A Basic Bitch Guide To Skincare: We Asked An Expert To Separate The Fact From Fiction
Growing up with information right at our fingertips can be super handy but it can also be overwhelming when you’re trying to seek advice on anything to do with wellness, beauty, skincare, and fitness.
There’s no right or wrong answer for one person and sometimes the information overload can cause your head to (metaphorically) burst. Should we start using anti-ageing products in our twenties? Do they even do anything? Should we all be taking things with added collagen? Why isn’t acne just a teen thing? WTF is a serum anyway? Have I lost the plot?
It’s common to have a lot of questions, especially in a world inundated with products promising to turn you into a supermodel or, at the very least, give you the youthful complexion of someone vying to win The Bachelor‘s heart.
We had a chat to Olay‘s skincare expert and principal scientist David Khoo to try and separate some of the fact from fiction when it comes to your skincare routine.
Sunscreen should be a fundamental part of your everyday skincare routine:
We all know by now that damaging UV rays can accelerate ageing, but it’s common to have concerns that slathering sunscreen on your face may cause your skin to break out.
“It does make a difference to choose a sunscreen that’s suitable for your skin and that you enjoy using. This will ensure that you apply generous amounts of sunscreen so you get the right level of protection,” David said.
“You might be put off using the right amount if it is too thick or greasy, and that means you end up not getting the advertised protection! There are poorly formulated sunscreens out there, and they can be difficult to spread, potentially leaving you with uncovered areas that get sunburned.”
Thankfully a lot of beauty brands are taking in these concerns and making primers and moisturisers with in-built SPF protection. It might take some testing to find the right fit for you, but making sure that whatever you use does have added sun protection means it can effortlessly become a part of your morning routine.
There’s one specific anti-ageing ingredient people should be looking for in their products, that also helps with redness and discolouration:
David told us that one well-studied ingredient known for its anti-ageing benefit is Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3.
“Individuals deficient in Niacinamide develop severe skin symptoms in a condition known as pellagra, so we know that this ingredient is essential for skin health. But we also know that when used in a formula that efficiently delivers Niacinamide into your skin, it has been clinically proven to even out skin tone, reduce red blotchiness, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. ”
You can lighten dark under-eye circles:
If, like me, you spend so much time trying to catch up on every TV show and book in the world that you forget to sleep, well we’ve got good news.
“Dark circles can be caused by a variety of issues, from increased pigmentation, thinning of the skin and even the loss of skin elasticity and subcutaneous fat with age,” David explained. “We use a range of ingredients such as Niacinamide, Peptides, Retinyl Propionate and N-Acetyl Glucosamine to rejuvenate and strengthen the skin around the eye. In one study, our Olay Ultimate Eye cream found that 86% of the women who used the product agreed that it reduces dark circles or discolouration around the eyes!”
Confused by serums? This is what they’re all about:
“Serums tend to have lower levels of occlusive agents (ingredients that provide a moisture sealing layer over your skin), emollients (hydrating, skin-softening ingredients) and pigments (dyes) so they end up feeling more lightweight, see-through and absorbent,” David said.
“They’re popular because they serve as an intermediate step between cleansing and moisturising so your skin feels more richly nourished without feeling weighed down. Not to mention you get an added boost of skin actives to kickstart your skin to recovery if it’s been looking sluggish.”
If you remember one thing, remember to always cleanse:
Even if you don’t have makeup on and you cleansed the night before, cleansing is the first important step in your beauty routine. David also said makeup wipes are a totally OK way to remove excess makeup before cleansing the skin. “Once you’ve cleansed your skin, it’s important to replenish it with nourishing moisturisers and rejuvenating actives,” he said.
Should we all be using Micellar water? Is it really that necessary?
“If you have dry sensitive skin and don’t want to use a harsh cleanser to remove your makeup, Micellar water can come in handy,” David said. “But it works best for makeup that is water-soluble.”
The deal on exfoliating:
“As far as at-home treatments go, there are two kinds of exfoliants – Chemical and Mechanical exfoliants,” David told us.
“There isn’t necessarily a better option as it really depends on your skin type: If you have dry, sensitive skin, you may want to try a cleanser with chemical exfoliants such as alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids. These are considered milder and more suitable for skin that is easily irritated. If on the other hand you have oily, rougher skin that seems to be quiet resilient, you could consider a mechanical exfoliant, such as a cleansing scrub or a sponge.
“Whether you are using a chemical or mechanical exfoliant, it’s good to start slow, maybe once a week, and then gradually increase the frequency. If you start to experience irritation or breakouts, you should ease off.”
And as for the most common skincare misconception that you shouldn’t pay attention to:
“There’s a common misconception that your skin can become unresponsive after using the same products over a long period of time. This sometimes leads some people to switch products so often that they accumulate a ‘skincare graveyard’ – a collection of products in their drawer or bathroom cabinet that they stopped using because they didn’t believe it works. It may not be because the product isn’t working, it may be because your skin is too fatigued to respond to ingredients.”
Olay’s research into this has inspired them to create a range of new products, including the Magnemask range that can help jumpstart your skin.