Hey everyone and welcome back to my blog!
Are you a skincare newbie? Yes, I am talking to you-you love to read all about the new skincare trends, wonder how derma rolling will help you, what are those probiotics and minerals sourced from deep sea water meant to do, that K-beauty 10 layer routine and now officially infamous 7 toning step. The illusion of how something can magically transform your skin shown in the ads is a sure treat to the eyes and your brain loves to store these exciting events vividly. The scenario for the next few days? Anticipation, adding products to the cart online(I know, I know..It is just a tentative process..don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone, lol) and finally caving in by the time weekend hits(I am still talking about you).
Before you even begin to make up your mind and invest in skincare products by falling into that dump where all of us have been, at least once, let me talk you through bit of the basics and then to more technical strategies to achieve the best from your skincare without looking like a mess, don’t even think you would look like a “hot mess” with a wrecked skin, trust me, babe!
Cleansing is the first step to any skincare routine, so let’s start by learning the right way to wash your face(neck included).
THOROUGH CLEANSE OR A 10 SECOND RINSE?
We should cleanse our face twice a day, that’s a no brainer, but which cleansers to use, how long to massage them on the skin and what is the ideal water temperature, that’s a question we all have to answer ourselves and many have learnt with a trial and error method. While you are already reading this post, why torture your skin any further, huh? I have noticed that most people are fairly bothered about cleansing. The logic is simple here-getting rid of excess sebum collected with dirt, sweat and everything the weather and pollution throws at our skin needs to be washed before going any further. You will only lead to more acne breakouts and dead skin accumulation if you do not cleanse well and directly jump to using your treasured potions, which will not even get properly absorbed. Just like you can’t rush your morning trip to the restroom and brushing teeth, so is washing your face.
The right way to cleansing– wet your face and neck with warm water, splash a couple of times to loosen the grime and makeup. Then massage your foaming, cream or gel cleanser(depending on your skin requirement) for a good minute. Why a minute? It usually takes around a minute to minute and a half to cover the entire face and neck, if you go over every area twice(thoroughly). Make sure to be gentle(rubbing will not remove any extra dirt, if you think) covering the hairline, behind the ears, sides of the nose and neck. Rinse with warm water only(warm water is the ideal temperature to induce blood flow and melts makeup faster, so there is no tugging) and do not immediately ice your skin. The sudden shock can lead to further irritation. Use the opportunity to give your skin a small massage, if oil cleansing.
Non-greasy cream cleansers are great for a light morning cleanse.
Looking for something substantial? These summer cleansers cater to various skin types.
RIGHT TECHNIQUE TO LAYERING
“Our skin doesn’t really absorb everything we put on it”, the sooner this is understood, the better you will be able to choose the right treatments. By layering on toners, essences, 3-4 treatment products followed by a moisturiser and oil, there is only a slim chance that even half of those products will be able to perform their best.
If you are suffering from acne, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles at the same time, the best way is to treat them alternately. Use antioxidant, dark spot correcting and hydrating serums(look for products that contain multitasking ingredients like Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid) under your sunscreen. Add peptides and chemical exfoliants like Retinol, AHAs or BHAs at night to gently slough away dead skin cell buildup, melt away whiteheads and blackheads and increase cell turnover while aiding in collagen and elastin production. Adding all types of active ingredients at the same time can hamper the skin’s pH and lead to further irritation.
Understand your skincare concerns and use products accordingly. Always include your treatment products as the first steps after cleansing and toning. Use suitable oils or moisturisers to act as occlusive agents to seal in the moisture and protect the barrier. As our skin is shedding faster with treatments, the young skin is bound to be sensitive, so moisturisers that increase the natural water and moisture balance to the skin are important. You do not have to spend a fortune and can easily rely on affordable and effective moisturisers(links in this post further).
HOW MUCH EXFOLIATION IS ENOUGH
I discussed a lot about exfoliation, why I recommend it so much and the different products you can choose from in this post. If you suffer from excessive congestion, acne breakouts, wrinkles, dullness, hyperpigmentation, overactive sebaceous glands, then chemical exfoliants can do wonders for your skin.
