Skincare 101: The Basics

Tuesday 16th January

So, you may have already noticed that skincare is a bit of a passion of mine; be it researching skincare ingredients, natural skincare alternatives or just trialing the best of skincare products available, skincare is at the centre of my day, or more technically, at the beginning and end of each day.

When I sat down to plan my content for this year one subject that was on the top of my list to create more content around was skincare. I feel passionate about creating more skincare focused content because I think that young girls and women are too focused on make-up and beauty products to hide or cover ‘imperfections’ than they are on actually looking after their skin. If you are not properly looking after your skin before and after you apply all your beauty and make-up everyday you could be creating damage that will lead to premature signs of ageing, dry skin and excessive breakouts caused by blocked pores. 

So, I bring you skincare 101, a series of posts that will go through everything skincare related from the basic products you should be including in your routine, to the ingredients that give you and your skin the most. This week we’re starting with the basics; basic skincare tips and advice for your routine that you may be overlooking. When in doubt, go back to the basics. 

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Where to start with your skincare…

Whether you’re starting from scratch with your skincare or looking to restart, it’s always best to go back to the basics of what make up a good skincare routine: cleanser, moisturiser, eye-cream. Yes, that’s right I didn’t mention a toner, but more on that later. 

The essence of your skincare routine is to clean your skin of all dirt, bacteria and dead skin that has built up and then soothing and re-hydrating the skin to restore any moisture lost during the cleansing process or from the stresses and strains of everyday life. You should be doing this twice a day, once first thing in the morning and once before you go to bed at then end of the day. 

Which cleanser to use & why…

More often than not the instinct is to go for the strongest or most powerful cleanser; something soapy that will leave your skin squeaky clean. However, too powerful or too squeaky clean and you could be stripping away too much of your skins essential oils and natural moisture. You need to find a cleanser that is just right for you, your skin type and needs

There are a few types of cleansers available: soap, cream, milky, micellar, oil. 

Soapy cleanser can be tricky territory; look for anything that is ‘mild’ or ‘suitable for sensitive skin’. Micellar and milky cleansers are good for taking off make-up, but often need to be followed with a second cleanse to throughly wash the skin. Oil cleansers and cream cleansers are excellent for melting off make-up and are best used with a hot cloth for a deep cleanse and a little exfoliation. 

I have a full guide on cleansers which you can read here.

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How to choose a moisturiser…

There are so many different types of moisturisers available to choose from that in actual fact the overwhelming amount of choice makes the task of find the one that’s right for you even more daunting. The first thing to do is to breakdown what you want from a day cream and what you want from a night cream; in some cases you can find a product that works great for both but you might loose out on an SPF in this case or ingredients that are only effective for nightwear such as rentinols or retinoids. 

When looking for a day cream an SPF should be number one on your shopping list, then you have to think about things like whether or not you have oily skin or dry skin; for oily skin you want something that absorbs quickly and has a light formula, and for dry skin you basically want the opposite, something that absorbs into the skin gradually and is a little bit thicker in formula in order to lock in moisture and stop the elements drying out your skin

With night creams it’s all about the ingredients, and since I intend to do a more comprehensive guide to skincare ingredients in upcoming Skincare 101 posts here are the basics you should be looking for in a night cream: B5, B12, Vitamin E, Hyauloronic Acid and anything soothing with hydrating benefits such as Aloe, Shea Butter, Jojoba or essential oils. Another ingredient that is currently gaining popularity due to its healing, restorative and anti-ageing properties is rentinol; however with exception to a few, products that include this ingredient often are more expensive.

Why eye cream should be an essential…

Most people overlook eye cream as being part of the skincare basics or essentials, they assume that if they are using a face cream that that covers the eye area too. However eye creams are specifically designed for the under-eye area for a reason; they contain concentrate ingredients that are not found in most creams and are also better suited for the super sensitive skin around your eyes

Most of us don’t give a second thought to applying layers of concealer to this area of our face or even to how we apply it, pulling and dragging the skin in order to conceal and blend. However, if you use a hydrating eye cream on a regular basis you will find that you need less and less concealer and your under-eyes will thank you for it. 

Look for a gel like formula that is cooling and soothing as this will help with puffiness and tiredness. Caffeine is a common eye cream ingredient that boasts the ability to reduce the appearance of dark circles, but make sure you are countering this with highly hydrating ingredients like aloe, rose water or something soothing like vitamin E. You should apply your eye cream twice a day, once in the morning before applying any make-up and once before bed; however, if you’re feeling tired and suffering from itchy eyes during the day, it’s really soothing to reapply some eye cream over any make-up you’re wearing.

Why not toner?…

If you ask most people what the three ingredients to a basic skincare routine are, they will more than likely tell you cleanser, toner and moisturiser, so you might be wondering why I haven’t included it in my three skincare basics. 

The purpose of a toner is to close the pores after cleansing in order to prevent them from becoming blocked when you apply your creams and lotions. Many people also feel that following their cleanser with a toner makes their skin feel cleaner and that if they left it out of their routine they wouldn’t be getting rid of all the dirt and bacteria that builds up on their skin through the day. If you have oily skin you might be using a ‘mattifying’ toner to remove excess oils from the surface or your skin and prevent that slick look of oils building up through the day. 

So why shouldn’t you use one?

Well, if you’re using a toner to close your pores, a splash of cold water after cleansing is just as effective, if not more so, at doing this. If you feel that your skin isn’t fully clean after your cleanser then maybe you need to look at trying a different one, or try the Korean skincare method of ‘double cleansing’ which involves using two different cleansers, one after the other. Finally if you are using a toner to mattify your skin, then you might actually just be causing your skin to produce more oils because of the fact that you are stripping away all the surface oils through cleansing and a drying toner. 

Toners are essentially alcohol based products, they strip your skin of oils and therefore cause drying due to the fact that there is nothing left to prevent the moisture from leaving the skin through the surface. Alcohols are also damaging to the skin in other ways, they may prevent it from healing and could possibly cause more breakouts due to bacteria because they not only strip away the bad bacteria from your skin, but the good ones too.

If you can achieve everything a toner is designed to do without actually using one, then why would you use one at all? 

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