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A Beginner’s Guide To Skin Care

A Beginner’s Guide To Skin Care

Chances are that you have read a few of these articles and blogs already so let’s dive right into it. Side note: when anyone uses the, ‘dive right in’ phase, I am reminded of my high school PDHPE teacher and it lowkey runs a chill down my spine but we shall use it here anyway. Love, don’t judge.

Depending on who you ask, skincare can be everything from a complex science that involves 18 different serums and a magical potion that only A-list celebs seem to have access to or it’s somehow a simple concoction of olive oil and ‘essential herbs’ your grandmother has been using for twenty years. To put it simply, there is a wide range of advice that is good… and not so good. Sorry, granny.

As we all continue to understand the importance of skincare and how it can affect signs of ageing, pigmentation, scarring, acne, and our overall level of confidence, it is important we get a hold of this ASAP (no pun intended if you’re a fan of asap skin products).

The most important thing to note here is that, as with many things in life, we are all unique and wonderful in different ways. This goes for your skincare routine as well. So, although your grandmother’s olive oil and herb recipe might seem to help with her age-defying, wrinkle-reducing regimen, it is always best to see what works best for you.

What do we really mean when we refer to “skin care”?

When referring to skin care or skincare (awaiting attack from the Internet Intellectuals), we mean the basic care of your largest organ – your skin! It plays an important role in protecting you from outside pathogens and, you know, casually holds all your internal organs in place. In the same way that you regularly brush your teeth, your skin requires attention to keep it functioning properly (and glowing).

It also requires protection from its dual enemy and lover – the sun. Yes, I know, it’s a weird balance that my toxic desire for a golden tan can’t seem to figure out. But ANYWAY… when we are talking about skincare at Troya Beauty, we are talking about scientifically proven ways to help improve both the look and function of your skin and to address and manage any cosmetic or medical concerns. That is our definition of effective skincare in a nutshell.

What do you need to know before starting a new skincare regimen?

Before figuring out what to include in your skin-care routine, it’s important to know your skin type and if you have any concerns you want to address. It’s good to remember that everyone’s regimen is different. What works for your friends, family, or randoms on Reddit may not work for you.

Let’s first figure out your skin type. So, think about how your skin acts without any makeup or products on it a few hours after taking a shower. If it gets greasy or shiny, you probably have oily skin. If it feels dry or flaky, you most likely have dry skin. If you have dry skin in some places and oily skin in others (usually on the T-zone), it sounds like you have combination skin. If you have none of those things, you’re considered to have “normal” skin (you lucky b**ch). Knowing your skin type will help steer you toward products that will manage dryness and oiliness while effectively taking care of any other skin concerns you have.

If your skin tends to get irritated when you use certain products, or you’ve had an allergic reaction to a product, or you have certain skin conditions on your face (eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, etc.) you may have sensitive skin. People with sensitive skin can have oily, dry, combination, or normal skin too but may need to take extra care in selecting products that don’t cause further irritation.

You don’t always need to see a dermatologist before starting a skin-care routine. But if you have sensitive skin (or aren’t sure if your skin qualifies as sensitive), if you have a skin condition, or if you’re trying to address any specific concerns (such as stubborn or severe acne or hyperpigmentation), it’s important to check in with a dermatologist who can guide you through the process.

So, what are the basic steps of a skin-care routine?

Skin care doesn’t have to be complicated if you don’t want it to be. The three initial and basic steps of a skin-care routine are cleansing, moisturising, and applying sunscreen (at least SPF 30 and broad spectrum). You should cleanse then moisturise every morning and night. You should also apply sunscreen every morning, but you can use a moisturiser that has at least 30 SPF and broad-spectrum protection to combine those two steps. You can use a daytime moisturiser with SPF at night too, although you may find that a thicker product is more moisturising and better suited for nighttime application because you don’t need to worry about being able to put makeup over it.

If you wear a lot of makeup or sunscreen during the day, you may find that your cleanser doesn’t get all the product off or still leaves you feeling greasy. In that case, you might benefit from double cleansing, a process in which you wash first with an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser or micellar water on a cotton pad to remove anything left behind. This is not a necessity. Serums, toners, exfoliants, and prescription treatments should be applied after cleansing and before moisturising.

Addressing specific concerns

This is where products that contain specific active ingredients (known as “actives” by skin-care enthusiasts) come in. Active ingredients are chemicals or compounds in a product that are actually treating your skin for the concern the product is supposed to treat it for. For example, if you buy a product to help treat your acne, the active ingredient is the ingredient doing most of the work to clear up your acne.

The active ingredients to use for skincare

Picking the right active ingredients depends on the skin concern(s) you’re hoping to address. Here are a few of the most common issues:

Ageing – Ingredients to use for ageing skincare

Retinoids: Retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and synthetic retinoids are one of only two proven ways to prevent the signs of aging. Psst… the other is sunscreen. Retinoids, which are forms of vitamin A, work by stimulating the skin-cell-shedding process from below, leading to smoother skin and a reduction in signs of aging and acne. Retinoids can cause irritation when you start using them, so it’s good to apply them a few days a week to start with and to apply a moisturiser right after application.

Sunscreen: You’ve likely used sunscreen before and know what it is for. But did you know that U.V. rays can also contribute to other kinds of damage? And that damage can cause dark spots, wrinkles, and other signs of aging? Be sure to use a sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30 and provides broad-spectrum protection, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The sunscreen in your makeup doesn’t count as your daily SPF but the sunscreen in your moisturiser may so be sure to look out for this.

