I get asked by a lot of my friends about how they can take better care of their skin and I find myself starting to sound like a broken record. So I thought it might be a good idea to write down some tips and advice and send future inquirers here. Skincare is a vast topic that one can write volumes about (and many have). This post is meant to be a brief introduction, covering just the bare minimum basics, as the title suggests. I’m not a dermatologist and I certainly am not pretending to be offering professional advice. All opinions are based on my own experience and (non-scientific) research, and no I’m not paid by sponsors (though comments and likes will make me very happy).
The bare minimum basics for everyone, regardless of your age, gender, or skin type:
Cleanse: Every skincare routine should begin with a clean slate, to prevent dirt, oils, make up, grime, environmental toxins, etc from clogging up your pores.
Moisturize: Every skin type needs to be properly hydrated to prevent premature aging.
Protect: Rain or shine, year-around, between sunrise and sunset, if you are outdoors at all, you need SPF. UV damage is the #1 cause of skin aging (causes 80% of visible aging) and skin cancer.
Most people already do 1 & 2. If there’s one thing you should take away from this post, it’s wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher and Broad Spectrum if in US or PA+++ if outside of US), 24/7/365 rain or shine. Reapply at least every 2 hours if you are outdoors or exposed to the sun through windows. If you are sweating or exposed to water, reapply more frequently.
Serums: light-weight, easily absorbed products applied all over the face after cleansing and before moisturizing. Usually contain higher concentrations of active ingredients targeting specific issues (e.g. anti-aging, acne, additional moisture, firming, etc.)
Targeted treatments: treatments applied to select areas of the face. Most common examples are acne treatments applied directly to areas affected (e.g. pimples).
Masks: Provide intensive treatments that usually take 5 to 30 minute. Common types include mud masks for pore clearing, minimizing and preventing breakouts; cream or gel masks that provide additional moisture, some with additional benefits such as brightening, firming, and balancing. Applied as a thick layer all over the face, or via a sheet mask. Recommended application of 1-3 times a week.
Rule of thumb in application: thinnest to thickest consistency. Water-based formulas first, oil-based last.
Vitamin C+E: Antioxidant combination that protects you from environmental stressors and UV damage, increases collagen production, suppresses pigmentation, decomposes melanin, and is anti-inflammatory. Put it on during the day to provide extra UV protection (works synergistically with sunscreen) or put it on at night for extra brightening effect (as UV light will degrade Vitamin C slowly).
Retinol: Encourages cell-turnover, stimulates collagen production, antioxidant, works to reduce acne, hyperpigmentation, scarring, and wrinkles. Should only put on at night as UV light will degrade it and render it useless. Do not use if pregnant.
Niacinamide: Helps skin barrier function, increases hydration, decreases hyperpigmentation, acne, certain skin cancers, and is anti-inflammatory. Need at least 5% to have a noticeable effect.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA): Encourages cell-turnover, exfoliates, increases collagen, and strengthens deeper layers of skin. Should not be used simultaneously as retinol as it will cause irritation.
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA): Encourages cell-turnover, lightly exfoliates, anti-inflammatory, and deeply cleanses pores. This is great for blackheads and acne. Need at least 2% to be effective. Do not use if pregnant.
- CeraVe Renewing Gentle SA Cleanser
- Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/ Face Mask
- Son & Park Beauty Water
- First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
- Vichy Aqualia Thermal Mineral Water Gel
- Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream
Vitamin C Serum
- Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil
- Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution
This post was edited by my friend, Evie Zhong, who is a skincare guru with a passion for all things skincare-related. If you liked this post and would like to find out more about all things skincare, please leave a comment. We welcome your questions and feedback.