I love love love skincare. It feels good, makes me feel good about myself and keeps spots at bay when I’ve slept with makeup on. A lot of people just are not fussed and why should they be? Arguably there is no need to wash your face with any except water, let alone with a whole different soap just for your face!
In case skincare is completely alien to you, we’re not talking about makeup or waxing or any other expensive treatments marketed to “improve” your looks, it’s purely about actions of caring for the largest organ on our bodies with or without the use of products. That’s right, your skin is pretty much the biggest, heaviest part of you with an adult’s skin weighing on average 3.6kg and in comparison, the second largest organ, our liver, seems almost small at roughly 1.2kg.
Makes sense, our skin is our protective layer and in these modern times, it protects us from a hell of a lot of nasty stuff. All day long, our skin is assaulted with chemicals from car exhausts, cleaning and a mix of general unidentifiable dirt and grease that settles from the various chemical gasses in the air. All this dirt and grease clogs up our pores and causes spots and that’s just one source of skin concerns.
There are also hereditary conditions like psoriasis and eczema (these can also develop for other reasons) along with your run of the mill, freak occurrences of rashes, burns and alcohol ingestion.
So, let’s get into it, first the basics, then we’ll get to some specific problems.
Just before I get into some of the go-to hacks I have for specific skin concerns, let’s rehash the basics for a fresh face:
1) Water, water and more water
I’m not talking about drowning your self in it or drinking so much that you feel you might pop, just always have some water with you. Always. If you don’t want to hear it from me then remember teachers, loved ones or whoever it is whose influence you appreciate.
2) Don’t drink alcohol
I mean if you’re like me, then this is aspirational. To those of you reading who are sober, please teach the rest of us how!
Anyway, alcohol causes vasodilation – if you wake up and your skin has an “interesting” tinge of colour or puffiness, that’s the alcohol’s fault. Go long enough without taking a break from the ol’ ethanol and you may well cause irreparable damage such as rosacea, (extra) fine lines, (extra) wrinkles and highly visible pores.
Our skin is a master regenerator but why push things to the limits. Even on an overcast day those UV rays can get through and cause sun damage. So, using sunscreen from head-to-toe all year round may be a little overboard but your face will love you for it. Invest in a face cream or foundation with SPF and you’ll be good to go and help keep the beauty you’re born with sun blemish free.
4) Avoid Smoking
I mean duh. We all know about this s***.
Addressing Specific Concerns
Remember to use any of the tips given below together with ‘The Basics’ above to really tackle these problems.
We all get spots from time to time but an angry, reoccurring, flare up involving pain and irritation can cross into the territory of acne. Generally, spots and acne are caused by overactive sebaceous glands; it’s the build-up of our natural “grease” and other skin debris which causes the pores to clog et voilá we have a spot.
So, spots can be inevitable, but leaving them to get the better of us doesn’t have to be! Here are some of my tried and tested methods for sending that spot back to where it came from:
(P.S. I am no expert, just an average Joette sharing what has worked for me)
- Use an ice cube on the inflamed area to cool the skin and restrict your veins causing some of the redness to subside
- Use a clearing mask like GlamGlow’s SuperMud which is gentle enough to apply as often as you need but still very effective (the difference between my spots before and after with this product were amaaaaaaaazing)
- Avoid exfoliators – it’s tempting to try and encourage the skin to regenerate but unless you have found an exfoliator specifically for spots and irritated skin then avoid, avoid, avoid (especially if you suffer from acne)!
- Instead of exfoliating you could try using products which contain Salicylic acid such as Aveeno’s Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser. This requires real commitment from you as the results can take weeks to show but apparently it’s really worth it.
- Another over-the-counter chemical which can be used to fight acne is Benzoyl Peroxide although side-effects of use include redness, hyperpigmentation and dryness/peeling until the treatment is over.
Highly Visible Pores
Now I nearly said ‘Open Pores’ here but that is a common misconception; our pores have to be and will always be open, to allow our skin to “breathe”, therefore ‘open’ doesn’t describe the problem. The problem is how bloody visible pores can be. Sometimes it feels like we’ve done everything we can to have gorgeous, glowing skin but the last nagging detail, staring us in the face, is our pores. Ew. Nasty, necessary things.
How does this problem happen? Genetics and skin oil (or sebum) build up leading to pores looking like straight up holes on our faces. Not much we can do about the genetic side of things but what we can do is take care of that excess oil and minimise the appearance of the pores.
Using a face wash and especially one that’s right for your skin type helps to keep your sebum production under control and therefore keep your pores looking as small as possible. To go a step further, add a toner to your routine, but nothing too strong or it will strip all the sebum from your skin and cause it to produce even more oil!
If you’re prepared to spend an extra 10-15 minutes then try a pore strip which removes dirt lodged in your pores and “tightens” them or a charcoal mask to draw out impurities in a more pampering way.
Whatever you do or don’t do, squeezing is not the answer. I repeat, squeezing is not the answer. I found that out the hard way.
This unpleasant and uncomfortable condition can develop as a result of passed down genes or environmental factors. Psoriasis develops when the rate of cell replication in that area of skin is much faster than normal and it is characterised by the red, crusty, flaky and itchy patches of skin which form especially on areas like elbows and shins.
Apparently, for our skin, there is such a thing as too efficient.
Whilst it isn’t curable, treatment is readily available from the doctor and can have your skin back to normal within six weeks… but that’s a long time frame! There is plenty you can do in the meantime to help relieve that discomfort and encourage your skin to heal itself ASAP:
- Bathing – if you have a bath at your disposal, jump in but leave out the bubbles and opt for something like Epsom salts, ground oats or a splash of olive oil. The warm moist environment will soothe the affected areas and help to remove the dry skin gently. If you are sans bath, fill up a mixing bowl with warm water and just a tablespoon of your chosen ingredient and use the solution for warm compresses for your sore spots. Make sure to pat, not rub, yourself dry.
- Moisturise – look for any fragrance-free product with a consistency you like and apply liberally after each bath/shower to keep the moisture in your skin and keep the itchiness at bay.
- Get some sun – UV rays are great for helping the skin heal, so opt to lay in the sun or realistically in the UK, hop on a sunbed 2-3 times a week (always with sunscreen) for 6-10 minutes to soothe your skin and encourage the healing process.
Here we have another condition that brings discomfort as well as changes to the physical appearance of skin. Rosacea starts with periodic flushing, i.e. rosy cheeks like you’ve just run a race (minus the sweating), with other symptoms like stinging, permanent redness, visible blood vessels and spots following as the condition progresses. Like any condition, there are bad times and not so bad times which you can have some control over by avoiding triggers. For Rosacea sufferers, the most common triggers (taken from the NHS website) are:
- Exposure to sunlight
- Hot or cold weather (so, basically weather?!)
- Hot drinks
- Foods e.g. spicy stuff
So that’s what to avoid, now, what do you do? Be gentle. Whatever you do, it’s going to be gentle as if your skin were a baby; lukewarm water, mild, alcohol and fragrance-free cleansers and creams to protect and moisturise your skin. There are always topical ointments and treatments but these are way out my limited area of expertise so to find out about those options, make an appointment with a dermatologist.
And That’s a Wrap
Boom, there it is. A hopefully clear explanation of skincare and maybe even some ideas that might encourage you to experiment with a routine of your own.
Want more content or interested in my skincare routine? Links to my skincare routines appear here shortly.
Tell me about your skin concerns in the comments and if you don’t know where to start maybe I can help you out.