Starting something new is always exciting, be it a new diet plan, workout routine or skincare. During the pandemic, skincare regimes and trying out different products has become a go-to wellbeing routine for many. Skincare is not a 'one-size fits all' proposition as everyone's skin is unique and responds to every product differently. While a product might work wonders on a friend's skin, it might not have a similar effect on your skin type, that only means, that product is not for your skin type and you need to try more, says Ghazal Alagh, Co-Founder, The Derma Co.
Here are some best practices that one can follow while introducing a skincare product in their AM/PM routine. This varies from choosing the right product or ingredient to introducing it correctly in your regime, The Derma Co. expert has everything covered for you to make an informed decision.
Know Your Skin Type
This is the first and the most important step in trying out a new product. There are generally four broad categories of skin types -- dry, oily, combination, and normal.
Normal Skin -- It's the ideal skin type, with adequate moisture and no major skin issues. Dry Skin -- It feels tight and is more prone to fine lines and flakiness. Oily Skin -- It has a greasier appearance and is more prone to breakouts. Combination Skin -- It has dry or normal skin on the cheeks and an oily T-zone, which is the forehead, nose, and chin. Sensitive Skin -- It reacts easily to products with redness, irritation, or breakouts.
To find out your skin type, you can try a quick experiment, wash your face with a mild cleanser and pat dry. Leave it for 30 minutes and notice how it feels. If it feels tight and stretched, your skin is dry. If your T-zone looks a little shinier than the rest of your face, you have combination skin. If the oiliness is more pronounced, you have oily skin. A piece of blotting paper can also tell you where your skin is oily.
Read the Ingredient List
Once you know which skin type you have and know the major skin issues you face you need to choose a product that suits your skin perfectly without leading to any breakouts or adverse reactions. For dry skin, one should always choose products that have antioxidant properties, glycerine, hyaluronic acid, olive oil, or oatmeal that provide intense hydration and restores the moisture barrier of the skin. Oily skin can do wonders with salicylic acid that helps fight acne and keeps the oil in check. Sensitive skin type people should opt for products with Vitamin C which can soothe and heal irritated skin. While purchasing or selecting a product, always make sure that you give the ingredients list a read. Remember that products that stay on longer, like moisturizers and serums have a greater chance to cause reactions compared to products that are washed off, like cleansers and scrubs.
Do a Patch Test
Once you have shortlisted a product, always ensure to do a patch test first. Many people miss this step, and while most people don't have an issue, it's absolutely essential for those with sensitive skin or with specific skin conditions like eczema or active acne. Reading reviews and labels will not guarantee how the product will perform on your skin -- you can be sure about any new product only after a patch test. Apply a small amount of the product on an area that's not prominent, but in an area that's still visible. Start with the inner elbow and wait for 24 hours to check for a reaction. If everything seems fine, do a patch test on the area behind your ear and wait for 24 hours. If the product clears this test, it's safe to apply on your face.
Remember that when testing products with ingredients like Vitamin C, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, or AHAs, you may experience a slight tingling sensation, and the area may seem a little pink, but this is normal and should subside in about 15 minutes. In case you do develop any kind of reaction, like redness, irritation, itching, or rash, stop using the product immediately. Apply cold milk or yogurt to the affected area and leave on for 15 minutes. If it doesn't go away in a few hours, consult your doctor.
Apply in the Right Order
After you have figured out a great skincare routine, if you decide to introduce a new product to the skincare routine you need to ensure that the new product is introduced in the right order of usage. A basic rule of thumb is to apply products in the thinnest to thickest order, to ensure every product is effectively absorbed. The general order to follow is this: cleanser; toner; serum; eye cream; spot treatment; moisturizer; sunscreen. If you intend on using a product that doesn't fit these categories, follow the instructions on the pack carefully. You can also try getting multitasking products so you can eliminate a step or two. For instance, a moisturizer with SPF will do away with sunscreen.
Starting a new product is always exciting, but it's important to balance your enthusiasm and introduce the new product slowly into your skincare routine. Even after you have patch tested the product, it's recommended to use the new product once in five days in the initial phase. Like too many cooks spoil the broth, too many new products can also do the same for your skin health. Avoid introducing more than one new product into your routine at the same time. If you do have a reaction, it will be difficult to identify which one is causing it. It can be overwhelming for your skin to adjust to too many actives at one go, hence start with one product, give it two weeks to work, and if all is well, introduce the next product.
Lastly, one thumb rule to always follow is to never introduce a new skincare product right before a major event -- a wedding or a festival. Always ensure that you leave a buffer time of at least a month before the event so that your skin has enough time to recover in the off chance that something goes wrong.