Oil and water and everything nice for your skin
Creating a good skincare routine involves being aware of the ingredients you put on your skin and always do your research.
My obsession with skincare started in my mid-20s, right after I got my first wrinkle and my colleagues at MAC complained about how dry my skin looked when they tried to apply make-up on me. Before then, all I did was splash my face with water and occasionally remove my make-up. That coupled with a plethora of other poor lifestyle choices, I’m surprised I still had somewhat okay skin left!
I thought it was time to start using a moisturising cream, and as I did, I found that it allowed me to wear those concealers everyone loved but looked incredibly crepey on me before. Nonetheless, after a few hours my skin would again look like the Sahara Desert.
I then went to the Internet – and oh, how I love the Internet! That’s when I realised I don’t have especially dry skin – I do, however, have very dehydrated skin. That's when I learned that moisturisation and hydration are two different things. Who knew?! And, with time and exhaustive research, I have come to develop not only a whole skincare routine but also my own skincare philosophy.
Could you be dehydrated?
Let's start with the basics: dry skin results from a lack of oil, while dehydrated skin results from a lack of water. This means you can have dry skin and be dehydrated, or have oily skin and be dehydrated. Furthermore, having dehydrated skin can cause it to overproduce oil to compensate for the lack of moisture. Meaning that usually it’s not that you have oily skin, it’s that your skincare – or lack thereof – is stripping your skin of its water and natural oils. Dehydrated skin is not a skin type, but a symptom which seems to affect most of us.
Drinking water is amazing for your health and it will definitely help your skin, but consider this: dehydration happens when you lose more water than you take in. Exposure to sunlight and weather changes can also cause dehydration. Also, your skin is the last organ to absorb hydration and it is also the largest organ in your body, so using topical products that promote hydration can actually be very beneficial, and in some cases, imperative.
So, how do we go about it?
First, wash your face. Yes, that’s right, using water, not just a make-up remover! Wash your face, with a nice mild cleanser and water, but don’t let that water evaporate on your skin. You will need to apply something on top of it to hold that water in.
Then you will want to use a water-based hydrating toner and/or serum that is rich in humectants. Humectants are ingredients that draw water from the environment into your skin. Look for products with ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin, Aloe Vera and Honey. These water based formulas will sink right into your skin and are extremely beneficial.
Aside from toning you should, at the very end of your routine, apply an occlusive agent, such as a moisturiser. There is no point in applying water-based ingredients and humectants if you don’t trap that water on your skin. Not doing so will cause those lovely ingredients to evaporate, much like that water you've splashed on your face, and leave your skin feeling even more dehydrated.
What ingredients are occlusive?
Cholesterol, lecithin, petrolatum and mineral oil (not my favourite), silicones (like dimethicone), waxes and butters (like beeswax, lanolin, candelilla and shea butter), fatty alcohols (or the only good type of alcohols like cetyl, stearyl and cetearyl alcohol), as well as some vegetable oils, namely those that have a thicker consistency and are high in oleic acid (like rice bran, soybean, castor and olive oil).
A classic moisturising cream will include a blend of water and oil-based ingredients, usually rich in a variety of these occlusive ingredients. Do not despair if you have oily and/or acne prone skin! Even oily skin types must be moisturised, skin can’t heal properly without moisture. Also, a lot of these ingredients are actually low in the spectrum of comedogenicity (or how likely they are to clog your pores) and don’t present a problem for acne in diluted concentrations. It might take a bit of trial and error with different moisturisers, but your skin will thank you in the long run!
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