The beginning of a new year is always a great time to look back, and reflect on what you've learnt over the last year, and assess the value of these lessons. Diets, Self-care, Work-life balance, Money habits...all of these are up for grabs on our journey to being better in 2019.
But what about Skincare?
Well, I looked back at what was an incredibly busy 2018 for me:
I finished my Marketing Diploma, finished working for a company I had been with for 5+ years, started taking up photography as a hobby (as well as this blog)..oh and had baby no.2, to name just a few.
But when I thought back on the things I have learnt most about this year...Skincare was definitely one of the biggest learning curves for me!
It's also one of the things that I am aiming to focus a little more on this year. I mean why is it that I shudder at the thought of paying £30+ for a good skincare product, but have no problem forking out on makeup when I need it?
I guess it's not as exciting or luxuriously packaged (Charlotte Tilbs, I'm looking at you!), but I've come to discover, it's definitely worth the investment.
So I plan to spend a bit more time in 2019 learning and reading up on everything Skincare, and plan to share what I find with you right here.
And judging by the fact that my post on Adapting The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine is still my most popular post to date, I'm guessing there is a fair bit of interest around the topic?
Ok, long rambly Intro: Tick! Let's get stuck in now...
10 Skincare Lessons & Tips I've learnt in a Year!
1) Hormones Play The Lead Role
I've had a relatively easy journey with my Skin over my teenage years and into my early twenties. It wasn't until I came off of the contraceptive pill, that I realised it probably had been regulating and masking various hormone issues. This included PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which came with a bunch of skin issues once that pill was no longer there.
Fast forward to my pregnancy last year with Baby No.2, and that is when my 'good skin years' finally caught up with me, and all hell broke loose.
Everyone told me it must be pregnancy hormones, but I was determined to do something to change my skin and the plethora of issue that were now surfacing across my face.
I tried a ton of masks, added in cleansers, and tried different toners. All that happened was my skin got angrier and more sensitive to all this product binging I was doing. Nothing really worked.
Hormones were King and ruled over every treatment. I did find some masks help calm my face. And The Ordinary's Azelaic Acid worked a treat on all the little texture bumps on my forehead, but nothing made all the problems go.
Sure enough, once pregnancy was over and my hormones slowly regulated, and so did my skin. It's definitely not gone back to its complete pre-problem stage, but it's definitely nowhere near as problematic.
2) K-Beauty Skincare is not just a 'Trend'!
K-Beauty (Korean Beauty) and J-Beauty (Japanese Beauty) are buzz words in the Beauty industry at the moment. The interest in Asian Beauty and Skincare has surged over the last year - and brought with it a whole host of new products and routines that people have become fascinated with.
In particular, the glowing 'glass-skin' faces of Korean Beauty has sparked interest in their Skincare principles. Then we learnt it can take 10-steps to achieve this look (*gasp*), and one of the steps alone can be applied 7 times (*double gasp*).
So you'd think this is a trend that will come and go quickly, because 'really, who has time for this?' But, no this is one that is here to stay!
The increase in Korean products available in the UK (& US), the general increase in interest in Skincare, as well as some of these gorgeously packaged products being sold at really affordable prices - all point to this being a 'trend' that will only get bigger in 2019.
I even wondered into Selfridges in London last week and noticed they have now dedicated a little section to Korean Skincare alone.
3) Add extra steps to your routine
I've already touched on the excessive 10-step routine...but this is the lessons I learnt in trying this out was that adding just a few extra steps to your routine - really does make a difference!
10-steps was never going to be realistic for me, but even 5 steps was a big jump from my usual 'makeup remover and moisturise' routine.
I started slowly and added in an extra cleanser, before trying out some serums and sheet masks.
And have I managed to keep this up every night?
No, of course not! I have two kids (one of them only 7 months old atm) - I'm happy if I get to shower, brush my teeth, and pee in peace!
But I do my best to add in as many of the steps whenever I do get the chance, and whenever I do...I notice such a difference in terms of how healthy my skin looks.
So whether it's adding in a toner or some sort of skin treatment, or a serum - it really has been benefiting my skin.
Masks have been my biggest one...but more on that next -->
4) If in doubt, Use a Mask!
There are all sorts of skin issues you can come across: congestion, texture, redness, sensitivity, dryness to name a few.
And as I already learnt those pesky hormones (f**k you Hormones!), can creep up on you and cause any problem at any time. Usually, when you have some sort of function/event/occasion you want to look nice for of course *rolls eyes*.
But lesson numero 4...There is a Mask for EVERYTHING! So if in doubt...use a Mask! The 2016 & 2017 'Me' thought that face masks were just there to pull the nasties out of your pores. You know, those thick Clay masks that were everywhere!
But turns out that was merely the beginning. They now do everything from cleansing, soothing redness, tightening and brightening, plumping and even exfoliating. And come in clays, paper sheets, gel-like textures, overnight creams and even ones that foam on your face like a bubble-bath (it's odd!).
I try and do a face mask of some sort every couple of weeks (or more if I remember) and I have found some great ones along the way. My biggest tip is don't head for the shop...the real gems I've found online.
5) Microbeads are OUT. Gentle exfoliation is IN!
