24 June 2020
Do skincare ingredients and steps confuse you? In building a skincare routine for your skin, you might have encountered countless steps, products and ingredients for different benefits and skin types.
Everyone has different skin types and conditions that need to be addressed- pigmentation, acne, scars, wrinkles, aging, dry skin, dull skin….the list goes on. However, healthier and glowy skin is always part of the equation of treating these skin conditions. I’ve written this guide to simplify the process of building a personal skincare routine for healthier skin. This 3 step guide will serve as a framework for you to add on actives or products that target your skin’s issues. Having healthier or makeup-free/less skin does not have to be complicated or expensive!
This simple 3 step guide will also explain why I feel that these 3 key steps are essential (i.e. antoxidants, moisturisers and sunscreen) in a skincare routine. If you already have healthy skin or ‘normal skin’, this 3 step guide to healthy skin will keep it time efficient for you!
If you came here by way of the video that I did with my friend, Vickii Ma on her IGTV about 3 skincare steps to healthier skin, this blogpost is a follow up to the video we made and will include more details. In the video, I raided Vickii’s skincare shelf to pick out the products that I would recommend. We focused on looking at steps and ingredients (rather than specific brands and products) so that the information would be more useful.
Sunscreen use is one of the most basic and cheapest ways to protect your skin for healthier and younger skin. Unprotected and prolonged sun exposure can cause unwanted pigmentation, dull skin,premature aging and skin cancer. Using a sunscreen daily; even when you are indoors, can help to reduce sun damage.
My 2 top tips for selecting sunscreens are:
(1) Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that covers both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause aging and UVB rays cause burns.
(2) The higher the protection values (SPF, PA, PPF…etc) the better. Studies show that most of us don’t apply an adequate amount of sunscreen and this decreases the effective sun protection of the applied sunscreen is lesser than expected.
If you would like to learn about how to decode sunscreen labels and more tips for safe sunscreen use you can read this post Sunscreen Beyond the Basics: Controversies, Trends and FAQs About Sunscreens.
Shiseido’s ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skin Care Milk
One sunscreen that I recommend is Shiseido’s ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skin Care Milk. It is a broad spectrum sunscreen with decent coverage against both UVA and UVB rays. Shiseido’s ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skin Care Milk also has a nice cosmetic finish; it’s like a barely there powder base. It’s a personal favourite of mine and coincidentally, Vicki loves it too. If there’s a skincare product that is good and cheap, Shiseido’s ANESSA Perfect UV Sunscreen Skin Care Milk fits the bill. My friend Fazilla also says this sunscreen is brown-skin friendly!
You can read about the rest of my sunscreen recommendations and reviews in Sunscreen Reviews: the Best, the Worst and Unsafe Sunscreens That I’ve Tried.
Another sunscreen that I was introduced to and really like (onto my second bottle now!) is: Heliocare 360º Water Gel SPF 50+. Heliocare is a sunscreen brand from Spain and Heliocare 360º Water Gel SPF 50+ is one of their newest releases exclusive to clinics.
Heliocare 360º Water Gel SPF 50+ is a broad spectrum sunscreen with a colourless and matt finish that I like. I was wearing this sunscreen in the video with Vicki. This sunscreen also contains Fernblock, which may help to neutralise some of the damage from blue light and infrared rays.
Antioxidants are compounds that neutralise free radical damage to the skin from the sun, pollution and the environment. Exposure to free radicals from the environment causes oxidative damage to the DNA, proteins and other structures of the cells. This in turn causes premature aging and free radical damage has been linked to cancers.
There are several antioxidants in skincare and some of them have multitasking benefits that can brighten skin and reduce blemishes too. The top three that I recommend are vitamin C, niacinamide and vitamin E.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is that helps to combat aging, brighten skin, lighten blemishes and boost collagen levels in the skin. It’s another personal favourite of mine when it comes to antioxidant choices- it works for me and I’ve been using it for years. In the field of dermatology, vitamin C is also well backed up by science.
I’ve tried numerous types of vitamin C products- from drug store to luxury brands (part of job researching in formulating for my clinic in Singapore) and these are my top tips for choosing a vitamin C product is to use:
1. Look for active vitamin C i.e. L-ascorbic acid instead of derivatives
2. Choose a concentration between 10-20%
3. Look for combinations of vitamin C that include vitamin E and Ferulic
The details and more tips on how to choose a good vitamin C product are covered in my review All About Topical Vitamin C.
In our video, I briefly reviewed Drunk Elephant’s C Firma Day Serum. This vitamin C serum contains 15% L-ascorbic acid with vitamin E and Ferulic acid. It comes in an air tight bottle with a sleek twist mechanism to slow down oxidation of the product. I’ve tried Drunk Elephant’s C Firma Day Serum and the addition of Marula oil in this product makes it better for people with dry skin. If you have oily skin and acne, I feel that Drunk Elephant’s C Firma Day Serum may cause more comedones for you.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant that quenches free radicals. You can sometimes find vitamin E in combination with vitamin C in anti-aging products because this combination enhances the efficacy of vitamin C. There are several types of vitamin E and tocopherol is one of the most common forms of vitamin E.
In our video, Vicki and I tested a vitamin E serum. It has a very slight oily texture because vitamin E is oil based. If you have oily skin or acne, you might want to use niacinamide instead.
Choosing a moisturiser suitable for your skin type can be confusing with the myriad of options available. Adding to the confusion is the countless types of serums, essences, ampoules, pre-serums..etc that moisturise the skin too.
The topic of how to choose moisturisers and what to look out deserves at least 2 blogposts because it is really that lengthy. If you see me in clinic, you’ll know this discussion is very specific to an individual’s skin type and concerns. To keep it easy, one common skincare ingredient that’s great for keeping skin moisturised is hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid is a water loving ingredient that attracts water molecules. You can easily find hyaluronic acid (HA)in hydrating serums and moisturisers. It is suitable for most skin types. Everything You Need to Know About Hyaluronic Acid will cover more about HA including the benefits of using HA and how to choose and use HA products the right way.
Hyaluronic acid is also the main ingredient in Skinboosters and Profhilo, the skin hydration treatments that also gives a no makeup glow and radiance and tightens pores. Dermal fillers also contain hyaluronic acid and they can also smoothen the skin on top of sculpting the face.
I hope you found this simple guide to healthy skin with 3 steps (or ingredients). Having an effective skincare routine isn’t that complex or expensive. I hope that you understand the basic principles of using some of these skincare products.
Please feel free to leave a comment if you would like to see more of these guides or have a topic that you’d like to read about. If you would like to read my other skincare reviews, here are some of them: