How to Look Younger with Skincare

Skin Care Routine is a Must!

We have to start a skincare regimen as young as possible. The older we get, the more reluctant we implement skincare routines in our life as it has not been a part of our habit since young. When we do not form a habit by doing a certain routine on a frequent basis, it is easy to skip the steps as and when we do not feel like it.

When we are still young, we always look great without doing anything else. Mother Nature takes good care of us. Many people take this for granted until the ageing effect becomes apparent when they enter into their 30s and 40s, they regret at that stage not taking care enough of their faces and start comparing to younger-looking people in their league.

They lamented that they have no time to take care of their face when they were younger or probably just too lazy. Many men think it is girly and sissy to use skincare and want to have that manly, rough look to portray their masculinity. Most simply don’t care as they have not come to the point in time where they care.

When the first sign of ageing appears, people then resort to spending more money and more time for the cosmetic repair to have their problem fixed in the end. They look for remedies like botox to repair the lines, to firm and to sharpen their face notably when they become more successful in life and gain more publicity.

I started my skincare routine at a very young age. I told all my friends the importance of personal skin maintenance and teach them what to do if they have no idea, especially my guy friends who have no idea at all what these “womanly activities” are all about. I have to tell them about skincare for men.

I mentioned that many people said that I looked young. A part contributes to my genes and humid geographical location and the other deserving reward is my own skincare routine. I do not think we should just depend on our genes to get by. Do we know how we will look like in another 10 years’ time? Instead of leaving it to chance, I prefer to take it in my own hand by trying and reading everything under the sun which falls in this category.

♦ The Essential Daily Skin Care Routine ♦

Below is a step-by-step guide to the Essential Daily Skin Care Routine, the best anti-ageing skincare solutions start early.

#1. FACE CLEANSER – for Washing the Face

Daily cleaning is required to remove bacteria and excess oil secretion (sebum) from the sebaceous glands from blocking the pores. When the oil gland is infected with bacteria, it will swell and turn into pimples. The dirt particles will stick on your face causing the skin surface to look duller and feel rougher over time.

Some cleansers are for “All Skin Types” whereas some cleansers are added with other beneficial properties such as brightening, whitening, tightening, moisturising, anti-ageing, oil control to speed up the effect according to your needs. Spoilt with various choices in the market, I would prefer to pay more for a better cleanser with that extra something than a basic cleanser for all skin types. The choice is yours.

Do not skip this step:

  • if your environment is polluted, hot and humid;
  • if your face is oily;
  • if you perspire profusely;
  • if you have enlarged pores.

For normal, dry and sensitive face: Choose an appropriate face cleanser that does not dry out your face.

After washing, pat your face dry with a towel. If you feel tightness around your face in an uncomfortable way, the cleanser is too strong for you. You need a milder cleanser or compensate with a hydrating toner and moisturiser.

For oily and acne-prone face: Choose an oil control cleanser not just good to remove the oil from your face without drying you out, but also to control excess oil on your face for some time after washing.

After washing, pat your face dry with a towel and touch your face. If It feels a little sticky on the fingers instead of feeling clean and smooth, then the oil has not been cleansed off satisfactorily. You can remove the last traces of oil/makeup with toner (oil control/astringent) and moisturiser.

How to Use: Wash your face 2 times a day, morning and night with fingers, a facial sponge or a piece of cloth.

Special Tip: Get a face wash that comes with micro-grains gentle enough for mild scrubbing daily for people who wants to exclude using face scrub totally. See below for face scrub.

Warning: Washing your face too many times a day with a facial cleanser may strip off the natural film of oil necessary to protect against bacteria attacks and to keep your face moist. Skin will turn greasier from over-washing as the oil glands work harder to produce more oil to replace the lack of oil. Users may also experience itchiness in this instance.

Skin Care

.#2. FACE SCRUB – for Exfoliating the Face

Many people skip exfoliating their face without realising its importance. Other than daily washing of face, scrubbing the face a few times per week removes dead skin cells which accumulate on the epidermis, the top layer on the skin. After exfoliation, our face looks brighter, less dull and feels smoother.

