A question from Yasmin in Sweden
Hello Colin! Recently been trying to wrap my head around the science of skin care. It all started with a free sample from clinque’s ’3 step skin care’. I love it and it feels great. However I’m always suspicous to whether these things are actually having an affect and if it’s something that is necessary? So in essence my question is really, does everyone need a skin care regime? Do we need to be cleansing, toning, exfoliating and moisturising? What about eye creams? Do we just need a classic bar of soap and sunscreen if anything at all? It’s so frustrating, I just want to know the truth Thanks! Kind regards from Yasmine in Stockholm, Sweden
Quite a few questions there Yasmine!
Skin care regimes are certainly a good idea for cosmetic companies. Rather than selling you one product they can sell you several and you have to buy them regularly. What’s not to like? The question is whether they are a good idea for you – and that is something only you can tell. It might be a good idea. For instance, Sweden is a country which is very cold and dry in winter, and so regularly using a moisturiser might be a good idea. But with the sun low in the sky and short days, a sunscreen might not be necessary at all.
So to look at the components of a skin care regime you ask about.
Cleansing fairly obviously is only necessary when you have dirt on your skin.
There is nothing wrong with a classic bar of soap, but soap does tend to dry the skin out a little. So if you have skin that is on the dry side it might be an idea to combine it with a lotion. Cleansing wipes are another option, and are quick and convenient.
Despite nearly 30 years working in the cosmetic business I have still not worked out what toners are supposed to do. When I try them I find that they either dry my skin out or have no effect at all. But they continue to sell well and so I guess they must have some benefit which has escaped me. Beauty bloggers often describe their skin as feeling better when they use them but I think it is very much an individual thing.
Exfoliating is a bit oversold by the companies who sell exfoliating products, but I find that a mild exfoliation does give my skin a healthy looking glow and a pleasant warm feeling. I am not sure it does much if your skin is already in pretty good condition. I definitely would not do it daily. It is certainly possible to damage your skin’s barrier function with overenthusiastic exfoliating.
Your skin is moisturised from inside. Water is continually being lost across your skin. If the water is being lost at the same rate it is being replaced your skin is in perfect condition. The skin will both look good and will have a good barrier function to protect itself from all the traumas it might encounter.
If your skin is in good condition, there isn’t much the cosmetics industry and the cosmetic scientists it employs can do to improve it. But as your skin ages it tends to lose water more quickly and your skin tends to become drier. You can slow this process down by applying a moisturiser that holds the water in. One myth is that applying a moisturiser while your skin is still in an optimum condition will slow down the process. I’d love to be able to say that this was true, but sadly it isn’t. You will only get a benefit from a moisturiser if your skin is dry in the first place, and you’ll need to keep on applying it. So if you have dry skin then a daily skin care regime of applying a moisturiser should help.
I hope this quick review helps. Cosmetic products certainly can help your skin, but they don’t work miracles. The only thing I should add is that you should be able to see an effect from any product in a week. If you can’t see it working, it probably isn’t working.