Saturday, September 18, 2010
Okay, confession time, I am a skincare addict. I started having skincare regimen when I was 10 years old, and my mother started smothering moisturizer and sunscreen on my face before I even turned 1 year old. I remember that when I went swimming with my friends when I was in primary school, my friends would jump in to the pool/sea, and I would stay in the locker room patiently waiting for my mother to smother sunblock on me and wait for the requisite 15 minutes for it to absorb. Or when my friend come to my house for a surprise visit past 8:30 p.m., they would more often than not scream when me or my mother open the door because our face is covered in masks. There are many similar anecdotes like that.
My friends often ask me if this regimen I'm keeping is too troublesome, and I must admit that it really is. It's hard to devote so much time and energy to your skin, and avoid doing some things that most people enjoy in deference to your skin, but I think it pays off. My mother is now almost 50 years old, and she has yet to see one wrinkle or one piece of sagging skin. Whenever we go shopping together, most people refer to her as my sister rather than mother. Some of my readers have asked what skincare habits I have, and I decided to share this article. There are a few habits that are crucial in my opinion, and also many more which others deem to be important, but I personally doesn't think is that important, and I'll explain why.
What I think is crucial:
1. Sun care: "I cannot stress how important suncare is to a girl" my mother used to tell me, and her mother used to tell her. My grandmother is a Manchurian and her family believed that it was proper for a girl to stay indoors at all times. It was partly because they wanted to prevent her skin from coming in contact with the sun and other harmful substances, and also partly because they were overtly conservative, and wanted to prevent her from coming in contact with people they don't want her to know or know too well. Regardless, my grandmother stayed indoors, and generally stayed in a well shielded carriage whenever she had to travel. When it is absolutely necessary to walk, she carries a parasol, and wear long sleeved clothing that covers everything except her hands and face. She passed on this good habit to my mother, who reinforced it before giving it to me.
My mother always tell me to try to use sunblock everyday on all areas of exposed skin, reapply every two hours, use a SPF higher than 30 and PA +++. "Do not leave any skin out" she always tells me. I have quite a few lip balms with SPF in it to wear, and now, I try to choose lip colors with SPF whenever possible. Easy to neglect areas are your ears, and back of your neck. Your scalp might also be a susceptible area for some, but for me, it's always well covered by my hair. Whenever possible, she would prefer that I wear hats and carry a parasol.
2. Wash off everything you put on your face before the end of the day: My mother always told me that it's okay if I want to wear makeup (as long as I make it natural), but I shouldn't if I'm not responsible enough to take it off at the end of the day. Make sure that before bed, remove every trace of makeup you put on that day. It doesn't matter how tired you are, you have to do it. The Japanese like to do a double cleansing to remove heavy facial makeup, I find it unnecessary for me currently because I don't use foundation that much, and my Laneige multi-cleanser is quite enough to remove my sunblock. However, when in doubt, do the "toner test". Put toner on a cotton pad and then wipe across your face, if the toner comes out clean, you did your job of removing all trace of makeup. If it come up yellow, it's generally foundation. Pink is generally blush, and gray is generally sunscreen or sweat.
3. Do not touch your face whenever possible: Our hands is the part of our body that comes in contact with the most substances, and consequently, the most germs. Try to keep those hands away from your face. If you must, wash your hands and sanitize before touching your face. Also, holding your face or touching it constantly might bring on wrinkles, which is something you didn't don't want. It might also smear your makeup if you are wearing any.
If you have trouble developing this habit, try putting on a soft mask (soft mask means masks that do not dry) for 3 hours. Honey is often quite effective and beneficial. Whenever your naughty hands come in contact with your face, you will have to wash it. (with honey, you can't even wipe it clean on a papertowel).
If you develop this habit, you will be more conscious next time before picking on a pimple also.
4. Do not put anything you don't know well on your face: Your face is the worst place to experiment. Whenever I get a new skincare item, I would put it behind my ear for some time, and if it had no reactions, only then would I apply it to my face.When I want to try on foundations or other items before buying, I generally think about it, check the reviews and the ingredients. I would never try something on by impulse. Also, if someone gives you a bottle of something that has functioned well on your skin, check the expiration date and whether the seal is broken before actually using it. I know this might sound hurtful to some friends, so do it privately. I trust and love all my friends too, but I just feel safer double checking anything that comes in contact with my face.
That's mostly everything I deem absolutely necessary. I know you would be bewildered because I said nothing about toners, moisturizers, exfoliants, cleansers and most importantly, developing a regimen. This is because I do not believe this is absolutely necessary for everyone.
Cleansers: My mother lived though an era where all the cleansers are super harsh, so you either do without or over clean. My mother chose the former, and just washed with water, unless she wore foundation (which is something she rarely did), and she still has beautiful skin.
Moisturizers: Skin has a natural ability to moisturize. Sometimes developing a regimen takes away or diminishes that natural ability. It is up to you whether you want to regulate your moisturization, or let you skin do the work (which it does wrong occasionally). I like to regulate it myself, but using your skin's natural ability is a good option as well. However, it is absolutely necessary to use moisturizers when you moved into a drier climate or is in a drier area that what your skin is generally used to. It can take your skin some time to adapt, and you should aid your skin during this transition period.
Exfoliants: Some dermatologist, including the one who opened up dermtv, believe that exfoliants are essential. Some even believe that exfoliants should be used daily. Is it true? I'm not an expert, so I cannot comment on that, but like moisturization, skin has a natural ability to exfoliate, only it does not do it as regularly as some people deem necessary. It generally takes 28 days for a full cycle of exfoliation, and that is quite sufficient in my opinion. However, if you would like to have softer skin for some special occasions, go ahead and use that exfoliant. Or if you have some tanned skin that you want to go away fast, go ahead and exfoliate. Just do not do it too often.
Toners: Yes, I use toners. In US, they are marketed as a fall back safe guard almost to have your face clean. In Asia, they are marketed as something that balance the ph value and may contain some acids that does some mild exfoliation. I use the Asian kind, since I believe some American kinds are too harsh. There is no research done to prove that it is absolutely necessary to balance the PH level of your skin for you to have good skin, but I do it anyway because I know it can't be harmful at least. If you are using the US kind however, I think they are unnecessary if you use the same amount of makeup and the same capable cleanser everyday (try not to actually rely your toner to remove anything). But it can't harm to use it, as long as you moisturize.
Okay, I am sorry for this horribly long article, and I hope it is helpful to some people.