A beginner’s guide to skincare

There are two types of people on the internet: Skincare fanatics and those who are not. If you haven’t already dedicated all of your shelf space and disposable income to securing the best skincare routine, this read is meant for you. Keep reading for a beginner’s guide to skincare.

For years skincare was grouped with beauty products giving it an indulgent reputation and, as such, alienating a chunk of the population- including but not specific to MEN. These days skincare has taken on a whole new life as an agent for maintaining skin health -as our largest organ, it makes sense that we want to keep our skin healthy. But for those who weren’t passed down a 10 step skin regimen with all the serums, essences and rituals built-in – how are we supposed to know where to start? 

A Beginner’s guide to skincare: The basics

Let’s start with the fundamentals – when it comes to maintaining normal healthy skin, there are three foundational steps:

Cleanse

We spoke to said skincare novices or never cleansers and asked them what they wanted to know before starting their skin health journeys. The most common questions were:

“Why do I need to wash my face?” 

Contrary to popular belief amongst skincare sceptics, cleansing or washing your face is not just for removing products. A gentle cleanse twice daily will effectively remove build-up from sweat, daily pollution, dead skin debris and sebum, an oil produced by our skin. This means leaving the daily grime from the gym, the smog and the subway at the door and away from your pillow. 

“Can I just wash my face with body wash?”

No, and here is why: While your favourite body soap will not “ruin” your skin, it is not formulated for the sensitive skin on your face; the skin on our face is much thinner and more delicate than that on our bodies. And with that, the cleaning agents commonly used for getting bacteria off our bodies, such as “sulphates”, may strip our more sensitive facial skin. When our skin is stripped of its natural oils, it reacts by producing more sebum – creating that oily appearance that you tried to wash off in the first place.

When choosing the right cleanser, we recommend opting for one with gentle, soothing ingredients such as glycerin and ceramides. Even those (most of us) with specific skincare concerns can benefit from a simple cleanser; let the skincare actives like retinol and AHA’s do the heavy lifting.

A Beginner's guide to skincare

Moisturize

“Why would I use moisturizer?”

Contrary to popular belief, moisturizers are essential in the battle against shiny or oily skin. As mentioned earlier, sebum is produced when the skin is dry; a quick-absorbing gentle moisturizer can keep overproducing oil glands at bay.

“Will I break out?”

Applying products on your face for the first time can undoubtedly feel a little claustrophobic for some. A common concern with any lotion or potion meant to absorb into our skin surface is, “will it clog my pores?” The answer is some will and some won’t. While there is no guarantee that a new product won’t cause congestion, there is a way to avoid this and it is in the fine print. Next time you are shopping for a new moisturizer, look for the words “non-comedogenic”.

“A non-comedogenic product is one that has been specifically formulated so that it does not block or clog pores.” – Nivea.au

When looking for a go-to moisturizer, opt for one with uber-hydrating ingredients like water-retaining hyaluronic acid and glycerin. 

Protect

Last but the most important of this foundational routine is adequate sun protection. When we say adequate sun protection, we mean wearing an SPF of at least 30+ every day. And here is why

  1. Firstly, as we all know, a good quality SPF can help prevent skin cancer by protecting you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
  2. Secondly, SPF is the most effective “anti-ageing” tool on the market, helping to prevent premature wrinkling and hyperpigmentation. Yes, that means that consistently applying an effective SPF is more effective than those units of botox. After all, prevention is better than a cure.

“I wear SPF on holiday, but where I live, I’m lucky if I see an hour of sunlight a day.”

Sun damage can occur any day under any weather conditions, not just on holiday; that means sitting at your desk near a window on an overcast day or driving to work on a rainy day. By now I am sure we’ve all seen the photo of the long haul truck driver who sustained considerable sun damage on the left side of his face ( the side facing the window). Make sure that you are always protected from harmful UVA and UVB rays and not just at the beach.

Here is what to look for in a SPF according to The American Academy of dermatology:

  • Choose Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
  • Make sure your SPF is 30 or higher
  • Choose a water resistance that won’t wash away with sweat or dips in the pool.

In the world of skincare, this guide is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to skincare education, If that much. For some, the effective 3-step routine will be as deep as they are willing to dip their toes, and to that, we say “that’s great”. What’s most important is that you stay consistent with your routine and take the time to get to know your skin and what it needs to feel balanced. Before you know it, you won’t be able to imagine your self-care routine without your much-needed skincare.