This step is important for skin rejuvenation because the skin can breathe better without all the grime and thus our face looks more radiant. Makeup can glide on smoothly and stay longer on a face that is scrubbed frequently. The essence of facial toner and moisturizer will be better absorbed when the skin has fewer dead cells.

Face scrub has 2 types of grain scrub – micro and coarse grains. Micro grains are generally recommended for most users (for the first-timers) and are more commonly found in the market. They are more gentle and feel painless on the face during the exfoliating session. Many micro-grain scrubs in the market are so gentle that they are suitable to be used daily, as claimed by the manufacturers.

Coarse grains can feel quite painful on the face if the scrubbed strength is strong. They work well with less sensitive skin (men’s faces). Coarser grains are effective when used as body and foot scrubs. Grain size is a personal preference as both are performing the same function.

How to Use: Face scrub is normally for “All Skin Types”. Replace your face cleanser with a face scrub 1 to 3 times a week adjusting it to your suitability and skin type. Use more often if you apply makeup or do a lot of sports.

Special Tips: Scrub the remaining exfoliator around your neck before you rinse out. Your neck deserves some good scrubbing to remove dirt accumulation.

Warning: Take note not to over-exfoliate the face because it can be very drying and uncomfortable. Peeling skin is a sign of overdoing it and the interval of days should be spaced out even more. People with severe acne, eczema, dry and sensitive should avoid using too much face scrub to people with eczema or related skin problems, dry and sensitive should avoid using too much face scrub as not to aggravate the problem

#3. FACIAL TONER – for Hydrating the Face

Facial toner is another skincare product that many people like to skip but is strongly recommended to spend an extra minute or two to get it through while benefitting from the following:

  • It is used with a cotton pad immediately after cleansing the face to remove the last trace of cleanser, makeup, oil and dirt.
  • It soothes and moisturises the skin by preventing it from drying out due to incompatible facial cleansers.
  • It tightens the pore and reduces enlarged pores.
  • It restores the skin to its optimum state by adjusting it to the correct pH level after washing.
  • One important function of a toner is to deliver the serum and/or moisturizer deeper into the skin cell to optimise their benefits.

There are many choices of facial toners in the market for different skin types and ingredients to boost the effectiveness of the moisturizer that you are using. The different types of toners are desired effects for firming, whitening, anti-ageing, hydrating/moisturizing and clarifying/oil-control (also called astringent).

For normal, dry and sensitive face: Choose from a wide range of facial toners in the market according to one’s desire. These toners should not contain alcohol. Sensitive and allergic skin should avoid alcohol and fragrance-free products.

For oily and acne-prone face: Choose a clarifying toner with or without alcohol. Some alcohol can help to control excess oil. Acne-prone skin may like to use astringent which contains the highest amount of alcohol content to dry up the pimples and to control the excessive oil to prevent it from further pimple outbreaks.

How to Use: Use day and night. Immediately after washing the face, pat dry with a towel. Use the facial toner immediately while the skin is still damp so that it has a higher absorbency rate when the pores are still opened. Apply with your fingers patting the toner onto your face or use a cotton pad and rub them onto your face to remove the last traces of makeup and cleanser left behind. However, using a cotton pad wastes more essence.

Special Tips: After the first application of toner dries up, reapply again for double strength especially for hydrating anti-ageing effect. Sometimes I apply an oil control/astringent toner the first round, then apply another different type of toner (non-alcoholic)  over it when the first toner dries up. For excess left-over toner (must be non-alcoholic unless you have pimples on your neck), apply it over on your neck so as not to waste it.

Warning: Prolonged use of astringent will cause dryness and maybe itchiness on the skin and therefore, use it sparingly or as and when needed when there is an outbreak. Astringent is also particularly useful to prevent and dry up pimples on the back of your body.

#4. ANTI-AGING EYE CREAM – for Moisturizing the Eye Area

Never underestimate and ignore your anti-wrinkle eye care routine. The eye area ages the fastest because they are the thinnest skin on the face. Even if we take good care of our skin, one can guess the age just by looking at the eyes. A few seconds of patting and gentle massage from inner to outer eyes every day will give you countless benefits. Dark eye circles and eye bags will be significantly reduced due to increased blood circulation stimulated by massage.

