Skincare is something that you're constantly hearing talked about all the time, especially in the most recent years, as the industry has seen a huge shift from makeup to skincare, with many women (and even men) adopting a "skin first" approach for the sole appearance of making their makeup look better. With that, those in the industry have quickly pivoted to produce products that are buzzy and promise flawless skin for "everyone" and "all skin types". For people with sensitive, dry skin like us, we know that the mark has been missed several times and that skincare isn't a one-size-fits-all, just like the fashion industry.
Not only has there been a boom in the skincare industry, but there has been the mis-education of skincare as well, with a plethora of new products coming out every day with promises to "brighten, tighten, and clear skin" and filled with antioxidants and amazing humectants. To a skincare newbie, it's really confusing and often causes overwhelm and a damaged skin barrier from trying acids that are undiluted and too harsh and using the wrong kind of face wash to just using a moisturizer and a serum and thinking that's all your skin needs. Most of these products come as add-ons for your routine, but exactly where in the routine does it fit? The most important thing that you can do is getting a grasp on a solid foundational routine and building from there. But there's some basics that you have to understand, specifically when it comes to sensitive, dry skin.
Below, we dive into the basics of what a proper skincare routine should look like for you if you deal with sensitive, dry skin, and/or compromised skin barrier.
Remember this acronym: CTMP (pronounced CEE-TEMP)
The acronym CTMP is shorten for the basic routine to follow when establishing a skincare routine: cleanse, tone, moisturize, protect. Super simple and the four most important steps. Don't let the K-Beauty fool you. It's really that straightforward, and doing more to your skin honestly creates further irritation to your skin's barrier function.
Just like the rest of your body's organs, your skin is pretty good at repairing and protecting itself. However, when we continuously cause disruption to its day-to-day function, it throws it out of whack (put a pin in "balance"), thus leading to the stratum corneum being compromised and sensitized and not being able to do its job of protecting your inner cells from environmental stress.
Cleansing the skin daily with a cleanser that's specific to your skin's needs, toning to help balance and restore hydration, sealing in with a moisturizer that's equally hydrating and deeply moisturizing, and then protecting your skin with an SPF (during the day) is what is going to help you obtain and retain healthy skin. The add-ons like serums, eye creams, boosters, etc. can always come at. later time if you feel it's necessary. But for the purpose of building a solid foundation, just focus on those steps daily for 30 days straight, and you'll start to see an improvement to your skin.
Here are the tips for the types of products to look for when building your routine:
1. Cleanse: For sensitive, dry skin, make sure that the cleanser is a cream-based cleanser or oil-based if you're removing makeup as well. Here is where you can double cleanse, using the oil-based cleanser first (like a cleansing balm), then using your cream cleanser afterward.
2. Tone: Look for a toner that doubles as an essence to help firm the skin, while providing hydration. Some important ingredients to look for include witch hazel (extracted in glycerin), propanediol, squalane, aloe vera, and glycerin for hydration. One important thing to remember here is to make sure there is no alcohol at all within the formulation.
3. Moisturize: A facial oil is important as it's not too heavy and really helps to relieve skin dryness such as dry spots, smooth uneven and rough texture, and improves elasticity. Immediately after toning, it locks in the hydration, reducing water loss from the cells, resulting in a natural dewy and glowing look and helps to calm the skin from inflammation.
Hydration is Major Key
There's a reason why we continuously hear our physicians tell us to stay hydrated, or maybe it's our high-school coaches that wouldn't stop preaching about water and electrolytes. Hydration is essential for inner and outer body, and more importantly because of your cells because it's what powers the mitochondria for complete functionality.
For our skin, when we add hydration to it in the form of a hydrating cleanser or a toning essence that's focused on hydration in the form of humectants (ingredients that draw moisture from the air to the skin and binds it), our skin becomes more calm and noticeably radiant. For those with dry skin, what may seem like a pesky breakout––and lead to the misconception that you have oily skin, resulting in using the wrong products––is actually inflammation of the skin from lack of hydration/moisture. You'll notice that once you start to focus on hydration and adding more of it to your skincare routine, how the inflammation will subside and your skin's texture and tone begin to even out. This leads to the next tip for dry skin...
You Have to Develop a Relationship with Yourself
In order to really understand your skin, you must first understand yourself. As mentioned above, it's easy to mistake one skin symptom for something else and begin treating it with the heavy stuff, resulting in further damage to our skin. The importance of understanding yourself is to identify your skin's triggers and take things into a holistic consideration.
We may think we have acne-prone skin when it's really just our skin freaking out because of how dry it is. It's like when our skin is dry on our bodies and we start to scratch the dry areas. This is because your skin has no hydration or moisture added to it, and your skin is stretching and feeling some tension due to loss of elasticity. Yet, we might get a treatment that helps with itchy skin, but failed to realize that we really needed to add a body oil or lotion to the affected areas.
This means studying yourself and really paying attention to reduce the risk of further damage. Understand that you cannot treat the symptom without addressing the base issue which is providing your skin the basic necessities it needs to function, just like a car needs to be well oiled to ensure the engine runs smooth.
Ready to build your skincare foundation for dry skin? Shop the full routine below and watch your dry skin transform when you start to prioritize it.