Components Of Your Skincare Regime
Whatever your skin goal is, you have to understand that it cannot be achieved in a day. You have to have the discipline to practice a daily skincare regime to see any real results. Now let’s talk about the skincare products you may need on a daily basis for your regime.
Step 1 : Cleansing
In your cleansing routine, depending on your lifestyle or the necessity of your skin, you would need a make up remover, a cream cleanser or a gel cleanser, and a face wash. The whole process can be divided into three steps.
> Make up remover
There are different kinds of make up removal products available in the market. Some are oil-based and can lather up to act like a face wash when applied with water. So you have it all out at one go as such a product takes away the oil soluble make up and emulsifies the rest of it. You could just wash it off and remove it. It is a great product if you are one of those who don’t like too many steps in their cleansing process. But if you’ve applied heavy make up, you may need a separate creamy type make up remover if you are just using a face wash to emulsify the pigment in the coloured make up.
Choose a lotion if you have dry or sensitive skin. Work on your skin moving your fingers in small circular movements and then wipe it off with wet cotton. If you pick a liquid, watery cleanser, then soak a cotton ball and wipe your skin clean with it. Repeat with a fresh cotton pad till your face becomes clean. If your skin is very oily, you could use cleansers which are specially meant for oily skin. It acts more like a toner and you should use it after a face wash.
> Face Wash
You’ll be surprised how much can be achieved by just choosing the right face wash. Since there are so many face washes available these days with active ingredients, you need to know which one is best suited for your skin type.
>If you have a very oily skin which is acne prone, choose a face wash with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. If it’s just oily, then look for a face wash with neem or tea tree oil with witch hazel in it. There are some really nice face washes in the market that remove the excess oil without leaving your skin too dry.
>If your skin is just about normal, there are wonderful face washes which take off the dirt and grime from your face. Do not look for face washes that list specific ingredients as they might be harsh/ irritating or too hydrating for an otherwise normal skin. So go for a strawberry/blackberry/orange flavour. All you want is a fresh face devoid of make up grime.
>If your skin is dry, there are creamy washes that clean the skin but retain the moisture.
>If your skin looks dull then try a face wash with small exfoliating granules that have a gentle scrubbing action.
>If your skin is dull and pigmented, there are face washes with glycolic acid that helps lighten your skin. As you age, your skin only gets dryer. So make sure you choose a face wash that is more creamy, gentle, and contains fine granules to double up as a scrub. But again you could be 50 with oily skin, so there are always exceptions.
Step 2 : Moisturizing
> Day Cream
Day creams usually contain sunscreen as the most important ingredient. But you can look for something extra in this. If you can manage to get a cream with pore-refining or oil-soaking (calamine, koline, fuller’s earth, volcanic mud) properties along with antioxidants, that would be a great combination to have.
> Night Cream
I am sure none of us want to go through a rigorous skincare procedure at night after you come back from work. You are tired; you have to finish your chores at home; so you just have enough strength to do that ONE thing—cleanse your face and then immediately use a night cream. The night cream has to have higher moisture content and be creamier than your day cream. Pick one with skin lightening or anti-ageing actives, since your skin is most receptive at night. You can deal with your skin issues with a good treatment-based night cream like acne prescription creams, skin lightening creams that work on particular areas like the cheek, anti-wrinkle cream, with say retin A, that work on special areas, or simply a cream rich in ceramides if your skin is super dry .
Most of us think that serum is a super concentrate. However, serums are just active ingredients in a different medium. They are more suited for oily skin types. They also work when you have more than one skin goal to achieve. This means that if you want to use skin lightening or antioxidant in the day time when you have to use a sunscreen, it is a really good idea to use those actives in a serum form first and then apply sunscreen on top.
> Mist/thermal spring water spray
The spring water spray, as the name suggests, is sourced from special springs. It is rich in minerals that soothe and soften the skin. A couple of spritzes on your face on a dry, hot day can instantly hydrate your skin and freshen you up as well. It is good for calming inflamed skin. You can get them at a chemist or beauty store. Use them on bare skin, over moisturizer, over sunscreen, or over make up, and your skin will thank you for it.
As you progress in age, you may need heavier creams (if you have dry skin—one with less fat beneath the skin) or then lighter ones (to keep up with hydration if you have oily skin and acne issues) with intense hydration and active ingredients to plump your skin and pep up skin turnover, thus also stimulating collagen. You also have the luxury of layering various portions as your skin now not only needs more, it can also handle more in terms of added moisture and protection.
> Aftershave lotion or aftershave balm?
Men who shave on a daily basis almost always use an aftershave product. These are now available in two major forms—a balm or a lotion. Aftershaves act as antiseptic agents that protect skin from infections that can be caused due to minute cuts in the skin during shaving. It is important that you use it immediately after shaving (try to shave directly after taking your shower so that the cuticles are soft). Depending on your skin condition, you can either choose a balm, which is a creamier version, or a lotion which very light textured.
