In helping you find a good skincare routine and good products for your specific skin type and condition, we will talk more about ingredients rather than products.

A good skincare routine should include:

Cleanse/wash: morning and night. This is to remove grime, make-up, pollution etc., leaving the skin clean, bare and better able to receive any treatments or moisturizers you will apply thereafter.

Exfoliate: This is to remove any dead cells. A more practical approach is to use a cleansing agent that has exfoliating properties. People with dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin may want to skip this step.

Treat: For any specific skin conditions you may be having. The skin conditions we talked about in the know your skin type section. For example, if you have acne, here will be the place to apply your anti acne medicine. If you have wrinkles, apply retinoids or vitamin C as treatment etc. You can skip this step if you have nothing to treat.

Moisturize: These help boost your skin’s overall performance. Moisturizers seal in your skin’s natural moisture while adding extra hydration so your skin can function at its best. They serve as an additional layer of protection against everyday wear and tear. They also ease the discomfort of dry or tight skin. You can skip this step if for example you have oily skin and the moisturizer makes it oilier.

Protect (Sun protection): This is a must for all skin types including the darkest skin! The sun emits rays that are harmful causing photo aging (wrinkling & hyperpigmentation) and in some skin types causing cancer. Sun protection should be photo stable and broad spectrum. Note that sun rays don’t only reach you when you are outdoors. Even when indoors and in a car, the sun rays come in through the windows, and these are the Ultraviolet rays that can be harmful to your skin.

Some people include masks, scrubs, and toners to their regimen. This is optional but fine if it adds some benefit to the health of your skin. Remember though, that less is always more with skincare.
When looking at the ingredients in a skincare product, the most active in the highest concentration come first on the ingredient list while the least in concentration come last. So when buying a salicylic acid wash for example, if it comes towards the end of the list, it means there is very little of it in that product and might not help your oily skin as it ought to.
The most active ingredients in a skincare product are of course responsible for whatever the product claims to do. These active ingredients are what we look out for when we buy products.

What ingredients are best for oily skin?

Let’s talk about what to avoid for oily skin first. Anything that is oil based should be avoided as it will clog pores. Petrolatum, mineral oils, natural oils like coconut oil etc. will clog pores. Very few oils like tea tree oil are non-comedogenic and can be used on oily skin. But to be on the safe side, as many products come with mixed oils, it’s advisable to generally avoid oily products on oily skin. Avoid oily moisturizers, concealers, foundations and other cream based types of makeup.
Look for products that are labelled non-comedogenic. These won’t block your pores and won’t make your oily skin worse.

Cleanse/wash with foaming cleansing agents or washes that contain ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, witch hazel.

Exfoliate with salicylic acid, glycolic acid. Most cleansing agents containing these ingredients also exfoliate.

Treat with retinoids (e.g. retinol, tretinion), benzoyl peroxide, Sulphur

Moisturize with non-oil based moisturizers. They can be in gel, serum, light cream or lotion form. Heavier Creams and ointments are not advisable. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalene help to keep skin moisturized, balancing out oils and keeping the skin healthy without adding oiliness.

Protect with non-oil based sun protection of at least SPF30. They can be light lotions, very light creams, sprays or gels. Many sun protection products can have moisturizing benefits.

What ingredients are best for dry skin?

People with dry skin should avoid soap based washes, cleansing agents that are drying (sodium lauryl sulphate or sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate), ingredients that have a high potential to irritate (like antiseptics, medicated skincare products, alcohol, peppermint, menthol, eucalyptus, fragrance), excessively hot water baths for prolonged periods as this strips away both oil and water from the skin, same as abrasive scrubs, sponges.

Cleanse/wash with a non-foaming, soap free, pH balanced wash. Washes with glycolic acid, lactic acid will help exfoliate gently and keep the skin clean.

Exfoliate with mild exfoliators like lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid. We love Lactic acid for dry skin because it not only serves to exfoliate dead cells, it is also a humectant- meaning it has the ability to attract moisture and retain the skin’s natural moisture.

Treat with ingredients like Urea which not only help exfoliate flaky skin but also attract and lock in moisture into the skin. Urea can come as part of a moisturizer or wash/cleansing agent.

Protect with a moisturizing sun protecting cream or lotion of at least SPF30.

What ingredients are best for dehydrated skin?

Like we mentioned in the skin type section, dehydrated skin is more of a skin condition rather than a skin type. Most times dehydrated skin is self-inflicted. It is commonly seen when we use products that are too harsh for us, stripping our skin of water. Environmental factors like being out in the sun a lot, air conditioning indoors and the dry weather increase the chances of your skin being dehydrated.
What we typically advice in people with dehydrated skin is to stop all products currently being used and improve environmental conditions if possible (e.g. using a humidifier). We also advice a switch to mild washes and intense moisturizers containing same ingredients as advised for dry skin, especially the humectants- they are best at replenishing water within the skin. If that approach doesn’t work, you will need to see a skin specialist.

What ingredients are best for combination skin?

Combination skin can be difficult to identify and tricky to treat. While it is typically a combination of an oily T zone (forehead, nose and chin) and dry cheeks, it can be a combination of other skin types and conditions e.g. oily and dehydrated skin at different parts of the face. We try to use products with ingredients that can serve multiple purposes and maintain both skin types present or simply use different products for different parts of the face.

Cleanse/wash: Use a mild non-foaming wash as you would for dry skin with similar ingredients as you would dry skin. No irritants.

Exfoliate as you would for dry skin

Treat with a spot treatment approach. E.g. For the oily T zone, dry cheeks type skin, apply your oil drying products on the T zone, which will mostly be in gel, serum or some other very light form and your rich creamy lotions and moisture laden treatments to your dry cheeks.

Moisturize with a spot moisturization approach as well. A lighter oil free moisturizer for the T-zone and a creamy, heavier one for the cheeks. Moisturizers containing grapeseed and tea tree oil can be used all over the face for combination skins with oily + dry skin types.

Protect with a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF30, with a very light consistency/ texture.

What ingredients are best for normal skin?

If you have normal skin with no concerns, you are indeed lucky and you will want to keep it that way for as long as possible. People with normal skin however can still have conditions like hyperpigmentation, aging, rosacea etc. which will still need to be addressed properly for optimal skin health.

Cleanse/wash/ exfoliate with alpha and beta hydroxyl acids like glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid.

Treat for any conditions that will be co-existing with your normal skin. Anti-aging treatments, pigmentation treatments etc. as required.

Moisturize with a good moisturizer containing both humectants and barrier oils.

Protect with broad spectrum sun protection of at least SPF 30.

What ingredients are best for sensitive/ intolerant/ allergy-prone skin?

We will start with ingredients to avoid in people with Sensitive skin. Look out for and avoid Fragrance, anti-bacterial and medicated products of any kind, Isopropyl alcohol, Sodium chloride, Surfactants such as Sodium lauryl sulfate, Sodium laureth sulfate, Ammonium lauryl sulfate, lanolin, mineral oils, cinnamates, sorbic acid, Soaps such as sodium tallowate or cocoate, Salicylic acid, Willow bark (the natural version of salicylic acid), Alpha Hydroxyl acids. Chemical sunscreens such as Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone. The most potent irritants are listed in the orange box!
Products suitable for sensitive skin will usually be labelled as fragrance free, hypoallergenic, for sensitive skin.

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