I used to 'scrub' my face with this daily face wash with tiny little microbeads in them that were supposedly removing all the dead skin from my face.
My face was always a tad red after, and I had the 'gentlest' of gentle scrubs. But the more I scanned online, the more I read that actually these are not great for everyone's skin.
Or for the environment either. In fact, Microbeads were banned last year in the UK!
Supposedly (hey, I'm no skin expert so I'm just the messenger here), they can also cause teeny tiny tears in the skin that we can't see which are not great, especially for sensitive skin.
Gentle exfoliation seems to be the way forward, and my skin has definitely responded better since I've learnt this lesson.
Gentle exfoliation could include some of the Electric Face Cleansers, a Konjac Sponge or chemical exfoliants such as AHA's.
6) Acids are Good!
...and NOT as scary as they sound!
Why is it, the word 'acids' conjure up some 10th-grade science lesson experiment in my head where the 'scary' acids burned something into a puff of smoke?
Well, this is not the case with these, ha! These 'Acids' found in our skincare products are far from scary, and like I mentioned above, can be used as a gentle alternative to exfoliating scrubs.
I won't go into the 'sciencey' bit (for fear of bringing back that smoking test tube fear again) but there are two main types of Acids you'll come across:
AHA's (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) - Gently exfoliate the surface of the skin, and can help with signs of ageing or other surface irregularities. You might see in the form of Glycolic or Lactic Acid.
BHA's (Beta Hydroxy Acids) - Can penetrate the skin's surface and clear out pores and reduce oiliness. Most likely in the form of Salicylic Acid.
I personally use AHA based products as don't have oily or blemish-prone skin at the moment, and I have definitely noticed it give me a more glowy complexion after I use them.
7) You don't have to spend a fortune on Skincare products!
While there are still a lot of fantastic high high-end skincare products out there...in 2018 I learnt that there is definitely a rise in affordable skincare products.
I feel like The Ordinary (Deciem) set the tone, by introducing affordable skincare ingredients for a fraction of the cost of what they are sold for in their high-end alternatives.
But, with affordability, they also brought confusion. Most of us had never read the ingredients label on a skincare product before, and so it all seemed like an alien language. But with a bit of education, some thorough guides and helpful reviews, people realised quickly that they were on to something.
The Korean skincare products have also slowly made it onto the 'virtual shelves' and appearing on places like Amazon, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty. And some of these brands are pricing their products so that they are accessible and worth trying out!
So yes, while I still lust after La Mer's products, I'm also happy knowing I can pick up some great products to add into my routine, without breaking the bank.
8) Hydration (Inside & Out) is important for all skin types!
Ok, so we all know that we should drink more water right? For me, this is a constant battle. I even bought a hydration bottle (you can see it here) but I'm still finding I really struggle to drink as much water as I should be.
But when I do, it really makes such a difference to my skin. It makes it look plump and glowy and the smile lines and frown lines (yup I have those now...*sigh*) a lot less visible.
When I was struggling with skin congestion and breakouts during pregnancy, my instinct was to not want to put too many creams on my skin and essentially 'dry it out'. I've since learnt this is not the way forward, as your skin even with a breakout needs hydration. If you deprive it, it can go into overdrive and over-produce oils to compensate for the lack of moisture and actually make your skin more congested.
So hydration really is still important, whatever the skin situation.
While I used to just use one moisturiser before bed, I have now played around with overnight sleep masks, serums and face oils, all to pump a bit of extra hydration in there.
9) Skincare first, Makeup second!
So my gran preached the importance of skincare since I was little. But once I started to wear makeup, I naively thought 'well, who cares if I cover it up anyhow?'
But over the years, and particularly last year when my skin did start acting up...I realised skincare also played a big role in how my makeup would look.
The more effort I put into ensuring my skin is looking it's best, the better my makeup applies and sits on top. And I end up using a lot less makeup as there are fewer problems to cover up. Win win!
This may seem like the most obvious *duh* moment of all of the lessons...but this year marked a change in my focus. My focus from buying 'tons of makeup to mask' --> to first sorting and treating the problem, and ensuring the base is really taken care of first.
10) Skincare is Personal!
What works for one, doesn't always work for others. Your skin is affected by hormones, diet, hydration levels, genes, environmental factors to name just a few. And how your skin reacts to a product will depend on all of these and more.
So while I've read a ton of reviews of skincare products this year, I do also make a little mental note to remember that skincare should be personalised. What my skin needs may be different from everyone else's at that time. It's up to me to really think about what I need vs. what the latest trendy or pretty packaged product is.
This is another reason I appreciate all the affordable/reasonable skincare products that hit the shelves. We can really test out what works for our own skin...without crying that this £100 miracle cream actually broke you out in spots.
So remember your skin is as individual as you are! Go cautiously with adding new products to your skincare routines and learn to adapt it as you go along. Assess what kind of 'skin day' you're having and go with it.
Hey, it's all a journey and I'm enjoying learning about it along the way.
So there you have it. My 10 Skincare Lessons & Tips that I took away from 2018...and will hopefully remember going forward!
I'd love to know if learnt any lessons over the last year? Or made any good Skincare routine changes?
Hope you're having a great start to the year!