Let’s face it. Navigating the world of skincare and cosmetics isn’t exactly easy for the average consumer. When searching for a new product, you can easily be bombarded with unfamiliar ingredients and skincare jargon. What does it all mean though? And just who should you be listening to when it comes to getting your skincare routine in order and alleviating problem skin concerns?
These were just a few of the issues that I faced before I qualified as a cosmetic formulator and learned more about ingredients and the anatomy of the skin.
Doing DIY Skincare
Years before I started studying and researching skincare seriously, I blindly followed anything I saw YouTubers doing that appealed to me. Social media platforms like TikTok and sites like YouTube have unfortunately become a catalyst for plenty of misinformation and dangerous practices by many unqualified individuals. One of the worst things that I regret doing was following a recommendation of a YouTuber to put lemon essential oil on my face to fix hyperpigmentation. Luckily, I used to mix the lemon essential oil with another oil (to dilute it) but this was still a pretty dangerous thing to do to my already damaged skin. Essential oils are not to be played with and need to be used at strict and specific limits. Ingredients like lemon essential oil can actually lead to phototoxicity, which causes sensitivity to the skin and its tolerance to UV rays. It can even cause redness and dark spots on the skin.
Not Having a Dedicated Skincare Routine
Now that I pay more attention to my skin health, all I can think is “why didn’t I do a proper skincare routine sooner!”. Throughout my late teens to early twenties, the most I would do is a quick cleanse, and then slap on a moisturiser. I tried using toners for a bit but was never consistent. Looking back, I now realise that I could have been using more effective products that were specifically formulated for my skin concerns. I never used any serums!
Not Cleansing Effectively
Way back when, I was the girl who spent the whole day in makeup, and once I got home, I would religiously reach for my makeup wipes! *hangs head in shame*. I didn’t know any better. If I was really tired, I wouldn’t even bother to cleanse after that. I now understand that wipes do not clean your skin the same way a facial cleanser will. Not only that, wipes aren’t as effective at breaking down makeup, SPF, oil and dirt, the way that oil-based cleansers can. I have now fallen in love with double-cleansing and always use a cleansing balm/oil as the first step in my cleansing routine. They gently remove all the gunk without causing you to tug at your delicate skin. Oil binds to oil, so this is a great way to lift up excess oil and dirt that has been trapped in your pores. I then follow up with a creamy, hydrating cleanser and then rinse.
Not Wearing SPF Everyday
This one hurts. Why didn’t anyone educate me when I was younger about using sunscreen? I grew up around people who constantly regurgitated one of the most popular skincare lies… “we’re black, we don’t need sunscreen”. What a crime! All skin tones require protection from UV rays that can cause damage to our skin and cause us to age prematurely. The melanin in black skin only has a natural SPF of around 13, but if you’re looking to protect your skin, nothing under SPF 30 will do! Not wearing sunscreen made my scarring and hyperpigmentation much worse and I also as a black woman have suffered from sunburn! Learn from my mistakes.
Labelling Ingredients as ‘Bad’ Without Understanding Them
Graduating from the school of YouTube and listening to unqualified people on the internet, I naturally felt educated enough to look at a product label, pull a face and say “I’m not using that!”.
It wasn’t until I started studying cosmetic formulation that I realised ingredients that sound scary aren’t necessarily harmful. I learned about alcohols and acids that are fantastic for the skin, and I also learned how natural ingredients when used incorrectly can be very harmful to the skin.
I love natural and organic cosmetics because they make me feel good and have added benefits in terms of nutritional properties and increased antioxidants, however, it is all about finding a balance. Skincare that has been formulated with high-percentage organic ingredients are an added benefit because no cheap cosmetic fillers are used and your skin can enjoy the full potency of the best quality botanicals. That being said, using products that aren’t 100% organic won’t kill you if the formulas are compliant with cosmetic regulations.
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