Alright, this is a continuation from Part 1, where I try to compile a list of things I’ve personally learned during my skincare journey and how it might benefit for people who want to take better care at their skin. There’s so much more to it than just a set of products, believe me.
At this stage, I think this could be a series within a series. Honestly, there are so many bottled-up things I want to write. Information that get shared often repeatedly via DMs/messages. I will keep adding more as I see fit. I hope we can all learn a thing or two.
GOING NATURAL WILL NOT ALWAYS WORK.
At the end of the day, there is not one product that will suit every single person on this earth. Natural skincare is no exception. I have heard more than enough people saying natural/clean/green products don’t work on their skin. That they prefer to stick to mainstream brands. Or they’re able to mix them both like I do.
I understand, there’s a sense of safety when we hear the word “natural” or “organic”. There’s a holistic touch that pulls us in the search of a healthier lifestyle. I love reading the ingredient lists, finding the plant-based oils and extracts in a language I can pronounce. There’s a familiarity and welcoming aspect to it. But when it starts to scream about “100% chemical-free” and such, the thing is: water is chemical.
Sometimes, the whole fear-mongering in the green beauty can feel like a marketing gimmick. It can get really intense that I personally want to step away from it all (e.g. anything cancer-related threats). It’s not like just because we don’t use naturals then a definite straight to cancer or some other diseases. Some green/organic brands can sound really entitled or high up their arses and it’s a complete opposite of what they’re trying to convey — which usually has to do with kindness, humility, and positivity. Some are indeed in it for the money, because they see the profit potential. They have to sell the products to keep the business running, right?
I am not going to discuss which one is better yadda yadda because everyone’s skin AND preference are different. What I can advise is read as many resources and find out as much information as you can. Define what is “natural/green/organic” to you – not just some he-say-she say. Differentiate between science and pseudoscience. Source out and use the products that make you feel comfortable with. You do you. But a person still can experience irritations on either. If you want to use strictly natural skincare, you still have to go through the same process. Research, trials, and errors.
Both natural and mainstream have their own flaws and advantages. I appreciate people’s decision and direction if they want to go the green route, but it’s not right to belittle others who don’t just to get your point across.
I had received (and still do) tons of messages from people who got too excited and ended up buying so many products at once. Problem is, they didn’t know what the products are, what they do, and how to use them. What they know is “buy first, figure it out later“. They buy because they heard good reviews, without actually going into a deeper research. Whether it might suit their skin or not. The next thing you know, they asked me to figure it out for them.
Then there is this FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) phenomena and it should be deflected. I get it. When we’re being exposed to all of the hype and trends, sometimes we can feel left out if we don’t follow the gush. The necessity of being in the loop. The pride in declaring “Hey, I got it too!” Trust me, it gets boring after a while. Not to mention draining.
It is your money, I understand that. You have all the liberty to use it for whatever and how ever you wish it. But, wouldn’t it better if you buy the product because you already have a plan on how you’re going to use it? Pretty products will earn you likes on social media but nothing for your skin if you buy for the sake of approvals and just sit silently on your vanity. By all means, it’s definitely OKAY to spend on unnecessary little products – we’ve all done that. Just try not to go overboard.
Spend within your allowance. Don’t force on buying products that you can’t afford. If you want to splurge, then serums would be the ideal product for starters. You can save on everything else. If you like a certain product enough, then keep using it until it’s finished. Everyone has their own idea on “affordable” so find your own comfort level. Whatever you do, do not get into debt just because of skincare (or makeup) or eating instant noodles to cover the expenses 😅
I’m well aware that the products that I used are mostly in the mid-high end range. That doesn’t mean you have to buy them too. No pressure here! What I share here isn’t for everyone’s budget and that’s fine. But I always try to share other information on functions, ingredients, and routine so those are the little details that can benefit others in terms of knowledge. As I said in the previous post, research is more than just finding reviews. Read between the fine lines.
I am a self-confessed skincare addict. I have different skincare products because I love having the options. I love finding combinations for different situations. I love trying out different textures and experiment with layering. I’ll admit I had gone overboard a few times, leading to wastage. Not to mention, products that didn’t work out. I receive products from brands every now and then to try out. Even after serious filtering of which ones I want to accept or not (meaning I declined offers often), it can still get overwhelming. I can’t control when brands decide to send the goods without asking (since they have my address). I give out a lot of products to my family and friends.
The reality is I couldn’t use them all.
I’ve been practicing self-restraint for the past year by not automatically buy a new product right away whenever I want it. I tried to stay away from it long enough to see if I truly need it. Truth is, I most likely don’t! I have more than enough. I’m also trying to finish as many products as I can before opening or buying a new product. Though I don’t force myself on finishing products that didn’t work out for me or specific-purpose products. Clarifying and acne treatments are the hardest ones because I only use them on special occasions.
One thing for sure (this is also a reminder for others), whenever I buy skincare, I also accept the risk that it might not suit my skin and I may not be able to finish it.
