There are countless articles out there that contain "hacks" that will transform your acne-covered face into a Korean skin model. While shopping for products, you've probably bumped into those cleansers that "magically" unclog your pores and remove your acne for you overnight. And YOU have most definitely looked in the mirror and said, "I need better skin."
I have stumbled upon every single one of those things, tried far a many products, and looked at my skin too many times and wondered why I couldn't have perfect, clear white skin like those Korean supermodels. I have read too many articles that claim to contain tips that work for everybody when in reality, they don't. But most importantly, I have gone through a journey with my skincare routine filled with ups and downs, and through those experiences I have compiled together a list of 5 things that I initially thought when I first began skincare, why they're not necessarily beneficial, and what you can do instead.
A common recurring theme that I will emphasize throughout this article is that EVERYBODY'S SKIN TYPE IS DIFFERENT, and that based on your skin type you should build a routine that tailors to your skin's specific needs.
With this in mind, let's get into some misconceptions.
1. You should wash your face at least 2 times a day
One tip I have seen in almost every "how to get clear skin" article is to wash your face at least twice a day; here's why this isn't necessarily the case. The frequency of how often you wash your skin should be based your skin type. If you have excessively oily skin, it'll most definitely be helpful to wash it in once in the morning, once at night, and after every time you sweat.
I have combination skin, and I washed my face twice a day for almost the entirety of the first year I started doing skincare. I thought nothing of the pimples that were popping up in the middle of my face and the excessive dryness because I thought that it was just a phase and that my skin was "clean" because I was washing it twice a day. But then I stopped washing my face in the morning for about a week, and noticed that the pimples had stopped coming, and that my face was PERFECTLY FINE throughout the day even though I hadn't cleansed in the morning. I had been washing my face in the morning, stripping the natural oils and replacing it with a moisturizer when in reality, my face could have been becoming clearer and cleaner with its natural oils.
So before you wash your face the next day, really think about your skin type and how often your skin really needs to be cleaned. If you have oily skin, consider washing your face twice a day with gentle cleansers and light moisturizers (still moisturize even if you have oily skin! You don't want your skin to overcompensate). For the dry, sensitive, and combination skin types, washing your face at night and removing all the accumulated grime and oil is sufficient. Dermatologists say that as long as you thoroughly cleanse the night before, there's really no reason to wash your face in the morning (what about the pillowcase lurkers? Just wash it every 2 weeks; if you're breaking out, there's usually a larger cause). But, at the same time, there's nothing wrong with washing in the morning AS LONG AS you don't overstrip the skin of its natural oils. An extremely gentle cleanser, like the COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser, will do the trick.
Speaking of the strength of cleansers, this brings me to the next big misconception I had:
2. Strong, deep-clean cleanser = deeper clean = glowing skin
This was one of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started washing my face. Just like you may have read above about how washing your face too often can strip your skin of too many of its natural oils, the same goes for using an overly-strong cleanser when your face doesn't need it.
Here's some science about our skin's barrier. Our skin's barrier is what keeps our skin glowing: it locks moisture and nutrients in and keeps bacteria and irritants out. But what most people don't know is that our skin's barrier is a lipid bilayer of corneocytes, which are dead skin cells. When I first started cleansing, I used strong cleansers with the mindset that I needed to get rid of everything dead on my skin. What happened as a result? My face was constantly a tomato, my somewhat - smooth complexion (that I had before I started skincare) was now bumpy. I had been getting rid of too many components of my skin's natural barrier, which allowed for bacteria and irritants to get into closer contact with my skin.
So bottom line? Deep cleansers aren't horrible, it's just they aren't for everybody. Don't use a cleanser just because of its "deep clean of the pores" and "powerful acne removal" abilites. In fact, most dermatologists recommend using gentle cleansers because of their ability to remove excess impurities but still keep the skin's natural barrier strong. Even if you have oily skin, consider washing your face twice a day using a gentle foaming cleanser; foaming cleansers are ideal for removing layers of oil and makeup, and they are made to slightly dry out the skin because of its foaming properties. But what about dry and sensitive skin? Consider buying a cream cleanser; cream cleansers are known to be gentle, moisturizing, and are great for people with dry skin because of their ability remove impurities while moisturizing the skin at the same type.
There are countless cleansers out on the market, and it may take a couple of tries for you to find the best one for your skin!
3. Skincare products are the only way to achieve glowing skin.
The products and quality of them do play a HUGE role in shaping your complexion, but it's not the only thing that can help you achieve your healthiest complexion. Adjusting some components of your lifestyle can bring great change, and I actually learned this just recently. What changes, you might be asking?
DIET. Foods particularly rich in antioxidants and vitamins have been clinically proven to fight off free radicals, improve skin complexion, boost metabolism, promote weight loss, and so much more. Recently, I've been incorporating matcha, grapefruit, and lemon water into my daily diet and MY. SKIN. IS. GLOWING. It's not the same type of glow that you get from a satisfying face mask or toner; my skin gradually became less red and the irregular pimples have pretty much, well, stopped. Just remember to put good in your body when you can, and you will see good in return.
My favorite way to ingest matcha is through matcha almond milk lattes. SO. GOOD.
EXERCISE. One common myth is that hot water unclogs pores, which guess what, they don't! Sweating is actually one of the best ways to unclog your pores because of the "heat" you feel and the cooling down of your body. Find your favorite workout and sweat a little, it'll clear up some pores! Just don't forget to gently wash your face afterwards, because sweat that stays on your face could cause a breakout.
SLEEP. I can't stress how strongly linked sleep is with literally everything but GET YOUR SLEEP! Sleep releases cortisol levels and allows your skin to have time to clear up and take in the products that you put on that night.
GENERAL HYGIENE. This includes showering daily (or when you need to), changing your clothes when you sweat, washing your pillowcase, washing your hands (especially before you wash your face!), and just in general keeping your body clean when it can be clean!
STRESS. Just like sleep, stress has been negatively linked to so many other problems in your body. Take care of yourself and do what you need to do to feel a little less stressed.
During times like this when we're locked up in our houses, take this extra time and invest some of it into making your skin the healthiest it can be. While you're doing your research remember that everybody's skin is different, and person's routine for glowing skin doesn't necessarily mean it is the best for your skin. Nevertheless, remember that no matter what your skin looks like, you are glowing on the inside. <3