Our skin tends to be as individual as we are, so it can take a while to find the perfect skin care routine. But there are some simple steps we should all be taking to ensure a clean, healthy and blemish-free complexion.
Step one: Cleanse
It’s important to cleanse the skin twice a day – first thing in the morning and last thing at night – to remove the oil, sweat, grime and pollutants that have built up while we’ve been awake and asleep. Mild cleansers (gels, foams and milks) are best, but you don’t always need to use an actual cleanser – water can often be just as effective, especially if you have overly sensitive skin. The important thing is to make sure your hands are clean before you begin cleansing and don’t use over-the-counter bar soap because it can encourage dryness and clogged pores. It’s also important not to scrub your skin when you cleanse, but to apply the cleanser in a gentle circular motion.
Step two: Tone
As soon as you’ve finished cleansing, it’s time to apply toner. Some experts dispute the value of toning, claiming that if you’re using a p-H balance cleanser then toning is unnecessary. However, other experts believe that toning shouldn’t be overlooked because there may still be oil or make-up residue on your skin that cleansing may have missed. But there’s one thing everybody agrees on – avoid using alcohol or citrus-based toners on your skin because they can cause irritation and damage.
Step three: Exfoliate
This is a crucial part of the routine because it removes all the dead skin cells that have accumulated on the surface of our skin during the day, unblocking pores and helping to prevent troublesome and unsightly nasties like blackheads and acne. You don’t have to exfoliate every day and night, but depending on your skin type you should exfoliate a minimum of one to three times a week. Find out which kind of exfoliator works best for you – sometimes chemical exfoliators can be more effective than sugar or salt scrubs, with ingredients like AHA and BHA really cleaning deep into the pores to remove build-up.
Step four: Moisturise
Now comes the moisturiser, which helps to hydrate your skin and lock in precious moisture. It’s important to choose the moisturiser that works best for your skin type (people with dry skin should opt for a heavier moisturiser whereas people with oilier skin should use a lighter cream). Rub the moisturiser gently into your skin (be careful around your eyes) before allowing it time to sink in and do its best work.
When moisturising in the morning, try to find a plant-based cream (because they tend to penetrate the skin better than petroleum emollients) that not only hydrates and protects but contains an SPF to ward off the sun’s damaging UV rays. If your moisturiser doesn’t offer SPF protection, make sure to apply sunscreen because not only is sunlight the leading cause of skin cancer, prolonged exposure to sunlight can accelerate skin ageing. During the summer months, apply an SPF factor 15 to your skin every few hours, especially if you’re going to be in direct sunlight throughout the day.
Take the holistic approach
That’s pretty much everything you need to know as far as an actual skin care routine is concerned, although don’t forget that taking good holistic care of yourself will pay dividends for your skin as well. That means: eating healthily (and drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated), exercising regularly, taking time to relax and de-stress, and making sure you get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Yes, it’s called ‘getting your beauty sleep’ for a reason!