On May 17, 2019, I published a blog about my very first skin care routine and oh boy, I knew nothing about skin care. I started to show more interest in what I was putting on my skin last year after having “Acne Rosacea” for about six months. I never had a skin care routine before, I was a complete fish out of water! No one really taught me to take care of my skin, I don’t think I washed my face or moisturized regularly until grade 12 (And if I did, I just used whatever my mom had…how did I not have problematic skin?). I wish I knew more in high school about skin care because it’s super important to take care of our skin, especially when our hormones are going all wacky.
I started my skin care routine with whatever I saw on instagram or heard about from my friends, not thinking about skin types or sensitivities. Honestly, I was lucky because I had pretty normal skin until grade 12 and going into College. As I look back on what I bought from the drugstore, I cringe a little because I wish I did more research about what was in those products first. I will admit, I am pretty impressed with my line-up (not the products but what steps I included), I really did cover all of my bases but nothing was really helping my skin.
Today, on July 2, 2020, I am here to share everything I wish I knew when I first started my skin care routine. I have been researching ingredients, reading books about skin care, watching videos from professionals and talking to people who know way more about skin care than I do. This year has really opened my eyes, and I am about to call myself out on all the things I said in past blog posts.
Note: I am not a professional. Everyone has different skin so what works for me, may not work for you. Some of these points are based on my personal beliefs and what I have seen in my research. It’s always best to contact a professional and use their advice, as well as create your own opinions since it’s your skin/body.
1. “Natural” is not always best
After my first skin care blog, I started to learn more about ingredients in many drugstore products and how to properly customize a routine for my skin type. I realized that maybe two of the products I was using were okay while the rest weren’t great (not bad, but not great). Then, I found a clean and natural beauty store and thought 100% natural was the only way. And when I say “natural”, I mean only essential oils and things I would probably find in my kitchen. Now, I realize this is probably not as great as a thought it was at the time. I still LOVE that natural/clean beauty store and get all of my skincare products from them, but I’m more aware of what I am putting on my face. Natural is great for a lot of people who want to fully understand what is going onto their skin, but a lot of times the natural ingredients are not ethically sourced or formulated properly (depending on the brand). That’s why I prefer the term “clean” beauty more.
After watching a lot of skin care videos by Susan Yara (Mixed Makeup on Youtube) and hearing more about natural ingredients, I realized I didn’t want a lot of essential oils on my face. I never had a bad reaction to it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t in the future. We need to be super careful about what we use on our faces because we can build up allergies/sensitivities over time! Like Susan always says, “I don’t want to rub a bunch of grass on my face”, and I don’t really want a bunch of essential oils around my eyes either. Now, I still use products that have a very low amount of essential oils in it because I think a little is fine (1000 times better than fake fragrance). But, I am more aware that oils and natural ingredients could still cause problems with my skin. I would NEVER use coconut oil on my face anymore because it is highly comedogenic, meaning it will clog your pores and cause breakouts. If you cook with it, I would suggest not using it on your face unless you’re best friends with a good Dermatologist. I will admit, I tried it a couple times when the big coconut oil craze was at it’s peak. I also just accidentally bought a bar of soap for my face and the first ingredient was Olive Oil, I didn’t even check the ingredients (I also hated it so always check the ingredients first). But, a lot of natural ingredients are not formulated to be used on our face, so it can easily cause reactions and more problems in the future with long-term use. The skin on our face is much more delicate compared to the rest of our body, so we need to be extra cautious with how we treat it.
This is why I like “clean beauty” because there are some ingredients that have been formulated in a lab that are 100% safe to use. Especially when you get products from a brand that focuses on clean ingredients and ethically sourced ingredients, so anything used is safe for humans and the environment. They can include natural ingredients but are more risk-free and formulated to be used on skin. I really trust Graydon and Indie Lee because they include natural and clean ingredients while taking care of the environment, I have talked about these brand on here and my Instagram a lot. But these are perfect examples of clean beauty that is good for use and the planet. Glycerin is not bad when ethically sourced and formulated for skin, just like retinol, acids and other active ingredients can be completely safe! You just need to do your research and find a brand you trust, you can even email the company and get your answers straight from the source. You don’t need to put essential oils and fruit on your face to take care of your skin (but, you do you if that’s something you like!).
2. There are nasty ingredients you should try to avoid
There are soooooo many nasty ingredients that we are allowing into our bodies. If more people start to think about these nasties when buying products, run for the hills if they see them and advocate for companies to NOT use them, then we can have healthier bodies and skin. I really recommend reading “Low Tox Life” by Alexx Stuart. I don’t love and would really avoid some of the “natural alternatives” she highlights for skin care (see point one above) but this book really points out how we are harming ourselves without even knowing it. There are so many untested chemicals that companies are allowed to use that have been proven to cause health problems! I want to highlight that cheap isn’t always good when it comes to skin care, check the ingredients because these ingredients below are sneaking into many drugstore (and even high end) products. I am really open to splurging on skin care because I will be using it everyday and I want to take care of my skin. I am going to highlight a small list of ingredients you need to avoid at all costs:
- Triclosan: is a synthetic antibacterial agent (so pretty much everywhere now) that is an Endocrine Disrupter. This means it effects the Endocrine system which produces hormones that help regulate our metabolism, tissue function, development, reproduction, sleep and mood. It can be found in deodorant, toothpaste, shampoos, shaving cream, and liquid soaps.
