• Janie Chiu

10 Important Skincare Reminders

Here to share a few things I have learned over time about the beauty industry, and skincare and cosmetic products. I hope that this sets out as a reminder for future purchases and usage or perhaps as an eye-opening read for first-time readers.

skincare products lined up
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

1. Toner ≠ Essence

Oftentimes people mistaken toner and essence because they look and feel the same sometimes. However, if you pay close attention to the actual texture, toners are more liquid based, while essence has a thicker consistency. In the past, toner was heavy alcohol-based and sort of stung in a good way (I remember my first Clinique toner did that!). Many believed toner was a step after cleansing that further took off product - a step that could certainly be omitted (New York Magazine). But that is certainly not the case today. With a greater advancements into research and development on skin, we now know that our skin actually has a barrier of "good oils" that we want to keep (not all oils on our body are bad). First, when cleansing, we are actually opening up our pores so that the product can deeply cleanse our skin. Toner acts as a pore closer and pH balancer for our skin so that the natural barrier is protected. Essence on the other hand became a staple or popular part of our skincare routine because it was a rising K-beauty product. Both essences and toners provide the same effects, but essence is a much more hydrating formula that further locks in the previous products used with other products such as serums and moisturizers. You can skip essence, but you should always keep toner as part of your skincare routine even if it is just cleanse, tone and moisturize.

2. Make up remover ≠ Cleanser

Some people have a long religious process for cleansing by using machines and several products, while others take cleansing very lightly and believe that water and make-up remover does the trick or they simply forget to clean and go straight to bed.

I remember several years back, I was in the category of "lazy cleaners," where if I got too tired from going out with my friends and would just half-ass my cleansing or even just fall asleep without taking my make-up off. LET ME TELL YOU HOW DETRIMENTAL THAT IS FOR YOUR SKIN! Our naked eye cannot see how dirty and porous our face is when we don't clean our face properly, but it is so important to take off product from your skin with a makeup remover and then use a cleansing product to further deep cleanse your face.

Why is it so important to cleanse our face?

  1. A.M. and P.M. cleansing is important. You might think, "why can't I just wash it with water in the morning, I didn't even go out." When your body is resting, everything in your system is repairing and replenishing. Depending on your skin type, you might wake up feeling oily (I do!) and this oily substance is called sebum. Sebum helps protect your skin against dryness and bacterial infection, but overproduction can also lead to clogged pores, acne and shiny-looking skin.

  2. Our skin needs to breathe. Just like using body wash for our body because we build up dirty and oil on our bodies even without doing anything. If scrubbing and exfoliating is part of your shower routine, you will notice that certain areas of your body has a lot of dead skin and dirt (sorry it's gross but this is natural). Our face requires the exact same method of cleansing, it needs to be cleansed thoroughly so that sweat, dirt and oils can be clear from our pores.

2.1: You can skip your morning A.M. cleanse (EXCEPT for those with acne prone and oily skin)

Contrary to what I said above, and what I and most people have been doing their whole life, apparently you can actually skip your A.M. cleansing. In this ELLE article, it does provide 5 facts on why you can skip it. One reason being that It protects your skin’s natural barrier since our skin works all night to repair and replenish as well as building its own natural barrier (a layer of helpful oils keeps skin soft), why would we wash all of that good stuff away.

To be honest, I am not 100% sure if this is something that is effective, but there are days where I don't cleanse in the morning, but I also don't put other products on my face and it feels fine. But when I wake up, my face is oily and I cleanse it to make sure the sebum does not clog up my pores before applying product and makeup. I don't recommend skipping the A.M. just because I know that many people use different products for their daytime and nighttime routine and leaving the nighttime products on without washing it off and then applying daytime products on top of that is piling an unnecessary amount of product onto your skin and can actually clog your pores even more.

3. Drugstore products are just as good as high-end luxury products

Don't be fooled by the marketing, packaging and the pricing!

