Recently, a couple of my friends have asked for my advice concerning their skin. I usually ask what the problem is and what products they are using, but the usual answer these days seems to be “Just face wipes”, to which I respond with silent shock before crying “That’s it?!” Let’s face it, some people have immaculate skin and do absolutely nothing for it. For the not so fortunate, we have to work hard to keep our skin looking good. However, I think those bad habits will eventually bite you in the arse (probably in the form of fine lines and dull looking skin). So for my friends, and anyone else who wants to start looking after their skin before dealing with irreversible damage, I thought I would post this beginners guide to building a basic skincare routine.
Your skin picks up a lot of dirt and grime throughout the day (including makeup), so it's probably a good idea to wash it every morning and night. Unfortunately water doesn't cut it, like dirty dishes, our skin needs something a little more concentrated to help clear out our pores. And as for packaged face wipes, I would recommend leaving those for traveling or days you have no access to clean water. They contain heaps of alcohol that strip the natural oils and PH levels of your skin. Instead I would opt for a micellar water (Bioderma, Garnier, La Roche Possay). With a few wipes it will remove 98% of your makeup and it’s much gentler on your skin.
Twice a week, usually after you cleanse, you can exfoliate. This removes all the dead skin cells that have built up over the last few days, it encourages cell turnover and also brightens dull, and sluggish looking skin. Some exfoliators have beads or grains that loosen the dead skin, and because they can be quite harsh on the skin should only be used twice a week at most.
Straight after cleansing you can use a toner. A toner removes all the leftover dirt, makeup, and any residue left after cleansing. Personally I don't like toners, particularly western ones. Like face wipes, they contain a lot of alcohol that strip your skin. In Asia, they have 'essences', which are used the same way as toners, but usually work to put back the moisture that was lost after cleansing. Interesting, hey? Regardless of skin type, I recommend something with more moisturising properties, or a toner without alcohol at least.
A treatment product, which comes in multiple forms like a serum, concentrate, or oil, targets a very specific concern in a way the products above cannot. Whether its acne, wrinkles, pigmentation, or dehydration, there’s something for everything. I personally think rose-hip oil is a great treatment to start off with, it's one of those all-rounder products that treats acne, sun damage, it has anti-aging properties, and it's organic!
The fourth and final step in any routine is to moisturise. Not only does it restore moisture to your skin, keeping it soft, smooth, and young looking, it also acts as a barrier to protect skin from daily grime and pollution.
Masks aren't always necessary, but sometimes they’re just nice to use. They usually take a bit of time to dry or penetrate the skin (10-30 minutes, sometimes overnight) and can be really good for winding down in the evening. Like serums, there are many different products for different problems. If you have blackheads or suffer from breakouts, clay masks are great at drawing out impurities. For those with dry, dehydrated skin there are sleeping packs that you can apply over your moisturiser and leave overnight. For everything else there’s cloth masks, not the most glamorous looking, but damn does your skin feel good afterwards.
Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to tell someone what to use and what would work well for their skin, so finding the right products take time and money, so it’s always important to do a bit of research before forking out all of your hard-earned money.
Hope this helps!