I have been writing this blog consistently for well over five years now, in that time I have tried hundreds if not thousands of products and whilst I would never consider myself an expert I have definitely learnt some lessons about skincare in that time. I am expecting next year to be a year where I learn a lot more, but I thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of the key things I have learnt so far.
Consistency is key – How many times have you looked in the mirror and wondered why that expensive cream isn’t working for you despite the fact that it has mostly been sat in the cupboard and not on your face? I suspect this has happened to most of us more times that we care to admit.
No product will work miracles on the skin, especially if you are not using it consistently. Short on time? Don’t really enjoy spending a lot of time on your skin? You are better off using a tightly edited set of products consistently, rather than getting out every product you own just once a week.
Skincare is not something that should be saved for special occasions either, if a product is too expensive for you to justify using on a regular basis, find a less expensive alternative, I guarantee that for most products out there you will find something you like just as much.
On that same point I have seen plenty of skincare experts berating people for choosing their skincare based on scent or how pleasurable they find it to use. Whilst I generally agree you shouldn’t choose something just because it smells good, I also think that if choosing something you enjoy helps you be more consistent in your routine, that can only be a good thing.
How you apply products is important – Although this one seems incredibly obvious, I often think we loose sight of proper skincare application. I often get emails or messages asking for help with a specific product, it can be frustrating not being able to get something to work for you, but sometimes a simple change to how you apply can make all the difference.
Most skincare experts agree that you should apply textures from lightest to heaviest. So my routine would look this this (I don’t always follow all of these steps, instead I pick and choose the steps I think my skin needs): Exfoliating toners, Spritz (hydrating toner), Hydrating essence (thicker toner), water based serum, milky serums, oil based serum, cream and finally balm. I have seen contradicting opinions on using oil before or after creams, personally I dislike using them afterwards so I will generally mix a few drops of oil in to my cream to apply, or if I am using an oil as a night treatment skip cream completely.
Sun protection would generally be the last step in your routine, but it is worth checking the instructions on the bottle as some chemical sun creams are formulated to sit next to the skin and you apply your skin care on top. If your using mineral sunscreens such as zinc or titanium dioxide then they generally need to be applied last and you can then put make up over the top.
Expensive isn’t always better – I know a lot of people might disagree with me on this, but in my humble opinion not every product with a luxury price tag is worth the money. Good ingredients do cost more generally, especially when they are organically grown, but there are an increasing amount of formulations on the market that although lovely, simply don’t live up to the results expected for that price point.
I personally like to mix and match high end, mid range and budget options, but I think there are lots of great products that routinely get overlooked because of their lower price point. I certainly don’t think anyone should spend more than they feel comfortable with, even if high end skincare is incredibly popular at the moment.
The natural vs synthetic debate (Natural isn’t always better) – Another point which I know many will disagree with, but I find the constant natural vs synthetic debate slightly frustrating to say the least. I want to be clear that love natural products, I have after all, dedicated years of my life to writing about them. I also think there is good reason to be wary of some synthetic ingredients. I can’t use heavy synthetic fragrance without getting a migraine for example, but the natural vs synthetic debate is much more complicated and nuanced than many people on both sides of the argument would have you believe.
One of the reasons I don’t have a list of ingredients to avoid on this site, is that I see far too many bloggers/brands blindly telling their audience X or Y is bad for them with no genuine knowledge or context. So for example, if I used a face wash with Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), my sensitive, dehydrated skin would scream at me for days, but when it comes to washing my dishes it works a treat, I just make sure to wear gloves.
The same applies to common allergens such as preservatives, I often see people pointing out that MI (methylisothiazolinone) is a commonly problematic ingredient for many (which it is), but I rarely see the same people pointing out that Peru balsam (a natural ingredient derived from a tree in South America) also is well known for its ability to produce allergic reactions. When it comes to ingredients, context is everything and not all natural ingredients will suit everyone, no matter how much we would like that to be the case.
You don’t need to jump on every trend – I love reading about the latest trends in ingredients or formulations, it is fun and informative, but something I have always been wary of when it comes to this blog and my own personal routine is jumping on every new trend that emerges.
Trends are by their very nature designed to come and go, I personally like to make long lasting and positive changes. The way I achieve that is by reading up on new ingredients and research and applying those things that interest me or resonate with my personal circumstances. It is very easy to buy in to hype, but if we are truly honest the beauty industry has to keep reinventing to wheel to market us products that in many cases we don’t need.
What skincare lessons have you learnt? I would love to know.