Aah skincare… Where to start? How to know what is too much? Is there a method to the madness? Who do I follow advice from?
I get it, it is a lot, and it can be confusing. It took me years to understand that there are some non-negotiable basic rules you should stick to 80% of the time (actually, trying to be politically correct here, more like 90% of the time), if you want to keep your skin looking and feeling fresh and healthy.
Next, a few experts helped me to create a good routine and to decide which type of products my skin needs, and that this changes with age and what kind of treatment it needs depending on its condition or concerns. And finally, I tried and tested a few amazingly simple things that made, for me, significant differences in the way my skin looks and feels, and I will be shedding some light as to why that might be the case!
Disclaimer! I am by no means a skincare expert! I work as a health coach and guide people through lifestyle modifications which include nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, mental health support and general prevention of age-related diseases and issues, which all contribute to skin health on different levels. I do seek expert advice, from dermatologists and doctors, for my own routines and products, as should you. One or a few consultations will make a WORLD of difference!
There are a few basic rules that are non-negotiable and if you can stick to them 90% (there, I said it) of the time, you give your skin a real chance of looking and feeling great. Yes, products are important, and I will get to that, but just imagine spending a good amount of money on them but disregarding the following basic healthy habits... You might as well flush that cash down the toilet!
Ok, there we go:
Don’t smoke. Or quit.
- Smoking increases the risk of the top 3 killers: heart disease, cancer and cardiovascular ailments.
- Lung cancer, which is for 80% of the cases caused by smoking, is one of the deadliest cancers.
- The chemicals in cigarettes cause, amongst others, DNA breaks and damage to cells and because it also limits oxygen to the brain and the body, there will be damage to your skin, lungs and different body systems.
So yeah, quit.
Limit alcohol consumption.
- Too much alcohol can cause damage to the liver, which is the most important detox tool in or body.
- Alcohol is also a depressant so it can increase the risk of depression and other mental disturbances and negative, risky behaviour.
- Controlling your alcohol consumption also make you way cooler!
Eat an overall healthy and balanced diet.
- A poor diet causes poor health and that will reflect on your skin. And hair, and teeth and nails,…
- You may compromise some body functions, decrease your ability to fight off colds and other illnesses, increase your blood pressure and cholesterol, etc.
- A healthy diet works as a protector and fuels the body right.
Drink enough water.
- Our body is composed of 60% water.
- It makes sure optimal skin moisture is retained.
- It delivers vital nutrients to the skin cells and replenishes skin tissues.
- It aids with skin elasticity and plumps the skin, and keeps the skin fresh, soft, smooth and glowing.
- It can help to relief fatigue.
- Guideline: 1L per 20kg of body weight per day (60kg = +/- 3L per day)
- Clear pee makes you happy! If your urine is clear by lunchtime, you are on the right track.
- It will improve your blood circulation which will help to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the skin.
- It promotes collagen production and creates new skin cells.
- Move and increase your heart rate every day for at least 10 mins.
- Consistency is key.
Manage your stress and develop coping mechanisms.
- Stress releases the hormones cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine, which actually have a protective effect when stress is acute. When stress is chronically high, the long presence of these hormones causes the formation of free radicals which in turn can cause damage to the cells and even cell death contributing to ageing.
- Be aware of what is going on in your life and find ways that help you to break the stress cycles.
Get enough sleep daily.
- Sleep is the number 1 thing your body needs for healing and growth.
- You produce hormones during sleep that are essential for proper functioning of the body.
Use Sun Protection Factor!
- It decreases your risk of skin cancer and pre-cancers.
- It helps to prevent premature ageing caused by the sun, including wrinkles, sagging and age spots.
- The UV rays are always present, so wear it even in the winter.
- If you spend a lot of time indoors or in wintertime, you can use a lighter factor like SPF 15-30. When there is more sun and you are outdoor, use a SPF 30 or more.
Routine & Products
From talking and listening to experts in skincare, I have learned that you can create a skincare products routine at any age and with ranging concerns, based on the following method:
Cleansing the skin should be a gentle process to clear your skin from impurities like make up, sweat, oils, and anything that could land on your skin. It is important to know what kind of cleanser suits your skin depending on factors like dryness, clogged pores, skin disorders, etc.
