The Basics Series: Skincare 101

“Hey there, hi there, ho, there, you’re as welcome as can be!” That’s a Mickey Mouse Club reference, in case you didn’t know, but in any case, welcome back to my blog! I’ve been on a bit of a Disney kick lately, as I’m itching for that summer break right around the corner and my family’s annual trip to Disneyland. Anyone else feeling the same? Comment below what your summer plans are! Anyhow, here is part three of my Basics series! This week, we’re talking skincare, which, believe it or not, is an extremely crucial part of your makeup routine. (Brace yourself, because this is a long one!)

Your skin is what all of your makeup sits on top of, and is the number one foundation you have for creating the perfect canvas. Think about it, the makeup doesn’t matter as much, because at the end of the day, it comes off. Your skin, however, does not, unless you really effed up haha. All jokes aside, if you are a regular makeup wearer, you should especially be taking care of your skin. By not properly removing makeup, you can irritate your skin and cause even worse problems that foundation just can’t cover up! Skincare is extremely crucial to even those who don’t wear makeup. Your skin is exposed to many harsh elements everyday, with or without you knowing it, including, sun rays, air pollution, and everyday dirt and grime. On top of that, internally hormones, genetics, and chemicals from food also affect the skin. By taking proper care of your skin now, you can avoid serious repercussions later, including major acne, irritations, and skin cancer. Think of it like exercise and eating right, taking preventative measures now and creating healthy habits will be exponentially beneficial for the future. If you learn anything from my Basics series, please take note how important skincare can be and if you are feeling the need to buy some products, I would highly suggest starting to invest in skincare over anything else!

Disclaimer: I am not a professional dermatologist, but I have done a lot of research in this field for my own skincare purposes and I am just sharing what has worked for me and the knowledge that I have acquired along the way. This post is a good starting point, but please consult a professional if you have any serious skin conditions or concerns. 

Quicktips:

  1. Research– First and foremost I want to preface this with an encouragement to DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. Thank you for reading this post (I sincerely appreciate it!) and I promise you that I did my own necessary research to provide my readers with proper information, but this post should really serve as a stepping stone for looking into skincare. Life advice here: be informed before anything else. Whenever you form any opinion, please be sure that you are well informed (from credible sources!) and that you never just blindly follow anyone or anything. The internet lies sometimes, guys. Sorry for the rant, but this is a personal pet peeve. Everyone’s skin is different, so please be sure to do your own research and find what works for YOU! Caroline Hirons is a skincare expert, whose blog I have read for years, and I would recommend checking her out. This cheat sheet post from her is the perfect place to start.
  2. Water– Without a doubt, water makes the biggest difference in my personal skincare routine. There is a noticeable difference in the brightness and the amount of blemishes my skin has when I’m drinking water and when I’m not. Increasing your water intake helps flush toxins out of your system that cause acne, helps keep your skin hydrated, and aids in skin renewal turnover and regeneration. This article from Women’s Health is a good read on the benefits water has for your skin.
  3. Diet– Fresh and natural food is important for healthy skin. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. Fish, nuts, and eggs contain Zinc, Selenium, and Omega-3s. Processed foods are loaded with tons of crazy chemicals and preservatives that can do who knows what to your skin. Many of these ingredients are irritants and can interfere with skin regeneration or lead to the overproduction of oil in the skin which causes acne. Dairy and refined sugar are two of the biggest culprits. Dairy often contains synthetic hormones that affect your own hormones and can imbalance them and sugar leads to the overproduction of insulin which leads the the overproduction of sebum. This article from WebMD really helped me understand how diet played a role in my skin’s health.
  4. SPF– SPF is essential for preventing skin cancer, however, I find that SPF only really needs to be used on an “as needed” basis, because you do need Vitamin D. Daily, I only really wear SPF 15 because it is in my foundation, which I find is enough since I unfortunately don’t spend much time outside except from walking to class. My personal rule of thumb, is that if I am doing an outdoor activity where I will be exposed to the sun for more than 1 hour, I will apply sunscreen. I know that SPF has a bit of a controversy surrounding it, some claiming that the ingredients are carcinogens and that the increase in skin cancer over the years have a correlation with sunscreen use. Personally, I do not believe that SPF increases skin cancer risk and attribute this more to the trend of more revealing clothes, excessive tanning coming into style and use of tanning beds, and the depletion of the ozone which leads to harsher UVA and UVB rays coming through. This article from skincancer.org has some good information on the subject.
  5. Vices– Just be cautious. I’m not here to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, but smoking is extremely negative for the skin. In addition, monitor alcohol intake, if you drink, since drinks mostly contain sugars and can dehydrate the skin.
  6. Stress– Managing stress is hard, especially if you’re a sleep-deprived college student like me. However, stress can cause breakouts due to hormone imbalances, so try your best to take a breather when you need it.
  7. Skin Types/Concerns– Know your skin type and what problems you struggle with when it comes to your skin. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t know what the question is. All skincare products are usually catered to certain ailments and types, so be sure you know so you can find what you need!
    • Normal- Neither oily or dry, little discoloration and visible pores, blemish free.
    • Oily- Shiny, large pores, acne prone
    • Combination- Oily T-zone and dry hair and jawline and eyes, large pores, prone to blackheads
    • Dry- Flaky, dry, or red patches, tight pores, dull skin, prone to wrinkles
    • Sensitive- Blotchy patches, redness, spots, irritation
    • Skin concerns- Acne, blemishes, anti-aging, hyper pigmentation, redness, dry patches.
    • This chart is helpful in discovering what skin type you have.

