Back To Basics: Getting Your Skincare Right

17 April 2014

Today's post is probably my most requested yet. Everyone is always asking me "Basmah, what cleanser should I use?", "Basmah, how do I get rid of acne scars?" etc. So to answer everyone's questions, I decided to compile this long, lengthy blog post jam packed with information on how to find the right skin care products for you. From cleansers, to masks, hopefully by the end of this post, you'll find the answer to all your skin care needs.

Before we get started, we need to get some important information out of the way. The first being, is that I'm not a dermatologist, I'm just a girl who has tried and tested many products in the past. Also, please don't expect these products to give you supermodel skin. Good skin takes time, and it isn't only about what you slather on it, but also what you eat and drink that is a huge factor on your skins over all appearance. Oh, and if you have cystic acne, I suggest you consult your dermatologist before trying out anything on your skin. This post is mainly for those who have hormonal pimples, or other skin problems that aren't too severe.

Phew! Now the serious, boring stuff is out of the way, let's get started! I get it, you have a pimple, probably blackheads on your nose, maybe even congested skin on your forehead. Maybe I completely hit the ball out of the park, and you suffer from dry, tight, flakey skin instead. Whatever you suffer from, we first need to decide your skin type. In today's post, we will be dividing these skin types into four categories: oily, dry, combo, sensitive.You probably don't need me to tell you why it's so important to know your skin type, but I'll let you know anyway. You see, if you have dry, cracked skin, then you wouldn't want to use a product that's formulated for oily skin, since that's designed to strip oil from the skin, and not add any moisture.

If you're a teenager, it's most likely that your acne is caused by hormones (don't feel bad, I go through it as well!). If you're an adult, it's probably to do with oils and dead skin cells congesting your pores. Here is how to determine your skin type, and the products that's right for you:
Oily skin: You have large pores all over your face, and you don't have any areas of your skin that's dry, or flakey. You tend to have acne-prone skin, and by the end of the day, you usually have oil sitting on top of your skin (If you have dry or normal areas, then check out what I wrote for combination skin).

If you have oily skin, don't despair! While you may think that there are no benefits that come with having oily skin, you will be happy to know that you age slower than the rest of the skin types. While you may have oily skin, you have to be careful that you don't dehydrate your skin, which makes your skin produce more oil. When it comes to cleansers, it's important you look for cleansers that don't strip your skin of it's natural oils, but still get rid of the excess sebum that's causing acne and congestion. The best options to go for are gel cleansers. They're gentle on the skin, and unlike foams, they don't dehydrate your skin. Also, while I know it's tempting, limit to washing your face only twice a day, as any more than that can mess with your skins pH levels, and cause even more problems.

Oh, and make sure you look for products that are labeled "oil-free".

Pictured above: Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, Sebamed Liquid Face & Body Wash, La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleanser

I know many oily skinned people probably cringed when they saw these photos of moisturisers, but believe me, this step is not to be skipped. Remember how I mentioned above that oily skin can be prone to dehydration, which causes the skin to cause even more oil? That's where the perfect moisturiser comes in. As long as you use moisturisers specifically made for oily skin (remember, it should say oil-free) then you will see a change in your skin for the better. Look for moisturisers that are mattifying, this means that it won't leave your skin looking shiny, and it's specifically designed for those who need help in shine control. You should also find, that moisturisers for oily skin aren't as thick as those for dry skin. They should be thin in consistency, and easily absorbant.

Top tip: Don't apply too much moisturiser, as this can lead to clogged pores and pimples. Use a pea sized amount. Not only will this help your moisturiser last longer, but it's also better for the skin.

Products pictured above: Natural Instinct Daily Moisturiser, Shiseido Pureness Mattifying Moisturiser, The Body Shop Seaweed Mattifying Day Cream

Dry skin: Your face feels tight if you don't moisturise straight after washing your face, and your skin becomes extremely flaky (during the winter time, it's practically unbearable). You have no pores visible and your skin produces very little oil to no oil at all.

So winter is coming up, and I understand why you dry skin folk probably can't stand this weather. While those who have oily skin rejoice at the fact that their oil will calm down during the winter time, those who have dry skin are left searching for the tiny amount of oil they had on their faces during the summer. Thankfully, there are ways to keep your skin soft and hydrated during winter (or all year round), and the answer is cream cleansers. If you have dry skin stay away from foam and gel cleansers, don't even touch them, don't even LOOK at them. The idea is pretty self-explanatory, those who have dry skin need something moisturising, and what's more moisturising than cream cleansers? If you find that your skin becomes really uncomfortable and painful, then cream cleansers also help soothe the skin, and help repair it faster.

