We’re all stuck at home, anyway, so should we even bother with skincare? Well… Absolutely. While there are far worse times to have […]
We’re all stuck at home, anyway, so should we even bother with skincare? Well… Absolutely. While there are far worse times to have a breakout, the simple truth is there’s never really a good time for it. No one wants acne, period — so a skincare routine is, and always will be, a must.
Besides, most of us could use a distraction from all the crazy that’s going on in the world these days. So we might as well focus on what we can do to make ourselves feel better, look better, or both.
Before you jump right into skincare products, you need to find out what your skin type is. There are four main skin types: normal, dry, oily, or combination.
You can determine your skin type all on your own, right at home. Start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser. Don’t apply any products after! Wait for about an hour before you check your face in the mirror.
Normal skin generally looks smooth, without dry or oily patches. Dry skin can also look smooth, but it will feel tight. On the other hand, oily skin would appear shiny or greasy, and pores may be quite visible, too. If you have combination skin, which is the case for most people, your T-zone will be oily while the rest of your face may either be normal or dry. You can better assess your skin type with a blotting paper. Pat it gently on your forehead, your cheeks, your T-zone, and your chin. If it looks like you have combination skin, it’s best to use one sheet for each area so you can see which part (or parts) of your face is oily (or oilier).
Knowing your skin type is the first step towards understanding what your skin needs. For normal skin, it’s all about maintenance. If you have dry skin, prioritize hydration and moisturization, but if your skin is oily, then it’s oil control. For combination skin, you need both.
With so many products and brands in the market today, each with its own set of claims and promises, it could be easy to fall into the trap of overbuying. While knowing your skin type does narrow down your options somewhat, choosing products for your skincare routine could still get pretty overwhelming.
So let’s simplify. Bear in mind that skincare doesn’t have to be complicated — you don’t need a hundred different products to put on your face. The fewer the steps involved, the more likely you are to stick to a routine — and that applies to skincare, too! Just cover the basics: cleansing and exfoliation, followed by hydration and moisturization, and as needed, sun protection. That’s it.
No matter what your skin type is, cleansing and exfoliation are half the job, so you shouldn’t stop there. The other half are hydration and moisturization, and no, they’re not exactly the same thing. They have the same end-goal, which is to nourish your skin, but they’re still technically different. This may be an oversimplification, but here’s how you can look at it: hydration is to water, while moisturization is to oil. Your skin needs both. It’s not enough to get water in your skin, it’s equally important to seal it there — and that’s why those two go hand-in-hand.
As a final touch, don’t forget to put on some sunscreen. Even when we’re in our homes, we could still be exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
When you’re browsing on Amazon for skincare products to try, skip the part that tells you what the product is supposed to do and just go straight to the list of ingredients. Because ingredients never lie.
A quick Google search will tell you right away which ingredient does what for your skin, and that’s how you can match products to your skin type and skincare needs. This where the fun (or the challenge, depending on how you look at it) begins.
If you’re prone to (or if you’re currently experiencing) breakouts, here are the top four ingredients you should look for on a label: benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tea tree oil. Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic compound that kills acne-causing bacteria on your skin. Widely-used for acne treatment, it works by opening up and clearing your pores to dry out pimples.
Salicylic acid and tea tree oil (an essential oil derived from the leaves of the tea tree) have similar anti-bacterial effects as benzoyl peroxide, but they have the added benefit of soothing inflammation to reduce swelling and redness. The latter also helps promote skin healing.
Glycolic acid is an exfoliant that peels off dead cells on the skin’s outermost later to reveal new, younger skin underneath.
Just as taking care of your body means taking out the bad (exercising to sweat out toxins) and filling it up with the good (eating healthy), taking care of your skin should also abide by that principle. Acne treatment and prevention should be approached from all sides, so you have to round out your skincare routine with nourishment from ingredients like aloe vera, jojoba oil, and hyaluronic acid.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant grown for a plethora of uses, and skincare is at the top of that list. Its fleshy leaves have a gel-like substance inside, which contains not only water, but also antioxidants, enzymes, and even vitamins that nourish your skin.
Jojoba oil, which comes from the seeds of the jojoba plant, is a moisturizer that creates a protective barrier on your skin to prevent it from losing water.
Hyaluronic acid is unique to the other two as it’s a compound that naturally occurs in our skin (but the ones in skincare products are, of course, derived from plants!). It’s a polysaccharide — a large sugar molecule for us non-scientists — that holds water, effectively balancing your skin’s moisture and maintaining it.
Strictly speaking, those three ingredients don’t “fight” acne, but they play a big role in oil control and in cell regeneration. When your skin is sufficiently hydrated and moisturized, your oil glands won’t be prompted to overwork to combat dryness, and it can focus on producing new cells. Cell regeneration, which is basically your skin’s way of healing itself, is a natural process that usually happens in 28-day cycles. Just like our metabolism, it slows down as we age, but we can boost that process with complete, proper, and nourishing skincare.
In addition, ample moisture in your skin gives it its plumpness and elasticity. This reduces the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles, and helps prevent sagging, making it appear smoother (and making you look younger!).
When looking at skincare products and ingredients, the key is balance. And when it comes to using them, the key is consistency.
Having all the best skincare products in the world is pointless if we don’t consistently use them. We’re all guilty of going to bed at least once without washing away the day’s dirt and grime from our faces. That’s one of the worst (and sadly, most common) skincare mistakes we can make, followed by not using moisturizer after cleansing.
Another skincare gaffe is not giving skin enough time to adjust to the products we choose, which is especially common with acne treatments. Since treatments usually start working by “purging”— clearing out your skin from deep within — things could get worse before they get better, and a lot of us give up there when we really should keep going. Treatments take time, so patience is key. We need to give our skin time to adjust, and let the products do their job.
There are other things we can do to help our skin get better while we wait — eating well, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, working out regularly, and managing stress and anxiety. Healthy lifestyle choices make for healthy skin, too.
If you’re new to skincare, this is probably a lot to digest (and even if you’re already pretty well-versed on the topic, a refresher is a good thing, too), so let’s recap: (a) know your skin type, (b) choose products based on the right ingredients, and (c) use them regularly.
While you’re here, unlock your one-month free trial of SMACNE (just cover $7.95 for shipping) and get started on your journey to smackin’ good skin right at home!