The essentials for any brightening skin care routine

I turned 30 early this month. On my birthday, I drank wine, ate cake and thought about how my skin would change over the next decade. I embraced the thoughts.

Thoughts of my "age well" and brightening skin care routine. Mama Oparo and her sisters are proof I have genetics on my side.

I've also got Sunday Riley Good Genes and Luna Sleeping Night Oil aka skin treatments from the gods - in my corner. All in all, no biggie.

I couldn't help but think how often my skin care routine has changed over the years. You see when starting out in skin care, I, just like many of us, assumed we will have one skin type our whole life.

You won’t. We don’t. Why? Because stuff happens.




The skin care routine for your 30s will not be the same as that in your 20s or 40s. You won’t have the same needs or concerns at that time of the month, never mind a decade.

All that can be done is your best.

For many African women, getting rid of dark spots is a major skin concern. Investing in these 3 skin care essentials is a great way to a brighter, even complexion.

3 brightening skin care routine essentials


I talked about sunscreen a lot while on Wolf + Moroko. I continue to be a huge advocate.

Usually, dark skinned women forgo the sunscreen talmbout (Luvvie shoutout!)

“I don’t need sunscreen, Jesus and melanin are all the protection I need.”

Girl. No.

The sun, as wonderful as it is, can cause skin damage through UV radiation. UV rays are invisible to the naked eye, but the damage they cause isn’t.

You see, melanin is part of the body’s natural defense system. When harmful UV radiation reaches the unprotected skin, excess melanin is produced.

The result? Uneven skin tone. If you’re lucky.

You could also get sunburn, wrinkles, dryness and inflammation (think acne and eczema). The worst thing you can get is skin cancer.

Suffice to say, no brightening skin care routine is complete without the protection that sunscreen provides.

Whatever you are trying to heal: acne, eczema, rosacea etc sun damage will make it worse.

Listen to Uncle Buz Luhrmann and wear sunscreen. The SPF in moisturizer or makeup is not enough.

Invest in a proper sunscreen product like Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel or La Roche Posay Anthelios (fave!).

Both these sunscreens leave no white or grey residue. So you won’t walk around looking like Casper’s third cousin removed, Qaspre. I promise. 

Save: Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel

Splurge: La Roche Posay Anthelios

Brightening Serums

A serum is a gel or liquid you pat onto the skin after toning but before moisturizer.

Well formulated serums are bae. They are the workhorse of your skin care. They are potent and get the job - whether it’s brightening, hydration or reducing inflammation - done!

A brightening serum will have ingredients like Vitamin C, kojic acid, licorice extract, niacinamide, arbutin and (the often misunderstood) hydroquinone.

If there is anywhere you should splurge in a brightening skin care routine, a serum should be it.

Save: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

Splurge: Zelens Z Luminous Brightening Serum

Exfoliating toners

Behind every adult with a bright, even-toned complexion is a chemical exfoliate.

Hio mambo of rubbing your face with coffee scrubs and St. Ives like Gigi Hadid, please staahhhppp.

A great AHA/BHA exfoliant will get rid of the same dead skin cells, gentler and with less of a mess.

AHAs - Alpha Hydroxy Acids like glycolic, lactic and mandelic acid, are great for clearing dark spots and uneven tone. They gently remove the skin's top spotty, dull layer to reveal a blemish-free complexion.

BHAs - Beta Hydroxy Acids like betaine salicylate and salicylic acid reduce excess oil and heal acne. They penetrate the pore and reducing the excess oil.

A cult classic, Biologique Recherche (never tell me to pronounce this in public) has both AHA and BHAs. Sunday Riley, COSRX and Dr. Dennis Gross also make fantastic chemical exfoliates.

Save: COSRX AHA Whitehead Power Liquid and COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

Splurge: Biologique Recherche

In Conclusion...

Part of adulting is getting your skin care routine right. What is your favorite brightening product? Let us know in the comments!

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