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Beauty routine: What I would have told my younger self

Fresh out of school, I landed my first job at Singapore’s bestselling women’s magazine.

I went on to carve out a journalism career in beauty, fashion and lifestyle for a decade.

In other words, I have been lucky enough to be learning from beauty experts on skincare routines and the latest beauty trends since I was in my early 20s.

Still, there are beauty regime mistakes I wish I had not committed when I was younger

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: There is no need for laser treatments when you are in your 20s. Six years ago, I tried out an Intense Pulsed Light treatment on my neck and décolletage area to “even out the skin  tone, and firm it up”. But my skin was perfectly fine to begin with. So all the treatment left me with was skin that got weakened and easily irritated. Now, the skin on my neck and décolletage is still prone to a red rash whenever the weather gets too warm, or when I wear clothing that rubs against it.
  • Never, ever get a sunburn. I once took a two-hour boat ride in the full tropical sun with zero sunblock when I was in my early 20s. My face and forehead peeled for the next week or so. And until today, I have a spot of pigmentation from that serious sunburn episode eons ago; I can’t get rid of it with creams.
  • Be gentle with the skin around your eyes. When I was in my teens, I used to apply a horrible stick concealer directly onto the delicate skin under my eye area everyday for a year or two. Essentially, I was pulling on the fine skin everyday. And now I have fine lines around the area that will only get worse as I age. Very few eye creams can plump up the area for long. Now, I am super gentle with the area whenever I apply and remove eye make-up.

But here’s what I’m glad I’ve done right all these years: 

  • Keep the sun’s rays at bay. I have been using sunscreen (at least SPF 30) religiously everyday for the last decade. I try to stay out of the sun as much as possible. And if I really need to be out in the sun, I make sure it is not between 10am to 4pm when the sun’s rays are strongest; and wear a large hat for extra protection.
  • Exercise for clearer and firmer skin. No beauty potion can save clogged skin like exercise. My face is always clearer after a good sweat. And I swear the heat generated from the circulation firms up my skin too (that is probably why skin-firming treatments always involve heat to stimulate collagen production).
  • Never sleep with dirty skin. I always make sure my skin is free from make-up and dirt when I sleep. Hitting the sheets with dirty skin = pimples the next morning. In fact, I remove all my make-up with micellar lotion the moment I get home.
  • Keep your make-up clean. Brushes, compact sponges, etc., must all be washed regularly (at least once a week). Don’t touch your face with dirty hands. And do not share your make-up. Personal hygiene is key to clear skin.
  • Always switch up the skincare routine. My skin gets tired of the same products, so that they don’t really work as well, even if they gave me great results at first. The skin has its cycles with its different needs. I’ve been privileged enough to constantly switch up my beauty ritual with new products, therefore I will always give promising products a chance. But if there is one product that I really like, I return to it about once every three months after I am done with a bottle for the best results.
  • That said, don’t burden skin with too many products. I don’t really have a fixed routine. Because sometimes, my skin needs more, other times, less. Some nights I use a lotion, serum, cream, mask; other nights, just a face oil.
  • Facial massage does wonders for the skin. I give my skin and facial lymph nodes a firm massage twice a day – morning and night when I apply my skincare.
  • No smoking. And I try my best to get away from second-hand smoke.
  • Never leave your face at the hands of untrained beauticians. Always do your homework to check on their (or the beauty brand’s) credibility. Otherwise, you could end up with scars and pigmentation for the rest of your life. Word-of-mouth recommendations are best. And please, do not fall for Groupon deals. The best facialists never come cheap.

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