A Busy Mums’ Guide to Skincare
Emily Clara is a marketing manager with a degree in communications. When she’s not working, Emily enjoys treating herself with great skincare, delicious food, and a good workout. Here she has written an exclusive for MumAbroad Life.
There are few people on earth who were blessed with naturally radiant and clear skin, never having to know what an acne scar is. But just because you can’t choose what kind of skin you’re born with doesn’t mean that a great complexion is forever out of your reach. Your day-to-day habits, the food you eat, and the environment you’re exposed to can make or break your skin. Fortunately, it’s nothing you can’t beat with a solid skincare routine.
But with all the products and trendy routines on the market, how do you know where to start? Although a ritualistic treat, not all busy mums have the time for an extensive 10-step Korean skin care routine, nor does everyone have the budget for expensive products nobody can pronounce.
Whether you’re just starting your skincare journey or looking to upgrade your regimen, we’re saving you from having to sift through dozens of labels and fancy terms.
KNOW YOUR SKIN TYPE
Skincare isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair. The heart of your routine lies in understanding your specific skin type and how it adjusts to various factors. Like we mentioned earlier, your habits, diet and the climate you live in all play a part.
Having a holistic healthy lifestyle to maintain good skin is a different conversation altogether, but adapting your routine to the weather is a good place to start. Those in hotter climates might find that their skin is more on the oilier side due to the humidity, while others who live in the constant cold tend to be drier. This will help decide what products to use, but it’s also important to know the general skin types and which category you fall under.
Dry skin usually feels tight throughout the day. You might notice some flaking, especially in colder weather. Dehydration is the main culprit here, making dry-skinned folks more prone to wrinkles. Upping your water intake and avoiding alcohol and caffeine can make a huge difference.
Normal / Combination Skin
Normal skin-type folks are lucky to have mostly well-balanced skin. But this doesn’t mean you don’t need skincare. And like the name suggests, combination skin is a cross between dry and oily. Dryness is often experienced on the cheeks, while the t-zone is mostly oily and therefore prone to acne.
Good news for those trying to manage their over-active oil glands: oily skin tends to age slower due to its increased natural moisture that helps keep it supple and youthful. The downside is that the excess oil may congest and clog your pores, making it easier for you to develop pimples even way into your 40s. You might also struggle with post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation, a condition that leaves dark spots on the skin after a breakout.
ESTABLISH THE BASICS
Some cleansers might promise you the world, vowing to brighten, hydrate, and clear your skin all in one go. Sadly, the truth is that cleansers only get a few minutes to work their magic on your skin before you wash it off. It’s not nearly enough time for it to do everything. As such, simplicity is key when picking a cleanser. An effective cleanser will wipe the filth off your face, but it should not leave your skin feeling too taught or stripped of its natural oils.
Thankfully, toners have evolved from the harsh alcohol-filled astringents we might have grown up knowing. Modern formulas are now designed to supplement your routine and sweep away any leftover grime that your cleanser did not pick up. It also helps retain the pH balance of your skin, which may have been off-set during your wash. Often, these liquids can provide an added dose of nutrients, allowing the following products in your routine to work more efficiently. Some notable ingredients are rose water and green tea, which can help calm irritation and reduce redness. For oily skin, niacinamide and witch hazel are useful, while hyaluronic acid is known to boost hydration.
The bare minimum of a good moisturizer is being able to hydrate and soften the skin. You may have heard some experts saying that oily skin doesn’t need moisturizer, but this is a myth at best. When your skin is oily or even just combination, slathering moisturizer onto it might be uncomfortable and heavy. But you still need hydration so you don’t trigger a slew of other skincare issues. According to beauty writer Sam Escobar, not using moisturizer has been linked to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The trick is to choose a formula that is light and absorbs immediately, like gel-type ones.
On the contrary, those with drier skin will want a moisturizer with especially nourishing ingredients, such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid. As we’ve said, hyaluronic acid is an excellent ingredient that can help all skin types, especially dry skin. Previously here on MumAbroad Life, plastic surgeon Dr. Noemi Gonzalez shared about the wonders of hyaluronic acid when it comes to anti-ageing and wrinkle treatments. And although cosmetic procedures are great for reaping this substance’s benefits, having it in your everyday products can also do wonders for your skin.
At the top of every experts’ skincare pyramid is sunscreen. If you think staying indoors for most of your day or living in gloomy environments exempts you, think again. Sun protection is the most crucial skincare product that deserves to be part of your daily routine, no matter the season. In fact, if you’re looking for the best anti-aging weapon, then forget expensive facials or botox. On Pretty Me’s guide to anti-ageing ingredients, sunscreen is listed as the best preventive measure for fine lines, wrinkles, and textural flaws caused by sun damage. It even knocks over powerful ingredients like retinol on the list. But if you’re not keen on adding an extra step to your regimen, then make it a point to look for a day cream or moisturizer with at least SPF 30.
ENHANCE YOUR ROUTINE
Every day, dead skin cells tend to build up on your skin’s surface. This can be fixed by regular facial exfoliation. Not only does it encourage cell turnover to reveal smoother skin, it can also de-clog your pores and slough away dark spots with continued use.
To break it down for you, exfoliation comes in two ways: chemical and physical. Dr. Howard Murad explains that choosing between the two depends on how aggressive you want your exfoliation to be and how sensitive your skin is. Physical exfoliation works on the surface, buffing away dead skin cells through mechanical abrasion, often using special exfoliating beads. Conversely, chemical exfoliation operates on a deeper level with the help of acids and enzymes to break the bonds that glue dead cells and dirt to the skin’s surface. If you’re new to the acid game, however, it’s important to do a patch test to ensure your skin doesn’t act up. Also, it is advisable to build up your tolerance over time, carefully incorporating them into your routine until your skin grows accustomed to it. You should aim to exfoliate at least once a week.
Serums can be the powerhouse of your entire regimen. These lightweight moisturizers might come in the smallest bottles, but they’re extremely potent and pack the most punch. So how are they different from a normal moisturizer, you ask? “By leaving out many of the heavier ingredients that are found in traditional moisturizers, [face serums] contain a much higher proportional concentration of active ingredients,” said Dr. Carlos A. Charles in an interview with Huffington Post.
You might notice how some people like to pile on different serums, but this can often result in a cocktail of clashing chemicals, since some ingredients might offset or react with others. What you can do is look for hard-working serums that do more than one job. For example, Balance Me’s Vitamin C Repair Serum not only brightens, but the hyaluronic acid content ensures your skin stays hydrated. Another is Perricone’s MD H2 Elemental Energy Hydrating Booster Serum, which is described as a two-pronged attack against parched and dull skin, able to hydrate and restore radiance at the same time.
Eye creams aren’t the most essential step in your regimen, but they sure do help. Keep in mind that the skin around your eye is much thinner and more delicate than the rest of your face, especially as you age, so be wary of harsh ingredients and only use products meant for the under-eye area. If you’re struggling with eye bags and inflammation, caffeine and peptides are known to be soothing. But if dark circles and discolorations are your problem, you can look for brightening ingredients such as vitamin C and kojic acid.