When it comes to skincare, we know that there is no one-size-fits-all formula. It is essentially a trial and error process, one that takes some time to master. If you’re a complete novice when it comes to skincare, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of products in the market. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how extensive you want your routine to be. To cut through the noise, here’s a basic guide…
Master the basics
Your skincare routine is ideally broken down into three steps: Cleanse, moisturise and protect. Washing your face twice a day will make sure your skincare works. After all, you don’t want to apply creams and potions on a dirty face, do you? Moreover, your skin comes in contact with pollution and dirt, and sweats during the day and so it is important to rid your face of all these impurities to prevent clogged pores, acne, and black and whiteheads. Moisturising hydrates and softens your skin, whereas sunscreen is crucial to protect it from the harmful rays of the sun. With skincare, the order in which you apply products matters the most. Remember to always apply the thinnest and most watery formulas first and then move on to lotions and creams.
Pick the right formulas
When it comes to choosing the right products for your skin, there are certain factors to keep in mind: Is your skin oily, dry, or balanced? Is your skin prone to the occasional breakout? Do you work from home or step out in the sun every day? Do you apply make-up?
Cleanser: The right cleanser will get rid of the dirt from your face without leaving your skin feeling squeaky-clean, dry, and tight. If you have oily, combination or acne-prone skin, look for gentle foaming options that contain ingredients like salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and benzoyl peroxide. For dry or normal skin, cream or lotion cleansers containing glycerine or shea butter work well as these hydrate the skin while gently removing impurities. If you have sensitive skin, you may opt for a non-comedogenic cleansing balm or oil. These absorb the excess oil but leave skin moisturised. If you apply make-up or sunscreen every day (seriously, you should!), double cleansing your skin is a must. To do this, simply use a cleansing oil or balm to first break down the formulas and then wash your face with a gentle face wash.
Moisturiser: As we grow older, our skin loses its ability to retain moisture, resulting in wrinkles and dryness. This is why it is essential to apply moisturiser–its main job is to hydrate and soften skin! The most common misconception is that if your face gets oily, you don’t need to moisturise. This is completely false because if you provide your skin with additional hydration, your sebaceous glands (aka oil-producing glands) will not produce excess grease in a frenzy. For oily skin, look for gel-based products that sink into the skin easily. Dry skin benefits the most from oil-based, heavier options, and for normal or combination skin, a lotion can work wonders.
Protect: Ask any skincare expert about their Holy Grail products and chances are you’ll hear them rave about their favourite sunscreen. Daily use of SPF can prevent wrinkles and certain kinds of skin cancers, reduce the appearance of pores and texture and even prevent acne from worsening. There are two types of sunscreens: Physical and chemical. Physical ones contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and sit on top of the skin and prevent the sun’s rays from entering your body. These are known to cause less irritation but do sometimes leave a white cast behind. Chemical ones on the other hand are more lightweight and contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are transparent when applied but can irritate sensitive skin. Quantity matters, too, and it is best to use at least two finger lengths of a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 every day for your face. Make sure you apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply it every two hours.
The à la carte
Once you’ve covered the basics, you can use other products for targeted skin concerns like acne, pigmentation, or even scarring.
Toners and serums: If you’re looking to add some extra nourishment to your routine or simply a product that delivers specific results, toners and serums are great options. These have smaller molecules (compared to creams or lotions) and sink into the skin easily. To improve texture, try AHA or BHA formulas and for extra hydration, try a hyaluronic acid one. To calm irritated, red, or dry skin, use soothing ingredients like rosewater and green tea. The best way to use them? Take some in your palm and pat them on your skin.
Masks: Unlike a serum or toner, masks can help to boost the efficacy of the rest of your skincare routine. For an extra dose of hydration, try overnight masks, and for oilier complexions, mud or clay ones work best.
Face oils: These can do wonders for the skin and should ideally be applied at night as they can cause sunscreen formulas to disintegrate. To brighten skin, use olive oil-infused facial oils, and to calm inflamed skin, rosehip.