Written by: Phindile Le Bris Sithole-Spong
..I can remember distinctly the day I decided to take my skincare routine seriously. Like any newbie, I was overwhelmed by the entire process and offering available to me. As someone who has fairly good skin, there was no one concern I wanted to address. Which made finding products and the perfect “do-all” routine that much more difficult. In search of the perfcet skincare routine and skincare products I first turned to my girlfriends. I wanted to hear first hand from people I knew and loved what had worked for them. And I was surprised by how many had a similar routine and even similar products. Next I took to the internet to do some research. There I got to find out more about various products what they do and how to use them correctly.
A few years in and I can confidently say I have a routine and an idea of what to use and how. Which is why I thought I'd share my findings with you all. After all, what good is hours of research if I don't get to share it?
- Remove makeup & days pollutants: I know many websites and blogs recommend starting right away with a cleanser, but over the years I have found that starting with a makeup remover or micellar water of some kind gives my skin that extra clean feel I want. It's not only for removing makeup, but also pollution and grime from the day. Personally I like to use the Bioderm make-up remover (If I am wearing makeup). Then I like to follow it up with an oil cleanser (which I use whether I'm wearing makeup or not). This may seem like a lot, but I have found especially as I get older and with a baby who touches EVERYTHING and my face. Making sure my skin is prepped for washing ensures the next steps do their job. Also I like how luxurious the whole process is and really take my time. If this feels like I bit much. I would recommend skipping the oil cleanser and making sure to use a makeup remover of some sort BEFORE cleansing if you wear makeup.
- Cleanser: This is the holy grail of a good skincare routine. And whilst it may seem pretty basic. How you cleanse and what products you chose to use depend on your needs. For instance if you have oily or combination skin like me you might want to turn to a foam cleanser. Or if your skin is on the dry side, try an oil or gel cleanser that isn't stripping.
- Toner: This is another one of those steps that seems useless until you see how much gunk is still left on your skin after a clean. Not only that but a good toner also helps to balance the ph of your skin and get the products that follow to do their job affectively. Which is why I never skip this step no matter what. Personally I like to use my own mix of hydrating rose water which I mix with a little bit of apple cider vinegar and some witch hazel to clear up any spots.
- Eye cream/serum: I never quite bought into eye creams until I found myself sleeping less than 6 hours a night. Now I find myself grabbing it and using it both day and night for under eye circles which can make you look older than you are.
- Serums and essences: I don't splurge on much in my day to day but I will easily splurge on a good serum. After all a good serum is like vitamins for your skin. I like to use one for day and one for night. What you use also depends on your skin care concerns. But from all the research I have ever read, the three you should consider having are; hyaluronic acid for moisture retention, vitamin C for collagen production (which is the stuff that keeps your skin nice and plump) and retinol for evening out skin tone. Personally I use all three. Choosing to use the vitamin C every morning. And turning to hyaluronic acid for night time and using retinol once or twice a week as it is a very active ingredient.
- Face cream: Finding a good face cream can take months and even years to do. And if I am being honest I am not even sure I have found my go to cream yet. Never the less I still moisturize my face every day no matter what.
- Sunscreen: Thank goodness for my mother because this is one lesson I learnt from her. Being a dark skinned girl, I never would have thought using sunscreen was important. But watching my mother use it on her face every single day and encourage me to do the same has helped me appreciate this simple step. Not only because I grew up in South Africa where the sun can be particularly harsh. But also because a good sunscreen is also an essential part of reducing premature signs of aging. For darker skinned girls I would recommend using an SPF30 and for the fairer skinned ladies I would go higher. What ever you do though do not skip this step. And make sure to find a sunscreen you like and will use every day come rain or sun.
- Weekly exfoliation and masking: Ok I know you thought I was done but hear me out. Nothing keeps your skin clean and clear like a good mask. Personally I have been using the body shop tea tree clay mask for years and love how it helps to repair and hydrate my skin. The best thing about masking is also that unless you really want to and have the budget. It is something you can do yourself. Recently I bought a face steamer and I am obsessed with it. I start by using a light exfoliator after removing my make up. And follow this up with a steam. If you don't have a steamer I would suggest boiling water and pouring into a bowl then covering your head over it with a towel. Allowing the steam to open your pores get rid of any pollution and junk from your skin. Afterwards I apply my mask with a clean foundation brush and let it do its magic for about 20 minutes. I then rinse it off, tone, use a serum and moisturizer and call it a day. Ideally you want to mask at night and therefore don't need to put on SPF. But also it allows the ingredients to do their magic and really go into your skin as you sleep.