When I don’t shoot, I retouch what I’ve shot. It takes hours. This photo that you see in the header of this post – took an hour and 15 mins. As you can imagine, it’s a lot of staring at the computer. Even more so now, that I can’t do my job as a fashion photographer sitting at home. But because I’m blessed with such an activity that doesn’t require rigorous thinking, I like to have some noise in the background, rather than listening to my own thoughts. Not today, anxiety.
One of the most soothing things I found is YouTube, specifically, channels about skincare. As with anything on YouTube, it was a progression. It all started with Go To Bed With Me by Harper’s Bazaar, then their other series, Derm Reacts. Derm Reacts, a show where dermatologists react to comments and questions about skincare, eventually led me to a channel called Mixed Makeup by Susan Yara. And then through Susan, I found Hyram, a sweet and sassy guy who lives in Hawaii and teaches me about how to perfect my skincare – his promise.
I know, I know, we shouldn’t believe everything that we see on the internet. But the information that I synthesised over the course of several months of watching this content, I promise, changed my approach to skincare for the best. I used to splash just about any toner all over my face, followed by a whole bunch of random products I picked up from The Ordinary, and some moisturizers with confusing promises. Or, simply lathering some sort of oil on and calling it a day.
So…drumroll for the Skincare Lessons I’ve Learned from Watching Too Much YouTube:
Natural is not always better. Yes, we don’t want too many toxins in our creams. But just because we can’t pronounce something, doesn’t mean it’s bad, or that it’s a “chemical”. I couldn’t pronounce 75% of the words in chemistry class, and one of them was oxygen. Your honor, I rest my case. Natural/organic ingredients can sometimes be incredibly unstable and therefore more dangerous to the skin. That leads me to my next point.
Coconut oil is not an antidote to everything. I had my days of coconut oil overconsumption. We probably all did a couple of years ago. I don’t know who coconut oil’s PR is, but they did a fantastic job. I used to use it as a moisturizer every day, and then walk around with this greasy face, marking clothes and sheets. But coconut oil turns out to be incredibly comedogenic. Meaning it clogs your pores for good. But besides that, it’s not moisturizing.
Oils are not moisturizers. Face oils are all the rage now. Every new brand it seems starts a skincare line with oil of some sort. But they are hugely misused. It doesn’t help that every one of those brands promise their oil will hydrate you to the core. But what oils do is seal everything underneath them. That is why it’s not recommended to use it on bare skin. It’s also useless to put any other products atop of it. None of the benefits will ever reach your skin. You can use it at the very end of your routine, or you can forgo this step and never use face oils in your life again.
Makeup Wipes are a big NO. I never jumped on this train, but it’s overwhelming how many celebs in Go To Bed With Me series use them as their first, if not only, cleansing step. Every derm and skincare specialist is adamant about just how awful those things are. Susan Yara will explain it better, but here’s the gist – makeup wipes are rough on your skin, stretching and irritating it, which leads to premature aging. They also don’t clean makeup off that well. They smear it around, so you absolutely need to get your face wet and soapy to actually get everything off. They are also wasteful. If you use a lot of makeup, it’s recommended to use double cleanse. I’ll leave it to the pro to explain the process.
In-flight skincare should stop. Do all your cleansing, masks and eye patches before your flight, so you are protected and moisturized while traveling. Airplanes are gross, for one, but also, give your neighbor some respect.
No more scrubbing. Scrubs can be very satisfying, but you risk damaging your skin by creating micro-tears and being rough with it. Exfoliation is important, but it’s much better to use a chemical exfoliant, like glycolic or lactic acid (AHA), or, in rare cases salicylic acid (BHA) can be used to treat acne or pore congestion.
SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN. Sun is hugely responsible for skin aging. It took me awhile to understand just how important SPF is. It seems that for me, like for a lot of people, the prospect of skin cancer seems distant enough to slack on sun protection. But, when I learned about aging, lo and behold, I stocked up my SPF shelf to the top. Not because I’m afraid of wrinkles per se, but if I get them out of laziness, I better get my act together. My whole family spent their lives working in the garden, planting and harvesting our food supply for the whole year. I’ve seen my dad covered with sun spots and extreme allergy to UV. To the point where his face and back would inflame and swell. My mom in her late 30s already had deep, and I mean deeeeep, crow feet and bags under her eyes. I’d like to avoid that, thanks. Pro Tip – use mineral sunscreen, not chemical. If unsure, look for reef safe versions on the market. My favorite is Supergoop PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 50.
These days, my skincare routine is pretty simple. A wash followed by Vitamin C serum and SPF in the morning, and a wash and moisturizer at night. I exfoliate a few days a week, sometimes daily depending on how my skin feels, using glycolic acid based toner. Skincare is very personal though, so the products I use may not work for you.
However if you need guidance in understanding which products to use, in what order, and if you want to learn about which brands to use or avoid (backed by actual specialist’s knowledge), talk to an aesthetician…And/or if you simply need a quarantine pass time activity, here are a few playlists I recommend you start with:
Derm Reacts by Harper’s Bazaar
Skincare Reactions by Susan Yara (start with Bella Thorne, you won’t regret it)
Brand Reviews by Hyram
Specialist Reacts by Hyram (a more emotional/funny brother of Susan Yara’s skincare reactions videos)
Sit back, relax, and let skincare YouTube take you down its rabbithole.