Let me just preface this by saying that everybody has different skin. Something that works for me, isn’t always going to work for everybody else. I want to talk about my personal routine, what I have learned and why it worked for me. Skincare is very complex and I’m going to try and talk about my experiences a little bit here. But there is so much information that it’s hard to fit into one blog post. I first started getting acne when I was 11 years old.
I thought that I was going to be lucky and get it over with in my younger years. Boy, was I wrong. I continued to get it throughout all of high school and even into university! By university, it had gotten a lot better but I still had flakey, irritated, pimply red skin. My mum had the unfortunate duty of listening to my constant complaints and taking me to many expensive dermatologist and doctor appointments. Over the years I had taken oral medication, topical retinoids as well tried to cut things out of my diet like gluten and dairy. None of these things really worked because I never understood skincare and didn’t have a proper routine set in place.
I’m going to start off with my before/after photograph before I get into any details (click on the image to see it larger)
These photographs were taken 6 months apart with no makeup. As you can see, my skin on the left wasn’t that bad. But it was still dehydrated, painful and scattered with constant pimples that would last several weeks. The photo in the middle was 2 months into my routine, it took several months. Skincare isn’t something that works overnight.
I think a big mistake I made was trusting a lot of those false “DIY SKINCARE” photos that have flooded the web. I want to clear just a couple of those up:
Baking soda: Your skin’s pH is usually around 4.5-5. Baking soda has a pH of 9. It can damage your skin barrier and cause bacteria to thrive there. (Medical journals talking more in depth about alkaline products on the skin can be seen here and here.)
White vinegar: Refer to baking soda, it’s the wrong pH for the skin
Lemon: Yes, vitamin c is good for your skin. There are much better ways to apply it to your skin than using a lemon though (read about my vitamin C post here). Lemon is not only the wrong pH with the potential to damage your skin, but it can also cause phytophotodermatitis when exposed to sunlight. This can create even darker spots on your face (so it kind of defeats the purpose).
Honey: Actually not that bad. Can be very beneficial in moisturising your skin as well as having anti-bacterial properties as seen here, here, here and here. It’s important not to trust everything you read online and be sure to do your own research before putting anything on your skin. Here is my current routine:
- Cleanse – Splash face with water
- Serum – MooGoo’s Super Vitamin C eye serum to under eyes *wait 5 minutes*
- Moisturise – Simple Kind to Skin Replenishing Rich Moisturiser
- Sunscreen – Innisfree Eco Safety Perfect Waterproof Sunblock
- Remove Sunscreen – 100% pure Jojoba oil
- Cleanse – Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Cleanser OR MooGoo milky wash
- Exfoliate – I don’t use an exfoliant because I used a prescription medication, called “Epiduo”, on my cheeks
- Serum – MooGoo’s Super Vitamin C eye serum under eyes *wait 20 minutes*
- Moisturise – Simple Kind to Skin Replenishing Rich Moisturiser
- Sleeping pack – Innisfree green tea sleeping pack
The prescription cream I used didn’t work until I had a proper routine set in place. It is a combination of all of my routine that helped me clear my skin. Below I have labeled a very basic routine that I started with and why each step is important. There are other steps I use (such as serums, medications etc). If you’re confused about any of that then feel free to message me!
- Why it’s important: To rid of any dirt and unnecessary things what have accumulated on your face throughout the day
- It’s very important to cleanse, but it’s not necessary to do it with a cleanser more than once a day, at night (unless of course you are exercising or sweating). Its also important to find a cleanser that isn’t stripping your skin of anything essential. For those with dry skin, I recommended a milky or creamy cleanser. For those with oily, a foaming cleanser would probably be better suited.
- Why it’s important: This is the step that is actually going to help with pimples, uneven texture, blackheads, dry skin etc
- This doesn’t mean physical exfoliation. Scrubbing your face with harsh exfoliants can cause micro-tears on your skin (plus if they have microbeads, chances are they are bad for the environment!). I am talking about chemical (AHA and BHA) exfoliants. I don’t want to make this post too long to read, so I’m going to link to Paula’s Choice, where you can read about these more in depth. In summary, AHA exfoliants work better for dry skin because they not only exfoliate the surface of the skin, but also add moisture. BHA exfoliants work more for oily and acne prone skin because they ‘unglue’ the oil thats clogging your pores. It’s important to write that often these having a ‘purging’ period, where your skin will break out for the first 3 or 4 weeks before it sees any benefits. NOTE: Some people suggest waiting 20 minutes after you exfoliate before applying your moisturiser, in order to get the full benefits.
Edit: I’ve since written a more in depth post about purging here
- Why it’s important: It can help your skin look younger, firmer and increase collagen production
- Everybody needs to moisturise, even those with oily skin! Sometimes oily skin can actually be dehydrated skin (from not getting enough moisture).
- Why it’s important: Not only does it help protect your skin against cancer and aids in anti-aging, but it also helps to lighten scars and pigmentation
- Wearing sunscreen every day is something I have already promoted on this blog. If you are using an AHA chemical exfoliant, any topical or oral medications, or benzyl peroxide, then it is essential that you wear sunscreen every day. Sunscreen prevents age spots and any acne marks from getting darker. If you have a routine set in place but no sunscreen, then all of the acne you have cleared up is going to take much much longer to fade without a daily sunscreen. I cannot stress how much of a difference sunscreen made on my face. It’s the reason it isn’t so red anymore.
The same routine isn’t going to work for everybody. It’s important to patch test every product and introduce it slowly in order to see is it’s working or not. Some people will benefit from having a very small and basic routine, whereas others may need more steps in order to have clear skin. I will be adding a new post very soon clearing up some common skin misconceptions, talking about prescription treatments and touching on the 10-step Korean beauty routine that also helps many people.