Alright, I know that was a long intro, so if you’re still with me, let’s get started!

Note: Pictures are not mine and copyright is credited to original photographers, however the edits are my original designs. 

Step 1: Remove Makeup & Cleanse
facialcleansers101Makeup Removers

Makeup removing is not interchangeable with cleansing the skin, but I would say they go hand-in-hand. I would say the largest difference, is that makeup removers focus mainly on removing makeup and not necessarily cleaning away dirt and grime, and vice-versa for cleansing. Removing your makeup is an absolute must. If you only have time to do one thing before you go to bed, please remove your makeup! Leaving makeup on your skin clogs your pores and doesn’t let your skin breathe.

  1. Makeup Wipes- Probably one of the most common ways to remove makeup is with a pre-moistened wipe. These are pretty self-explanatory and are good for removing a normal amount of makeup by just wiping over the face. They aren’t the best method for removing a lot of makeup, however. Also, some things to keep in mind, is that these are not necessarily a super eco-friendly method and they can dry out if you do not use them in a timely manner. The pictured Neutrogena ones are my favorite since I find them to be the most effective, they don’t break me out, and they can be used on face, eye, and lip makeup.
  2. Oil Makeup Remover- These formulas have become popular recently for their efficiency and natural benefits. To use, take a small amount of product on a dry face and work it over the makeup to break it down, then rinse away with water. This is best for removing large amounts of makeup since it breaks down makeup quickly and a little goes a long way. You can also use pure oils that are liquid (avoid solid oils like coconut which can clog pores), just do your research first!
  3. Liquid Remover- These removers are geared more towards removing eye makeup and are a liquid consistency. I don’t have much experience with these so I don’t have much to say.
  4. Micellar Water-  I made a post on micellar waters about a month ago which you can read here, to get the full picture, but for now, in case you didn’t know, micellar waters are a multipurpose solution designed to remove makeup, cleanse the skin, and sometimes moisturize or tone as well. From my experience, not all micellar waters succeed in doing all of these things all of the time, but almost every micellar water is good at removing makeup. These remove a normal to small amount of makeup.

Cleanser Formulas

For cleansers, the primary focus is to clean general dirt and grime. Some removers can break down makeup, but don’t necessarily get it all like hard to remove waterproof mascara. If you wear makeup daily, I would recommend going in with both a makeup remover and cleanser. If you don’t wear makeup regularly, really only a cleanser will be necessary.

  1. Facial Wipes- Unlike makeup removing wipes, the purpose of these wipes are to remove oil and dirt. They aren’t designed to be pre-moistened with a makeup removing solution. These are good for the morning when there isn’t a lot of build-up on the face, or after the gym or waxing. They aren’t the most effective cleansing method, or eco-friendly.
  2. Gel Cleanser- These are cleansers that are a jelly like consistency and are best for oily skin, although they can work for most skin types, depending on the accompanying ingredients. The gel texture is perfect for getting deep down into the pores and doesn’t have any excess oil in the formula. Sometimes they foam after being lathered.
  3. Foam Cleanser- Foam cleansers usually start out liquidy and then once dispensed are aerated and “foamed”. It is a lightweight formula and perfect for normal skin as they are not too stripping.
  4. Cream Cleanser- These cleansers are heavier in formula and rich. They are nourishing and hydrating and perfect for dry skin.
  5. Milk Oil Cleanser- A dual action product that cleanses the skin of impurities and makeup and conditions the skin and lashes. It is the perfect inbetween product for inbetween combination skin. It emulsifies into a milky consistency and the two main ingredients nourish and balance the skin.
  6. Oil Cleanser- Very similar to a makeup removing oil, except that this also multitasks and cleanses the face as well as removing makeup. Sometimes the oil will foam up when water is applied as well. This works for most skin types. The oil hydrates dry skin and balances out the bad oils in oily skin.
  7. Cleansing Balm- This is almost like a solid version of an oil cleanser. It starts out as a balm and melts into the skin when it is applied to the dry face before being wiped away with a hot cloth. Once again, this works for most skin types like the oil cleanser above.
  8. Facial Bar- Much like a bar of soap, but with ingredients that are gentle enough for the face.

