A Comprehensive Guide to Skincare at Home
…What’s what and How To in At-Home Beauty Care…
*NOTE: Before beginning a new skincare routine, or if you are suffering from dermal irritation, consult your doctor or specialist for advice.
If you’re anything like me, then you’re starting on the back foot. First you’re just trying to catch up in the days, but then the days turn to weeks…and then somehow you’re not 21 anymore.
In fact, you’ve just turned 30: Three kids and a mortgage into adulthood and those lost nine years are beginning to show up on your face.
And, horror of horrors, though you’re adult enough to afford that long-term car loan, you realise you’ve never sorted out a skincare routine.
You’re beginning to wonder how you ever made it into adulthood at all.
But don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
Whether you’re suffering from hyperpigmentation, aging, adult acne or a combination of everything (we’ve all been there), a solid skincare routine will help the radiance and glow of your complexion, while minimising fine lines and wrinkles, pollution damage, or clogged pores.
The question is: What’s right for you?
First Things First: What is a Skincare Routine?
A skincare routine can really be whatever you want it to be. In its most basic form, it’s replenishing the health of your skin by removing build up and topically locking in moisture.
Most Important Steps to a Skincare Routine:
- Protect (SPF 50+)
If you’re looking for a bit more oomph, after cleansing you can go to town with serums and active ingredients. But, there are many of us that just don’t have the time or confidence to use them – which means a basic routine is the best place to start!
Who Needs This Guide?
We have specifically tailored this guide towards anyone who’s overwhelmed by the product choice on the market. Supermarket shelves are forever stocked with product after product from every skincare brand imaginable – so we can understand if you’re a bit…out of your depth.
Hell, so are we most of the time.
Which is exactly why we need a formula. What works, what will always work and even if it doesn’t quite suit your needs, it definitely won’t be doing anything bad. The basics!
The Skincare Routine Starter
Okay, okay. So we know what the basic steps are: Cleanse, Moisturise, Protect. But…what do we use? And…Where does our St Ive’s Apricot Scrub fit in?
(If you’re still using a St Ive’s Scrub, or pretty much any popular skincare product from the early 2000s, please stop. Early Noughties marketing had us in a tizzy for harsh ingredients that should be discontinued forever. Chuck em in the bin!)
Skincare today is all about gentle, active ingredients built to repair the skin barrier and protect your skin. It is so important to be gentle with your skin, since microtearing and inflammation will cause you to photoage almost as quickly as UVA rays (…almost!)
So, the gentle starter routine is quick, easy, and affordable. There are almost no excuses left…
Step 1: Cleanse
Using a gentle cleanser will remove dirt and pollution from the surface of your skin without stripping the natural oils that protect your complexion. It’s also formulated with Hyaluronic Acid for hydration & Ceramides to repair the skin barrier, which is often damaged through environment and lifestyle.
Step 2: Moisturise
Using a basic, well formulated moisturiser will help lock in hydration and alleviate any symptoms of dry, oily, aging or dull looking skin.
Step 3: Protect (AM Only)
It doesn’t matter how much you moisturise your face, or how fancy your products, if you’re not applying sunscreen every day, your skin will suffer. The sun is the leading cause of photoaging in Australia, and if that doesn’t convince you, then we’re also at the greatest risk of melanoma. A makeup friendly sunscreen is perfect for use under foundation, since it is light and dries like a moisturiser – so you don’t have to worry about tacky skin.
Most of all, this starter routine begins gently. It can be tricky to know whether you have sensitive skin, oily skin, acne-prone or dry skin if you’re new to the skincare game. So, beginning with the most basic of gentle and hydrating ingredients is the perfect way to get to know your skin better. Once you’re comfortable, you can begin to explore.
How Long Will it Take to See Changes?
If you are starting your skincare routine from scratch, you will likely see some immediate improvements to the state of your skin – it may look brighter, glowy and less inflamed. However, we recommend continuing your basic skincare regimen for 6 weeks, to build the habit and establish your skin’s tolerance.
The last thing you want is to start your skincare routine hard and fast, and have an allergic reaction to one of the many ingredients thrown together. Go slow.