Top tip: Be very gentle when washing or moisturising your face, as being too harsh or rough can irritate the skin even further. Work in an upwards motion, and wash your face for about one minute before rinsing off with cool water. If you have dry skin, stay away from washing your face inside a steaming hot shower.

Pictured above: Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter (I know it says foaming, but this is a great cleanser for dry skin), Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser, A'kin Rose & Geranium Pure Facial Creamy Cleanser
Finding the right moisturiser isn't only hard for oily skinned people, but also those who have dry skin. You need something that soothes and hydrates, but doesn't irritate the skin any further. Ever heard of the concept K.I.S.S.? Well it stands for "Keep It Simple Stupid" (not that I think you're stupid), but what I'm trying to say is, apply this to when you're finding a skincare product. This goes for any skin type. Make sure the ingredients don't have any random fragrances and fancy names, because while it all sounds wonderful and luxurious, your skin won't particularly like it. If you have dry skin, you need to look for moisturisers that get rid of the tight sensation your skin feels after washing your face. My personal favourite for dry skin is the Cetaphil Moisturising Cream. It's simple, soothing, and helps hydrate dry, cracked skin. I know this because I was once using an acne product that contained benzoyl peroxide, and Cetaphil saved my face from ripping into pieces.

Products pictured above: Cetaphil Moisturising Cream, Clarins HydraQuench Cream, This Works Super Moisture For The Face
Combination skin: If you have large pores on your forehead, nose, and chin, (otherwise known as the T-zone) and they're the places you tend to get oily, but the rest of your face is either usually dry or not oily at all. (Note: Combination skin can be split into two categories, combination/oily and combination/dry).

Combination skin can be a little tricky, because unlike dry and oily, it isn't just one determined skin type, it's usually a mix of two. You can either have combination/oily or combination/dry. You can also have combination/normal. You need to look for a cleanser that helps keep your skin balanced, and doesn't make it overly dry, nor overly oily. If you're acne prone, then Cetaphil is a great option, otherwise my personal favourite is the L'Oreal Revitalift Milky Foam.

Pictured above: L'Oreal Revitalift Milky Foam, Philosophy Purity, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

If you find that you can never find the right balance in your moisturisers, as they're either too oily, or too dry, then you need to find a product that lies somewhere in between. If you have combination/oily skin, then you can generally get away with using oil-free moisturisers, such as the Natural Instinct Daily Moisturiser, as it's moisturising, but isn't greasy. The same works with combination/dry. You wouldn't want to use the Cetaphil Moisturising Cream, as that can be a little thick for your skin type, but something like the Avene Rich Skin Recovery Cream should work really well. It may take some trial and error to find the right products (which is the most annoying thing about combination skin), but don't lose hope, because you'll find the right products for you down the track!

Products pictured above: Natural Instinct Daily Moisturiser, Avene Rich Skin Recovery Cream, Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream

Sensitive skin: Pretty self explanatory. You aren't able to use certain products for the risk of breakouts or irritation. Your skin flares up easily, whether it's redness, under the skin pimples, or congestion. You can have oily, dry, or combination skin yet still be sensitive. 

Right, so this next one is right up my alley, as this is the skin type I'm "blessed" with. Sensitive skin is the next worst thing to sultana's (no offence if you like sultana's). You find a product that works well for every single person on the face of this earth, and when you decide to try it, you're left with redness, acne, random areas of scarring and a load of other irritating problems. While you may think that there is nothing in the world that's created for your skin type, don't despair, because thankfully, the market is showing a lot of improvement when it comes to skin care products for the sensitive folk. Like I mentioned before, keeping it simple is extremely crucial if you have sensitive skin. Forget fancy fragrances, or ingredients you can't pronounce. The less ingredients there are, the better it is for your skin. If you have dry/sensitive skin, then stick with cream cleansers, and if you have oily, then stick with gel. Don't use any foaming products, as they can lead to further irritation. 