I had the most serious panda eyes from a very tender age and everyone was always asking me whether I had enough sleep. It was both hurting and irritating. When I started to apply eye cream religiously the past 10 years because I realized I didn’t incorporate it as part of my beauty care routine earlier, I witnessed an amazing result. It was gone! Now, nobody asks me anymore whether I have enough sleep.

There are 2 types of textures for eye moisturizers in the market. One is cream form and the other is gel type. The cream is heavier in texture and is suitable for dry skin or climate which is drier. The gel is lightweight and is suitable for oily skin.

I personally prefer the cream types (which exist more in the market) although I have oily eyelids. It seemed that the effect works better after I woke up the next day when I have tried both the cream and the gel type from the same brand, Clinique, which is perfect for my comparison.

The focus target on most eye creams is for anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing problems. Puffiness, dark eye circles and eye bags are questions of concern for some people. Whichever type of eye cream or eye gel you choose, it will remove puffiness thanks to the massaging again.

There is no miracle cream for dark eye circles so it is of no use to pay for a very expensive eye cream that you are betting your dollars and notes to get rid of your dark eye circles totally. When you constantly apply eye cream, over time it will reduce a lot by itself because of constant massage to drain the toxin out of the lymphatic system. I am a live example and my siblings have very deep dark eye circles too.

How to Use: Eye cream is normally for “All Skin Types”  Place a very small amount of eye cream or eye gel on your finger. Rub your bottom eye contour gently starting from inner to outer eye. Put a bit of pressure on your lower eyelid when you rub. There are some acupuncture points below the eyes and these can help to massage and remove the dark eye circle and drain off the water from retention to reduce puffiness.

Remember not to reverse the process by rubbing it from outer to inner because you will pull the skin and cause wrinkles to appear. Strictly in 1 direction only. Repeat the same procedure on the top eyelid and reduce the cream if you have oily eyelids.

Special Tips: Apply eye cream first before you apply your moisturizer on your face to prevent the rich face moisturiser from staining your fingertips and sipping into the skin of your delicate eye area.

Warning: Eye cream should be applied sparingly otherwise it will cause milia (a tiny hard white bump also known as oilseed) to appear around your eyelids due to dead cells (keratin) trapped under the epidermis. Stop using the eye cream if that happens because it is too rich for your skin absorption. Excess cream that cannot be absorbed by the skin will turn into dead cells over time.

Milia cannot be squeezed out but most can disappear by themselves after some time. A sharp object like a needle can be used to pierce the outer layer of the skin with a steady hand and the milia can be squeezed out (risky and scary). I find it painful to squeeze that out because the skin around the eyes is very sensitive. Alternatively, one should go to a skin specialist/dermatologist to have it removed.

#5. FACE MOISTURIZER – for Moisturizing the Face

Moisturizer helps to hold water in the skin to prevent them from drying out and plumping the skin so the wrinkles look less obvious. It creates a barrier against external aggression by sealing it to prevent our natural oil from drying out which can cause skin irritation such as dryness or itchiness.

My skincare philosophy is to apply more rather than less which could be one of the reasons why I can look way younger than my age. Firming of skin is vital to look young as saggy skin arises from the loss of collagen over time. We lose 1% of collagen every year after the age of 29.

When you apply moisturizer on the face, you lift up the skin subconsciously giving it a little pressure massage from inner to outer face pulling the skin towards your ear where some lymphatic nodes are located to drain out the toxins and to reduce puffiness.

I place so much emphasis on firming up my skin, that I am a loyal fan of firming products and facial service. The firm skin on the face reflects youth as opposed to loose, saggy skin. From personal experience, face cream that contains principally moisturizing properties alone will not lift up the face because the main function is to counter dryness and prevent wrinkles.

I discovered that firming cream feels more drying and is being absorbed faster than the typical moisturizer. This might be explained that the firming cream is working hard to drain the water out from the face to reduce puffiness and firm up the skin. I usually bought sample sizes to use and so I have tried many brands on my face.

My face was more on the oily/combination type of where I stay (tropical climate). Anti-ageing moisturisers didn’t work too well for me because my face can already produce enough oil. During my 1 year stay in France and Belgium, I experienced a drier face and slapped on thicker moisturizer and applied them 2 rounds if necessary.

