Discipline isn't determined by genetics, income, or education level - it's simply learned behaviour. What most people do not realise is that the key to good facial care and long-term skin health is discipline and consistency. To see real results, this discipline, like any other, can be developed through learning, practice, and repetition of a set skincare routine, tailored to your unique skin type.
In a world of constantly changing skincare trends, it’s understandable that consumers can feel bombarded with over-information, be enticed by new brands and intrigued by new ingredients at every turn. So how do you bring order to your over-flowing skincare cabinet? How do you select the right products? When is the right time to use them? Which ones should be thrown out?
Here are some of the simple steps I have developed as facial treatments which can bring order and discipline to your daily skincare routine:
- CLEAN - KEEP - THROW
The first step towards making sense of your current skincare stash is to clean out your bathroom cabinet. Make an inventory list of all the products. Now turn them over and look out for the open cream jar symbol or PAO date. Period-after-opening symbol or PAO on your cosmetics and skincare items tells you how long your products are safe to use after you've opened them. There's a number stated on the symbol which indicates the number of months a product is designed to last. If your product has been open for longer than the number of months stated, then it's best to throw it away as the ingredients will have either oxidised, disintegrated, separated due to heat and time, spoilt, or even worse, have been invaded by microbes. Learn to let go. Don't be a skincare hoarder!
- WRITE DOWN YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
A simple thing we learned at school, writing things down helps to clear your mind. Streamline your skincare stash, by writing down your skincare goals, priorities and regime. Now that you've cleaned out your skincare cabinet and eliminated any unnecessary products, split your routine into AM and PM. Here's a brief example of a simple yet effective skincare routine:
AM – Morning
- Cleanse: look for soap-free, PH balancing, AHA/BHA, or calming cleansers.
- Tone / Essence / Mist: alcohol-free, hydrating, paraben and fragrance-free.
- Serum: ideally Vitamin C, stabilised with antioxidants.
- Moisturise: cream / lotion suited to your skin type, look for HA, vitamins and peptides formula.
- SPF 30-50: with UVA & UVB filters, look for non-comedogenic invisible formulas.
PM – Evening
- Cleanse: either make-up removing formula or gentle cleansing solution.
- Essence: lightweight molecular liquids - an essential hydration step.
- Serum: look for concentrated ingredients like hyaluronic acid, growth factors, lactic / glycolic acid to resurface, collagen peptides and antioxidants.
- Retinol: ideally 0.25 - 0.5% concentration (a super anti-ageing ingredient, increases cellular repair but makes the skin vulnerable to sun, so don't forget plenty of SPF, in the AM!)
- Night Cream: (optional) if retinol sensitises your skin, leading to dryness and flaking, then it's best to use another calming, moisturising cream as a buffer on top.
- Sleep Mask: some nights you can swap the above night cream out for a leave-in sleep mask, most brands offer these lightweight masks packed with effective ingredients for skin renewal.
- Hand Cream and Lip Balm: apply every night before bed.
Once-a-Week / Sundays
- AHA/BHA peel.
- Skincare devices (LED mask, deep cleansing, oxygen, microcurrent device).
- Face masks (detoxification, calming, anti-inflammatory, hydrating).
- SET AN ALARM REMINDER
I found this trick extremely helpful when I was trying to train my brain to wear SPF every morning (best skin-insurance ever!). Setting a daily reminder on my phone to ping the SPF reminder every morning really helped.
If you are trying to build your skin's tolerance to a particularly strong retinol product, then setting a reminder every 3rd night for a couple of weeks, followed by every 2nd night for another couple of weeks until you can use it nightly, is extremely helpful in keeping track of applications. You can use this trick for almost anything you'd like to repeat and drill into your brain until it becomes a (good) habit – for example, an alarm to drink a glass of water every hour from midday to dinner time, or a weekly reminder to use your skincare gadgets to their full potential (so they don't sit somewhere forgotten, gathering dust).
Including an alert created in your calendar each time you open a new product to remind you when their use by or POA date is due to be up is another good idea!
Remember, skin likes consistency and regularly changing products will not allow the skin to adapt to reap the best benefits. Having said that, if your skin's needs change according to seasons, hormones or age, then look to change and update the products you use based upon the needs of your skin at that given time.
Be skin smart.
Words by Adeela Crown.