Beginner Basics: Skincare 101

I’ve done a loads of writing so far on skincare (10,000 words and counting) but I get that not everyone wants to start on a 10-step regime. So this is a post for those currently not doing anything to their face and get down to basics.

But first, let’s clear up a few misconceptions.

So I have oily skin. This means I don’t need to moisturize right?
No. Oil and water is different. Your skin cells require water to function properly, and your body produces a natural oil to act as a defensive lipid barrier to ensure the water in your cells stay put. Most moisturizers are water based and are meant to increase the water content of your skin cells. It’s actually pretty common to see dehydrated oily skin. Also, when your skin is dry, it attempts to produce more sebum (oil) to compensate, leading to clogged pores, blackheads, acne, etc. So, as counterintuitive as it seems, moisturizing your skin will actually make it less oily.

Well, what if I have dry skin, so I don’t need to – 

Ans: You still need to skincare (yes I’m using it as a verb now). Dry skin means your skin has inadequate oil and water levels. This therefore means that your skin can get damaged in cold or dry weather more easily, as it doesn’t have a protective layer of sebum over it, which means you need to keep moisturizing it to prevent further damage from environmental factors such as the sun, wind, humidity (or lack of) etc.

But I drink water to replenish my skin’s water levels!
Look, our bodies just don’t work that way. We aren’t plants, and our skin doesn’t just get okay because we drink water. Water doesn’t just go directly to our skin cells; it’s used for a few hundred different uses in our body. The rehydration of our skin cells isn’t top of the priority list. If you have excessively dry skin, oil-based moisturizers or facial oils can also be extremely helpful in creating the above mentioned protective layer of oil to ensure your skin doesn’t keep losing water.

Okay, but I don’t have acne I don’t have to do anything right? 
Acne isn’t the only indicator of unhealthy skin, (dry skin doesn’t have acne for instance, but still requires TLC) and everyone should be going out with sun protection anyway. Since sun damage means wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer.

Okay, so now you want to get started on your skincare but there are SO MANY PRODUCTS OUT THERE and it’s all very confusing. Here’s the most stripped down, basic skin care routine everyone should be doing:
 
1) Cleanse
2) Moisturize
3) Sun protection 

How do I tell what skin type I have? 
You can have oily skin, dry skin, normal skin, or combination skin. How do you tell what you have? When you wake up in the morning, touch your face.

Normal skin: Your skin feels smooth and supple, without oil or flaky patches anywhere.
Oily skin: There would be loads of oil all over your face (obviously). Does your skin have the tendency to look shiny, and do you have large pores?
Dry skin: Does your skin feel itchy or tight? Do you have small patches of dry skin?
Combination skin: This means that you have a combination of the above symptoms. Most people have combination skin, with an oily T-zone (the forehead, nose and chin area) with dry to normal cheeks.
Skin-Care-Tips-for-T-–-Zone.jpg
Your T-zone. Image from here.

Take note: You may also have sensitive skin (do you break out in rashes or acne easily? Are you allergic to many products?) or acne-prone skin. You’ll need to pick a product suitable for your skin.

Okay, now I know my skin type. What kind of cleanser/facial wash should I pick? How many times a day should I wash my face?
You really don’t need to spend much money on this! Drugstore brands such as Cetaphil’s Daily Facial Cleanser (click here for a full list of Cetaphil products suitable for your skin type) and Neutrogena have facial washes that are effective and very gentle on the skin. Avoid things with fragrances or methanol (this is often characterized by products that promise a cool minty feeling), especially if you have sensitive skin as these will only aggravate your skin and might cause allergy reactions. If you’re still confused on what products to pick out, just go for the cleansers that are gentler on the skin, such as the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser.

Wash your face twice a day; when you wake in the morning and at night before bed. If you wash your face too much, you end up stripping more moisture and sebum from your skin; too little and your pores will get clogged.

What kind of moisturizer do I use?
Again, go for drugstore brands that are catered for sensitive skin, such as the Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 50+. Apply after cleansing and drying the face.
 
What kind of sun protection do I use?

Please please use the kind of sunblock that’s suitable actually sold for the face. The kinds you apply on the body are a bit oiler than the norm and will lead to break outs, which you definitely don’t want. Again, check out brands like Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Face + Body Stick Sunscreen Stick. Apply after moisturizing.

And that’s about all you need to get started! If you’re interested in learning more about skincare, you can read my other posts (found below) on the topic. Thank you very much for reading!

For More Of My Writings On Skincare:
My Skincare Journey Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
The Korean Skincare Regime Explained
What Are You Putting On Your Skin? Skincare Ingredients Explained.

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