The world of skincare is vast and deep like a sea full of products and techniques for every concern imaginable. With all those products and steps involved in the regimen, skincare can get a bit confusing and overwhelming. I have even come across a lot of my friends who don’t have a skincare routine yet, reason just being lack of time and difficulty in understanding how to begin with. Some people think that if they don’t use makeup or put any crap on face, then they don’t need a skincare routine. I must tell you that even if your skin is healthy at the moment, it needs to be protected now for keeping it young and radiant in future.
Skincare is such a hot topic these days and many of us have even started with the 12 step Korean skincare with separate AM & PM routines. Yes, I’m not kidding! From the DIY scrubs to the glycolic acids, skincare has taken a huge leap in recent years. But those revolutionary skincare steps need absolute adherence and some amount of hardwork, so we’ll start with something basic for now. I feel there is no point in starting with multiple steps and then giving up on them altogether. Before starting with the skincare regimen please remember a few things:
- Every skin is different, so there is a possibility that what works on one face might not work on another. After identifying if the skin type is dry, combination or oily, we can proceed towards procuring the products.
- Since all skin requirements are different, I’m just going to mention the good brands that are approved by most Dermatologists and skincare experts. You can select the products as per needs from – Dermalogica, No7, CeraVe, Avene, Pixi Beauty, Paula’s Choice, Vanicream, Drunk Elephant, La Rochay Posay, Missha, Bioderma and Simple. I would still be mentioning one or two product recommendations in the post that suits every skin type.
- Whatever products or brands you choose, you should always try to look for the ingredients to avoid such as- Sodium Lauryl and Laureth Sulphate, oxybenzone, formaldehyde, mineral & essential oils (because they sensitize the skin and breakdown collagen over time), parfume or fragrance (they cause skin ageing). Let’s please not confuse the essential oils with carrier oils that are safe to use such as jojoba and rosehip oil.
- The safe method to start is to avoid using too many products all at once. Beginning with one product at a time would help you to understand if the product is actually working or breaking out the skin. Good thing is that a lot of brands provide samples to try and even accept returns after the purchase if the products don’t suit our skin.
- You can continue to add the further steps (like spot treatment, serums and face masks) once you are confident that the 5 step products are doing the job well.
I have tried to simplify the skincare routine into 5 steps so that it’s easy to start without having to worry about the tons of products and methods. If you follow these methods, I’m sure you’ll see a lot of improvement in the health of your skin. So let’s begin now with those super easy steps that would make your skin glow:
Step One: Cleanse
What it does: A cleanser and a face wash are meant to remove dirt, makeup and grime that build up on the skin. Cleansing is a must step especially at night-time because that’s when the skin recovers and replenishes itself. We don’t want any nasties sitting on our face during that golden time right? Double cleansing is the latest trend that all derms are emphasizing on following for a squeaky clean skin. The first cleanse removes the dirt from the surface and the second one penetrates the skin, deep cleansing it from the impurities and leftover dirt. Usually people like to use a combination of oil based and a water based cleanser (gel/cream/foam). This is because oil based cleansers have the power to deep cleanse without drying or altering the pH of the skin and water based cleansers remove further impurities. If you don’t want to purchase another cleanser, you can just start to double cleanse using your existing one.
Recommendation: I have been happily using the Himalaya neem gel face wash (because it’s mild and free from sulphates & parabens) since years and now have included the Simple oil cleanser from Boots for double cleansing at night. CeraVe hydrating cleanser (available at Boots) is also a great option to begin with if you are looking for something gentle and fragrance-free.
Step Two: Exfoliate
What it does: Exfoliation means removing dead skin cells and unblocking the pores for cell renewal. It’s an essential step since not only it buffs away the dead skin, but brightens and smoothens it for the other products to absorb better. Less is more when it comes to exfoliating, so it should only be done once a week for dry skin and twice for oily. Make sure to not over exfoliate since it can damage the moisture barrier of the skin and expose it to the bacteria. Exfoliators can be of two types- physical and chemical. Prolonged usage of physical exfoliators like salts, scrubs and brushes can create micro injuries in the skin so it’s better to switch to chemical exfoliators like citric/glycolic/hyaluronic/lactic acid. As per dermatologists, a gentle chemical exfoliation using an acidic toner would be kinder to skin than rubbing the skin with a scrub. Yes, sounds weird but it’s time to go easy on those granular scrubs that we have been using all our lives. Exfoliation is best done at night time followed by a night time moisturizer. If you still plan to use physical scrubs then try not to put too much pressure on the skin and gently slough away the dead skin cells in circular motions.
