I’d like to think that over the years (especially the last few) I’ve vastly improved my skin care routine and got a bit more of an understanding of what my skin needs, wants and benefits from. Looking not too far back in photos I can see a difference in my naked face, so I’d like to take some credit for knowing a little bit more about what I’m doing. Having said all of that I’m neither an expert nor trained in any way in the art of skincare but I did want to just share some tips I’ve picked up. So here’s a run down of all the skincare mistakes I used to make and the subsequent changes I’ve made!
Was I ever this naïve? None of these posts are meant to offend (and of course you can do what you like with your own skin) but I do implore you to bin the wipes if you are still using them as a form of makeup removal. I used to consider my skin clean after scouring over it with the mostly dry, abrasive cloth pulled from a packet of barely moist wipes, however they rarely contain any of the ingredients you need to break down facial oils, dirt and makeup and more often than not you’re just scrubbing bacteria into your skin. The wipes themselves contain preservatives which can be harsh and irritating and can actually cause breakouts and pigmentation. Unless you’re rinsing your face after using wipes, any ingredients they do contain also sit on your face until you barricade them in with your next layer of makeup – causing further irritation.
I used to suffer from red patches around my nose and cheeks which has completely cleared up since I switched up to a cleanser. I also wondered why my pores were constantly blocked and full of blackheads when I was “removing my makeup” every single night – but since ditching the wipes I’ve barely had to contend with those little black suckers dotting themselves across my hooter (more on blackheads later). On top of all this yucky stuff, the dragging and tugging needed to get any sort of result with a pesky wipe ages your skin and encourages sagging and wrinkles.
Additionally the environmental carnage that makeup wipes leave behind is quite shocking, with an average of 35 wipes found for every kilometre of beach! Wipes professing to be ‘flushable’ and ‘biodegradable’ are being generous with those terms at best and can take decades to actually biodegrade. Over the last 10 years the amount of makeup wipes being disposed of has increased by 400% and continues to rise 15% year on year. (Statistics from greenpeople.)
These days I prefer a gentle cleansing method such as an oil or butter which effectively breaks down makeup and requires minimal harsh scrubbing and tugging of the skin. My favourite at the moment is the Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter which melts away makeup with ease. Paired with my reusable microfibre cloth* that can be washed and reused many times over I find my makeup glides off easily and with minimal impact to the environment to boot. My skin feels squeaky clean, fresh and completely makeup free with these cleaning combo’s!
Sleeping in Makeup
This probably should have been first in the list as even half heartedly removing makeup with a wipe is (marginally) better than leaving it on completely. I used to be so guilty of letting laziness get the better of me and hitting the pillow with the remnants of the day still attached to my face, (usually after one too many glasses of Prosecco but there’s no danger of that these days!) promising myself an extra good wash come morning as I dived under the duvet. However I would always regret my decision upon waking up with crusty eyes flaked with old mascara and murky patches of foundation embedded in my pores.
It goes without saying that sleeping in your makeup clogs pores but it can actually speed up the aging process as your skin does most of it’s rejuvenating and shedding overnight – something it does far less effectively when it is constrained by that old layer of foundation. And although it isn’t on your skin, sleeping in mascara can strip your lashes of oils making them brittle and break. (To re-nourish those lashes I suggest using an overnight growth serum. I’ve tried many of the most popular on the market so watch out for a full breakdown of my favourites coming to the blog soon!)
Spots and blemishes will be the bonus prize with this habit and you’ll find them more prominent on your dominant sleeping side. I used to put breakouts down to oily skin, genes and general bad luck until the penny dropped. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I went to bed without a cleanse (even after the latest of nights on the town) and can’t believe the immediate difference to my skin, with far fewer breakouts than I’ve ever suffered. Who’d have thought something as simple as washing your face would be good for it… (Insert monkey covering face emoji here!)
