How to choose the RIGHT Skincare!

With a plethora of skincare products available on the market today, how do you know you’re using the right products? How do you know what your skin type is? Hopefully this post is useful for you!

The importance of skincare is often understated, especially when our skin is the largest organ in the body, and the skin on our face is particularly delicate. Our skin is important for every day functions like heat regulation, absorbing vitamin D and UV rays, protecting us from harmful bacteria and germs, and secreting any waste products from sweat and sebum.

Many people mistake some skin conditions as skin types, but there are only 4 skin types, with characteristics you should easily see in a magnified mirror and a good light.  Your skin type is genetic, and you are born with it.

Oily Skin
Probably the most common skin type in this day and age. The most obvious characteristic is having skin that has a shine to it, or an apparent oily layer. Usually people with oily skin are prone to blemishes, blackheads and acne, and have enlarged or open pores. Sometimes people with oily skin appear quite sallow too. But, you’ll be glad to know, if you have oily skin, you’re more likely to tan easier, and your skin doesn’t show the effect of ageing as much as other skin types, due to the sebum layer on your skin!

Dry Skin
The complete opposite to oily skin; dry skin is often flaky in appearance and feels tight or harsh, sometimes with uneven texture. It can appear tired and dull, and pores are retracted or small. People with dry skin don’t usually find themselves with many blackheads or impurities, but are more prone to sensitivities on the skin. Dry skin often ages quicker as fine lines show more, so the importance of a good moisturiser is a must.

Normal Skin
This skin type is rarely seen in this day and age, but it’s characterised as having a good balance of moisture and oil, with no blemishes and no enlarged pores. Skin appears smooth and supple, with good circulation and colour.

Combination Skin
Combination skin is usually seen with an oily T-zone, and either normal or dry skin on the cheeks. Spots and acne can appear in certain places, such as around the nose and forehead. This skin type is more common on younger skin.

Anything else labelled on a skincare products other than these 4 skin types, are aimed at “skin conditions”, which doesn’t always mean a medical condition. A skin condition, is just something that appears on your skin. This can include sensitivities, dehydration, blemishes, broken capillaries, comedones/blackheads, scar tissues, flaking dry patches, crows feet, dark pigmentation, open pores and excess hair. Your skin condition is affected by different things. This can be anything from hormones, ethnicity, genetics, sun damage, stress, allergies, humidity, weather, ageing, medication and more.

So, an example would be if you have oily skin, with prominent blemishes and acne; it’s important to get a product aimed at those issues. Equally if you have dry skin, with sensitive patches, get a product aimed at those areas.

Skincare Routine
A good skincare routine includes a cleanser, toner and moisturiser every day, with exfoliation once or twice a week. It’s always best to use an actual cleanser that penetrates the pores, rather than wipes or micellar water by themselves, particularly if you wear makeup.

Gel, foam, clay and power cleansers are all best for oily skin as they’re more penetrating for removing excess oil. Micellar, cream and milk cleansers are best for dry skin as they’re more moisturising. Oil cleansers are best for most skin types. You’ll find most products are aimed at oily, dry and combination skin as these are the most common.

Toners are often left out of the process, but they are worth adding into your routine. When using the correct toner for your skin type, they are very beneficial. A toner for oily skin helps shrink your pores, and detoxify the impurities causing pimples and blackheads. A toner aimed at dry skin can be deeply nourishing and hydrating.

Once you’ve blotted your face after toning, apply a good quality moisturiser, again aimed at your skin type. If you have oily skin, look for the ingredient Dimethicone, which helps mattify your skin; and look for properties that fight blackheads and acne like Retinoids and Salicylic acid. It’s usually best to use light gels and lotions rather than heavy creams. If you have dry skin, look for the ingredients Hyaluronic acid, which increases skin hydration, and Glycerin which helps retain moisture. It’s best to use thicker lotions and moisturisers for dry skin. For combination skin, you can use a mix of products to find what works best for your own skin.

Exfoliation is also often missed out, but can be very important for improving your skin condition. It helps to improve cell renewal, blood circulation, skin colour and the absorption of nutrients. You should do this at least once a week, before you moisturise. There are 2 types of exfoliants. Mechanical or physical exolfiants, usually come in the form of a brush/sponge or have substrate inside the product to create abrasion, like oatmeal, sugar, pips and seeds or shells. These exfoliants are best used less often for your face, as when over used, cause irritation. Chemical exfoliants include Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA’s) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA’s), which promote skin renewal. These often include Retinol and enzymes. 

Now it’s important to note that your skin completely renews roughly every 3-4 weeks as your lower layer of skin in your dermis breaks down and moves to the upper layer of your epidermis. So, it can take up to 4 weeks to see improvement in your skin condition.

Another thing to add into your skincare routine, which is currently more popular in the US, is regular facials at your local salon. Having facials every 4-5 weeks can improve not only your skin condition, but your circulation and the effects from ageing. Your beauty therapist will give you a skin analysis, telling you the exact skin type you have, the current conditions, and what they can do; and even better what you can do at home to improve it. Over recent years, facials are becoming more popular in the UK.

I do hope this post was useful. I am currently training in Beauty Therapy under Hair and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA) standards so if you want any further information, they have some great links on their website!

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