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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Skincare 101: Stop Using So Many Products

I am endlessly amazed at the number of products women put on their skin before they even get to makeup. I'm a minimalist when it comes to skincare (and makeup). Soap, moisturizer, eye cream (when I remember it) and a little rubbing alcohol or zit cream for the occasional blemish--that's my entire arsenal. I have to credit some of my minimalist tendencies to excellent genes (thanks Mom & Dad)!

But even though I have pretty good skin naturally, I am tempted to fix minor problems with creams, lotions, potions and all sorts of other concoctions. Every time I go to a dermatologist, they come up with a long list of products (that they sell or just had a drug rep promote) for me to start using, stat. I've tried them and never had my skin improve overall. Sure, that cream make my cheeks less dry, but it gave me zits elsewhere. Yeah, that pore strip helped with the blackheads a bit, but it made my skin raw & itchy (I have sensitive skin).

Every product seems to have a side effect that can only be fixed by adding more products. This isn't to say everyone needs to strip down to as few products as I've listed, but everyone could stand to take inventory of what their products are doing for them.

Detox
During college, my cousin lamented her skincare routine. She wished she could have nice skin like me and stop using all these products. So, I told her to try it. I challenged her to use a cleanser and moisturizer both formulated for sensitive skin for a few days (or weeks if she could do it) and otherwise leave her skin alone. Our skin changes frequently with our lifestyles, routines, hairstyles (bangs are poison to forehead skin) and hormones. Striping away all the products will do several things:
  1. It will let you see what skin problems you really have without side effect from other products.
  2. It will help you figure out which products aren't doing anything for you.
  3. By switching to sensitive skin products, you'll find out if some of your skin problems are really just irritations or allergies caused by your products. Many people just have sensitive skin.
  4. You will give your skin a break by letting it detox in a sense. This can be it's own cure for some problems.
I recommend switching to a free & clear laundry detergent and a sensitive skin lotion during this time if you can (switch up your shampoo and hair products if they make you suspicious). This may be too much to ask (and impossible if you need to look polished for work or other events), but avoid makeup if you can. If that won't do, grab some inexpensive sensitive skin makeup, like Covergirl Clean Makeup, to wear for a while. These things may be one of your problems too. My cousin discovered how sensitive her skin was and figured out that some products, even her nice-smelling laundry soap, could cause irritations and blemishes.

De-Clutter
After you've let your skin detox, it's time to figure out which products you do need using a few simple steps:
  1. Inventory your skin: Figure out what problems you really have and ditch any products for problems that no longer exist.
  2. Re-learn your routine: If you don't wash your face before bed, stop touching your face all day or change your pillow case frequently enough, no products will ever help you. Also, make sure you are using products correctly. We sometimes fall into bad habits or miss an update on the usage directions of an improved product.
  3. Add your favorite products back one at a time: Add one product per week. See if it improves your skin. If it does, keep it. If it doesn't, toss it.
  4. Try new things: I know we're supposed to be pairing things down, but a new, catch-all product may solve the problems of two or three products. Get samples in the travel-size section, online or at Sephora (they have an awesome sample program). Switching to a different product that has the same function as an old one may alleviate some irritations. (If it's cheaper you could save money too!)
  5. Visit a dermatologist: If you have really bad acne, eczema, topical allergies or some other medical condition, you may need medication. Or, you may just need a clear diagnosis so you understand the problem you are trying to solve. As always, add new products one at a time.
Defy Habits
Once you've worked through all of this, you'll have a new skin routine. But don't let that very routine become a bad habit. If you start experiencing new skin problems after time, re-evaluate. Don't just tack on another product--that's how you got in this mess to start with. Like I said at the beginning, our skin changes. Products change too. This means we have to change with those things (I hate it too). Even my minimal skincare products shift overtime.

Deflect Shiny, Science-y, New
I know skin products are exciting. It's fun to try new things. Sometimes, its the product you've been waiting for your whole life. Sometimes, its the rebirth of your favorite products from days gone by. Sometimes, it's not worth your time, money or effort. If you're a skincare junkie, beware of new, trendy products. Let things get into the market for a while to see how people like them.

What are your go-to skin products, and how do you keep them in check?

This the first installment of Skincare 101, a series of posts about simple, skincare basics. Do you have any skincare problems to solve or tips to share?
Image Credit: Volt Magazine

4 comments:

Lou Briggs said...

Ah, this is great! Skincare is too often passed over on fashion and beauty blogs, in exchange for tutorials on the "smokey eye".

I'm desperately looking for a cheap (I know that word is synonymous with bad, but the e.l.f. collection is AMAZING for the price range) tinted moisturizer, so that I don't have to use stage-makeup like cover up. I have oily skin, but I think it's too oily because in reality, my face is dry, and it's over compensating.

I'm a HUGE fan of natural masks. Avocado, pumpkin, honey, olive oil, even milk can do wonders for your face! I"m glad there's another advocate here for bare skin - the chemicals and oils in liquid face makeup is just too risky.

Nora Bradshaw said...

I think being faithful to a routine matters more than what you use, and yes, less is more.

Florence Carole said...

Less is more indeed. I also use minimum skin care products - just soap and moisturizer. Just like Lou I also sometimes use natural masks, especially avocado masks.

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rhealyn said...

For individuals who have sensitive skin, you might need something that does not have strong fragrances. The reason for this is that these type of cleansers may have infused with alcohol contents to give that certain smell plus you add this with the cleansing formula, then you can come up with something that can irritate sensitive skin.

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