Skincare Routine Additions
Okay, so you’ve been cleansing, moisturising and protecting your skin for the last 6 weeks…
Well, we’re just going to assume you have. But, if we’ll be upset if we find out you’ve skipped ahead.
Now, we can finally add some extra steps. These steps can be customised to suit your needs, and your skin sensitivity. Your skincare routine should be optimised for you, with cleansers, serums & exfoliants that work to your skin specific skin concerns.
The steps we’ve listed below have their own advantages.
Pre-Cleanse: Oil Based Makeup Removal
The day’s pollution builds up fast on our skin. What with makeup, sunscreen and free radicals laying siege to our skin barrier, it’s important to remove as much of it as we can before going to sleep.
But, we need to do it gently.
Oil based cleansers are the most gentle way to melt away your makeup, so you’re not left tugging at your delicate lashes or stripping your skin of all its protective oils.
Double Cleansing uses an oil based cleanse which is then followed by a gel or water based cleanse. This ensures that your skin will be as clean as possible, while maintaining the skin barrier.
Chemical Exfoliant – Twice a Week
If you’re cleansing and moisturising your skin morning and night with gentle ingredients, you’ll notice a huge improvement in your skin tone & texture. However, you may also need to add a bi-weekly exfoliation to increase cell turnover rate and encourage bright & fresh skin. Using a chemical peel, though it sounds severe, is actually one of the gentlest ways to exfoliate your skin. In fact, it’s the only recommended way to exfoliate.
There are 3 different types of chemical exfoliant: AHAs, BHAs and PHAs.
AHAs: Alpha Hydroxy Acids
This group of exfoliants might sound dangerous, but when used sparingly can have the best effect on the skin, by upregulating the cell turnover rate and replenishing the skin. These acids are perfect for anyone experiencing signs of aging or hyperpigmentation, since they work to brighten the skin and stimulate collagen production. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are water soluble.
*NOTE: AHAs cause your skin to be more sensitive to the sun. Always apply extra protection and only use an AHA product at night.
AHA Acids in Skincare:
- Glycolic Acid
- Lactic Acid
- Malic Acid
- Citric Acid
BHAs: Beta Hydroxy Acids
Especially revered for its ability to penetrate blemishes and remove excess dirt, BHAs are perfect for those suffering from acne prone skin. Beta Hydroxy Acids are oil soluble.
*NOTE: BHAs cause your skin to be more sensitive to the sun. Always apply extra protection and only use a BHA product at night.
BHA Acids in Skincare
- Salicylic Acid (most common)
- Beta Hydroxybutanoic Acid
- Tropic Acid
- Trethocanic Acid
PHA’s are Poly Hydroxy Acids. They’re second generation, or reformulated Alpha Hydroxy Acids. This isn’t that important to your skincare routine, however you can look out for gluconolactone, galactose, and lactobionic acid in the products you buy.
In your search for chemical exfoliants, you may find them embedded in some moisturisers. This can often reduce irritation, and moisturises your skin while also discouraging build up or congestion. But, they can fool you! They’re still potent – so make sure you’re not using them more than twice a week!
Step 1a) Essences & Toners
If you’re a millennial, then you probably grew up with the Cleanse; Tone; Moisturise mantra. It washed through every big skincare brand, and as a result we often applied heavy alcoholic toners to our skin, stripping our delicate faces of the oils that are essential to glowy, un-wrinkled skin.
Since then, the beauty industry has expanded its understanding dramatically. The toners and essences available to use are formulated to hydrate, exfoliate, and brighten the skin.
It is recommended to apply serums and moisturisers to damp skin. After cleansing, applying a toner or essence can add the hydration you need.
Step 1b) Serums
Serums can be added after your cleanse, peel, and toner or essence.
Serums rich in vitamins, ceramides, and humectants are some of the best ways to up your skincare game. But, they all depend on your specific skin concerns. Some hydrating serums are too rich for oily skin, and others too astringent for sensitive skin. There’s no point slapping everything on and hoping for the best – since it will overwhelm your skin.
As with everything, read the labels on your skincare products before using. Some ingredients may be harsher on your skin than others’. If this occurs, discontinue use.