Firming cream was drier again in comparison to different climates and didn’t give enough moisturizing effect but it was still the effect I wanted to achieve. I alternated the use between firming and anti-ageing cream because I wanted the best of both worlds. People with dry skin in those climates need thicker cream application as the face would drink it up quickly.

In Asia, whitening cream is rather popular among Asian girls. I had no impression of seeing any whitening range of skincare products on the supermarket’s shelves in Europe when I stayed there. Almost all the Caucasians I know of are into the tanned, dark look which is the mentality and trend for them. Of course, most are fair so having a whitening range is redundant and unmarketable in the market.

There is a wide range of various types of face moisturisers found in the market for skin types – dry, normal, normal to dry, normal to oily, combination skin, day or night cream. Choose according to your skin type. Daycream is lighter and normally contains SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and night cream are thicker in consistency to last throughout your sleep.

For normal, dry and sensitive face: Choose from the moisturizer texture from the lightest to the heaviest – gel, lotion and cream according to your preference. Younger skin may like gel and lotion texture whereas mature skin requires a heavier cream. The lotion comes in liquid form, heavier than gel and lighter than cream texture. 

For oily and acne-prone face: Oily skin can opt for gel or lotion type. Acne-prone skin can use medicated moisturiser to help control oil, prevent further pimple outbreaks and reduce pimples scars.

How to Use: Apply in circular motions or from inner to outer face using your fingers after you have applied your toner (and face serum) when your face is still damp. Pat all over your face gently. Patting encourages the skin to absorb better and also help to firm up the skin.

Special Tips: If your skin absorbs moisturiser fast and you still feel the dryness, your skin may be thirsting for more as the current one may not be hydrating or oily enough for your face. Upgrade the texture of the moisturizer or switch to another brand.

Slap on the maximum moisturizer that your skin can absorb. You have to try this with different moisturizers until you find a saturation point where enough is enough. If there is an excess, wipe it off with tissue or apply the excess onto the neck if you do not have a neck cream.

Warning: Excess moisturizer on the skin will cause sebum to occur when mixed with air and dust. You have to wait for the first layer to dry up completely before applying the second layer if necessary.

#6. SUNBLOCK LOTION – for Protection Under the Sun and Indoor Lamps

If you enjoy outdoor activities, ultraviolet radiation (UV) is likely the number one culprit that makes your skin age the fastest. Collagen needed for making the skin supple is stripped off by the sun and free-radical damage every day.

Some people refuse to apply sunblock because they want to achieve a tanned look without the barrier of sunscreen. This is not advisable as prolonged exposure to the sun will definitely make one age the fastest.

Wear sunscreen at all times during the day even when one does not see the sun to filter off the damage caused by UVA and UVB. UVA rays will cause premature ageing and UVB rays will cause sunburn.

When I stayed in France during winter where one could barely see much sunlight, my hands that were not covered by any gloves and jacket sleeves were darkened after 2 months without using any sunblock lotion.

It was very obvious when I was topless and could compare the tanned skin against my fairer forearm and body. It was then I truly realized that the sun was capable of doing damage to the skin even if one didn’t see the sun. Even indoor lights contain UV that will darken the skin over time.

Sunscreen comes in oil, lotion and spray form with various SPF numbers to indicate the protection time. Some are incorporated into day cream and come in different SPF numbers.

How to Use: Apply sunblock lotion on the face after moisturizer and before applying makeup, 15 to 30 minutes before stepping into the sun to be effective.

Warning: Sunblock that is waterproof contains oil and may clog skin especially if you have oily and acne-prone skin. Use only non-oil based sunblock made for use on the face. Remove oily sunblock completely when cleansing your face.

Marketing Strategy which Compliments You

Manufacturers for different brands create special formulas for their users. While there might be no obvious side effect arising from the incompatibility of the 2 brands from different manufacturers, the marketing strategy of your favourite brands usually works hand-in-hand to complement one another by using the same ingredients to optimise the result as it claims.

By buying 1 to 5 separately, the manufacturers will not be able to guarantee the success of their highly acclaimed range of products as their test reviews might be tested on people who use the whole range of products, eg. anti-ageing cleanser, toner and moisturizer. You may want to bear this point in mind when trying out a new series of beauty care products to optimise your desire before you think that it doesn’t work for you.