Cleansing Tools

  1. Facial Brush- A mechanical brush with rotating bristles that massage product into the skin, exfoliate, and get a deep clean into the pores.
  2. Silicone Scrub- This is much like a facial brush that pulsates and gets a deep clean.
  3. Konjac Sponge- These sponges have become extremely popular in the States and are from Eastern beauty trends. These sponges are made from the extremely fibrous konjac root which absorbs a lot of water (like a root) and is perfect for scrubbing the skin.

Step 2: Treat

There are several different facial treatments for a variety of ailments. These are basically all the other facial products that are on the market that don’t cleanse, moisturize, or are a mask. You can add as many or as little of these products into your skincare routine, according to your skin type and needs.

treatments

Other Facial Products

  1. Physical Exfoliant- The purpose of an exfoliator is to slough away the dead skin buildup on the skin and promote skin turnover. With a physical exfoliator, there are physical particles that have a gritty texture and are meant to smooth over the skin, kind of like a nail file is to nails (but much gentler, of course). Be cautious of scrubs with plastic beads, however, as the beads can get into the water system and are hard to treat and remove from the water supply, as well as they can sometimes break skin since they are very abrasive. Exfoliants only need to be used once a week or every other week, depending on your skin.
  2. Chemical Exfoliant- A chemical exfoliant uses gentle acidic enzymes to breakdown dead skin cells as well. I know it sounds scary, but it really isn’t as harsh as it sounds! The benefit of a chemical exfoliant is that they aren’t as abrasive against the skin like physical exfoliants. Exfoliants are good to use before cleansing or masks, as it preps the skin and opens up pores to be ready to receive the benefits of other skincare items.
  3. Blemish Spot Treatment- These products are medicated fluids meant to dry out and treat pimples. These are perfect for reducing the size and redness of zits overnight. Spot treatments should be used on an as needed basis and before or after moisturizing.
  4. Serum- Serums are specialty treatments that are oil or water based and meant to provide extra nourishment and quickly penetrate deep into the layers of the skin. They can be tailored for any skin need, including anti-aging, brightening, acne treatment, or hyper pigmentation. They have high concentrations of their ingredients, making them pretty pricey, but their large amounts make them fast working. You can use these daily or as a special treat and are good to use before moisturizing.
  5. Toner- Toners are also specialty products that are meant to balance the skin. They come in two different formulas- either a light lotion or an astringent. Astringents are more liquidy and geared more towards oily to combo skin types as it combats oil and tightens pores. The light lotions are better for normal to dry skin as they are more moisturizing. Toners can be used daily or on as needed basis, depending on your specific needs and are best used after cleansing.
  6. Facial Mist- Similar to a toner, but in a spray form, this product also is meant to balance the skin. They provide cooling, moisturizing, and pH balance benefits. These can be used as often as daily and are nice to use after a moisturizer.

Eye Treatments

  1. Cream- Eye creams are like facial creams, but specifically designed for the delicate undereye area. They are a bit thicker in consistency and provide moisture and usually dark circle correcting properties.
  2. Depuffing Applicator- Eye creams or gels that come in a tube with a metal nib applicator at the end are specifically designed to reduce the size and swelling of circles under the eye with the cool metal. You can even get empty applicators which you can use with your own eye cream to get the  best of both worlds, like this Michael Todd one here.
  3. Specialty Treatment- These treatments are single use applications of under eye product. The can be depuffing and cooling like the pictured product, or mini hydrating masks like the linked product.
  4. Eye Gel Patches- These products were made popular in Korean skincare before they made their way into Western skincare. Asians have a tendency to opt for youthful, hydrated, and plump skin, which often means also riding the skin of dark circles or eye bags. These patches are mini gel masks that sit under the eye to provide hydration, like sheet masks (see below).

Step 3: Moisturize

Moisturizing is essential for all skin types, especially after cleansing. Moisturizing adds back the hydration and moisture that the skin was stripped of during cleansing. It rebalances the skin and prevents the overproduction of oil to make up for the lack of natural oil that was removed during cleansing. Although toners and serums can do some of the same things, they will not work as well as a traditional moisturizer, as those products are designed to supplement the skincare routine and not take the place of a moisturizer.

facialmoisturizers101

Formulas

Formula refers to the texture and consistency of the product, in this context. Although some formulas works better for specific skin types, depending on the other supporting ingredients in the products any formula can be used with any skin type, if that makes sense. For example, although facial creams are thick and hydrating and usually better for dry skin, some brands can contain acne medication and be used for oily skin.

