Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Breaking Down Skincare Routines

It gets really confusing trying to figure out how many products you’re actually supposed to use on your face. Is toner really that important? Do I really need an eye cream? And what’s the deal with all these serums?

In general, a skincare routine--albeit a very involved skincare routine--looks something like this:

  • Cleanser
  • Toner
  • Serum
  • Moisturizer
  • Spot Treatment

You can also add in:

  • Sunblock (important!)
  • Makeup remover
  • Eye Cream
  • Exfoliators
  • Night Cream
  • Masks
  • More serums

Ok, but are all of these steps necessary? Nope, not really. The bare minimum is cleanser and moisturizer. The other products are just extra boosts for your skin.

What you should do is this:

-Wash your face twice a day, with a gentle cleanser. Some people can get away with less, but if you have problematic skin then stick to twice a day.

-Moisturize. No matter what skin type you have, even if it’s oily, you need to moisturize. During the day, a good moisturizer acts as a protective barrier for your skin. Your skin naturally creates its own barrier, when sebum mixes with the moisture in your skin. But, some people are too dry, their skin is dehydrated, or their oil production is way over the top. Moisturizing will help to balance your skin.  

-Exfoliate regularly. Unless your skin is very sensitive, it could use some help from gentle exfoliation about 2-3 times per week. If you use a scrub, make sure it contains lots of small, even, and round particles. Don’t use something with big scratchy particles in it, because that will just cause micro tears in your skin. The other option (which I prefer) is to use a well formulated Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) or Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) chemical exfoliator. AHA’s work on the surface of the skin, and BHA’s (also known as salicylic acid) can actually get into your pores. Exfoliation will keep your skin smooth, get rid of dead skin cells, and keep your pores clear.

-Always take off your makeup at night. Always! If I ever fall asleep with makeup on (which happens very rarely), I still wake up in the middle of the night, march myself to the bathroom, and wash my face. At night, your skin repairs itself, and it soaks up whatever you have on your face. (Also the reasoning behind so many night creams and serums.) In any case, if you fall asleep without taking off your makeup, you’ll probably end up with breakouts.

-Wear sunblock. Obviously, sunblock helps to prevent skin cancer. But it also protects you from hyperpigmentation.  When your skin feels like it’s under attack--like when you pop a pimple--it releases melanin, creating a dark spot. This is your skin’s defense mechanism, and it’s the same thing that happens when you tan, your skin is protecting you from the sun. Lots of girls, especially with my skintone (Latina) or darker, struggle with hyperpigmentation. Sunblock does help.

-Eat well. Drink lots of water. Get some exercise. (Duh.)

Everyone’s skin is different. Some people may need tons of exfoliation, some people need acne medication, some people have to slather themselves with moisturizer or their face blows up, some people never really need to wash their face at all (jealous!). That long list at the top can be tailored to suit your own skin’s needs. But, the rest is what I’ve found to be essential to maintaining clear, healthy skin.

Then the fun part is deciding which products to use...stay tuned.

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