A beginners guide to skincare. Like what even is a serum?
So I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to structure this post or who exactly I wanted to aim this post towards but I know exactly what I want to say. As a child I was the one who really had her head in the clouds, I bumbled through life, extremely happily, doing as I was told and thinking my own little thoughts. The extent to which I would be in my own world would often leave me stumped when it came to doing things for myself, even simple things. For example I remember, to this day, the day that my mum said I was to choose my own outfit and get dressed – I was shocked, what would I wear and if you wear a pink top should I wear pink everything else? Then I was to wash my own hair – what came first; Shampoo or conditioner? Both of these conundrums my mum thought were ridiculous … HOW had I no idea what came first shampoo or conditioner. So I got in and washed my hair (in the right order I must add) however when it came to conditioner I thought ‘hell yeah this silky smooth feeling is RIGHT up my alley’ and I left it in. Please note this was not leave in conditioner. There lay the lesson of what greasy hair felt like. So in life trial and error is how you learn everyday simple tasks and it helps people like me, sometimes the hard way, learn to get your little head out of the clouds.
So next came my teenage years and by this stage I’d started to buck up my ideas but I still had a little bit of my old ways left in me. So I knew somewhere along the way I was meant to start washing my face properly, but goodness knows what that even entailed?! It sounded confusing, grown up and so personalised that how on earth are you meant to know whats ‘right for your skin’?! I knew I actually had eczema and quite dry skin, so that was a start but what was the difference between a face wipe and cleanser? It’s also a tricky question to ask someone… how do I wash my face? With what? How often? And what comes first?
So whether you’re reading this as a teen, someone who uses soap and water and wants to know what else is out there, whether your someone who wants to know whether you need to cleanse or tone or both or just someone that would like to know how other people out there see skincare and what they use – Im going to make this THE most simple break down of how to look after your skin. So if you’re an avid skincare lover this may not be the post for you, but young me would have LOVED this. So if for no one else, Im writing this for baby Blaise.
A Super Simple Rule = Make yourself a skincare routine.
Routine meaning something you stick to, do it day in, day out. You don’t need to switch up the products all the time, infact its best not to really. Just find something that works (as in it doesn’t make you feel dry, oily, itchy, red – basically you’ll know if its wrong!) and try to stick with them for a while.
The routine, at its most simple form, should go something like this :
Cleanse -> Serum -> Moisturise
Everyone has their favourite things to do and I never used to use serums but I’ve found they definitely make a difference, but we will talk more about those later. So now you have your basic skincare routine down, you can add to it. Things you might want to add are: once a week perhaps an exfoliation and maybe once every two weeks try a facemask.
Basic skincare routine sorted. Let me run you through what each of those steps do and what they are.
Cleansers (click here for my current cleanser) clear out your pores, they remove oil, dirt and makeup. So if you’re someone that prefers a makeup wipe, that’s fine to remove makeup and dirt etc but you’ll find a cleanser has a lot more beneficial qualities, are generally less drying and will leave your skin cleaner. I would recommend a cleanser post face wipe.
How often should you cleanse?
So I thought, until recently, once a day and I did that in the evening. But having spoken to a skincare specialist at an event recently she said that splashing your face with cold water in the morning, although refreshing, actually just closes your pores and keeps in any dirt, sweat and oil that may have accumulated over night. So she said am & pm cleansing is optimal.
How can I tell if my cleanser is wrong for me?
I would just say you’ll know – if you feel like your face is particularly tight and dry – ditch it. Overly oily – again ditch.
Foam or Gel/Balm Cleansers?
Foam cleansers are great for those with more oily skin as they can be a little harsh as theyre made to slightly dry the skin. Gel/balm or oil cleansers are better for those with more dry skin as they bring in more moisture.
How to use?
Simply splash your face with warm water, apply a bit of the cleanser on your fingers and massage all over the face. Avoid the eye area if it’s a more harsh cleanser and use a particular eye makeup remover to remove any mascara. Remove the cleanser (along with the dirt, makeup and oil on your face) with a cotton wool pad, and make sure to keep wiping til there is nothing left on the pad.
Some of my favourites:
So as I said I never thought serums were that neccasary. But you can see cleansers as the thing restoring your face to its purest form, like getting it back to a blank canvas and then a serum as the magic agent. The serum is the thing bringing some goodness back into your skin. Face serums are in no way ESSENTIAL, they are just something I feel I would have liked someone to say earlier.. try this! A face serum is pretty much a lightweight moisturiser that penetrates much deeper with more active ingredients.
What should I look for in a serum?
Acne prone – try vitamin c in the ingredients (helps repair the skin and reduces inflammation), retional (an antioxidant) & zinc (soothes irritation and regulates oil production).
Dry – Vitamin E (antioxidant and protects cells from damage), Niacinamide (improves skin elasticity, aka younger looking more buoyant skin!) and hyaluronic acid (locks in that moisture).
Dull Skin – Antioxidants like green tea extract, resveratrol and ferulic acid – these help the effectiveness of spf in the day time and help repair cells at night.
How often should I use?
Well this is up to you really. It depends on your skin type, but because mine tends to be dry I use a more oily serum and I prefer that oily wet look ONLY at night. Because it aint that cute. Also serums are much stronger so you don’t need a lot, a little goes a long way and over doing it isn’t the best for your skin.
Some of my favourites:
Okay so Im sure you’re all aware of what a moisturiser does.. MOISTURISE. But moisturising and cleansing is the perfect match. You should see them as a double stage step. Moisturisers obviously lock in moisture, stopping your skin from getting dry but they can also do so much more for instance if they have spf in them – that’s a great day time moisturiser to stop skin damage and premature ageing. I use moisturisers day and night.
My favourite moisturisers:
Non essential steps but steps I like to take to add to by basic skincare routine.
Eye creams are what I once thought were mini, more dense moisturisers with a higher price point. But Ive read a lot into it and it seems that no they are specially formulated for the delivate skin around our eyes, they tend to contain more oil than regular moisturisers and have lots of active ingredients to target problems around our eye areas. Problems like dull or dark skin, fine lines, thin skin etc.
I have to say I don’t use face masks religiously. I feel they are more of a relaxing hobby than a skincare essential. I may be wrong here but if I do my skincare regularly and eat well I don’t neccasarily feel the need for one. However post flights and travelling I often feel like treating my skin to something super cooling and moisturising. Things like rosewater, green tea, white algae you might often find in hydrating face masks which are great during the winter months. However if you are particularly oily try something clay based as these can draw out dirt and oil whilst tightening pores! Use a mask after cleansing but before moisturiser.
About once a week after cleansing its great to try a face scrub/exfoliator to just maintain a healthy bright complexion. Our Skin cells turnover means that we need to get rid of dead skin cells to help have that renewed soft and bright complexion underneath.
So this blog post was longer than I expected. I am in no way a skincare specialist but this is just meant to be a beginners guide or a teens intro. Or for anyone whos just a little confused. I gotcha. I hope this helped!
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