(Disclaimer: I am not a Dermatologist or Esthetician, purely a gal who enjoys researching skincare and products to try and make the best decisions I can for my own skin).
Something I have forced myself to get to grips with during lockdown is my skincare routine. Ever since I can remember, I have suffered from acne, blackheads, whiteheads, scaring/hyper-pigmentation, combination to dry skin, the list goes on. When I was younger, I concluded that covering up my skin with layers of makeup was the only way to make the situation temporarily go away and that I just had to live with my dodgy skin forever – some get lucky and have beautifully clear skin and some don’t, such is life. I envied those with flawless skin, and became very self-conscious as a result of my constant pedantic thoughts, staring in the mirror all too often at different sections of my skin, purposefully searching for imperfections. It wasn’t until I was 18 or 19 starting university that I actually stopped and thought to myself; have I ever really researched into a proper skincare routine that caters for my skin? Do I use products specifically formulated to help clear acne, and so forth? The answer was no, I hadn’t and wasn’t. Because this was 3 to 4 years ago, and the skincare realm changes rapidly with new ingredients and advice emerging every month, my routine looks a lot different now to when I was starting out. Any who, I set out on the perilous road that would become my skincare journey, coming into contact with many products that I look back on now and cringe at the thought of putting on my face – yes, I’m talking about Clean and Clear, St. Ives and the rest of the bunch whose ingredients are questionable but marketing appealing. I even splashed out on more expensive products from the likes of Elemis, thinking more pricey products must mean better quality ingredients and a better overall experience, right? WRONG. Some fancy-schmancy products are great and I’ve heard wonderful things about multiple posh brands. For a girl just starting to learn about skincare they’re also fine; notice I’ve used the word ‘fine’, not exactly a rave review and there is reason to this – fragrance, alcohol, fragrance, alcohol. Many moisturisers, lotions, oils, eye creams, skin tints etcetera etcetera, both expensive AND cheap, have ingredients lists laced with fragrance and alcohol. A quick research session will show how fragrance can be very sensitising to one’s skin and is mainly added to products purely to make them smell nice. Alcohols such as ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, alcohol denat and methanol are bad alcohols and are used to make creams sink into the skin faster, drying out the epidermis further, which, in the long wrong, does not help with retaining that youthful glow everyone strives for and can even cause further acne breakouts! However, just to make life more confusing, there are also good alcohols to keep an eye out for in skincare products including cetearyl, stearyl, cetyl and behenyl alcohol which are known as fatty alcohols. These act as emollients (sucking moisture out of the air and into your skin) that help retain your skins moisture barrier, promoting anti-ageing. But I digress, and after using the skincare no no’s up until summer 2019, I was seeing zero improvement and my breakouts and scaring were just getting worse.
This is when I found the holy grail YouTube channel that is Skincarebyhyram (I would highly recommend you check him out as he covers every aspect of skincare and skin types in his videos) where I learnt the bare basics of skincare (fragrance = bad, certain alcohols = bad, sun cream = life-changing). I delved into a few of his videos on combination/dry skin and acne-prone skin, in particular, finding brands and products that have remained in my routine ever since, most of which are extremely affordable! Let’s start with brands:
- The Ordinary
- The Inkey List
- La Roche Posay
There are more which Hyram recommends of course but these are my top favourites. They’re all affordable and use good quality ingredients with wide ranges of products on offer for people with pretty much all skin types. Now onto products that I use in my everyday skincare routine, including cleansers, serums, moisturisers and SPFs:
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar H Hydrating Cleansing Cream
- The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% OR The Ordinary Hyaluronic acid 2% + B5
- Cerave moisturising lotion
- PURITO Comfy Water Sun Block SPF 50
Evening routine (I use certain products on rotation):
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar H Hydrating Cleansing Cream OR The Inkey list Salicylic Acid cleanser
- Cerave SA Smoothing Cream OR The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalene OR Ren V-Cleanse Revitalising Night Cream
The final nugget of wisdom I have grasped and will impart unto thee is suncream, preferably SPF 30 or higher and mineral-based, is essential to your everyday skincare routine! Not only does it protect our skin from harmful UVA (ageing, fine-lines and wrinkle-causing rays) and UVB rays (cancer-causing and burning rays), but because the sun can be so sensitising to the skin (even in Winter!), SPF can aid against skin sensitivity and breakouts. One I would recommend that Hyram also talks about often is the PURITO Comfy Water Sun Block SPF 50 which leaves no sticky residue and little to no white cast when applied (Korean SPF’s also have changed the game with new technology meaning zero white cast so if you can get your hands on these, it’s a good idea).
Compared to many people’s skincare routines, mine is quite simple but it’s working slowly and my scaring/hyper-pigmentation, in particular, is looking less angry. I don’t think I will ever be the type to have a 10-step skincare routine, or one to use an eye cream (they’re basically glorified moisturisers, in my opinion, good marketing teams behind the products though) but perhaps in the future, when I have the means to do so, I will visit a dermatologist to get an expert to look at my skin. I hope this whistle-stop tour of skincare and my routine was an interesting read and maybe someone learnt something out of it and will go away to research their routine more! Let me know your skincare routine, what products and brands you love and any, in particular, you can’t live without!