A Guide to Your Best Skin: Intro
Hi there! I’m very excited to share this series of 5 posts with you, starting with this introduction to the series. I’ve been thinking on sharing what I know about skincare and my journey to getting my best skin, and decided writing up these posts about how you can construct a basic skincare routine that actually works to maintain healthy skin. I’ll be highlighting the main parts of a basic skincare routine and my tips for each part.
Here’s my planned posts flow:
Cleansers/makeup removers -> toners & moisturizers -> acids -> Vitamin C & sunscreen
Note: I’ve always gotten skincare advice off the wonderful and scientific ladies on Reddit, and I highly recommend you run your skincare/makeup questions through Reddit too! There’s a huge passion for understanding the science and logic behind skincare ingredients and what they do for our skin, and it honestly makes total sense. For the past 3 years I’ve been “consulting” with Reddit to curate my skincare collection. I get overwhelmed with too many products, and let’s be real, no one likes spending money on things that don’t really work. You can do this too, simply by typing out a product name and adding reddit when you search. For example, “Belif toners reddit”, or “reddit best cleansers”.
As an intro, I wanted to share what I know about our skin, and the ‘moisture barrier’. The stratum corneum (SC) is the outermost layer of our skin, and it acts as a barrier between the environment and our skin’s deeper layers. Think of it as your face’s shield. The many components that make up our SC (such as fatty acids and ceramides) contribute to its permeability. As you can imagine, a more permeable SC is undesirable. It leads to the entry of pollutants and allows your skin’s moisture and hydration to escape, leading to the unwanted symptoms some of us suffer from such as flaky skin, redness, acne and even eczema. Our SC’s role, especially in maintaining hydration, gave it the name moisture barrier. The summary here is, keeping this barrier intact is crucial to maintaining healthy skin.
As I will mention in the following posts in this series, the products we use play an important role in maintaining (or damaging) our moisture barrier. But for now, there are some factors that also affect our moisture barrier, and we may not necessarily have full control on these. Our age, diet and stress can all have an impact on our SC and therefore show on our face. As an example, starting at the age of 20 years old, the ceramides in our SC start to deplete slowly with each passing decade. Although growing old isn’t something we can reverse, things like our diet, stress management and sleeping well are ways we can try to reduce the negative impact our age/environment has on our skin.
This is different for everyone, and so knowing what works for you is crucial. I personally notice more acne after a period of eating sugary foods (I went through a 40 day no-sugar diet, worked wonders for my face). Some people notice more acne after eating chocolate, peanuts, even dairy! Our habits can also make or break our face. Do you touch your face often? I’m guilty of this when I’m stressed, and there’s no denying the little pimples that grow there when I do. What about your evening routine after a day of makeup/sweating/general pollution? Do you have bangs that are stuck to your forehead, or use your phone for long calls? All of these simple things could contribute heavily to facial health and aesthetic in the long run. Which is what makes habits harder to break; you don’t notice the difference until a longer period of consistent change.
GENERAL TIPS FOR BETTER SKIN
- Avoid touching your face at all costs!
- Change your pillow sheets at least 3 times a week. If you can’t afford to wash them that frequently, buy spare sheets to change them. If that’s a hassle too, sleep on clean t-shirts/soft towels. There’s no excuse.
- Make sure your hair products aren’t irritating your face (especially at the hairline). Wash off your products well when showering to avoid residues sinking into your skin.
- Beware of facial DIYs (ie baking soda scrub!). Your face is gentler than you think, and being harsh on it won’t produce the results you expect. Nourishing ingredients are always safer, think honey, yogurt, avocado etc.
- Thoroughly wipe the surfaces of your phone (including office desk phone) once a week.
- Understand the ingredients in the products you use on your face.
CAN’T CONTROL EVERYTHING
Of course, hormones and genetics affect how clear our skin can be too. Elevated levels of certain hormones can cause acne (hormonal acne) to appear around the jaw area, and I get these often. Unless it’s a really big problem, the best way is to ride them out by treating the pimples. Stressing about acne isn’t going to make it go away. If you are predisposed to having acne, or suffering from oily skin, learning your way to manage your skin could reduce the severity of the situation. There’s a ton of posts online of the different problems people have had with their skin, and the many things they’ve done to fix it.
With products, you have to really be patient. Know that just because something worked for someone else, don’t necessarily mean it’ll work for you too, and that’s okay. Always try only one new item at a time, for at least a week, to observe any unwanted side effects.
Our little habits and daily routine add up after months, and this shows on our faces. Keep these tips in mind and you may notice a difference. Always remember that flawless skin isn’t a norm after puberty. We’re bound to have blemishes and pimples, and the societal standard for grown women to own “glass skin” really isn’t biologically rational. There is, however, a difference between normal skin and bad skin due to using irritating products or our diets, and we have control over that.
I’m excited to continue the next 4 parts of this series. I hope you enjoyed this piece! Thank you for reading!