Recommendation: You can start with Pixi Glow Tonic (available at Marks and Spencer) that has 5 % glycolic acid and aloe vera in it. It’s the gentlest chemical exfoliator available that many like to use as a toner & exfoliator both. I would recommend using it just twice weekly to begin with and see if the skin likes it to be used daily. Other good options are the Skinfood peeling gel or Paula’s Choice 2% BHA that can be used twice a week. Make sure to always use sunscreens while incorporating chemical exfoliants in the routine since they make your skin a bit sensitive to the sun.
Step Three: Tone
What it does: Once we use a cleanser, the pH of the skin alters; the pores get opened making the skin prone to bacteria and germs. Imagine putting cream directly to those open pores and clogging the skin once again? So every time we wash our face with a cleanser, a toner follows to restore the skin back to its original form.Our skin is naturally acidic at the pH of 4 to 5.5. Toning seems like an unnecessary step to most people but not only it balances the pH, but delivers quick hydration for a glowy skin afterwards. Rose water is slightly acidic and is a great match helping support the skin barrier in maintaining the natural acidity of the skin. Toners with aloe vera, cucumber and rose water content are also supposed to be great for the skin. Always use toner immediately after using the cleanser or the exfoliator since it works best on the damp skin and adds quick hydration.
Recommendation: I like to use the rose water (available at most Asian stores) in its purest form for my skin. If you want to save on some time then transfer the contents to a spray bottle and voila, here you have a hydrating toner and a refreshing face mist spray ready! You can also opt for a toner from Simple (available at Boots) and use it on damp skin using a cotton pad. On the days of using chemical toners for exfoliating the skin, there is absolutely no need to follow this step.
Step Four: Moisturize
What it does: Keeping the skin moisturized is important to make it soft and retain the elasticity. A moisturizer works by helping hold water to the skin’s outermost layer making it smoother and supple. And no, a body lotion isn’t the correct moisturizer for your face. Moisturizers for face and body are different in composition, so we need a separate product for both uses. Daily use of a moisturizer lessens the occurrence of dry, itchy and ageing conditions, so it’s imperative to add it to the skincare regimen. One of the biggest skincare misconceptions is that people with oily skin don’t need a moisturizer.We need to understand the fact that the oil that the skin produces is not the same as the hydration of the skin. If moisturizer isn’t used on an oily skin, it will compensate to produce even more oil for the absence of moisture in the skin leading to more acne. Sounds scary right? There is one more skincare rule to be noted that the most lightweight products (like eye cream) are applied on the skin first, moving to the thickest formulas (like oil or sunscreen) at the end.
Recommendation: CeraVE and La Rochay Posay have a lovely moisturizer and eye cream range. You can select the ones suiting your skin type and apply them twice a day on face and neck. If you want to buy a moisturizer with SPF included, then you need to make sure that it’s not less than the SPF of 30.
Step Five: Sunscreen
What it does: This is the most important step of a skincare routine since sun damage is the biggest culprit in most of the skin related problems. A sunscreen works by creating a protective layer on the top of the skin against the harmful effects of the sun rays. Development of skin problems like wrinkles, sunburns, discoloration, melasma and even skin cancer can accelerate if we don’t wear a sunscreen. Even if we aren’t directly exposed to the sun, we need to wear an SPF because sun rays (UVA and UVB) can penetrate through the glass and clouds; so we should always wear a sunscreen 365 days, whether it’s winter or summers.
Recommendation: Sunscreens are commonly rated and labeled with sun protection factor (SPF) that indicates the degree of protection from the harmful rays. SPF 30 with 3-4 star rating is sufficient for indoor uses or if we are exposed to the sun just for some time. But SPF 50 with 5 stars rating would be needed if we plan to stay directly under the sun for a longer time. COOLA mineral face SPF30, Nivea Sun SPF 30 and Missha Safe Block SPF 45 are some of the sunscreens that offer sun protection without leaving a white cast behind.
Practice good skincare and give yourself the much deserved attention. I wish you good luck in starting your skincare journey and would be waiting for you to share your success stories someday. I would also be covering the remaining steps of the skincare later in my posts. If you have any confusion in any of the five steps, please let me know in the comments below.