> Toners—the most confused term
Earlier toners were considered an important part of one’s skincare regime, so most brands had toners. But ever since newer skincare brands introduced face washes and all-in-one cleanser creams in the market, the toner as a product was forgotten. However, I feel toner is a misunderstood product because when you say toner, people think of a skin tightener or a pore shrinking product or a deep cleanser. It really depends on the ingredients that the toner has. Most toners available today actually remove excess oil from the face, and since they have a ‘minty’ property to them, they also seemingly shrink the pores a bit.
Step 3 : Sun Protection
The one question I get asked most frequently is, ‘Do I really have to apply sunscreen?’ My answer is yes, you need to apply sunscreen all the time. For those who just want one single cream—sunscreen is a must. And then you could layer your make up on top of it. Sunscreen is one of the most important skincare products you need to use.
You must remember, we are not trying to protect ourselves from just visible light but the ultraviolet rays of the sun like UV A, B, and C. While UVC hardly reaches us, it is UVA and UVB that you have to be very careful of. UVA penetrates deep and passes through everything including your glass window panes. Therefore, it is very important to apply sunscreen—whether you are indoors or out in the sun or even if the weather is cloudy.
> The skin and UV rays
As mentioned before, we need to be careful of both UVA and UVB rays of the sun. The range for UVB is 290 to 320 nanometer, and UVA is 320 to 400 nanometer. Both equally affect the skin.
UVB radiation penetrates the epidermal or outer layer of the skin. It damages DNA in this layer and causes other changes in skin cells. This ultimately may result in the signs of photoageing. Over time, pre-cancers and skin cancers may develop.
UVA radiation, while also damaging the epidermis, penetrates deeper into the skin to the level of the dermis. UVA not only harms epidermal cells, it also damages collagen and elastin, which make up the structure of the dermis and keep the skin resilient. Blood vessels can also be harmed.
> Photoageing and what to do
Photoageing is the premature ageing of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) primarily from the sun, but also from artificial UV sources. Photoageing is different from chronological ageing, as the damaging effects are that of UV rays of the sun.
> Alters the normal structures of the skin.
> Vascular damage: The deeper veins become thick and more noticeable under the skin.
> The superficial fine capillaries walls become thin which show as broken capillaries on your skin.
> Increase in number of inflammatory infiltrates which makes your skin sensitive on top.
> Causes cell mutations caused by UV. This results in premature ageing, the formation of actinic keratoses or pre-cancers, and skin cancer.
Knowing what to look for in a bottle of sunscreen is very important since the market is cluttered with sunscreen products. You should focus on SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and TPI (Tan Protection Index). A sunscreen with SPF 20 to 50 is more than enough to get almost 98% protection. Anything more adds around 0.5%. So even if you are using a product with SPF 100, your protection won’t be a lot different. More SPF does not mean longer protection, it only means more grease and heavy chemical ingredients for just 0.5% extra protection. Generally speaking, 1 SPF gives you 10 minutes of protection under the sun. So go ahead, do the calculation, and choose your sun protection accordingly. But do remember to reapply your sunscreen twice or thrice during the sun up hours.
SPF, however, only means that you will burn less and therefore develop lesser pigmentation. But the actual anti-ageing defence happens from UVA protection. This you can see from the + (plus) sign on the bottle. You can also look for the term ‘broad spectrum’ which means a sunscreen that protects you from the full spectrum of ultra violet rays—UV A, UV B. Additionally, look for photostability of the ingredient, which means how long they remain active under harsh sunlight. Your sun protection cream may have additional ingredients like pretochopherol and other protective antioxidants.
What adds on most to your chronological age is photoageing, so make sunscreen your skin’s best friend.
Your degree of photoageing depends on the person and the type of skin you have. Sun exposure over the years without skin protection can result in visible signs of photoageing. Your skin type and the amount of unprotected sun exposure you get will determine your risk. Those who spend a lot of time in the sun because of outdoor work or recreation also fall into the high risk group. Darker skinned people show fewer signs of obvious photoageing, although the skin can become mottled and there may be some wrinkling.
> Go on a skincare fast
Do not overdo things on your skin. It’s important to give your skin a break once in a while. Just like the way you fast for your body and for good health, do it once in a while for your skin too. Our elders would keep fasts in the name of religious rituals since they knew that fasting once in a month or fortnight gave us definite health benefits, made us more energetic, and cleansed us from inside. Similarly, your skin also needs to go on a fast. So it’s important that you stop using all the products for a night probably and just let the skin be. You can do that once in a while, and see your skin breathe.
More is not always good
It is not true that:
> The more you pay, the better the outcome of your cream.
> Applying more products is always beneficial.
> Using more means quicker results.