A couple of nights ago, I was doing my evening skincare routine I started thinking what what is the core thing of my routine? What has really proven effective over the years? This post is all about it.
Yes, I still do have imperfections, fine lines, acne scars, dark circles (heck, even my dark circles have dark circles) and I had just attacked the blackheads on my nose before taking this image of me without makeup.. But I'm grateful my skin looks as good as it does. I'm turning 30 this year (yikes!) and I refuse to use the impression "looking good for my age" because that's just silly. I'd say my skin is doing pretty good by my standards or compared how it used to be: very prone to acne, spotty and flakey. Some of this advice might sound obvious, but I wanted this post to serve both as a roundup and a remainder of what I've done to maintain my improved skin!
Look, I'm not giving any life advice to anyone. I just chat about beauty. You can [insert here] all the babble about daily drinking of hot lemon water, green juice, 8 hours of sleep, exercise and whatnot that gives you a great skin. Of course it's important to be healthy and our habits have an impact on our bodies, but I'm not here to tell you how you should live. However the research is evident: smoking damages your skin. The lack of oxygen, breakdown of collagen and elastin dulls, yellows and dries the skin. From my personal experience when I've compared my skin to smokers' around my age the difference is pretty drastic. Some of my smoker friends have developed early wrinkles and sagging skin much younger than I have. There could be bazillion of other reasons too, but I believe that being a non-smoker has only done me good.
2. Roaccutane / Accutane
This medication is abrasive, but I'm very happy and grateful I ended up trying Accutane medication. I used to suffer from mild yet very annoying acne that simply didn't want to go away. I tried every topical treatment there was, but no acid, spot treatment or doctor prescribed gel could helped me. I also tried lifestyle changes like cutting out dairy and gluten, but those pesky spots just kept coming. I was totally hopeless with my skin, which had a great impact on my self-esteem. When I got prescribed Accutane I decided to try it despite knowing its harsh side-effects. Luckily my skin has been clear ever since! I've written several posts about my acne journey if you care to read more. Only take prescription medication under doctor's supervision, ask more at your local health center.
I'm a big sunscreen advocate ever since I learned about the importance of sun protection. Rain or shine, I slather it on. Even if it's cloudy, our Sun isn't taking a nap or being switched off - the rays will still come through. I won't apply a tiny drop on the tip of the nose but a generous amount covering my whole face, neck and décolleté if I'm not wearing a high-neck top. In the Summer time I make a note to reapply my sunscreen and make sure the backs of my hands get some too. Sunscreen is THE most important thing when it comes to prevent untimely signs of wrinkles and sun spots. If you decide to spend a small fortune on a treatment or a serum it may go in vain if you decide to skip sunscreen - especially if the active ingredients (retinols, acids, etc) may cause sun sensitivity. I recommend budget sunscreens (Korean are often cosmetically elegant) and a liberal application!
4. Double cleansing
Going down to the very basics here! I think I first discovered double cleansing years ago (what feels like a lifetime) from Japan: first you remove all makeup, SPF, dirt and grime with an oil-based cleanser and secondly cleanse the skin with a foaming cleanser. What seemed revolutionary back then is an everyday routine for me now and I do it every single evening. Yup, even after those late nights dancing I wash my face before crashing in bed. These products can be whatever suits your taste and skin type, but oils and balms work excellent to remove makeup and other gunk BEFORE you cleanse your skin. I swear this routine will have a positive impact on the clarity of your skin.
5. Layering water-based products with oils
I like to refer to my skincare routine as the "sandwich method" aka layering hydrating skincare products and topping everything with a beauty oil or a balm. I start from light textures and move my way up to heavier emollients. For example: a lightly exfoliating toner that doesn't strip the skin, a hydrating essence, a hyaluronic acid or other hydrating serum, let them sink in and follow with an oil and cream/balm depending time of the day. I feel that "sealing in" humectants with an oil helps to retain the hydration while oil gives the final moisture boost. If you don't like oils, an occlusive cream is a good option.
+1 Extra: Be Kind To Yourself and Take No BS
Even if you're not very into skincare, small and easy changes can have a great impact on the look and feel of your skin. I believe that taking time and allowing superficial care also affects how you feel in your skin. In the end it's not all about the looks, but you being healthy and feeling good enough. If saying a kind word to yourself in a front of a mirror feels overpowering, how about skipping one word of self-blame? Never forget that confidence doesn't come in a jar and self-care doesn't require hocus pocus potions with $$$ price tag. (More about skincare as a form of self-care coming in another post)
What's your best, simple, foolproof skincare advice you've proven effective?
(Also, what was the last time you posted a makeup free selfie on the Internet?)