After being a beauty editor for three years and having been sent (almost) every beauty cream under the sun to my desk…. I’ve come to the conclusion that skincare is a simple thing!
The beauty industry likes to sell us dreams, but a cream is a cream (not a dream). Wrinkles are part of life–just like a bad hair day–and no amount of cream can stop them from creeping up our faces. Once I accepted that fact, I was finally ready to take care of my face responsibly.
Take care of yourself: Korean style 17 steps of skin care? Like uggghhh, not for me! Sorry! I do believe that any time that you invest into taking care of yourself is always beneficial. So instead of putting 17 products on my face, I much rather take a nice hot bath with Epsom salts, or eat some dark chocolate—both are full of magnesium, which helps my muscles to relax. And I throw in some yoga, a few times a week. Skin reacts to stress with pimples and redness. Take the time to slow down and breathe!
Wash–with water–not with a wipe! Many aestheticians have told me that sooooo maaaanyyy people don’t wash their face with actual cleanser and water! A lot only wipe with a cleansing cloth, and then wonder why their skin is in a bad state… Just wash, yes, take the time (see above)!
The needs of our skin are pretty basic; water and oil. A cream that has water and a humectants (something to keep the water locked in) is what most moisturizers are made with. The best working humectants are glycerin and hyaluronic acid. And to replenish natural oils, I look for Shea butter, Cocoa butter, or any natural plant oils listed in the ingredient list. Richer creams usually have more fatty ingredients like Shea butter and if your cream is not cutting it this winter, add a few drops of natural oils. My faves are Argan and Avocado oils for dryer skins and they are also great eye serums, because they contain nutrients and act like “serums”. If you suffer from acne, oil could also work for you, it’s worth doing some research on the internet, a lot people are sharing what works for them! And drink lots of water….
Exfoliate and clay-mask away. If you want to add a bit more to your routine, exfoliate with a product that has glycolic acid, lactic acid, or both. These two types of acids help to slough away the excess of dead skin cells that accumulate on the outer layer, making it look dull. The added bonus, is that they improve moisture retention. If your skin is sensitive, use a konjac sponge or a muslin cloth while you wash. Finish off your week with a clay mask to clean your pores. You don’t need anything fancy, I love Marcelle’s basic clay mask.
Sunscreen. Sun is a part of life and so is soaking up the rays. Your skin makes natural vitamin D, and sunscreens will prevent optimal production. So catching some un-spf-ed rays has some benefits! But, if you’re going to spend more than an hour under a hot sun, put on some SPF 30 or more to prevent the burn and the damage.
All the rest is icing on the cake! There are a lot of creams that have the label “anti-aging”, that claim to “rebuild” and “repair”. Your skin is not a Bob Vila Home Improvement project! It has it’s own very sophisticated mechanisms to repair and heal and the “assistance” that these products provide is quite minimal. If you can afford to get super ingredients, and luxurious skincare–indulge! A lot of these creams have amazing textures and delicious fragrances and great ingredients.
If you still want to superficially reduce the appearance of age, there are some proven ingredients that show visible results in topical form.
Vitamin C. It’s also great for the rest of your body’s immune system when you eat citrus. When used topically it’s shown to improve collagen production and to “reduce” pigmentation spots.
Antioxidants. If you’re diet has a lot of fruits and vegetables, you’re on the right track. Still, you can find a lot of skincare today that contains Ferulic acid, and Vitamin C and E (also antioxidants) in the same bottle to help improve your skin. I recently stumbled on Hot&Flashy, a blog about anti-aging beauty, while I was doing research. I find her choice of products really good! It’s also worth checking out her Anti-Aging section, because she’s tested out a lot of different products and she is super kind to share it!
Vitamin A. In over the counter products it’s listed as Retinol, Retinal, and many other names. It’s great for anyone over 30-35, because as you age the skin’s natural processes slow-down. Vitamin A can speed up the cell turnover. There are a lot of products out there with this ingredient, so I would do some research on the internet to see which one is getting the best reviews.
Above is a little snap of my minimal routine. I’ve been using Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Cleanser because it takes care of removing makeup without drying my skin, and it’s soapy! I’m liking Avene’s new Tolerance Extreme rich moisturizing cream, with Shea butter and less than 10 ingredients for morning and night. If it’s out of your budget, get some Cetaphil, it’s a great no-nonsense moisturizer. And I always top my moisturizer off with a blend of natural oils, and it’s the most expensive part of my routine. I bought the Malaya Rejuvenating Face Oil blend at the Chelsea Market, while I was in New York, it has sandalwood oil, which I love! But there are many options when it comes to facial oils, a good place to start is Melvita, it’s available at health-food stores and it’s reasonably priced.