Products pictured above: Shiseido Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam (it says foam, but it's more of a cream cleanser), Sukin Sensitive Cleansing Gel, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

When it comes to moisturisers, it's the same sort of deal. If you have sensitive skin, you should stick to what works for you. Avoid jumping around from product to product, if you found a moisturiser or cleanser that doesn't break you out, or doesn't make your skin react, then don't change it for something else. As they say "if it's not broke, why fix it?" the same concept applies here. One of the reasons sensitive skin reacts, is because it's having to deal with so many products at once. For example, day cream, night cream, cleanser, toner, scrub, serums, etc. The key to keeping sensitive skin calm is to minimise your routine, and use as little products as possible. So try sticking to one moisturiser that you can use day and night, one cleanser, and one exfoliator (that you use once a week). While it may seem tempting, don't bother with serums or facial oils, as your skin most likely won't be able to handle it. Even though you see people using a million products on their face in one go, while it may work for them, it won't necessarily work for you.

Products pictured above: Sukin Sensitive Facial Moisturiser, Cetaphil Moisturising Cream, Johnson's Daily Essentials Day Cream

Scrubs or exfoliators as some may call it, are the next most important thing in your skin care routine. You know all of that information that you just read? Well it won't work if you have a layer of dead skin sitting on top of the surface of your skin. This is where the right scrub comes into play. When it comes to scrubs, gone are the days of harsh, abrasive scrubs (St Ive's Apricot, I'm looking at you). The best scrubs shouldn't tear the skin, and should be able to remove dead skin easily and gently. The most effective scrubs are those which contain Glycolic Acid, or are in a powder form. Look for words such as AHA's (explained later on in the post), microfoliant, or if you're looking for an affordable option, then you can buy scrubs from Priceline that include microbeads, which are much more gentle than other scrubs. 

Scrubs should generally be used 1-2 times a week, depending on the sensitivity of your skin. If your skin is sensitive that once would be fine, but if it can handle a little extra, then the maximum amount you should scrub is 3 times a week.  

Products pictured above: Alpha-H Micro Cleanse, Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, Olay Blackhead Clearing Scrub

Toners can be a bit of a controversial product. Some people consider them a necessity, and some just think that it's another product to spend your money on. My opinion is, if you have dry skin, then skip the toner, as you don't need it too much. If you have oily skin then you should definitely use an oil minimising toner, as this helps make your pores smaller, remove excess oil, and also gets all the gunk out of your skin that your cleanser missed out on. Toners also help prevent blackheads, under-the-skin pimples (which is the most annoying thing ever), and evens out your skin tone. Plus, it also helps fade acne scarring and hyper pigmentation. If you do have dry skin, and you have a little spare change, then you can try hydrating toners, and if you have sensitive skin then micellar waters such as Bioderma is perfect (be warned, as mentioned before, keep products minimal for sensitive skin, so if you want to take the risk, use something extremely gentle).

Toner is used after cleanser and before moisturiser. Pour a tiny amount onto a cotton ball or round, and apply it to the skin. Cue horrified gasps after seeing the dirt that was sitting inside your pores.

Products pictured above: Bioderma Crealine H2O (Also knows as Bioderma Sensibio), Olay Oil Minimising Toner, The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Toner

Face masks are probably my most favourite thing about skin care. No, they're not only for relaxing, but if used once every two weeks, can be the best thing that you have ever done for your skin. They also don't have to cost an arm and leg, as the drugstore/highstreet has plenty of great affordable options available. My favourite face mask actually costs $10 which I blogged about here. If your cleansers and scrubs aren't able to remove all your blackheads and smooth the surface of the skin, then that's where face masks come into play. You can also choose from a variety of different masks, whether it's to remove impurities, decongest pores, or hydrate the skin, you will definitely find something to suit you.

Products pictured above: Palmers Purifying Mask, Montagne Jeunesse Dry Skin Mask, Alpha-H Pore Refining Mask

If you're looking for the answer to skin care questions that aren't acne related, but more on the overall appearance and health of your skin, then serums are the answer. Serums and facial oils are products that are used after cleansing and toning, but before moisturising. They are catered for different things, whether it's fine lines, dehydration, of fading acne scars and hyper pigmentation.

If you have oily skin then look into using facial oils, as this will hydrate the face, and stop the skin from producing more sebum. Dry skinned people can also benefit from using facial oils to help hydrate their skin. Facial oils, such as rosehip oil, fades acne scars, and other pigmentation that's on your skin.

No matter what your skin problems are, chances are you will find a serum to help solve it. I personally prefer using serums at night time only, before I go to bed, but while I hate to sound like a broken record, if you have sensitive skin, it's best to skip the serums and other not-the-norm products.