This is the part where you must find out what it is exactly that your skin needs help with. It could be anti-ageing in different stages, break outs, rosacea, etc. And according to what you need you can choose products that provide the right active ingredients that will support your skin.
To round off your routine you will use a product that adds water in the outermost layer of the skin, like a moisturiser, and maybe use a sealant that will lock it all in.
If there is no SPF in your preferred moisturiser: ADD A SPF PRODUCT AT THE END!
This is a simple enough method but because there are so many products that could be beneficial to your skin at different times, I cannot stress enough how important good advice from the right experts is. To save both your skin, and money that you might be throwing at products that are just not right for you or are not adding value to your routine.
3 simple things that you should be adding to all of this.
Once you get all the basic rules down, 90% of the time, and you get that expert advice for your personalised routine, you will be ready to bring in some finishing touches that are super simple and, will add even more goodness to your skincare.
1. Satin everything!
Did you ever think about the materials you routinely rest your head on for (at least!) 7,5 hours each night, or what you tie your hair with? Could switching from cotton to satin or silk make an actual difference?
A recent clinical trial has shown that there are some substantial benefits to changing your cotton covers with silk-like pillowcases:
- less friction on the skin and hair to prevent irritation and damage
- a cleaner sleep surface
- less drying for the skin and hair
The slick texture has shown to be especially beneficial for acne prone skin because it may present a kinder and cleaner surface to put your cheeks on all night. The friction from cotton may cause more irritation and inflammation, making the acne worse. Cotton also sops up the natural oils and bacteria from your face and hair, and that concoction accumulates night after night onto your pillow.
All of this is relevant to your hair as well. Satin pillowcases and hair ties, scarfs, curlers and caps will be gentler and your locks will retain its moisture better and stay frizz-free for longer.
2. Cold water
The thought of having to take a cold showers is enough to put a lot of people off getting clean all together!
But I am sure you are not unaware to the buzz cold water is getting for its potential benefits on health, mood, skin and hair.
However, the actual scientific evidence for all of this is still slim. There are studies and emerging research that have shown that regular winter swimming might improve energy and overall well-being, short cold showers might relieve symptoms of depression and cold temperatures may stimulate brown fat, which could have a beneficial effect on the ageing process and the metabolic activity. Researcher do note that more widespread studies on all of this are needed to make more conclusive statements.
So why do I even talk about this, and make it number 2 on this list?
Well, let’s look at it from the other perspective. There are some proven benefits to avoid showering in hot water. Hot water will strip away some of the natural and protective oils your skin makes, which will make your skin dry and itchy. Lukewarm water is much gentler, but also avoid staying in the bath or shower for too long, as this will have the same stripping effect.
Cold water does have a ‘beauty effect’ on your skin and hair, and it comes into play at the end of your routine. Cold water will initially constrict blood vessels in your skin, temporarily tighten your pores and decrease redness and puffiness. It also boosts circulation because your body is trying to keep warm, so you will get a healthy glow on your face.
This all means that finishing off your shower with a 10, 30, or if you are really brave, 60 sec stream of cold water can make you shine! And that is definitely a technique that you should not skip at the end of your hair wash routine. The cold water will flatten the cuticles which will make it shine and lock in moisture to prevent breakage.
3. To dry or not to dry
It’s all in the firmness and motion.
Try to pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it after you have cleansed. Rubbing it hard with a towel can cause irritation and frequently doing this may cause the skin to lose its elasticity over time.
Because your face is more prone to irritation, be even more gentle on your face and use a different towel than the one you use for the rest of your body, use one side on one day and turn it over on the next, or just air dry!
And the same principle is true again for your hair. To avoid too much rubbing, consider getting a microfibre towel or dry your hair in a T-shirt.
There we have it! If you stick to the non-negotiable basics 90% of the time and get some expert advise on what your skin in particular needs, you are already smashing your skin goals. Add some or all of these simple finishing touches to your daily routine for that extra glow up!