10 Skincare Tips I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self
I've always been a late bloomer in pretty much all walks of life, and that includes skincare. Other than blindly throwing acne washes at my face, I didn't know anything — so there are a lot of skincare tips I wish I could tell my younger self. I'm by no means an expert now, but there are things you pick up after several years of beauty writing, no matter how lazy you are (and I'm majorly lazy).
I was pretty much as skincare-illiterate as I could be, back then — I didn't start wearing makeup until college, and my skin just wasn't something I was really interested in, outside of halting break-outs. Plus, back when I was growing up, beauty blogs weren't really as popular as they are now, so part of my ignorance was due to the fact that reliable information was harder to come by — sure, there were magazines, but it wasn't like today where any given product has several thousand user reviews on Makeup Alley, or where there are YouTube gurus and beauty bloggers in every direction telling me that I need to buy Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser.
Any way you cut it, there are a lot of things I'd go back and do differently, if I had a time machine. But because I don't have time for a 10,000-word essay, let's start with the skincare — here are some skincare changes I would have made to my routine.
1. Use Gentler Chemicals
I had acne, so I was constantly plying my face with concoctions loaded with acne-busting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Good in theory, sure, but overloading my sensitive skin with harsh products probably made my skin worse than it had to be. I'm not saying products with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are bad — it's just that you should be careful not to overdo it, and if things feel dicey, stick to a spot treatment.
2. ... And Gentler Exfoliants
Exfoliation is great and a key ingredient to a glowy complexion, but please don't overdo it. Between all the acne products and scrubbing, my poor face really got the short end of the stick in my teen years.
3. Moisturize, For Real
Again because of the acne, I used a ton of oil-free moisturizers with salicylic acid — great in theory, but not actually very moisturizing. You see, the salicylic acid worked against the moisturizing properties, and ended up drying out my skin — which in turn led to even more breakouts. It was a vicious cycle, man.
4. Don't Pick Pimples
Do. Not. Pick. This might not be a fair lesson for my "younger self," since it's still something I struggle with on the daily, but my acne scars and permanently enlarged pores speak for themselves — I wish I'd taken better care of myself. It's a tough habit to break, but it's definitely worth it in the long run.
5. Sleep On Your Back
I'm 100 percent transparent enough to admit that I started sleeping on my back because I was worried about wrinkles. I haven't noticed much of a difference there, but you know what has gotten better? The breakouts I used to occasionally get on my cheeks — they're almost completely eradicated. If sleeping on your back isn't your thing, keeping your hair away from your face and/or changing your pillowcases super regularly should help similarly.
6. Use Sunscreen
Laneige Sun Block Supreme, $23, Amazon
For goodness sake, use sunscreen. You'll hear this in just about every skincare post written anywhere, but that's only because it's true. I was a total beach bum as a kid/teen — I watched Blue Crush one too many times, and I spent a lot of summers surfing. I was constantly smug, because I felt inviolable to the sun — being Asian American meant that I could get a killer tan with nary a sunburn in sight, so I never deigned to wear sunscreen. Fast-forward a decade or so, and you could make a constellation out of my face moles. Face moles are fine and all, but it's really more of a safety thing.
7. Go For an Essence
Now, this one's not quite fair, because they didn't really have essences when I was growing up. Well, maybe they did, but they certainly weren't as mainstream as they are now. Introducing a good essence to my skincare routine has made a world of difference, and it's definitely a huge step forward from the harsh, drying toners I was all about in high school.
8. Go For a Face Oil
Face oils are another product that have become more popular in recent years, but they've made a huge difference in my complexion.
9. Do Your Research
Back then, I either grabbed what was prettiest at the drugstore, or just bought whatever the ladies at the makeup counter told me to buy. Nowadays, I vigorously research everything before I buy it — I'll read up on the products, and request samples if possible. If I'd started doing this sooner, I might have had a few less years of flaky skin and breakouts.
10. Treat Your Skin Nicely
When I look at this list, it all pretty much boils down to one simple message: Treat your skin well. Don't go overboard with harsh chemicals and scrubs, do luxuriate in nice moisturizers et al. Be your own best friend, and treat your face the way it deserves to be treated.
Images: Rosie Narasaki/Bustle; Giphy (7); Courtesy of Brands