The Best Is Custom: Build your Own Skincare Routine

There’s nothing I enjoy more in the self-care journey than building my skincare routine. The best skincare routine is one that works. And I am now convinced that the only way a skincare routine works is to create it yourself. As a woman of color, I’ve grown to lose trust in dermatologists who claim to have had experience with various skin types, being able to observe my skin concerns and make recommendations that would give me the luxurious skin I’ve only ever seen in my dreams. It never happened. But what they could do was tell me about the benefits of various topical serums and ointments. From there, I built a skincare process that yielded my desired results.

“Your skin has a memory. In ten, twenty, thirty years from now your skin will show the results of how it was treated today. So treat it kindly and with respect.”
― Jana Elston

black women natural beauty

Take the time to break down your skin goals. Personally, I wanted hydrated, glowing skin with minimized pores and an even complexion. After addressing my goals, I took note of my current challenges: discoloration, scars from hormonal acne and some texture in different parts of my t-zone.

After some extensive research on the Googles, here’s what I learned that I needed: A salicylic acid between 1% – 5%, AHA’s and BHA’s, definitely a Vitamin C, a hyaluronic acid, a Ferulic Acid, and retinol.

The intention was to limit the ingredients so that I wouldn’t get caught up in a $700 skincare regimen because, at that point – get someone else to do it. Hello, Dermabrasion and LED Light Therapy! With this list, I researched for products I could integrate or replace in my skincare routine.

Benefits of Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid works to unclog blocked pores by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells so they can be released from the pore easily. It breaks down sebum, helping to reduce breakouts. It also helps mitigate blackheads and whiteheads and has anti-inflammatory properties in the skin.   It should not be mixed with a retinol.

Benefits of AHAs and BHAs 

These two are chemical exfoliants that promote cell regeneration and help improve your skin’s appearance. They help to repair sun damage in the skin and help with collagen production. It works both on the skin’s surface and deep beneath the skin’s layer. They help to remove the build-up that allows your products to absorb deeper into the skin.

black women skin care

Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights against free radicals that damage the skin. It helps protect against UV rays, hydrates the skin, brightens the skin, helps to fade scars and hyperpigmentation, and helps to promote collagen production.

Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is a lipid barrier enhancement that gives the ultimate hydration to the skin, aiding in healing and reducing the appearance of scars. It helps to provide a firm, smooth texture to the skin, reducing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps the skin retain water and gives you a dewy glow.

Benefits of Ferulic Acid

Ferulic Acid is like a booster for vitamin C, helping to fade dark spots and protect the skin from discoloration. It evens and brightens the skin, helping to treat hyperpigmentation and helps to promote a youthful appearance in the skin.

Benefits of Retinoid

The real star in any skin care routine. Retinoids. Specifically, tretinoin. Retinoid helps to neutralize your skin against free radicals, helps to reduce the appearance of large pores, and helps to prevent clogged pores. It increases the elasticity in your skin, giving you a youthful, healthy glow with softer, smoother skin. Tretinoin is my favorite type of retinoid, it really clears and improves the skins texture in every way. If nothing at all, a great skin care routine will have a retinoid of some form in it.

black woman facial cleansing

“Skincare is so much more important than makeup. Makeup is for when you’re having fun and going out. But your skin is forever.”
― Halima Aden

Here’s the skincare routine I built..

  1. I bought a salicylic cleanser. Because I have combination skin, anything that breaks down oil and sebum production by going directly into the pores would benefit any skin care product I followed up with. For me, salicylic acid worked best here. A salicylic cleanser will break down oils, clean off the build-up from the night before, and go deep within the pores by breaking down any dead skin cells. I use a different cleanser at night to avoid mixing salicylic acid with retinol.
  2. I exfoliate with AHAs and BHAs. This can be done with a toner or facial pads, but it will further enhance the benefits of the salicylic acid. It will also help allow further products to absorb deeper into the skin.
  3. I apply tretinoin. A visit to my dermatologist discussing my skin concerns and goals, landed me with a prescription for tretinoin. I apply tretinoin each night just before my moisturizer.
  4. During the day, I follow up cleansing with serums: Vitamin C is always first. After cleansing and exfoliating, I apply my serums, starting with Vitamin C, followed by Ferulic Acid. I always seal my serums with hyaluronic acid.
  5. I pick a great moisturizer: I chose a moisturizer that focuses on hydration and skin elasticity. During the day, I opt for a thin, milky moisturizer with SPF 30. At night, the thicker, the better – but that is a preference.

Long story short: Take note of how you want to visibly enhance your skin and the challenges you are currently experiencing. Work directly to address those things, focusing intently on the products that will help to do that rather than the name or design of the bottle. (Guilty)

“I like my skin best when it’s clean and glowy, and that comes from sleep, hydration, and happiness.”
― Tracee Ellis Ross

Examine the challenges you see in your skin and take note of your ideal outcome. Combining those efforts and focusing on ingredients that can help you address your challenges will yield the results you seek. If you have oily, acne-prone skin, a facial cleanser that focuses on replenishing the skin’s hydration levels may help cleanse, but it won’t help you reach your goal nearly as fast.

By observing your skin and its challenges as seasons and the weather change, you will be able to quickly adapt your skincare routine to ensure your skin maintains its healthy appearance.

I hope that breaking down my process helps you to identify a routine that works best for you. Always maintaining mindfulness that what goes in must also come out. Drinking plenty of water and eating living foods that nourish the body is imperative. Making an effort to consume foods that naturally have lactic acid or ferulic acid, for example, can help you achieve healthier skin results much faster than just focusing on topical applications.

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