably linked with our appearance and for many people that’s interlinked with their sense of worth,” says Dr Alexandra Mizara, consultant psychologist in psychodermatology at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
Our skin is also a social indicator of changes in the prevailing zeitgeist. And 2017’s zeitgeist is the covetable glow that skin-savvy Koreans call ‘chok chok’ skin (literally ‘damp’), an ethereal, almost sweaty glow, which in years gone by would have been swathed under a cloud of loose powder.
Before the eye rolls kick in, good genes do of course come into play. Aspects such as pore size (which sadly can’t be shrunk, opened or closed) are down to mother nature. Still, according to the experts, great skin can be made and not born. Nutritional therapist and founder of Equi London supplements, Alice Mackintosh, says that luxurious skin definitely comes from within. “Include omega-3 oils in your diet to keep cell membranes buoyant and to curb inflammatory responses. Also add in silica, which helps the body make its own collagen; good bacteria [try probiotics found in products such as Greek yoghurt, sauerkraut and kefir] to boost a weakened immune system and combat flare-ups, and zinc to help balance hormones and discourage acne.”
The three Cs
Expensive skin hinges on the three Cs: circulation, clarity and ‘chok chok’. For circulation, it’s all about facial massage. Vigorous pummelling won’t damage the skin (we promise!) and is the route to a more glowy complexion, says facialist Nichola Joss. “When you massage the skin you immediately bring blood to the surface, feeding the skin cells with oxygen and nutrition. Massage also helps to eliminate puffiness and toxins.” According to Joss, the more often you massage, the better, as the results are cumulative.
In terms of clarity, getting the flawless texture of a newborn involves making sure the surface of the skin is super-smooth. “The reason healthy skin looks glowing is because it has good light reflection thanks to hydrated outer skin cells,” says Dr Nick Lowe, consultant dermatologist at The Cranley Clinic in London. “When the epidermis is compromised due to dryness or sun damage, this outer layer appears dull as the cells are less able to reflect light.” Another incentive for using SPF.
And a slew of light-reflecting products are hitting shelves to meet demand. Try Niod’s Photography Fluid Opacity 12%, £20, which contains light-reflecting prisms, followed by Elemis Pro-Radiance Illuminating Eye Balm, £35. Or for a little extra help, opt for make-up with a holographic element such as L’Oréal Paris’ Holographic Glow Kit, £12.99.
Finally, for that covetable ‘chok chok’ quality? Hyaluronic acid, found in Avene’s Physiolift Day Smoothing Emulsion, £25, and Glamglow’s Dream Duo Overnight Transforming Treatment, £42, will leave your complexion dewy, not oily.
The upshot? Expensive skin is so much more than a fancy face cream with a fancier price tag (however effective it may be). The key is to take care of your complexion in a multi-faceted way. So move over, knee-high Jimmy Choos. This season, we’ll be investing our time and attention in expensive skin.
Image: Sarah Silver