  1. Facial Lotion- This is exactly what it sounds like, a lotion for your face. It is usually a light formula and is not too creamy or thick. These work well for most skin types and can be used day or night.
  2. Facial Cream- These are the body butter versus lotion equivalent for moisturizers, if that makes sense. Facial creams are much thicker and designed to intensely hydrate, so they work well for dry skin or can they be used overnight so that they have time to absorb.
  3. Gel Moisturizer- Gel moisturizers are a lightweight jelly formula and absorb quickly into the skin. They have a high water content and usually contain no oil, making them perfect for oily skin. These moisturizers also work well for day moisturizing since the water base will not interfere with the oil bases in foundation and primers.
  4. Facial Oil- Facial oils are either pure extracts or combinations of pure extracts of oil. Popular extracts include argan, jojoba, or maracuja. Believe it or not, these work well for all skin types! Oils nourishes dry skin and combats and balances oily skin. This is best used overnight so that the oil has time to penetrate and absorb into the skin. To be honest, this is my favorite way to moisturize my face.

Treatments

Here, treatment refers to the active ingredients in the moisturizer that are working o combat specific skin ailments.

  1. Mattifying- These moisturizers are targeted towards oily skin and meant to suppress oil production. These are best used for day use under makeup.
  2. Brightening- These moisturizers usually contain Vitamin C and are meant to brighten up dull skin and combat dark spots. These moisturizers work well during the day under makeup as well.
  3. Anti-Aging- Anti-aging moisturizers are extra nourishing and usually contain antioxidants that are beneficial for the skin. They can be used day or night to rejuvenate and make skin appear more useful.
  4. Night Cream- These are heavy duty, creamy and thick formulas, much like a facial cream. They are pretty much the same consistency and can be interchangeable. The main difference is that night creams are specifically designed to be absorbed at a slower rate since they are applied and worn overnight.

Step 4: Mask

Masks are a nice luxury treatment to recharge the skin every once in a while, and are separate from your everyday skincare routine. You can use them as often as you like, but probably not more than twice a week. There are plenty of different masks on the market for every skin type, so keep reading to find what will work for you.

facemasks

  1. Mud/Clay- These masks contain ingredients designed to draw out impurities from the skin. They start out as a liquid or cream and then dry after 10-20 minutes. These are perfect for those struggling with blemishes and blackheads since clay and mud absorb the problem causing dirt and oil.
  2. Hydrating- These masks contain nourishing ingredients and are usually a creamy consistency. They can come in either a version where you rinse off after 10-20 minutes, or overnight formulas.
  3. Brightening- Brightening masks are meant for correcting dark spots and dullness. They can come in any formula (gel, cream or sheet) and usually contain plenty of vitamins.
  4. Gel- Gel masks are a light, water based, jelly consistency and depending on the active ingredients, can be used for any skin type. Their super lightweight and gentle formula is perfect for sensitive or anti-aging skin.
  5. Sheet- Sheet masks were made popular by Korean and other Asian beauty brands before coming to Western beauty. They are a pre-treated paper or fabric like sheet cut to the shape of a face with eye and nose holes, kind of like a face shaped wipe. These can come in several different treatments for any skin ailment, but the most popular are brightening or hydrating masks, especially original Korean brand ones. These are meant to be worn for 10-20 minutes and then removed and the face can be rinsed.
  6. Peel-Off- These masks are meant to be applied in a thick layer to the skin and left to dry. Once dry, they are removed by literally peeling the mask off instead of rinsing. Much like a pore strip, these masks draw out impurities and pull them physically from the pores, except for the whole face. This works especially well for those with blackheads or a lot of congestion in their skin.
  7. Fresh- Fresh face masks can be made by yourself at home! There are many at home remedies that use ingredients right from your kitchen that you can customize for your skin’s needs. They are super nourishing and all natural. However, Lush does make their own fresh face masks which need to be refrigerated and can only be bought in stores, in case you didn’t want to make your own mask.
  8. Peel- Peels are a treatment that promotes skin turnover and removes dead skin cells. This is almost like a combination between a mask and a chemical exfoliator. It applies like a mask for a few minutes and then is rinsed away and works like a chemical exfoliator where it breaks down dead skin. The biggest difference between a peel and a chemical exfoliator, is that this is an intenser treatment since they don’t just remove the extra dead skin, but the top layer of skin. If a chemical exfoliator is like a nail file to a nail, where it just smooths out a rough edge and gets rid of the extra ragged nail, a peel is like a nail buffer where it brings the next layer of the nail to the surface by removing the top layer of nail protein.

And that’s a wrap! Apologies for this post being extra long, but skincare is just that important to me! If you are interested in any of the Michael Todd products I included in this post use this link below to receive 20% off. (Disclaimer: this is a commision code).

michaeltodd_300x250

Thanks for reading this week and be sure to leave a comment below telling me your favorite skincare product!

All my love,

Megan

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