They are best used twice weekly, to begin with and 3 times a week once your skin has adjusted to the formula. This ensures your skin is at the optimal condition to accept products and enable them to get more absorbed without any irritation. It is often misunderstood that daily exfoliation equals smoother skin and clearer canvas. Instead, you will be ripping off that barrier which is important to protect from sun, pollution, extreme temperatures and even other products(treatments) we apply on our skin. Always remember, our skin needs both hydration and moisturisation to function effectively and look its best. Exfoliants can interfere with oil and water balance so use them not more than thrice a week to reap all their benefits.
I love physical exfoliation, aka scrubs, as they can instantly give smoother skin texture and prep you for any event. These gentler form of physical scrubs are fantastic to use on sensitive skin types and they leave the skin really smooth and bright. However, they should be restricted to use only if you do not have multiple active acne spots or sagging skin.
If you are all about those grainy sugar scrubs that leave your skin baby soft, go for budget-friendly superstars.
If you do not want to look like you just got a severe sunburn, then follow my advice and enjoy healthier glowing skin.
Another skincare misconception is to treat the acne as soon and as fast as it develops. I agree that treating the spots as soon as they appear can reduce their healing time but applying the spot treatment multiple times a day in attempts to dry out the acne faster is a bad decision. Our body triggers the immune system as soon as an infection hits it, acne is nothing but a bacterial infection.
The common types of inflamed acne breakouts- pustules and papules/cysts
Pustules are those that start off with a pink painful swelling and has a white head like an appearance in 1-2 days. The whitehead is a pus which eventually dries out and falls off. If you start treating a pustule multiple times a day, the skin on the surface will dry out and the pus will be still active underneath. My advice is to gently treat the area with a spot treatment in the night and apply a lightweight moisturiser over it. Your body will do the rest. I do not even suggest popping the pustule when its ready because you are very much likely to injure the skin. When the pus will dry, it will turn into a dislodged blackhead or whitehead like substance that will fall off itself. Only pop a “ready pimple” if you are sure, your actions don’t lead to scarring.
Papules/Cysts are more like soft bumps under the skin that do not have a head. You will mostly find these types of breakouts on the chin area. They can last for even a week before eventually flattening out. You have to just leave them alone and treat exactly like pustules except, you can not pop them. A benzoyl peroxide combined with differin or clindamycin, if it is a big cyst(don’t buy without consultation) work best on papules. Do not overdo or you will lead to irritation of the skin that will leave an annoying dark mark.
It will be best if you avoid the ingredients from your kitchen like cinnamon, pure lemon juice, nutmeg, ginger and etc to use as spot treatments. Also, a big no-no for toothpaste. Throw this phrase out of your window, “What is good enough to eat is good enough to put on your face”. For example, garlic and ginger have so many health benefits, so, should I be expecting you to put them on your face and lead to unnecessary stimulation that is irritating to the skin? Similarly, sugar causes glycation when eaten in large amounts but is extremely good as a skincare ingredient. I think you got your answer.
Also, just because you have 2-3 pimples twice a month or when you have had too much junk food doesn’t mean you change the entire skincare routine. You can follow up with lightening acne marks(if any) once the inflammation is completely gone.
APPLYING YOUR MOISTURISER THE WRONG WAY
Moisturisers are meant to be used on all skin types, you can choose oil based or water based formulas but the function of every moisturiser is to form a protective layer on the skin and many are designed to offer other skin benefits by enabling the penetration of certain ingredients.
One very very common mistake most people do is the quantity used and technique of application. Then they complain about moisturiser being too oily on inner cheeks, not moisturising enough in certain areas and having no effect on the dryness of the neck. Our skin structure is designed in a way where more oil is produced in the central areas of our face and is drier towards the outer ends and neck. But, unintentionally we start massaging the skincare products from the centre of our face and then move outwards, finally reaching towards the neck where only a small amount is deposited, if there’s any left. This leads to more congestion in the centre of the face.
