Skincare can get a little overwhelming, from extravagant routines to ingredients you should avoid and more. Here are my top skincare tips.
1. Double Cleansing
Double cleansing can seem just plain excessive when you first hear about it, but trust me. It makes a huge difference. I personally only double cleanse at night, and it's particularly effective at removing makeup. But there's more to it than that. Essentially, oil binds to oil and water binds to water. So using a water-based product to cleanse your skin of all the oil you've produced throughout the day isn't the most effective method. Using an oil based cleanser first will help more effectively rid your skin of makeup, sunscreen, sweat and sebum (otherwise known as oil). This will also make your second cleanse more effective at actually cleansing deep in your pores. Can't I just use one, single, super-powerful cleanser and get the same effect, you say? Unfortunately not. PH is important when it comes to cleansing, and using a harsh cleanser is going to strip too much of your natural oil from your skin and this will cause a lot of damage.
2. Chemical Exfoliation
Chemical exfoliation might sound like it's more harsh than physical, but it's actually the opposite. Chemical exfoliation works by using ingredients like lactic acid to dissolve the dead skin cells on your face so you can wash them off with ease. Physical exfoliation, on the other hands, removes these cells (and other healthy ones) by force. Physical scrubs can also cause microscopic tears in your skin because of the sharp edges some ingredients have (I'm looking at you, walnuts). Alternatives to these ingredients, like microbeads, are no better because of the havoc they wreak on the environment.
I'm not totally against physical exfoliation, though. I use a physical exfoliant once a week in combination with my chemical exfoliant. Just make sure you're using a gentle, sustainable one. I use a coffee scrub designed purely for the face so it's more gentle than a body scrub. It's important not to over exfoliate, too, as this can lead to dry, tight, sore skin. It your skin hurts after using a product, I'd probably ditch it.
3. A Proper Pimple Treatment
For years, I attempted to treat pimples with 'drying lotion' style treatments. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time it didn't. That's because these drying treatments just dry out the surface of the skin, instead of actively penetrating the clogged pore and treating the pimple. Depending on the kind of pimple, it can sometimes be effective, but it will also probably leave a delightful dry spot in its wake. A better method of treating pimples is by using active ingredients that can clear up what's going on under the surface level. I like to use a combination of salicylic acid and niacinamide, because salicylic acid targets the dead skin cells that are clogging your pores and niacinamide is anti-inflammatory and helps with the red spot generally left behind after you get a pimple. Another ingredient called Benzoyl Peroxide is good for treating pimples, and works by killing bacteria.
4. Face Oil
No, it's not going to break you out. Growing up with oily skin, I always thought this was the case when it came to face oils and even thick moisturisers. Now I know better, and hydration is probably the main focus of my skincare routine. Keeping track of all the different oils and what they do for your skin can get overwhelming, so let me quickly tell you about my favourites; sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and rosehip oil. Sweet almond oil contains vitamin e which protects your skin from free radical damage. It also contains vitamin a, which helps fight acne, and is also a good source of fatty acids to help your skin retain moisture. It's also largely non-comedogenic , which means it won't clog your pores. And yes, there's even more benefits, because it also can reduce under-eye circles and is a good source of zinc. Jojoba oil has some serious benefits too. It mimics sebum so can help regulate sebum production if you're producing too much, and this helps fight acne, or replace it if you're not producing enough. Jojoba oil prevents irritation to the skin as well as dry patches and is also non-comedogenic like sweet almond oil. Rosehip oil is high in antioxidants and is a good source of fatty acids. Both these things make it great for cell regeneration and wound healing ie. it's fantastic at clearing up any damage left behind by pimples. I use an oil blend every night containing these sweet almond and jojoba oils plus more, as well as a pure rosehip oil. You can find a list of all the ingredients I look out for in skincare here. I always put my excess moisturiser and face oil on my hands, which leads me onto my next point.
5. Look After Your Hands
I remember the days when I thought hand cream was just excessive. Oh, how times have changed. Now I keep it in my purse. And give it out as a legitimate present. The thing is, the skin on your hands is thinner than on other parts of your body. And if you think about it, it's probably one of the most used parts of your body. You're doing things with your hands constantly. You're washing them constantly. They're exposed to the elements constantly. So you need to take care of them. Dry or cracked cuticles is an under-appreciated pain, not to mention that because the skin is thinner there your age will show faster on your hands too.
The solution? Use hand-cream regularly. You moisturise your face after you wash it, you should do the same for your hands.
6. Daily SPF
There's the obvious reason to wear SPF every day; skin cancer. But if you need even more incentive, not wearing SPF is also a sure-fire way to age your skin. Think hyper-pigmentation and wrinkles. And yes, you need protection from UV rays even when you're sitting inside all day. I've written about physical vs chemical SPF before, and you can read that article here. The biggest issue with chemical sunscreens is that they can affect your hormones, however they can also irritate your skin. This is because chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and turning them into heat which can then escape your skin. However, this extra heat can cause eczema flare-ups if you're prone to them, or just a good old heat rash. If that's not enough, there's also evidence that some of the most common chemical sunscreen ingredients contribute to coral bleaching. These ingredients have been banned or heavily restricted in some places because of this (love you Hawaii you're doing great) and because of their adverse effect on consumers.
7. Healthy Lifestyle
Yes, you've probably heard this one before. But it's true. My skin looks best when I exercise, eat healthy and drink plenty of water. It's different for everybody, but it's fairly easy to gather what foods break you out by experimenting with your diet. I for one break out from dairy. I'm currently going through this, but it's not as bad as normal because I've been healthy otherwise. So moderation is key as well. Don't think you have to restrict yourself from ever eating chocolate again because it might break you out.