Washing your face in the Shower
This isn’t necessarily an obvious one, unlike the first two points may be, but this is such a prolific mistake that we all make – mostly because we don’t realise it’s such a bad thing. Let’s pretend we’re taking a suitable face wash into the shower and not just having a quick scrub with our regular body wash (all sorts of wrong there but we’ll park that for now) and look at why else this may be damaging.
Mainly this comes down to water temperature. As my husband, with his third degree burns, will testify; I like my showers hotter than the sun (and, as is the female equivalent of leaving the toilet seat up, I never turn it down after my shower). Washing your face under water this hot can strip your face of oils and cause your skin to dry out. The skin on your face is far more sensitive than the skin on your body and will suffer a lot more at the hand of scalding water. It also benefits from a splash of cool water after cleansing and this isn’t as easy (nor desirable) to do in a shower scenario. Not to mention how much easier it is to ensure you’ve removed every scrap of makeup when you clean your face over sink/in front of mirror – I’m sure we’ve all emerged panda like from a refreshing shower, convinced we’ve done an ace job of getting rid of that jet black eyeliner!
Finally it’s all too tempting to just spread our body wash to our face for a quick, tertiary scrub – not only ineffective at properly removing makeup but the formulation of gels and foams designed for the body will rinse away those essential oils, raise the PH of your skin and dry it out, as well as block up those pores – a perfect breeding ground for blackheads.
I’ve mentioned blackheads a few times now so I think I’ll address those next…
Pore Strips and Blackhead Remover Tools
I’m going to make a claim, a claim that I myself once read (or heard) in the beauty world over and over before I finally trusted the process: prevention is better than cure. I remember struggling to find ways to get rid of blackheads quickly, effectively and permanently, despite reading endless blogs and watching myriads of videos that promised a good skin care and cleanse routine would eventually stop them forming. This wasn’t an instantaneous enough answer for me and I continued with my quest to rid my face of little black dots by sheer force.
My usual go to was a nice sticky pore strip that I would slap across my damp nose, wait until hard and peel off with sadistic pleasure at the sight of gunk leaving my face. I never successfully extracted more than a few at a time and within a few days my friends would return with a vengeance! The problem with pore strips is the sticky residue it leaves behind which in itself is an irritant leaving behind red, inflamed skin. Not to mention that peeling such a harsh substance from the skin (this includes home made egg masks – yes 5 Minute Crafts, I’m looking at you!) can break veins and capillaries around the nose and the very act of extraction leaves the pore open (often wider than before) and just ripe for welcoming in new dirt and grime. A treatment to shrink and diminish pores is far more successful in the long run.
Black head remover tools may seem like a safe option given they are used by dermatologists themselves, but without the proper training they can cause damage to skin and pores, sometimes even scarring the skin, and often you’re actually driving bacteria further into the skin causing more irritation and breakouts. Ew!
In an absolute emergency I have been known to still reach for the odd pore strip to deal with a particularly bad breakout immediately, but I predominantly now rely on oil cleansing, face steaming, masking and regular cleansing. (You’ll be able read about these techniques in yet another upcoming blogpost – I do like to give myself a to do list.)
Skipping the Sunscreen
To think it’s taken me to 33 to realise my skin needs protection from the sun every single day is quite shocking, especially when I think deep down we all know this fact. Apart from the obvious risks with sun exposure, not wearing an SPF on your face contributes to premature aging and dries out your skin. Given that one would always moisturise before foundation anyway, it seems silly not to choose a daily hydrator that contains SPF which is now exactly what I do as part of my routine. My go to for every day is the Nivea Sensitive Day Cream* which is also available in a tinted format if you want to wear this on it’s own. Lot’s of foundations and primers now also come packed with SPF which on it’s own is great or layered over your SPF moisturiser for even further protection. It also needs to be said that SPF should be applied generously to be effective and it’s recommended that around half a teaspoon be used for your face.
I can’t help but wonder if I’d introduced this step in my 20’s if I’d be quite so close to staring down the end of a Botox needle …
How many of the above steps are still part of your skincare routine? And are you convinced to ditch the bad habits? I’d also love to hear any of your skincare tips and what’s worked for improving your complexion!
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