Products pictured above: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, Kosmea Radiance 24/7 Youth Boost, Hydraluron
Now this is for all of you who are asking how to fade acne scars. Let me tell you, AHA's are the answer. AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid, and while it sounds scary, it is one of the best things you can do for your skin. The good news is, that even sensitive skin people can use this as long as it's used sparingly, and the percentage is on the lower side. AHA's are an ingredient incorporated in other products, and if you're specifically looking for a scrub that's gentle, but still effective, then look for one that contains AHA's. While they may not be the cheapest products, they're definitely worth it. 

AHA's removes the dead layers of the skin, which brings out new, radiant skin. So to cut it short, if you want radiant, even skin, then grab yourself some products that contain AHA's. But do not over do it, because while you will see instant results, your skin will not thank you if you use it everyday.

Products pictured above: Alpha-H Micro Cleanse, Priori Skin Renewal Cream, Skin Doctors Gamma Hydroxy Skin Resurfacing Cream
The last thing I wanted to cover are devices. With things like the Clarisonic and the FOREO Luna being all the rage in this day and age, you're probably thinking "do I really need one?". The answer is, no, you don't, but it's HIGHLY recommended to get your hands on one. Washing your face with your hands doesn't clean your face as effectively as a Clarisonic would. Us humans have seven layers of skin, and the only way to deep clean your skin all the way down to its seventh layer, is an electronic device. When you apply makeup, or go through day to day activities, your pores are filled with pollution, oil, makeup, etc. You don't even need to fork out $150, as there are plenty of affordable options out there. While they may not be as effective as the more pricey options, you can still use it as a starting point until you decide that you're ready to make the investment. If you do have a skin care device, only use it once every second day, as anything more than that can cause irritation to the skin.

Products pictured above: Clarisonic Mia 2, Phillips VisaPure, FOREO Luna, Olay Professional Pro-x Deep Cleansing Brush

Other things to keep in mind is that the only things that are practically mandatory is cleanser and moisturiser. Everything else is optional, and are just additional add on products can help improve the skins appearance over time. If you're a teenager, then don't stress about pimples, we all get them, and they're most likely caused by raging hormones that will settle down as you grow older. Another thing to remember is to have a good diet. Drink plenty of water, eat healthy, and avoid oily foods.

Remember, it takes four weeks for your skin to repair itself, so while you won't see results a minute after you use one of these products, after being patient, you should see your skin improve in time.

So that's it! I hope you all enjoyed this post. Apologies for it being soooooooo long, I just wanted to cover everyones questions in one post, so they have something to refer back to. If you have any additional questions don't hesitate to tweet me at @BasmahQazi and I'll try my best to help you as much as I can!

If you have any additional tips and tricks, leave them in the comments below!

Leave a Comment

  1. Great guide! :) You've covered a lot and it's easy to see that you've spent a fair amount of time putting this together. The only thing I would mention is that those with oily or combination don't necessarily need to go for oil-free products. Have you heard of the Oil Cleansing Method? It's quite interesting! I've got combination skin and started using oils in my routine. I used to be terrified of oils! haha.

    1. Oh yes definitely! I would recommend that if an oily skinned girl is brave enough, they should use oil cleansers, but I just wanted to create a little basic guide for beginners who just want a simple way of cleansing skin. But you're definitely right! x

  2. This is a great list! I recently bought a Clarisonic Mia 2 after trying several inexpensive versions, and I must say that I find the Clarisonic sooooo worth the price tag!

    1. Thank you! It is isn't it, I can't live without it! You don't realise how much dirt and grime is living in your skin until you actually use a Clarisonic haha

  3. Great post Basmah! Really informative. Do you use any cleansing brush? I'm considering getting one. x Tara

    1. Thank you Tara, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I currently use a Clarisonic Mia 2 which I wholeheartedly recommend! If you have sensitive skin, then look into using it with the delicate brush head, as I found that the sensitive brush head was a little harsh for me :)

  4. I love your blog! Wow, keep up the good work!

    xCan you please visit/follow mine & my 14yr olds twins blog x
    P.s Do you want to follow each other's blogs on GFC? I'll follow you back ;) x

  5. wow, what a great post! I can tell a lot of work went into this. I'm currently overhauling my skincare routine so this was very helpful!

    1. Thanks Melanie! I'm glad it helped! x


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