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February 26, 2021
Welcome to Season one of my self-care series: Physical Self Care. This week I will be talking about skincare, something I'm really excited about. Apparently you guys are excited too, because in my poll on Instagram 88% of you said you wanted to learn about ingredients with me.
I feel like within these past 4 weeks, I've already developed better eating, sleeping, and exercise habits (take a look at my previous blog posts for that information) and I'm ready to move onto something really fun, but also really important; our skin.
One's face is usually the first thing someone sees on a person. It can be the culprit of poor self esteem, or it can be something someone is proud of as they walk the streets. As I've gotten older, I've started to reach out into the world of skincare. But getting started can seem somewhat intimidating.
Active ingredients, Acids, niacinamides, alcohols, what is safe and what is harmful? Can we really shrink pore size? Can wrinkles really be prevented? Lets first go through the basics and work our way up.
If it's one thing I've learned through this week's research it's that keeping your skin nourished and moisturized is key. Dried out skin leads to thinner, more fragile skin so it looks dull and thin. Moisturized skin looks more plump and lively. If you guys haven't checked out the YouTube channel "Beauty Within" I highly recommend subscribing to them and watching their videos. They are extremely knowledgeable in the skincare field and the way they explain things is nice and easy to understand. In fact, a lot about what I'm going to be writing today comes from them. But if you don't have enough hours in the day to watch their lengthy videos, that's alright! Because this article is a simplified summary of what I've researched this whole week.
Basic skincare routine First lets talk basics of all basics. Every skincare routing should include 1. cleanser 2. toner 3. moisturizer 4. sunscreen. If you want to keep your skincare at the bare minimum, it should include these 4 things. A cleanser obviously cleanses, removing dirt, makeup, pollution, dead skin, sweat, etc from that day. Washing your face is critical at night, and I'm assuming you all know this. One thing I realized I was doing wrong however was I wasn't massaging the cleanser in my skin long enough. Just like brushing your teeth, you wouldn't just apply toothpaste for 7 seconds and then rinse right? The same goes when cleansing your face. During cleansing, you should gently massage the cleanser into your skin and give the product enough time to do its job. Next, A toner goes on after cleansing and helps restore your skin to a balanced PH level as well as cares for your pores, depending on the type of toner. Moisturizer nourishes the skin, putting a barrier over it to keep hydration in. And lastly, sunscreen, the magic potion that blocks harmful rays and helps you stay youthful. This routine should be used daily, and if you want to get into using more advanced products, you can always add them in slowly. The more confusing ingredients is what we will talk about next.
Exfoliation There are two types of exfoliators: physical and chemical. I already knew about physical exfolients, heck as a child I was making my own with blended up avacado pits. But it was the chemical exfolients that I really wanted to study this week and learn about. So basically for chemical exfolients we have AHAs, BHAs and PHAs. These chemicals increase cell turnover, helps breakup blackheads and whiteheads from the skin, and gives the skin a smoother finish. Lets look at them one at a time.
AHA is short for Alpha Hydroxy acid. These acids usually come from fruits and milks. They are water soluble, and help with having a smooth texture on the skin. Some examples of AHA as an ingredient would be Glycolic acid, Lactic acid, Mandelic acid, Citric acid and Tatanic Acid.
BHA is short for Beta Hydroxy Acid which basically is salicylic acid. It is oil soluble, and goes deep into the skin, dissolving the skin debris that clog pores and create acne, white heads, and blackheads. When looking for products with salicylic acid, over-the-counter limits are set at 2% for topical treatments expected to be left on the face and 3% for those expected to be washed off, such as acne cleansers. If you are just starting out, I would recommend finding a product that has a low dose of BHA like 0.5% and then slowly building up so that your skin won't have any harsh reactions.
PHA stands for polyhydroxy acid, and is fairly new in the skincare industry. It has a larger molecular size, so it is more gentle on the skin and doesn't cause skin sensitivity from the sun. PHA is a good option for those with sensitive skin. Some examples of these would be Gluconolactone acid, galactose acid, and lactobionic acid. We sound like such chemists now don't we?
The thing about these AHAs, BHAs and PHAs as chemical exfoliaters is that anytime we change up our skincare routine, we are putting our skin at risk for some sort of reaction. So pay attention when you incorporate a new product and keep a mental record if you see any redness, dryness, or irritation on your skin. These acids work well if you use them at night before you apply a nourishing moisturizer, that way the skin can renew itself while your are getting in your z's. It might be tingly for 30 seconds or so, but not burning. If you experience burning, you should wash it off. These acids can sometimes really dry out the skin so make sure that you moisterize as well! Don't over-exfoliate, especially with physical exfoliators. That is a really good way to get really red and irritated skin. Lastly, patience is key. If you don't see results overnight, that's okay! Some products take weeks, even months of consistent usage to see results.
Lets now talk about some other active ingredients. Before doing my research, I had heard of or seen these ingredients before, but had no idea what they do and couldn't keep any of them straight. Lets keep this as simple as possible and stick with Vitamin A, B and C.
Vitamin A, also known as retinoids are amazing at increasing cell turnover, mimicking the way our skin cells used to reproduce when we were young and in our teens. Experts say that people don't need to start using retinoids until they are around 25. Retinoids also penetrate deep within the skin to kill acne bacteria, help with wrinkles, and constrict pores. Retinoids tend to be a little bit drying, so it's important to pair with moisturizing ingredients. Retinoids are also known as Tretinoin, Retin-A, Adapalene, Differin, and Retinaldehyde.
Vitamin B3, also known as Niacinamide is naturally found in our body and is a friendly active ingredient for all skin types. Niacinamide helps with dullness, pore size, sebum production and skin texture. This active ingredient also works well for sensitive skin.
Vitamin C, otherwise known as L-Ascorbic Acid is a very popular ingredient in skincare because it aids in brightening, promotes elastin and boosts collagen in the dermis level of our skin. The one thing to be careful about with Vitamin C is that it is known to be quite unstable in nature. It may go bad from contact with oxygen, sunlight, or time. so make sure to read the expiration date on the packaging and follow the package's direction on where to store it. Some derivitives of Vitamin C include Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate. It's not so scary anymore now that we know they come from Vitamin C, right?
Before researching skincare, a little part of me believed the theory that all skincare is a scam and that they're basically all just the same products with fancy packaging. But if that were the case, why would chemical engineers spend millions of dollars on researching and manufacturing skincare? I think the first step to any habit is to first be knowledgeable on that particular subject, and then implement it in your daily life and see if it makes a difference in your life. So now that I am familiar with the basics of skincare and some popular active ingredients, I am really excited to incorporate this aspect into my self care routine. I am not intimidated anymore. I think since I am over 25, I will start to incorporate retinol into my skin routine since I already use chemical exfoliants. But just remember no matter what our skincare routine includes, your body and your skin is worthy of being taken care of. You are worth that extra 8 minutes of time caring for your skin. Remember to hit pause and enjoy yourself. You are not being selfish, and you are not being vain. You are protecting the beautiful body like the gift that it is.
Do you use active ingredients in your skincare routine? If so, which products are your favorite? Do you have any other questions about skincare in general? Comment below!
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