Skincare can be confusing and overwhelming, as there are so many brands and products out there in the market. But fret not, we’re stripping it down to basics, and a few key questions you should be asking yourself before you splurge on that snail mucin serum.
You’ve probably heard about the 10-step K-Beauty skincare routine. But let’s break it down to basics. After all, there’s no point in having 10 steps if half of them don’t work for your skin.
For starters, all you need is:
1. Something to cleanse.
2. Something to apply
And you need to do it two times a day: AM & PM.
As you go about your day, your skin is exposed to various environmental conditions such as pollution, heat, and humidity amongst others. Naturally, your skin will produce sebum in response to these stressors. This accumulates grime and grease that leads to clogged pores and other skin concerns. Which is why having something to wash your face with is important.
There are many types of cleansers out there ranging from watery gels to oily balms. But generally, an effective cleanser is one that not only cleanses well, but also doesn’t make your skin too dry by stripping your natural oils.
A simple way to know this is to feel your skin after you wash your face. The right skin feel should be smooth and supple as you move your fingers across your face.
If it’s still oily and greasy, then you could wash your face again (known as the double cleansing method), or if it’s too dry, then you could either use less product, skip a morning cleanse or choose a milder, gentler cleanser.
It can be any product that helps with your skin concern, whether it’s a toner, serum or moisturiser. But in the morning, sun protection is a must. We’ll cover more of this later.
Ultimately, it depends on your skin concerns and preferences. Ask yourself these questions:
What kind of ingredients in products will help with your skin issues?
Here’s a list of tried and tested ingredients that are known to work on the following skin concerns.
For acne-related concerns — retinoids, acids (glycolic, lactic, salicylic), benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide, tea tree oil, clays.
For dehydration — panthenol, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, glycerin, ceramides, moisturising agents including silicones, plant oils and butters.
For pigmentation concerns including dark spots — sunscreen, acids (ascorbic, glycolic), niacinamide, retinoids, alpha-arbutin, hydroquinone.
For irritated skin – petrolatum, urea, niacinamide, allantoin, ceramides.
*Do note that effectiveness of these ingredients depends on % added to the formula as well as other factors like pH.
What textures do you like?
Liquid, Gel, gel-cream, lotion, balm and/or oil.
What is your desired budget?
A practical way to do this is to use price/ml or oz. Just divide the price by the volume.
Do you prefer certain fragrances or entirely fragrance-free?
What packaging types do you prefer?
How much time and effort are you going to put into your skincare routine?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to applying skincare products. But by following these three guidelines, you won’t go wrong with your skincare routine—
By applying this way, you’re likely to apply water-based products first and then oil-based to lock in moisture.
Because you’ll want the actives to be properly absorbed by the skin and bring out immediate benefits. Usually, these are serums that contain active ingredients.
Sunscreen should form the outermost layer to protect your skin from the sun.
It’s also worth noting that layering with too many products can lead to unexpected irritation and breakouts. Which is why we recommend not more than two layers, especially for beginners. If things go haywire, it’s harder to find out which skincare is not working for you when you’re using multiple products at a time.
In times of climate change and increasing UV levels, sunscreens help to protect our skin from UV radiation which is usually the root cause of most skin problems.
When purchasing sunscreens, opt for at least SPF50 with high UVA protection. Make sure it feels great on your skin e.g. not too light but not too greasy either.
Comparing different sources can help you make an informed decision - just try not to get too overwhelmed by it! Remember that everyone’s skin is different and it’s ultimately about what works for you.
To help you out, here’s a list of skincare influencers and content creators you can follow for advice to help you with your skincare decisions.
Once you’ve decided what products to use, take that leap of faith to use them and have patience. Since it takes about a month for the skin to regenerate, you would need to use skincare at least that much of time to be sure that they’re really working for your skin.
Also, considering that our skin is influenced by factors other than a good skincare routine, practising self-care is equally important.
There is more to healthy skin than just good skincare. Your skin is not only influenced by the environment and the skincare that you use, but also your hormones, genetics and lifestyle habits. Not to mention the beliefs you have about your own self appearance.
Taking care of your emotional well-being is definitely good for your skin. Sleep well, be compassionate with yourself and live with ease.
This article was written by Ian Goh, co-founder of local skincare brand: enlg. Enlg is revolutionising skincare for both men and women with their motto: live with ease. On a mission to disprove the current skincare market that sells many unnecessary, wasteful and confusing products and ideals, enlg strives to enlighten and enrich consumers with transparency, science and fair products.