Niacinamide: A form of vitamin B3 that can be applied to the skin. There is research to suggest that it can help with managing acne, rosacea, and signs of aging (including hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles).

Ceramides: Ceramides fill in the spaces between your skin cells in the outer protective layer of skin. Your skin makes ceramides on its own. Without them, your skin won’t be able to effectively hold moisture in or keep irritants out. Topical ceramides may be present in both prescription treatments for eczema and over-the-counter products.

Vitamin C: We’ve all heard it. This vitamin is essential for producing collagen and other important compounds in the body. And when it’s applied topically, it can function as an antioxidant, thus preventing U.V. or sun damage. It can also inhibit the production of melanin (pigment) in the skin, making it a good option for lightening dark spots due to photoaging or other kinds of damage. But beware that all forms of vitamin C are not created equal. Some are more or less effective or stable than others. Vitamin C often appears on the label as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl 6-palmitate, ascorbic acid sulfate, or L-ascorbic acid (AKA ascorbic acid).

Peptides: Ah yes, the building blocks of proteins. They’re made up of short chains of amino acids. In the realm of skin-care, we talk about peptides as building up collagen, a protein your skin needs to keep its structure. Different types of peptides might do the job of bolstering your collagen in different ways, but the most common ones are signaling peptides, which can both stimulate the skin’s collagen production and slow down the natural breakdown of collagen.

Acne – Ingredients to use for acne skincare

Retinoids: (see above)

Chemical exfoliants: You may be familiar with exfoliants such as scrubs and brushes. While those are perfectly effective at removing dead skin that clogs pores, they’re not always gentle. That’s why countless dermatologists recommend to stick with chemical exfoliants, which include both alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs (such as lactic acid and glycolic acid), and beta hydroxy acids, or BHAs (essentially just salicylic acid). Rather than physically scrubbing the dead skin cells off your face, these break down the bonds between those cells so that you can easily wipe them away. They’re present in all kinds of products, including cleansers, toners, masks, and serums.

Benzoyl peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide can kill the type of bacteria that’s often responsible for inflamed acne. That’s why it’s recommended to use both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid to help manage mild to moderate acne. For more severe acne, a retinoid or other prescription treatment may be necessary. Both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can also irritate or dry out skin, so it’s important to also use a moisturiser when using these ingredients.

Niacinamide: (see above)

Azelaic acid: Synthesized by yeast, barley, and wheat. Believed to have a gentle exfoliating effect. Research has shown it’s effective at managing acne and acne-like bumps that are a common symptom of rosacea.

Scars and discolouration or hyperpigmentation – Ingredients to use for scars and discolouration or hyperpigmentation

Vitamin C: (see above)

Chemical exfoliants: (see above)

Retinoids: (see above)

Sunscreen: Prevents dark spots from getting darker (see more above). Research increasingly suggests that visible light may be a factor in hyperpigmentation, especially melasma. Some recommend that people trying to manage those issues look for sunscreens containing iron oxides, which block visible light, in addition to other SPF ingredients. You’ll have to check the ingredients to find out if your sunscreen has them, but know that sunscreens with a tint usually have iron oxides.

Hydroquinone: The gold standard of brightening ingredients, hydroquinone is available over-the-counter at (concentrations of up to 2%) and via prescription in higher strengths.

Dry and sensitive skin – Ingredients to use for dry and sensitive skin

Hyaluronic acid: Found naturally in the skin and acts as a humectant, meaning it can draw moisture into the skin. Products with these molecules allow moisture to bind to the skin without feeling greasy or heavy.

Squalane oil: A light moisturising oil that emulates a component of sebum. There is limited research on the effect of topical squalane on skin, but in general it acts like an emollient when applied, which means that it can squeeze into the spaces between skin cells and make your face feel smoother and more moisturised without being heavy or occlusive.

Colloidal Oatmeal: Made from grinding oats and mixing them with water or other liquid, which creates a mixture that can provide a soothing, protective barrier on the skin. Experts recommend it specifically for dry and sensitive skin, including skin that’s actively irritated, in which the skin’s natural barrier may need some extra help.

Bakuchiol: A plant extract that some early research suggests can have a beneficial effect on skin, particularly with regard to managing signs of aging, without irritation. It’s often called a “natural retinol alternative,” although it doesn’t have the same amount of conclusive evidence behind it. But experts say bakuchiol may be a good option – especially if your skin is too sensitive for retinoids.

Niacinamide: (see above)

Ceramides: (see above)

SUMMARY

As you can see, my original point about understanding that your skincare routine is an individual journey is important to taking steps in improving your skin’s health. After nailing down your skin type, point out any specific skin concerns you might have (taking into account any allergies or sensitivities you may have) and then go from there. One thing that I didn’t touch on much is the importance of a balanced diet, hydration, adequate sleep, stress/hormone levels, and all the other factors which you secretly know come into play (can’t fool me). For holistic and comprehensive results, please be sure to focus on a well-rounded approach. I know it isn’t advice you want to hear but it’s necessary to consider it. Those late-night, junk-food fueled Netflix sessions ain’t helping (guilty). But, it’s a learning process and we are on this journey together.

If you’re in the market for new skincare products, just check out what we have on offer below. All our products are categorised to meet your skin type and skin concerns so use the filters on the side of the page to find what is best suited to you. If you need further help, our team is here for you.

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