Skincare can often be like dieting – fad diets like the Atkins and blood type diet come and go, but fundamentally, there is no replacement for a moderate, healthy diet and regular exercise. Similarly, when we are confronted by the mind-numbingly numerous skincare products and trends available, it can be easy to lose sight of simple skincare basics, and get caught up pursuing the latest gimmicks. While good skincare products certainly can help to improve your skin, we should bear in mind that our daily lifestyle choices also have an impact on the quality of our skin.
Let us cut through the fads and trends, show you the basics you really need to get right – and if you are guilty of any of these skincare crimes, take our advice and cease and desist, pronto!
1. Not Using or Applying Enough Sunscreen
We all know that sun exposure can damage our skin in the long-run, but it can be tempting to forget that little bottle of sunscreen when we are shuttling out of the house on harried mornings. But since exposure to UVA and UVB rays are the single largest factor contributing to aging, sunscreen should be at the top of our priority lists every morning.
When applying sunscreen, ensure that you use adequate amounts in order to receive the protection value stated by the product. You should aim for 2.0 mg of sunscreen per cm² of exposed skin, which would translate into roughly half a teaspoon for both your face and neck, and roughly a shot glass for your entire body. And don’t forget to reapply as necessary, especially if you are outdoors!
2. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is a strange commodity – it’s free and thus should be plentiful, but the demands of modern life mean that it is nevertheless scarce. But here’s why you should get your beauty sleep. Dr. David E. Bank, the Founder and Director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in New York, has stated that when you sleep at night, the body’s core internal temperature rises and facial muscles and pores relax. This in turn allows skin care ingredients to penetrate the skin more deeply. So, not only does your body repair itself at night, there is the potential for skincare applied at night to have a greater effect as well. That’s a great double-duty benefit of sleep – but you have to get enough of it first!
3. Excessive Smoking and Alcohol Intake
We all love a good party every now and then! But smoking and alcohol have also been proven to have a direct relation with the health of your skin – and your whole body. Dr. Leslie Baumann, author of “The Skin Type Solution” and Director of the Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute, note that the worst skincare mistakes are often lifestyle ones: “not wearing sunscreen daily and lifestyle choices – smoking, alcohol, tanning, lack of sleep.” So resist the temptation to go all out with alcohol and smoking the next time you’re at Zouk, and your skin, liver, and lungs will thank you for it.
4. Not Removing Your Makeup
It’s tough being a modern woman sometimes – we juggle work and home, hobbies and duties, parents and children, day in and day out. So we can understand if you’re too tired to remove your makeup once in awhile, but this should never become regular practice. According to Dr. Dennis Gross, M.D., when makeup is left on, it can clog the pores of your skin. So proper removal of makeup is necessary before a proper skincare routine can take effect.
If you’re feeling tired, pressed for time, or just lazy, an easy alternative will be to use makeup wipes instead of your regular makeup remover. While they may not remove all your makeup perfectly – especially the stubborn ones – it’s better than nothing!
5. Not Buying Skincare Wisely
If you find yourself accumulating more products than you can use up in a lifetime, it might help to keep things simple by choosing products that are widely proven to work. While products on the market often tout a diverse range of ingredients and benefits, Nicki Zevola, CEO of Futurederm Inc., says, “The big five in anti-aging skin care are still arguably sunscreen, retinoids, antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, and niacinamide or nicotinic acid.” These ingredients have the strongest backing from published scientific research, and the indication from the literature is that they do work. So including these in your skincare routine makes it smart and effective, without being overwhelming.
We suggest using retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids at night, as these potent ingredients may make the skin more photosensitive and are thus not advisable for daytime use. If you have sensitive skin, limit your use of such products to 2-3 times a week. Antioxidants and sunscreens are best used during the day, as the two are synergistic. Sunscreens shield the skin from UV rays, while antioxidants help to repair the damage caused by UV exposure, so by using both together, you’re covering more bases. Niacinamide can be used either day or night, but if you’re using it with other products with acidic ingredients, it is advisable to wait half an hour between application to prevent the breakdown of the niacinamide by the acidic ingredients.
This article is written by Jerlene Then. Jerlene lives a triple life as a caffeine-consuming zombie in the morning, a hardworking multi-faceted office employee in the day, and a passionate beauty writer at night. Since its inception in 2009, her beauty blog, Of Faces and Fingers, has been featured in various print and online publications, including Allure Korea and Fabulous Magazine. You can also find her on Twitter as @musicalhouses and on Facebook.