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How to Brighten Skin Overnight

By Elsa de Berker

For most, spring is still a distant thought—a pretty, gilded concept that feels more like a fantasy than anything tangible or realistic. Or maybe, depending on where you live, things outside are already starting to hint at the incoming seasonal shift. Wherever you land on the spectrum, though, we’d like to make a proposal: it might be time to get ahead on your spring cleaning. This doesn’t just mean tackling the sock drawer or finally getting ‘round to donating that pile of clothes in your closet to charity (although that helps). What it means is taking the time to rethink, reconsider, and rejig your bathroom cabinet to suit the time of year. 

Of course, this all begins with throwing out anything past its expiration date and perhaps packing away those ‘interesting’ lipsticks leftover from Halloween. Next step: Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself what your skin needs to thrive moving forward. For most of us, a winter complexion equals a lackluster one, so you’ll want to seek out ingredients with brightening effects as you work towards replenishing your shelves with a new hero product, or perhaps entirely overhauling your routine. Formulations that include vitamin C and exfoliating acids—lactic and glycolic acid are your best bets here—effectively wipe away winter dullness to leave your complexion sparkling. 

If this sounds like a daunting task, fear not. Below are more details on three recommended products—and five targeted tips—to help your skin live its most radiant life before it’s sandal season. 

Step 1: Declutter
“Think out with the old, in with the new,” says Youth To The People’s Director of Education, Laura Cline, who suggests streamlining your routine and sticking to a tried-and-true regimen of cleansing, exfoliating, and boosting with vitamin C to sweep away dull and damaged cells and encourage shiny new replacements. Her power trio? This Superfood Cleanser, the Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner, and a delicious formula called the Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask, which contains a stable form of vitamin C called tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD) that's able to penetrate the lipid barrier, delivering nutrients where most needed. 

Step 2: Make a wish list
It’s easier to track results if you formulate a list of goals before you get started, so jot down what you’re hoping to achieve on your phone or a piece of paper. Some people find taking a quick photo useful, too. This can be particularly helpful “if someone is wanting to brighten existing dark spots,” says Cline. “With this specific trio there are both immediate and consistent-use benefits,” she adds: “The overnight results include plump, hydrated skin, refined pores, and overall energized radiance. The long term results come due to the way your skin produces melanin from deep within.” The skin’s natural cell turnover cycle is 28 days, so stick with tracking your progress for one month minimum. 

Step 3: Perfect your technique
Now that you’re really getting into the swing of things, you’re going to want to make sure you’re not forgetting any little pesky spots or hidden crevices. So, maximize your routine with the correct technique: for deep cleaning and makeup removal, apply the Superfood Cleanser to wet hands on a dry face and then gradually add water to get a mild lather going. Massage your face for 30 seconds before rinsing. For the Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner, “It’s best to introduce it three times a week, and then work up to nightly use,” says Cline. “Apply a small amount with a cotton pad or directly onto hands, and avoid the eye area.” Some toners, like this one, feel tacky when used alone, (find out why this is a good thing), but you can mitigate the feeling by applying a rich layer of the Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask soon after. Just be sure to wait two minutes beforehand so that the AHAs can do their work. 

Step 4: Brush up on science
Even if you’re pretty clued in on chemistry, there are bound to be some skincare ingredients you’re less familiar with. A little knowledge can go a long way. See Exhibit A: “The Superfood Cleanser is packed with brightening antioxidants including vitamin C, and a gentle sulfate-free surfactant to effectively prepare the skin,” explains Cline. “Once skin is prepped, the Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner has a blend of lactic and glycolic acid that releases damaged cells. This encourages a healthy cell turnover rate that’s crucial for brightening the look of skin; the Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask delivers THD ascorbate, which is 50 times more effective than the most common form of vitamin C,  L-ascorbic acid. THD also inhibits a specific enzyme linked to excess melanin production (which causes sun spots), resulting in brighter skin.”

Step 5: Invest in sunscreen
By now, your spring mission is well underway, so reward yourself with… sunscreen! Investing in SPF 30 or higher will protect all the hard work you’ve put in thus far and safeguard your dazzling results for years to come. Don’t forget to reapply it throughout the day, too! 

Written by Elsa de Berker for Youth To The People