The right way to apply a moisturiser is by warming it between the finger pads, starting from the neck, then to the outer areas of our face and finally, the t-zone area where only a little moisture is enough. Since I started applying any heavier formulas in this pattern, gone are the days of an oil slick t-zone area.
TIP– When on a budget, go for fragrance-free moisturisers and use them around the eye area as well. There is no need to buy an extra eye cream if you do not have any major concerns.
INCORPORATING NEW PRODUCTS
I constantly advise people to take it slow with skincare. It has a mind of its own and functions perfectly without our assistance unless we have a stressful lifestyle or hormonal imbalances, which again is very much related to our lifestyle choices. When shifting to a new country, it takes longer to adjust to the people and lifestyle, similarly, our skin can go from glowing to peeling if too much is introduced at the same time.
It can be very exciting to start using an eye cream, hydrating serum, brightening booster, some fancy moisturiser all at the same after a big haul at your favourite beauty store, only because everything you wanted was at 50% discount. Let me put it this way, if you are using a hydrating serum and introduced a moisturiser at the same time, how are you possibly going to understand what is helping and what is not?
Add one product to your regular CTM regime and use it for two weeks before incorporating anything new. The haste of using a product for one week to lighten dark spots and expecting your skin to shine like snow white is childish. We use exfoliants to shed dead skin cells little faster than usual doesn’t mean our skin renews every week(it would be a disaster if that happened). A time period of three weeks is necessary to see visible results(takes much longer with melasma patches).
WHERE TO SPLURGE AND HOW TO SAVE
Like every step of a proper skincare regime is important, the right choice of products makes all the difference. But there is no guarantee that a higher price tag will always deliver expected results. Some brands like La Mer, La Prairie have been respected for many years and people really don’t mind spending a fortune on them. However, most of us can find splurging so much a bit tedious, no, a lot tedious.
Thankfully, there are hundreds and thousands of brands, both organic and cosmeceuticals that offer extremely good products without making you cringe when paying the credit card bills.
Cleansers get rinsed away in less than five minutes and most drugstore brands offer great options. You should resist from buying high end cleansers(go ahead if you must), instead invest in anti ageing treatments(even if you are 25). Antioxidant-rich products require knowledge and funds to manufacture a well effective formula that will not cause any irritation and remain stable till the last use. Similarly, AHAs like Pixi Glow Tonic that does everything from reducing congestion, lightening dark spots and helping to achieve youthful glow are formulated with many plant extracts and soothing ingredients so the sensitising effects of Glycolic Acid are suppressed. These types of products actually improve the health of your skin from within.
As you are already investing in serums and boosters, you can go light handed when choosing moisturisers. Look for non SPF products that contain ceramides, humectants, natural plant oils, or experiment with cost-effective K-beauty formulas. There is no need to buy a day and a night cream- they hardly have any significant difference.
Also, stop filling your bins to the brim with cotton pads everytime you apply toners or essences. This is simply a wastage of product as half of it gets absorbed in cotton pads, which then evaporates. Use your fingers and palms to apply watery formulas with a patting motion.
SUNSCREEN FACTS AND MYTHS
SPF factor, finish, reapplication, formula, chemical or physical.., the list can go on forever when looking for the right sunscreen. In fact, it is one of the hardest products to choose in skincare. This complicated yet so vital part of our skincare regime is a hot topic and will be even more for the coming years. Our environmental shield is getting weaker and the sun’s rays will be even more penetrable making this a top priority for health concerns as well.
The first fact is, sunscreen works by protecting our skin and prevent tanning, photo ageing and cell mutation(when induced by the sun). The myth is, all sunscreens work the same way and a factor of 100 will survive the damaging effects of sun throughout the day.
The second fact is, higher SPF means more protection and for longer but, the myth is, SPF(Sun Protection Factor) is everything you need to look for in a sunscreen.
Another very common fact is you can use SPF infused mineral powders, foundations but you can use them as an alternative to a proper high factor sunscreen is a myth.
Now, let me share some basic sunscreen knowledge.