Drugstore products and high-end luxury products are both as effective when it comes skincare and beauty products. I am a big believer in finding a balance in high-end and lower-end products because beauty products are EXPENSIVE! I do not recommend only spending on luxury skincare products because it "sounds or looks like it would work better." Far too often we are fooled by the advertising and packaging of beauty products when we see celebrities sponsoring it or we see it being advertised a lot on social media. I'm not saying too much marketing is bad, but don't only believe in marketing tactics, especially for products that go directly on your skin.

Growing up, ever since I started using skincare products and make up, I used drugstore products because I didn't have in depth knowledge on what products were good and I just used whatever I wanted to. Gradually, I began to learn about what products are necessary for skin concerns and what products are actually beneficial to my skin. I still use a lot of lower end products for skincare and makeup such as my cleanser and concealer, but I also mix in and use higher end products that target specific skin concerns, such as eye cream for fine lines and Vitamin C serums for dark spots (this is truly based on what works for your skin and based on your own preference). You do you! There is nothing wrong with spending little or a lot of money on skincare, don't let the Internet tell you that skincare has to be at a certain price to be good.

4. Is less always better?

More or less skincare products or steps depends on YOUR skin type needs. Don't be fooled or pressured into having a big long skincare routine if you don't need to have one. But also try not to skimp out on steps or products if your skin needs that extra step. Some people might only need or want to have three steps in their skincare routine while others need ten steps. Depending on age, skin type, preference or specific skin concerns you are targeting, you may require a lot more products than someone who doesn't have a lot of issues. I am a big believer of using less amounts of the product even if you are using a lot of different types of products. Less is more when it comes to the amount you use because a little goes a long way and sometimes too much of one product can cause irritation and clogged pores.

NOTE: When using anti-aging products such as retinol - LESS IS MORE. If you are a first time retinol user, start with the lowest concentration and build up on the amount used and the concentration use because it causes redness and will dry out your skin.

5. SPF is an everyday NECESSITY

Sunscreen is so important. The long-term effects of UV exposure over time is a serious issue that leads to skin cancer. Not wearing SPF can 1) damage the basic barriers of your skin, 2) cause you to age faster, 3) increase dark spots and freckles and 4) increase your chances of developing skin cancer. I cannot emphasize how important it is to wear SPF everyday, even if you are home sitting by a window with sunlight, sitting in front of a computer screen all day or going out on a rainy and gloomy day. UV rays are not just here during sunny days. I think we often forget that and only associate UV rays with summer heat and sunshine.

I personally have very fair skin to the point where you see a lot of my veins and I am prone to getting freckles as well because it runs in the family so I cannot skip out on SPF. Using products such as Vitamin C and Sunscreen with SPF 50 PA+ for your face is a great way to protect your skin. The number on the sunscreen represents how long it will take for your unprotected skin to burn. For example, if it typically takes only 10 minutes for your unprotected skin to burn, then SPF30 means your skin is protected for 300 minutes = 5 hours. PA+ stands for how much UVA protection the product offers and each additional '+' represents a higher level of protection.

6. Don't forget to moisturize your NECK and HANDS

These two areas are the first noticeable signs of aging!

Moisturizing our body, neck and hands are great ways to keep our skin soft and young. Especially during this time when we are constantly hand sanitizing or using products that are highly concentrated in alcohol or chemical, our hands are drying out every day. Additionally, we often neglect our necks when we do our skincare routine or moisturize our bodies (I know I do!), and when we lie down in positions that are damaging to our back and necks, you know, the neck crunch while we watch Netflix, we are actually creating wrinkles too. So if you're reading this far, here's you daily reminder to sit up right and moisturize!

Pro Tip: Using sunscreen on your hand is also a great way for keeping your hands from aging!

7. You are never too young to start using anti-aging products

There's no age limit for using anti-aging skincare products, but it is important to understand what types of ingredients are used to target certain areas of our skin and different skin concerns before investing in it. If you are in your teens and early twenties, you don't need to use retinol products as it is a highly concentrated anti-aging ingredient, but instead you can look for products with hyaluronic acid, Vitamin A and C which are great products for fine lines, hydrating and spots. Most teens should focus on hydration and fixing the impurities of their skin, such as clearing acne. When you reach your 20s you can start considering using using products that target fine lines because we actually begin to lose collagen in our skin starting in our mid-twenties and early 30s.