- Parabens: are preservatives that are found in so many hair care and skin care products. This little nasty is an immune system and organ toxin. Parabens go straight into our bloodstream because they are not metabolized like food/drinks would be. Studies have shown Parabens mimic estrogen and can increase the risk of breast cancer. As well, it can effect the male reproductive system. Make sure you only buy products that state they are Paraben and sulfate free!
- Petrolatum: aka Petroleum Jelly, is gel that helps smooth or soften the skin. Petrolatum can be unethically sourced and contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (chemicals also found in coal, crude oil and gasoline). This ingredient has been linked to cancer but can also cause irritation and allergies. Avoid anything called Liquid Paraffin, Mineral Oil Jelly, Mineral Grease and Petroleum Jelly.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate/Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: these are foaming agents that are commonly found in shower gel, shampoo, face wash, toothpaste and bubble bath soap. Both of these ingredients (or really anything ending with “eth”) could be contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane that is an eye and respiratory irritant. But what is more terrifying is the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) deemed it a Carcinogen (a fancy word for… it’s linked to causing cancer). ON TOP OF ALL OF THAT, it can affect the brain and nervous system, is an endocrine disrupter and can effect reproductive health. Can someone please tell me why companies of all kind are allowed to use these ingredient? Stay clear of these sulfates!
- BHA & BHT (Butylated hydroxyanisole and Butylated hydroxytoluene): are synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives in personal care and cosmetics. In many studies, these nasties have been linked to carcinogenicity (cancer causing), endocrine disruption and development of allergies.
- Silicone: is a group of chemical compounds that helps skin and hair feel softer/smoother (aka it’s shit and doesn’t actually clean anything, it builds up on your scalp and makes it feel soft but doesn’t do anything but harm your scalp… don’t get me started about silicone in hair care). There are many negative effects silicone has on the environment but it is also a carcinogen and endocrine disrupter. It could also be a reproductive toxin.
Okay, I will let you breath now. Don’t panic and feel bad if you find any of these in your personal care products. Now that you know, you can be more aware! Like I said, we are trying to avoid these ingredients and educate ourselves. I really want you to look deeper into ingredients that are harmful to our health because there are so many more I haven’t mentioned. I am shocked that brands are allowing us to be exposed to these chemicals! I am aware I am not a doctor but there are way to many ingredients that are linked to cancer for my liking! We need to be more aware of what we are putting on and in our bodies and call out the brands who think it’s okay to use these harmful ingredients.
3. Keep things simple but always include sunscreen
My current skin care routine consists of 7 products and that can even be considered large. But, having a simple routine can sometimes be best for your skin. After researching, many dermatologists recommend having a good face wash, exfoliator, moisturizer, and sunscreen. This routine is even better if you find products with active ingredients in it, like AHA/BHAs, Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Salicylic Acid, etc. Sometimes using too many products can mess up your PH levels of your skin or they can cause bad reactions (especially when mixing active ingredients, be aware of what can and cannot go together). If you need to add more products to help with acne, scaring or dryness, that’s 100% fine! Your skin routine can be whatever you want, but I always like to keep it simple unless I need to add a little extra.
I am 21, so I use a lot of Vitamin C to help with early anti-aging, sun scars and hydration. Your skin care routine SHOULD 100% change as your age changes. I do not need a lot of active anti-aging ingredients right now and adding active ingredients too early that you’re body may not need a help with could even harm your skin. For example, I would never tell a 16 year old to use a retinol or anti-aging anything, at that age you want to focus on hydration while calming and protecting the skin (Hello, hormonal breakout stage!). Let’s keep it simple until we really need to start adding extras! Like I said before, best thing to do is talk to a professional or do a lot of research so you are as educated as you can be. You only get one face and you’re stuck with the skin you have so let’s take care of it.
Sunscreen is SUPER important! You need to be using sunscreen on your face everyday to protect it from UVA/UVB rays. Unless you want premature aging, sunspots/scars or even worse, you need to be applying a sunscreen no matter the weather (UVB rays come through clouds). I always recommend Salt & Stone Sunscreen because it is made with clean and ethically-sourced ingredients while actually doing it’s job to protect my skin (like way better than drugstore brands I have tried). But, make sure to wash it off at night so it doesn’t just sit on your face all day since most sunscreens can be thick. What I do is wash my face every night with a gel cleanser to remove oil and sunscreen that has been on my face all day, then I apply Vitamin C Serum, a Phyto-Retinol Clarifying Cream (very low amount of plant-based retinol) and a Squalane Oil.
New cancer cases expected to rise dramatically within 15 years -. (2015, May 27). Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://www.cancer.ca/en/about-us/for-media/media-releases/national/2015/canadian-cancer-statistics-2015/?region=on
Pennanen Lytle, A. (n.a). Get The Skinny on Scary Ingredients. Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://graydonskincare.com/pages/ingredients-to-avoid
Ingredients to Avoid. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://indielee.com/pages/ingredients-to-avoid
Stuart, A., & Palmer, R. (2018). Low tox life: A handbook for a healthy you and a happy planet. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Murdoch Books.