From the trending 10-step Korean Skincare Routine to the magical blackhole that is r/skincareaddiction and every beauty guru between, the cyber-world of skincare is a place full of overwhelming possibility.
Unlike the razor industry, skincare companies are expanding their product ranges in cross-cultural and (at least somewhat) scientifically-based directions. This means a lot of options, a lot to research, and a lot of decision fatigue. But you don’t need to (and shouldn’t!) change all of your routine at once.
Here are four simple upgrades you can make today(ish):
1. Try double cleansing
Oil cleansing means using an oil-based cleanser that you use as the first step in your skincare routine. It’s really good at getting makeup off and can be surprisingly effective even on oily skin: the oil attracts and dissolves oil, dirt, and makeup so it’s easily washed away. It’s gentle on your skin and an overall soothing process.
Double cleansing takes that a step further, by following up the oil cleansing with a second, water-based cleanser to ensure that your face is completely clean.
Oil cleansing and double cleansing are Korean beauty techniques that have hit the Western mainstream. Lots of brands, including drugstore brands, carry these cleansers. The best part is, double cleansing only adds an extra 30 seconds to your routine.
2. Rethink your exfoliation
There are two ways to exfoliate the skin. One method is physical exfoliation, which is usually in the form of a “facial scrub” that uses tiny particles to scrub off the dead skin. (Think St. Ives apricot scrub or Clean and Clear’s “Morning Burst.”) The problem with physical exfoliation is that certain scrubs can be too harsh, causing micro-tears in your skin. A more gentle way to physically clear dead skin is to use a microfiber cloth or konjac sponge rather than a harsh scrub.
The second method is chemical exfoliation, which sounds way scarier than it is. Chemical exfoliants gently remove the dull, top layer skin cells by weakening their lipid bonds. There are two kinds of chemical exfoliants:
- Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), which are good for anti-aging effects, evening skintone, and smoothing skin
- Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) which are better for acne.
Both make you more sensitive to the sun, so wear sunscreen! Your skin might like one type more than the other, so pay attention to how your skin reacts and don’t add too many new products at once.
Chemical exfoliants come in serums, pads, peels, and more. They can be harsh, so make sure you’re following the package directions and erring on the side of “less is more,” at least until you build up a tolerance.
3. Be gentle.
The language around skincare can be harsh. You’re “attacking” your acne or “fighting” aging; you’re told to scrub and cleanse and peel. But aggressive skincare can damage your skin. If your skin is acting up despite attempts to fix it, it’s possible that your skin is dehydrated as the result of a damaged moisture barrier. This is usually caused by using products that are too harsh, but it could also be a direct reaction to an ingredient that your skin doesn’t handle well.
Sometimes upgrading your skincare routine actually means downgrading it. Put down the gorgeous GlamGlow masks, pull the new and/or aggressive products from rotation, and head back to gentle cleansers and fragrance-free moisturizers.
4. Add in some fun.
Once you have a good skincare routine, you probably shouldn’t change it (especially if you, like me, have the tendency to overthink things). But there are a ton of fun, skincare-proximate products you can use to keep things interesting. You can add in lip scrubs and balms that come in a variety of colors and flavors. You can experiment with hair oils and hair masks, or keep a few sheet masks handy for when you want something that screams self-care.
But my personal favorite skin-care routine treat is a sparkling, ostentatious cat-ear headband to keep my hair off my face as I follow my routine.
What are the best upgrades you’ve made to your skincare routine? Let us know in the comments!
P.S.: None of this medical advice, and if there’s something really odd going on with your face, don’t try to diagnose yourself on the internet. See a dermatologist (trust me, I know from personal experience).
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photo courtesy of sarah.