But I'll let you in on a secret to not even having to use anti-aging products until later on. This on its own or in combination with anti-aging products is effective:

  1. Wear sunscreen and SPF products!

  2. Have good skincare habits - cleansing everyday and removing your makeup

  3. Have a well balanced diet

  4. Have a good sleeping schedule (8 hours and try not to sleep past 1am)

  5. Drinking A LOT of water

8. The beauty industry is full greenwashing brands - Do Your Research!

Many brands in the beauty industry work hard on decreasing a carbon footprint, to be plastic free, to be environmentally friendly and sustainable, while there are also other brands who use these glamorous labels as a marketing tactic but are not actually adamant on executing what they say they value. We as consumers don't consciously think about every part of the supply chain and production of the products we use or the clothing we wear, and especially because we live in a capitalist world, we can't fully escape all of the unethical stages, but we can try to! I admit, I am not the most environmentally conscious when it comes to buying clothes and skincare products, but I do acknowledge that I'm not and try to do better every day. I now do a lot of research in skincare brands before trying them or before I decide on making an investment on it to be a staple product of my routine. This is not to shame people for not being conscious about where their products come from, but a reminder that from now on we should start caring about whether the brand we use is ethical or not. Baby steps!

9. Check the ingredients list

As a skincare enthusiast, I am always open to trying new products and brands because learning about my skin type has opened new doors for me to do research on what ingredients were beneficial to my and which ones would cause irritation. I have researched on almost every ingredient in the skincare products that I currently use and have worked for me the best thing about learning is that it provides a good reference point for when I want to try a new brand that I should look for those ingredients. I believe that learning about skincare ingredients is good knowledge to have because it can protect us from buying the wrong product, wasting money and purchasing products that are heavily concentrated in chemicals because there are so many variations of specific scientific terminology for simple ingredients like alcohol and water.

Pro Tip: The ingredients are not listed in alphabetical order because they are listed according to concentration. For example, you might want to avoid products who have alcohol listed in the first five ingredients.

10. Stay hydrated and get some good sleep!

Whether it is you or your skin - water and sleep is your best friend. Water does wonders for our body and skin (we are literally made of 70% water). A hydrated body leads to better digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature, which are all important for our skin. Good body circulation means we secrete the bad bacterias and replenish with good nutrients to maintain a healthier looking face.

I admit, I am a night owl and I can sleep very late if I choose to and for a long time I did, but over time I realized how bad it was for my mental health, my physical health and my productivity. I would wake up with giant panda eyes, like I got punched in the face, but when I started sleeping earlier and more, it changed everything.

Revenge bedtime procrastination is the psychological issue that people "stay up later then they "need" to, simply to reclaim an extra couple of hours in their day at a time." Doesn't this just make so much sense about our sleeping routine now? We sleep late to make up for the lost productivity because we woke up late. Admit it, you've also had that same issue one point in your life and it was a cycle you couldn't get out of. Well I am here to tell you it needs to stop!

Here are some benefits to sleeping earlier/ getting the right amount of hours:

  1. Hair growth (for real!)

  2. Helps our body clock maintain a consistent schedule to repair and replenish

  3. Better productivity (maybe even without coffee)

  4. Delays aging and healthier complexion (sleeping late = wrinkles)

  5. Improves those panda eyes

  6. Healthier for your body, mind and soul - you will notice a positive shift mentally

BONUS: This one's for the boys - you can have a skincare routine too!

Yes that's right! If you are a guy reading this and you don't already have a skincare routine, then hey! maybe you should try! I am so jealous of some guys who will literally wake up with flawless, pore-less skin and all they do on a daily basis is throw water on their face. If that is you, then maybe you should stick to that. But for guys who start noticing a change in their skin, that is all due to puberty, diet, level of physical activities (exercising) and age and maybe you should consider starting a skincare routine. If Korean oppas have skincare routines, so can you! If you start noticing changes in your skin, it is important to identify the specific skin type you have and purchase products accordingly and the basic three-prong routine will do!


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