I can’t believe 2020 is behind us. 2021 and fresh beginnings could not have come any quicker and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in feeling that way?! At the end of each year, I always do an inventory of my skincare and see which products I’ve loved during the year, as well those I haven’t. This process helps me re-evaluate what I’m trying to achieve with my skin and what I’d like to try in the next twelve months. With my passion for exploring skincare, over the years I’ve built an understanding of how to form good routines and understand what I need. Here are the best practices I think every skincare enthusiast should consider for starting (or continuing) in the new year.
1. Identify Your Aims
What are you trying to achieve for your skin? What is your skin type? It’s always a good idea to periodically ask yourself these types of questions to decide which products are right for you and which are not. Our skin can change over time or with a change of environment. Personally, my main targets used to be brightening, sebum control and hydration and while those are still important for me, my skin is drier than it used to be and moisturising plays a much larger role, as does preventative ageing products such as retinol and AHA. Staying informed about the condition of your skin helps you understand the best ingredients and formulas to achieve what you are trying to. We have a couple of handy blog articles to help you along the way:
Creating Your Korean Skincare Routine: Every Step Explained
How to Build a K-Beauty Routine Based on Your Skin Type
2. Cleanse Well
I personally tend to harp on and on about the importance of cleansing but it’s the foundation of any good skincare routine and one of the easiest steps to take. Even as many of us are now working from home and wearing far less makeup than before (surely it’s not just me who now lives in sweats and a bare face?), you should still be cleansing your face in the evening to get rid of any grime and sun cream before starting your skincare routine.
Washing the face can leave the skin feeling tight and dry, so it’s best to opt for a low pH cleanser for minimal drying effect. My personal favourite right now is the Dr Althea Bubble Cleanser. I find that I get a beautiful lather and thorough cleanse, without the tight feeling afterwards. Win!
3. Choose Your Active
Actives are particularly potent ingredients that are present in a product formula to “do something” to your skin, for want of a better phrase. Actives are backed by scientific evidence which proves that when applied topically, they can help target certain skin issues. For example, Vitamin C is a popular active, proven to increase elasticity in the skin as well as help brighten. AHAs and BHAs are also extremely popular actives, with AHAs helping exfoliate the outer layer of your skin for a smoother, more even toned surface and BHAs helping penetrate the pores to “unclog” them. Actives are excellent considerations for you to take into 2021, and it’s worth investing time in some research as to which active could help you achieve your personal skincare aims. Even if you’ve already been using a variety of actives, it’s good practice to revisit whether they’re the best option for you and whether you’re seeing results. Just always remember if you’re starting something new to proceed slowly and patch test if you have sensitive skin!
4. Overnight Care
There’s no point in doing an entire skincare routine if you’re going to allow your face to dehydrate and dry out overnight. This is particularly true during the times of the year when the heating is on in your home (or the AC if you live somewhere warmer than the UK!). Your skin produces less sebum overnight and you’re more likely to have water loss from the skin cells. I personally opt for either a sleeping pack or a facial oil as my final evening step to ensure I’m locking in all the moisture overnight. If you prefer to use a regular moisturiser, I highly recommend Dr Althea Azulene 147HA Intensive Soothing Cream for overnight use- the thick balmy texture soothes and moisturises the skin, while sealing in all the goodness. I always like to opt for a product I thoroughly love to make sure I grab it before I fall asleep. Glowy skin the next morning is the result!
5. Be Sun Savvy
Korean skincare routines place heavy emphasis on sun protection and with the explosion of the online skincare community in Europe and the US over the past year, I’m excited to see that the importance of daily sun protection has become more mainstream knowledge. Our skin needs protection from the sun every day of the year, no matter your skin tone or where you live. There are two major reasons for this- first, to reduce your risk of skin cancers, and second, to reduce the chance of premature ageing. Skin cancer is a real risk but it’s also one of the most preventable forms of cancer, simply by reducing your chance of sun damage by avoiding excessive sun exposure and always wearing sunscreen. A bonus of this is, of course, the anti-ageing effects of sunscreen. There’s literally no point in splashing out on expensive serums and facials unless you’re wearing your sun cream every day. No excuses!
6. Be Deliberate
A Korean skincare philosophy is not, as may be a surprise to some, about throwing 10 products on your face every evening and calling it a day; the “rule” of 10 or 12 steps or whatever is reported has definitely been taken out of context. In a Korean-inspired skincare routine you should be carefully looking at your skin and selecting products to suit the condition of your skin at that time. This may be 5 products, or it may be 12- that’s up to you to make the informed, deliberate choice.
As consumers we should be considering the environment too, so why buy a product simply for the hype? Does it suit your skin? Does it align with your aims? Will you use it? Making deliberate choices around our skin is important both for ourselves and our social responsibility.
What are your top tips for skincare in the new year?
Photo: Maddy Bazzocco
Katherine Spowart from www.skinfullofseoul.com