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Cleanse – Hydrate – Moisturize – SPF (for day)
It’s a whole blog post on its own, but I’ll talk about it briefly. This is the most basic routine that anyone can do and should master. This is the one routine that you can go back into when you just want to start at ground zero. Or when things just not going right. Usually, the best policy is stick to the simplest routine. It will become the safety net.
The logic is easy enough to understand:
Cleanse to remove skin’s impurities. Double cleanse at night. If you don’t even properly cleanse your skin everyday, then don’t even bother doing anything else.
Hydrate because the skin needs the water content. Otherwise, raisins anyone?
Moisturize because that occlusive element will seal the hydration in (instead of evaporating away) and serves as an additional skin barrier, or to repair it.
Sunscreen protection – all that hard work will go away if we don’t protect the skin from the sun. I’m serious. SPF makes a huge difference.
If you notice, I didn’t include serum in the equation because serum is another step up from the basic routine. If you do want to try adding a serum, let it be known that a serum doesn’t do all the work. It’s not magic in a bottle. But it can make a difference if you choose the suitable one. For starters, I’d recommend on using serums that will increase the overall health of the skin. Antioxidant and hydrating serums are always a great option.
For newbies, I never ever recommend on trying out potent chemical exfoliators (acids) until they perfected the basic routine first. Most people want the glow but are oblivious to the risks. This is why so many out there are experiencing over-exfoliating and irritations on the skin. Because they don’t know when to stop. When it comes to acids, there isn’t any competition. It’s not about how high you can tolerate. Use in moderation and within your current skin needs. And yes, always complement with ample hydration and moisturization.
If you want to dive into exfoliating, you can start with mild products. Japanese brands usually carry what they called “Clear Lotion”. It’s basically a mild exfoliating toner to get rid of dead skin cells but not as harsh as acid toners. Sometimes they do contain acids but in low dosage. The easiest way to determine is to read the ingredient list. I’d still recommend on putting on a hydrating toner afterward because usually, they don’t give that plump feeling.
If needed, use clarifying masks to get rid of congestion once or twice a week. Remember not to over-purify the skin. Not a good thing either. Always hydrate and moisturize properly.
Learn how to edit your routine. There’s no need to go to the whole nine yards all the time.
OK. This topic is going to overwhelm the whole post. I will discuss more soon, separately 😀
TRY NEW PRODUCT ONE AT A TIME.
Oh, the excitement. New products laying around waiting to be opened. Now what?
Pick one that you want to try first. Why one at a time? That way if there’s any adverse reaction, you can single out the issue, which most likely is the new product. There’s no fixed guideline for how long. Sometimes it can take a while before the skin shows any reaction. It can be a matter of one day, few days or few weeks, maybe longer. Eventually, we have to judge by our own instincts.
Be aware that a negative reaction doesn’t necessarily mean that the product doesn’t suit the skin. There are also other factors such as layering issues and compatibility. In my experience, certain product needs certain combination for it to work. I’ve had experiences where I thought a product is a no-go, turned out to work well when I switched other products in the routine. Example 1: the layering doesn’t allow the product to absorb properly, instead it sits and clog the skin. Example 2: maybe the product is drying out the skin, therefore needs to be balanced with heavier hydration/moisture. If you want to give it another go, make sure to try when the skin condition has gone back to normal.
What happens if a person doesn’t have any routine to begin with? In this case, I hope this person at least has a face cleanser. The most often case is they’re missing a toner or a first cleanser. If you don’t have any, then start finding cleansers (first and second cleanser), a hydrating toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen. I prefer oil-based for first cleansers e.g. cleansing oil/balm. I’m personally not a fan of micellar water due to the excessive use of cotton pads, risking the skin to become sensitized. Second cleanser can be any face wash, but it’d be wise to avoid clarifying/purifying/exfoliating cleansers. They tend to dry out the skin over time, especially if you’re going to use it everyday. Try to pick the products that focus on hydration and moisture.
Cleansers and toners are usually the easiest to test out. We can tell within a few days of use. Depending on the skin and your gut, you can try the face cleanser (in this case, second cleanser) for a couple of days or so, without any toner and moisturizer. Once a-go, introduce the toner. Then the moisturizer. At this stage, you can try practicing double-cleansing (first cleanser is introduced) at night, see how the skin is before finally trying on the sunscreen. My logic is if you use SPF right away, then you’ll need to use the new first cleanser at nighttime too. Two new products at the same time, could be tricky for first-timers.
By any means, feel free to tread and experiment on your own. Just try not to be greedy and do things hastily. Be patient.
With any kind of exfoliating products, it’s quite normal to have “purging” or “detox“. In a sense that the product is taking all the dirt and congested areas out of the skin. For me, one of the ways to differentiate between purging and irritation is to inspect whether the blemish goes away/dies down or stay inflamed after a few days. If the skin is still purging after a few months, even after trying out different combinations, then why bother continuing the agony? I need to highlight that whenever you exfoliate, extra hydration and balanced moisture is needed to prevent irritation. So before you suspect anything else (aka blaming the product), make sure your skin is always balanced.
OK, more than 2000 words again. That’s my cue there. See you at Part 3!
As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below if you relate on any of the points above!