Skin care routines are all the buzz nowadays. If you have an Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Tumblr account (or even if you don’t) I’m sure you will have seen dozens of posts coming up with “The Right Skin-care Routine for You!”, and I’m sure you’re also kind of sick of it.
So, do we really need skin care routines? And if we do, aren’t 10 steps excessive?
In late 2015 I was scrolling on Instagram when I became frustrated with everyone’s seemingly perfect skin. Soft, smooth and pimple-free. Although I knew it was a mixture of good genes and good photo editing apps, I grew frustrated and increasingly unhappy with the quality of my own skin. I had pimples, rougher bumps on my forehead, large pores on my nose and no matter how much I exfoliated, my skin never seemed to clear up. Spoiler alert, this was my first mistake.
I decided to ignore it and not even give it much attention at all. It’s just skin. Am I that vain that I care so much about the texture of my face? Well, maybe. But I think that’s normal. Our faces are one of, if not THE first thing that people see. It’s literally eye-level. So, I do think it’s understandable to care about what it looks like. The few times I’ve really bad breakouts I have sympathised with those with cystic acne and difficult to treat skin conditions such as rosacea; being disgruntled with your skin can leave you feeling exposed and embarrassed.
In 2016, as skincare routines became popularised, I became transfixed with the Korean 10-step skincare routine. I watched countless YouTube videos about the best serums, essences and sheet masks that we all “needed” to buy and convinced myself that this was going to give me that perfect skin I so craved. I went to yesstyle.com and bought Benton’s Snail Bee High Content Essence, Bioré’s foaming face cleanser and packs and packs of Korean sheet masks. These are all beautiful products, formulated for sensitive skin. I did notice a certain difference in my skin shortly after; it looked more glowy and more hydrated, but the spots, discolouration and roughness were still there. They were just not right for the skin care results I was searching for. I did learn at this time that I did not have oily skin like I had always thought, I in fact had combination skin: oilier around the t-zone of my face but drier everywhere else. I kept up with my routine, constantly cycling new products but still remained unhappy with the old spot scars that wouldn’t leave and my bumpy complexion.
At this point I didn’t really get the fuss. “Nothing works!” I thought. I sleep and eat well, I drink plenty of water, and I had a skincare routine. But what I didn’t realise was that you don’t necessarily have to follow a particular routine with the highest rated products… you just need to find the things that work for you. My biggest mistakes that I was making were:
1- Using physical exfoliants –> Lots of people really love physical exfoliants, and a really popular one that I tried using was St. Ives Apricot Scrub. This is an okay product for the body, but for my face, all I was doing was giving myself micro-tears with the sharp scrub, and over-exfoilating which was drying out my skin further. In compensation, my skin was becoming more and more oily to make up for the oils I was stripping away, which in turn was causing more pimples!
2- Clay. Masks. Every. Single. Day. –> This is similar to the above issue. Clay masks are great for those with acne-prone skin, but there is no need to be using them every single day. One I used to use all the time was Garnier’s 3 in 1 wash scrub and mask. All I was doing was drying out my face way more than necessary and causing more oil. Not to mention the micro beads in this product, which aren’t great for your facial skin and definitely aren’t good for the planet.
3- Bio oil –> My grandma discovered Bio Oil as the best product of her life and kept giving me (and still is giving me) bottles of the stuff. Now, for the body, bio oil feels great and does keep my skin moisturised. But it was NOT suitable for my face. I tried it on two separate occasions, and I woke up to the biggest pimples of my life the following day. Everybody’s skin is different, but I personally will not be using this on my face. Ever.
4- Not using SPF –> You will probably hear me say this many, many times on this blog but I think that SPF is the most vital part of any skincare routine. Fundamentally, skincare should be looking after the health of our skin, right? The sun is extremely damaging for our skin. Sun exposure can lead to premature aging, but much, much worse, sun damage can lead to skin cancer.
I love the sun and believed that getting my tan on was great for my skin because it cleared up my spots (!!). Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Although while I was tanned my pimples and acne scars were less visible, as soon as the tan started to fade away, I was left with dark spots where my pimples used to be. This is because the hyperpigmentation and discoloration on my skin was becoming more pigmented after exposure to the sun.
5- And lastly, popping my pimples. Now I can’t sit here and pretend I don’t sometimes fall victim to the temptation of popping a spot, but I know that there have been very few times that popping a spot actually led to faster healing. Popping a pimple just introduces more bacteria and most likely makes it worse, which in turn leads to a worse scar.
I think yes, but it has to be YOUR routine. Over the period of two years I have slowly been making changes and having mini skin care breakthroughs and I can confidently say that for me, it is worth it. I am now so much happier with my skin and often receive compliments on my complexion (people say that I’m glowing, but I think that’s just grease). I still am not completely happy but I’m getting there. But what I will say is that you need to put in time and effort to figure out what works for you; there is no recommended 10-step routine that is going to be exactly perfect for your skin type. We are all different and have different tolerances to different products, and some things just don’t work for us, and that’s okay.
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