-If you live in tropical(for example, Asia, Australia, Caribbean)or hot climates(like Middle East), sunscreen with a factor of 50+, like these with both UVA and UVB is a must for all skin types(especially light to fair).
-Applying 20-30 minutes before going outdoors is true but reapplication every 3 hours is a must,(if you are outdoors) no matter how good the sunblock is.
-There is a difference between sunscreen and a sunblock(more on this in another post), but both provide protection from sun.
NOTE– Sunblocks/Sunscreens can not protect you 100% and extra precautions are needed to be implicated.
-Unless you are aware of the formula, makeup and skincare with inbuilt SPF should be used as an additional protection only with the regular sunscreen.
-The best sunscreen won’t make any difference if you apply only a pea size amount and massage it in to your skin. If you are going to be outdoors for more than 2 hours during afternoon, then consider applying your sunblock in two layers, leaving a few minutes gap for each layer to set well, neck(front and back) and ears shouldn’t be neglected either. Don’t forget the other exposed parts of your body as well.
-Avoid sunblocks with higher percentages of alcohol and fragrance. Go for sans alcohol and fragrance free which is safer in the long run.
-Do not rely on natural or herbal sunscreen ingredients like argan oil, aloe vera and carrot seed oil. Their properties of providing a shield from the sun is nothing but a gimmick as they are just not strong enough to stand up parallel with well researched and clinically proven ingredients. These ingredients can only provide minimal protection because of their natural composition.
HOW TO ALTER SKINCARE ROUTINE WITH AGE
There is no strict rule for this, however, with age, our skin requires certain nutrients and cosmetic treatments to look beautiful longer. Ingredients for collagen production, softening wrinkles, reducing the melasma when topically applied can make a significant difference in how our skin looks and feels.
At the age of 18-24, our skin renews at optimal speed and is rich in lipids. Your skincare should include lots of hydration because we lose a lot of water through sweating, adequate time spent outdoors and with indoor cooling/heating environments. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, spring water, glycerin, vitamin C, antioxidants in a simple CTM routine with a serum can really help to maintain that youthful glow. Hydrafacials with some extractions should be done at least once in two months.
The current lifestyle is very deteriorating to the health, that makes our skin to start looking unhealthy even before we hit 30. An extra step with an added AHA will work in multiple ways to take away dullness, superficial wrinkles, tan, dark spots should be added from the age of 26. Microdermabrasion and Bluelight therapy can tremendously help with stressful and congested skin.
“Midlife crisis” is not just a word but a fact, especially among today’s women. And loosing that youth just adds to the depression. Start stronger percentages of retinol, peptides(yes, they do work), rich carrier oils, deep tissue massages to stimulate the flow and derma rollers. Lasers and mild in-clinic peels together with a rejuvenating skincare regime is guaranteed to make you look vibrant.
SKINCARE CONTINUES WHILE YOU ARE IN BED
Taking the makeup off before going to bed is a brilliant habit. But, there is lot more to healthy and blemish free skin.
Experts advice using silk pillow cases to prevent superficial wrinkles. But, if you live in humid weathers and sweat around your face and neck, then nothing is better than a pure organic cotton pillow cover. Changing it every third day is equally crucial as bacteria and dirt from your hair gets accumulated. Also, the best thing to do would be changing your sleeping posture. Sleeping on your stomach with your face shove in the pillow is not only unappealing but bad for your health and skin.
Another tip is not imagining yourself like a sleeping beauty and letting your rapunzel like locks move freely all over the pillow. Tying hair in a loose braid will not only help to prevent breakage and tangles, but stop the gunk from transferring to your face. Don’t forget, our scalp sheds dead skin cells, produces oil and has both bacteria and fungi.
This goes to those who constantly live in indoor heating and cooling environments. The dry atmosphere in your room will steal moisture from the skin. Instead of installing humidifiers, open room windows and switch on the fan to let natural humidity keep your skin moist atleast couple of times a week when the weather is not scorching hot.
I hope this post helped clarify your common skincare concerns, Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family. Also, please follow my blog if you love reading my posts.
Thank you so much.