5 Things I Learned About Skincare

by Gio

5 things learned about skincare

Harsh toners. No sunscreen. Rich moisturizers that made me breakout.

Gosh, I was so harsh on my skin in my teen years! Thing is, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

My mum only washed her face with soap and water. If her skin were dry, maybe she’d use moisturizer, too.

None of the teen mags I read told me how important sunscreen was. They just promoted whatever product or technique was in at the time (and paid their bills).

It took me years of trial and error to figure out how to take care of my skin. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:

1. It’s the dose that makes the poison (or the elixir)

It’s not just about what ingredients are in a product. It’s about how much of them are in a product.

Vitamin C is awesome. It fights free radicals and brightens your skin to boot. But, most brands just use the tiniest amount. Surprise, surprise, that’s not gonna do anything for you.

On the other hand, harmful ingredients aren’t that harmful in tiny doses. Take propylene glycol, for example. Yes, 100% propylene glycol is an antifreeze that can be very irritating. But in cosmetics, it’s used so sparingly, it won’t hurt you.

Related: 7 Skincare Ingredients With An Undeserved Bad Reputation

2. Packaging matters

I’ve always been a sucker for pretty packaging. When I was younger, I often bought something on a whim just because it looked so cute.

For makeup, that may be fine. But, when it comes to skincare practical is way more important than pretty. Some of the best ingredients, such as retinoids, antioxidants, and sunscreen actives, lose a bit of their effectiveness whenever they are exposed to light and air.

These days, if they don’t come in air-tight and opaque tubes and bottles, I leave them on the shelf.

Related: Why Jar Packaging Is A Waste Of Money

3. Stick with the purpose products are formulated for

Yes, there are exceptions to this rule. I often use hair conditioner as shaving cream. And, if I don’t like a face moisturizer, I’ll use it on my body. But I would never do the opposite. Why?

Cos body creams usually have thicker consistencies that are ideal for the thicker skin of the body but can cause breakouts on the face.

And let not even get me started about using dishwashing liquid, or anything like that, as a body wash or shampoo. Yes, they all contain the same ingredients, but their concentrations in dishwashing stuff is much, much higher and could seriously irritate your skin. Concentration matters, remember?

If it hasn’t been formulated for the skin, don’t put it there. Full stop.

4. Skin is more useful than we think

Your skin isn’t there just cos. It does a very important job: it keeps stuff OUT of the body. And it does it very well. That’s why we still have to swallow most medicines or get injections.

Getting something to get through the skin is hard. Yes, a few things do get through, under the right conditions. But skin doesn’t absorb as much stuff as we’re lead to believe these days.

And even when something gets through, it usually stays in the dead, superficial layers of the skin. They never reach the blood stream.

And why should they be able to penetrate so deep into the body, anyway? Most ingredients work only when left on the skin. If zinc oxide, for example, were able to reach the bloodstream, it would hardly be able to create a protective shield against UV rays, wouldn’t it?

5. You don’t need that many skincare products

The 10 step Korean skincare routine may be all the rage now, but you don’t need to use so many products. If you’re on a budget, just stick to these 3 daily essentials.

If your skin needs some extra help, you can always add a booster or toner later on.

Buying this or that product just because it’s popular or Allure said is a must is usually just a waste of money. Listen to your skin. Figure out what’s upsetting it and what ingredients can fix its woes. Choose products accordingly.

Done. Now both your skin and your wallet are happy.

Related: 5 Unnecessary Skincare Products You Shouldn’t Waste Any Money On

What skincare lessons have you learned during the years?

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

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Trisha August 12, 2014 - 4:59 pm

This is why I love your blog. You always pack a ton of info. I might never would have known about that retinoids-lose-effectiveness thing if it weren’t for you.

Gio August 12, 2014 - 7:24 pm

Trisha, aww thank you! Glad you find my posts useful. 🙂

Allison August 12, 2014 - 5:12 pm

Fabulous advice!

Gio August 12, 2014 - 7:25 pm

Allison, thanks. 🙂

[email protected] August 12, 2014 - 5:47 pm

such an informational post 😀 i still buy a lot of products just for the packagng..haha 😛

Gio August 12, 2014 - 7:26 pm

Purva, pretty packaging is so hard to resist, isn’t it? 🙂

Laurie August 12, 2014 - 9:45 pm

Thank you for this very informative post! It really cuts through the marketing hype trying to sell us anything and everything.

Gio August 13, 2014 - 8:45 pm

Laurie, you’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

Katie August 12, 2014 - 9:56 pm

That first point is my favourite. So often you hear people citing “but it has ‘x chemical’ in it and that’s also in ‘y unpleasant thing'” as to why non-natural skincare is the spawn of satan, when really it’s nonsense. I know I need to take a closer look at ingredients sometimes too, but a little knowledge is a powerful thing.

Gio August 13, 2014 - 8:42 pm

Katie, that is so annoying, isn’t it? Just because something isn’t natural, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. And there are a lot of good natural things that become bad for you when the dose is too high. You can never generalize.

Laurie August 13, 2014 - 11:56 pm

“non-natural skin care” as “spawn of satan” . . . that made me laugh!

Gio August 14, 2014 - 8:05 pm

Laurie, me too. lol.

Janessa September 4, 2014 - 4:15 am

1. Elixers please!

2. I didn’t know about the gimmicks of jar packaging until you! I found it unsanitary but I never thought to avoid them. I would always use the remaining bits of jar packaged moisturizer on my neck and arms, never my face because I felt it was dirty by the time it had a little left haha.

3. I actually have a mini jar of eye cream and a full-sized jar of face cream that was super irritating (had AHA’s) I use on my hands. Even then, it’s not moisturizing enough so those two jars just sort of sit there in my bag.

4. True! I’ve learnt to love my body (not just the physical aspect of it) for all that it allows me to do! Breathe, live and enjoy life, run and fly (when I run fast I feel like I am flying)! The least I can do is take care of my health.

5. At one point, I had way too many serums and a moisturizer that wasn’t moisturizing enough, no toner or eye cream. What a weird balance. I haven’t purchased any eye creams but use GWP’s or use the ones in gift sets. They sure last a while.

Gio September 6, 2014 - 12:57 pm

Janessa, smart girl! I’m especially glad to hear about #4. Too many women hate their bodies and it’s such an awful, paralysing feeling. Our bodies allow us to do so much and we should celebrate that, I agree. 🙂

Chelsea December 11, 2014 - 12:43 pm

Oh my God :O im 14 and i just bought a toner that contains astringent and my face only have oil on the t-zone.. i just waste my mom’s money 🙁

Gio December 11, 2014 - 9:47 pm

Chelsea, oh no! But don’t worry too much about it. We have all made that mistake. 🙂

Chelsea December 14, 2014 - 7:39 am

can ppl with combination skin or oily skin use freshener toner?

Gio December 15, 2014 - 2:15 pm

Chelsea, I only recommend toners that are rich in antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients. The others are just a waste of money imo.

chelsea December 16, 2014 - 4:43 am

Oh..thankyou! ♥♥

Gio December 16, 2014 - 2:46 pm

My pleasure. 🙂

H March 5, 2016 - 4:38 am

Did you know taking vitamin K supplements can help get rid of dark circles? Make sure it’s high quality, and not the synthetic form of K. Life Extension is a good brand to get supplements from.

Gio March 5, 2016 - 8:14 pm

H, that’s good to know. Thanks for the recommendation.


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