“I regret taking such good care of my skin,” said NO ONE ever!
Having good skin is such an asset, and the best defense against premature aging. It may be one of your best investments, and one that you should take seriously. So do I have flawless, amazing skin? Au contraire mon cheri. I’ve had my fair share of skin-related struggles, particularly back when I was in my teens, even till my late twenties. And if you’ve followed my account from the beginning, you’d know that the positive effects of my revamped skincare regime has incentivized me to pen down my very first blog post (https://sitihajaresa.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/basics-baby-the-toner-edition/).
Blackheads, whiteheads, acne, acne scars, you name it all, I’ve had them all. Battling problematic skin has to be one of the most stressful periods of my life, and not to mention that vicious cycle of stress-inducing acne. Despite having a great interest in maintaining a good skincare regime, I realized that I have been looking at the wrong products all along. Alcohol-laden toners and pore-clogging moisturizers are amongst the lineup of skin-irritants I unknowingly slathered onto my face during my phase of oblivion. Now, I take pride in the fact that none of my skincare items contain skin-aggravating ingredients of any type, form or shape and that shows in how my skin has improved over these couple of years.
Now, I wouldn’t dare to claim that my skin is currently problem-free. I do have the occasional hormonal pimple, and blackheads here and there. And my acne do leave blemishes. However, the situation has improved a whole lot. The frequency of imperfections forming on my skin is way less than it was in the past. Inflammation has significantly toned down, and my skin’s reparative ability has improved. Most importantly, my skin now feels well-nourished and healthy, neither too dry nor too oily. And it’s all thanks to the skincare regime I had put together and tested for the past two years. So, if you’re having problems with your skin, you’re not alone. I hope this sharing can help you in one way or another.
Before I go into details of specific steps and products used, let me quickly summarize my skincare philosophy.
- Only use products that do not contain any skin-irritant and skin-aggravating ingredients.
- Opt for gentle yet effective products that do what they claim.
- Products have to be affordable for the long-run.
- Results must be visible within the time frame stipulated.
- Routine should not be a hassle.
Skin Type: Combination, blemish-prone skin
AM Skincare Routine
Step 1: Cleanse
Of course the basics to every skincare regime is to cleanse your skin off any dirt, grime and excess oil. Every morning I would cleanse my face using my First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser with Antioxidant Booster. For me this is the perfect cleanser as it is gentle and fragrance-free, yet effective in purifying my face. I cannot tolerate cleansers that give a tight, almost too squeaky clean feel as that gives me the sense that all my natural moisture has been stripped off. FAB’s pH-balanced formula however never leaves my skin too dry or tight, and its powerful botanical antioxidant blend is a great bonus, though such infusion in cleansers particularly does not leave any significant impact on the skin.
Step 2: Exfoliate
This specifically is the most important addition to my skincare routine that changed my skin condition. In the past, I have known exfoliation in its traditional sense i.e. physical exfoliation using a facial scrub of some sort. Two years ago, I was introduced to the amazing world of gentle exfoliants. Formulated to help effectively unclog pores and smoothing skin’s surface, gentle exfoliants exfoliate dead skin in a non-abrasive way that it can be used everyday, even twice daily.
For my AM skincare, I use the CLEAR Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid from Paula’s Choice Skincare. This gentle exfoliant unclogs pores and has a potent acne-fighting formula that helps to clear pimples and blackheads. The water consistency renders this product weightless on skin and provides light hydration to prevent any flaking or dry spots. The first few times I used this exfoliant, I noticed my imperfections begin to diminish in a couple of weeks. From then on, using this exfoliant truly helps to maintain my skin temperament.
Step 3: Moisturize
Moisturizing is sometimes greatly misunderstood, especially by people with oily skin. Why would I slap on more moisture when my face is already an oil well is the logic. Though this may sound like a skincare cliche, moisturizing is an essential step that should not be overlooked by people of any skin type. The key is to choose the right moisturizer for yourself. Even when your skin is oily, it needs a moisturizer to balance out its sebum secretions. Also, an overly oily complexion can in fact be a sign that your skin is dehydrated, and therefore in dire need of moisture. A quick tip is that oily skin goes very well with gel and water based moisturizers while dry skin benefits from a lotion to a cream type of consistency.
For daytime though, the vital skincare item to NEVER leave out is sunscreen. I choose to make things easy for myself by using a moisturizer containing sunscreen for day. My favorites are all from Paula’s Choice Skincare – the SKIN BALANCING Ultra-Sheer Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (chemical-based), HYDRALIGHT Shine-Free Mineral Complex SPF 30 (mineral-based) and RESIST Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 (mineral-based with a light tint). The reason I love PC’s sunscreen moisturizers is that they are light and does not clog pores, yet effective in protecting your skin. They also perform well under makeup. The addition of antioxidants is a great touch to boosting the efficacy of the products. I never go a day without one of these sunscreen moisturizers on my face. Today, my face is free of any hyperpigmentation or sun spots.
And that’s it for daytime skincare, only three products. Since morning is known to be the rush hour, you don’t want to include too many steps or complicate your regime. Just make it quick and simple so that you’ll always follow through with it.
(My skin today, after my AM skincare routine.)
PM Skincare Routine
Step 1: Cleanse
For night time, I prefer to use a slightly stronger cleanser, one I feel removes dirt and any makeup residue much more effectively. Thus, I opt for the CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser. Now, don’t mistake what I mean by stronger cleanser to be a harsh cleaning agent. I find the CeraVe to be “stronger” than my First Aid Beauty cleanser due to its good foaming action, which I feel makes it easier to cleanse off any excess impurities on the face. The CeraVe cleanser is ultimately still a gentle, unscented product that cleanses without disrupting the natural protective barrier on your skin. On days where I have makeup on during the day, I would remove it prior using my Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water. In cases of long-wearing, water-proof or stubborn makeup, I’ll opt for the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil. Then I would proceed with the CeraVe cleanser. I prefer to double cleanse this way to ensure that no potentially pore-clogging makeup residue remains on my skin.
Step 2: Exfoliate
For night time, I prefer to exfoliate my skin with something more hydrating. Especially after a whole day of wearing makeup, my skin tends to feel a little drier than it does in the morning. For the boost of hydration, I first use the RESIST Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner from Paula’s Choice Skincare that rehydrates and lightly moisturizes while renewing skin after cleansing. Applying it with a cotton pad also helps to ensure that all final traces of makeup, if any, are thoroughly removed. Then I go in with my RESIST Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2% BHA to gently unclog my pores and naturally exfoliate my skin.
Step 3: Moisturize
As with my AM moisturizers, I do have a variety of options for my night-time moisturizers, all of which are fragrance-free, gentle and non-irritating to skin. If my skin feels quite balanced, I would either use my SKIN BALANCING Invisible Finish Moisture Gel or RESIST Anti-Aging Clear Skin Hydrator, both from Paula’s Choice Skincare. Her moisturizers don’t only feel lightweight on the skin, they too contain an effective dose of antioxidants and skin-restoring ingredients. If my skin leans towards the drier side, I would go for my First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum, a water-based gel which key ingredient is hyaluronic acid – a moisture-locking agent that helps to hydrate, plump and nourish the skin. Alternatively, I would use my B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel from Drunk Elephant which delivers as good, if not only slightly better hydration and soothing properties to the skin as the FAB serum. However, I do not re-purchase the Drunk Elephant moisturizer as often as it is more expensive than the rest at 52.00 USD.
Step 4: Treatment
Since I do have the luxury of time to indulge in my skincare at night, I would always boost my routine with a targeted form of treatment. Since my concerns are mostly hydration and pore-minimizing, I alternate between a few treatments every day. My favorite concoction is mixing a few drops of Paula’s Choice RESIST C15 Super Booster (with 15% pure vitamin C to help brighten and replenish skin) and her RESIST 10% Niacinamide Booster (helps reduce appearance of enlarged pores, wrinkles and dry skin). For the colder months when my skin feels drier, I would apply a good dose of the RESIST Moisture Renewal Oil Booster, an antioxidant-enriched blend of pure-nourishing plant oils and skin-renewing ceramides. My skin always feels hydrated and rejuvenated after using these booster treatments.
Additional Skincare Routine
These subsequent steps aren’t exactly essentials, but I don’t skip them either as I feel my skin does benefit from them.
I truly dislike wrinkles or fine lines around the eye area, so I try to minimize its appearance by using a daily under-eye product. My go-to is the Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream, a fragrance-free under-eye moisturizer containing plant-based antioxidants and peptides. For a lighter hydration, I would use the more affordable ELF Eye Refresh. It has a water-light consistency and is infused with pomegranate, rosemary, green tea, cucumber and grape to alleviate under-eye puffiness and sorts.
Mask is a weekly indulgence for me, serving two purposes – as a purifying treatment and a hydrating treatment. To decongest my pores and remove excess oils, I apply the Clarifying Clay Masque from SkinCeuticals. Only during the colder seasons do I use my Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask from Paula’s Choice Skincare to replenish my skin and provide it with intense hydration. The latter can in fact be used as an overnight mask if your skin feels extremely tight and dry.
Despite my daily gentle exfoliation, I still believe in a weekly routine of physically exfoliating my skin. Therefore, on Sundays I would replace my PM cleanser with an exfoliating gel scrub, specifically the Sebium Exfoliating Purifying Gel from Bioderma. My skin instantly feels much softer and smoother, thanks to the instant deep exfoliation.
So, that’s all for my sharing on my skincare routine. A skincare regime is largely personal and highly dependent on your skin type, lifestyle and preferences. So, go for a routine that works for you. Bottom line is to choose products that do not contain any skin irritants including alcohol, witch hazel, certain essential oils and fragrances. Also, practice a little more caution when using natural ingredients such as lemon as though they are natural, the acidity in them can be a little too harsh for certain skin types. So, experiment with what you’d like to incorporate into your skincare routine and if there’s no adverse effects within a week or so, you’re good. So, here’s to healthy skin!