Words by Eleanor Armstrong and Scarlett Owens
Graphic by Cat Yeong
It is undeniable that, as part of the ridiculously long list of high beauty standards set for women, skin plays a significant role in how we are perceived. Since our teenage years, skin is something that we often agonise about. Acne, dry patches, rashes, firmness or wrinkles can be a source of insecurity for many – both young and old. That’s not to mention the impact of ‘pigment’ – both in terms of ethnicity and the Australian tanning culture – on how you are treated.
Often viewed as a ‘face map’, good skin can be perceived as being symptomatic of wider lifestyle choices upon which women are also fiercely judged. It ties into notions of ‘natural beauty’; by having good skin, you supposedly look after yourself well. However, having good skin is down to a combination of factors which include class, time and knowledge. Being able to eat well and afford dermatological help is a privilege. Whether in the form of nutrient-dense organic foods, sheet masks or topical prescription ointments, not everyone has access to expensive quick-fix treatments.
This doesn’t even take into account the variability of what is considered to be ‘good skin’ as, like fashion, skin goes through its trends. Whether dewy or matte, bright or sallow, plump or taut, different mainstream preferences come and go. Being comfortable in your own skin is made even more difficult when many are at a loss as to what they should be aiming for. Of course, as the old saying goes, beauty is not just about the exterior – it’s what is inside, but one less insecurity doesn’t hurt either!
With this in mind, we have below compiled a list of skin care tips that will see people from different walks of life being able to have access to the skin of their dreams (fingers crossed).
Know your skin type
Knowing your skin type is incredibly useful when trying to formulate an effective skincare routine. There are four main skin types:
- Normal (eudermic): when the skin’s water and oil content are well balanced
- Oily (sebaceous): when the skin produces excess sebum
- Dry (xerosis): when the skin does not produce enough sebum and lacks the lipids it needs to retain moisture
- Combination: when skin is oily, dry, and/or normal in specific areas (e.g. oily t-zone, dry cheeks etc.)
Getting the product order right
Ordering your products correctly is important to maximise the absorption of products into your skin. A good order is:
- Water solutions: a mixture of ingredients dissolved into water
- Emulsions: a combination of two liquids that don’t normally mix
- Anhydrous solution: base of the solution is not water or oil
- Oil solutions/oils
- Heavier creams
Check the ingredients list if you are not sure how and where in the above list you should layer your product. Some products must be used only in the morning, at night-time, or without other active ingredients. This is to ensure maximum effectiveness and safety for your skin, so make sure you always read the instructions!
Do your research
Your skin is the largest organ in your body so it is important to take good care of it! Research can be incredibly useful to determine what suits your skin type best. Some good tips when looking to start a new skincare routine are outlined below.
- Knowing your skin type and skin concerns are important, as this determines the best products to use for your skin.
- Look for simple products with clear ingredients; some products have so many ingredients in small doses that it is not possible for them to work effectively on your skin.
- Try before you buy! Samples are a fantastic way to assess whether something is going to work well on your skin before you spend your hard earned cash.
- Start off slow: throwing too many products, including strong and harsh chemicals, at your skin when you’re first starting is not necessarily the best course of action. You can end up doing more damage!
- Use no more than three products on your skin, morning and night, for maximum absorption of the product
- Some examples of skin concerns and actives to help with these:
- Sensitivity – anti-inflammatory hydrators and oils
- Dehydration – non-actives, like oils and creams to rehydrate and repair fatty acids in top layers of skin
- Congestion – niacinamide is a great decongestant, also chemical exfoliants such as AHA’s (e.g. lactic acid), and BHA’s (e.g. salicylic acid)
- Pigmentation – Vitamin C, AHAs, Retinol
- Texture/scarring – AHAs, BHAs, Retinol
- Ageing – Retinols, peptide-rich products
Indulge yourself every once in a while
Everyone needs a pamper session every once in a while, which gives you the perfect opportunity (or excuse) to splurge on some skincare! Face masks are a wonderful way to feel rejuvenated, but some favourites (for any skin occasion) are:
- L’Oréal Paris Pure Clay Mask
- Sephora Collection Sheet Face Mask
- Skin Republic Hydrogel Under Eye Mask
- The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
Extra things to note:
- Most products have an expiry date if you check the label – it’s a good idea to abide by these. The product will likely be less effective, but also irritation and possible bacterial infection can occur if you continue to use a product after the expiry date!
- Hot water and long showers, strong soaps or baths, strip oils from the surface of your skin, so try to limit these to best look after your outer protective layer. This will leave you less vulnerable to irritation.
- Wear sun protection! This cannot be stressed enough; however well you look after your skin, all of it is pointless if you do not apply sunscreen every day. UVA and UVB rays are incredibly harmful to your skin and will do a significant amount of damage over time.
There is no true right or wrong here, with everyone having their own unique blend of skincare concerns and predispositions But hopefully, some of the above advice will help!