We are taught to cleanse our faces every night from a young age. In most cases, that’s where skincare advice ends. Finding the right cleanser, toner, and moisturiser to use is usually a process of trial and error. Sometimes certain products are just used because its what your Mom, Aunty, or sister used.
Theres more to a great skincare routine than just cleansing. Clean skin isn’t enough. You need to find the right exfoliator, cleanser, toner, and moisturiser suited to your personal skin type. All of this helps create the perfect canvas for flawless make-up application.
Your skin needs to be cleansed daily, and encouraged to maintain a high moisture content. Use a good quality moisturiser and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Over-cleansing is never a good thing, no matter how much you moisturise afterwards. Over-cleansing removes the protective barrier on the skin, called the acid mantle. It’s a very fine, slightly acidic film on the surface of the skin that acts as a barrier against bacteria, viruses, and other potential contaminants. Continuous removal of this protective barrier does not clean the skin, but rather encourages it to produce even more oil. This in turn leads to breakouts and greasy skin.
Cleansing should be after removing make-up, at night. If you need to exfoliate, do this after cleansing. A simple rinse with warm water only (or rosewater) should be sufficient in the mornings. If all you’ve applied to your skin before bedtime is night cream and eye cream, its not necessary to use a cleanser in the morning.
Foaming cleansers are best for oily skin types. These help clear away excess oil and clean out the pores. A mild and gently foaming cleanser is best for normal to combination skin types. While dry skin types require more moisture. A soothing cleansing milk or lotion is best. These offer gentle cleansing, while hydrating the skin. A cleanser containing glycerine (a humectant) will also help attract and draw water to the surface of the skin, assisting dry skin types to stay hydrated and moisturised.
Exfoliators help to remove any dry, loose skin, giving you a more youthful appearance. Please remember to treat your skin gently when exfoliating your face. It’s best to use light, circular motions and avoid rubbing the product on. Exfoliation is a gentle process. Even though the product may be called a ‘scrub’, there is no need to vigorously scrub your skin. Exfoliate in the evening, as it helps clear out your pores. Exfoliating before applying make-up is pointless, as the make-up will just fill up and clog your clean pores. Exfoliators containing AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) definitely need to be used in the evenings, as AHAs do react to sunlight (click here to read more about AHAs).
Dry, sensitive or combination skin types should exfoliate once a week. Oily skin types can exfoliate twice a week. Always make sure to apply a rich moisturiser afterwards, no matter your skin type. Facial exfoliators come with different sized exfoliating particles, for example, fine bamboo particles, strawberry seeds, kiwi fruit, jojoba beads, sugar based, etc. (click on any of those links to see the relevant product review). Personal preference and your skin type will determine which exfoliator you end up using. If you’re wanting a ‘no mess, no fuss’ approach to exfoliation, pop your cleanser onto a wash cloth / face cloth. You get to cleanse and exfoliate all in one, and a wash cloth is gentle enough to be used every day, by any skin type.
Toners assist in rebalancing the skin’s pH level. They can aid in tightening pores, and remove any left over make-up or cleanser residue. They also prepare the skin for moisturiser. Astringents (like Witch Hazel) help absorb excess oil and are great for use on oily skin, although they can be drying.
Mists, toners and skin tonics are less harsh than astringents. They are suitable for use on normal and combination skin types. Depending on the oiliness of the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin), combination skin types may need to use a toner and an astringent. The toner will be applied to the cheeks and the astringent to the T-zone.
Skin bracers and fresheners are the mildest form of toner. They contain very little or no alcohol, and a humectant (like glycerine). Rosewater is an example of a mild toner that can be used on dry skin.
All skin types need to be moisturised, including oily skin. Apply a light, oil-free, water-based moisturiser, especially after toning with a drying astringent like witch hazel. Products labelled as non-comedogenic will not block pores and are great for use on oily skin. Normal skin types should use a lightweight non-greasy water-based moisturiser. Combination skin types could use the same, although a richer, oil-based moisturiser would need to be used when the skin is feeling dry, especially during the winter months. Dry skin requires a heavier, oil-based moisturiser. These last longer on the skin and help prevent water from evaporating, thereby hydrating for longer.
Skin Serums also help add moisture to the skin. These are used underneath (before) moisturiser. Serums can be used by all skin types, make sure that the product you choose is formulated for your particular skin type. I’ve tried and reviewed a number of skin serums on the blog.
Eye cream is a must in your skincare routine. It helps prevent and reduce the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes. When using an eye cream or eye gel never apply the product directly under the eye, as this can cause the delicate eye tissue to swell and look puffy. Rather apply the cream on the eye bank. This is the area about an inch away from the edge of your eye. Use your ring finger, as this finger exerts the least amount of pressure and won’t tug at the delicate skin in the eye area. Eye gels are better to use in the morning as they are more easily absorbed, won’t make make-up slip, and won’t leave a greasy look like a cream might.
Lastly, its best to try and find a cleanser, toner, and moisturiser from the same brand and range. Cleansers, toners, and moisturisers from the same brand range are designed and formulated to work together. By mixing brands, or ranges within a brand, you may not be getting the best results out of these products.
At the risk of sounding cliché, beauty does come from the inside. The best way to keep your skin hydrated is to drink plenty of water and herbal teas throughout the day.