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This post is going up on my 28th birthday, so I thought it'd be fun to walk through the skincare advice I'd give to my 18 year-old self! And, if you're a little younger than me, you might pick up some tips to start incorporating into your routine...
Look, I'm not the sort of person who blanket condemns anything (within reason...) Face wipes have their place: if you're travelling long-haul, you're at a festival or you simply can't face the world, then they're better than nothing. However, what I try to reinforce is that they shouldn't be an 'every single day' part of your routine and when I was 18 they were all I'd use. Alongside a face scrub and a moisturiser, if my skin was lucky. The reason I don't like face wipes is that although they might feel 'easier' due to the lack of mess, they aren't very effective. You have to use several to get your makeup off, and often even then there will be dregs of it lingering on your skin. The fact you're not actually washing your face means that all the strong preservatives used to keep a moist product mould-free and whatever you had on your skin that day all just kind of sit there. That's not as terrible if you're cleansing in the morning, but I certainly wasn't! They also lead to tugging around the eyes that you may come to regret when you get older.
Instead, I recommend using an oil or balm cleanser to totally melt down makeup and remove everything. You just emulsify with water and take everything off with a damp cloth. No rubbing, tugging or lingering product! Then I go in with a cream or water-based cleanser to deep-cleanse the skin underneath. If you really aren't into the idea of using two products, I'd at least use a one-step cleanser (I reviewed a few here if you need some inspiration) so your face is seeing some water and so there isn't stuff still sat on it. I'm sure some of my breakouts were hormonal and lifestyle related, but I'm sure I could've avoided some of them by washing my face!
You aren't oily, stop scrubbing your face off
I think because I used to get breakouts I thought I was oily or combination. Looking back, I'm not sure I ever was! Sure, I had a bit of an oily t-zone without powder when I was in my late teens, but I was using face scrubs and not much else and when I did, it was 'mattifying' products. I was stripping my skin then wondering why I still had both breakouts and dehydration!
Use sunscreen every single day
I know this is a dirty confession but I didn't wear sunscreen every single day until a year or so ago... *gasp*... I know. When I was in my teens this just wasn't discussed, however (setting aside the obvious point that you do not want melanoma) most skin issues are worsened by sun exposure. Additionally, if you want to age well then prevention is better than cure and sunscreen is cheaper than botox and fillers! I am all over sunscreen now (or it's all over me!) but of course I wish I'd realised how important it is sooner.
Start on a retinoid in your early-to-mid 20s
This might be a tad controversial, but for my skin: I wish I'd started regularly using retinoids sooner. Generally, the advice is 25+ but I only really started at 27, and I wish I'd got on this earlier! The reason I think they're great and could've been beneficial sooner is that they're amazing for anti-ageing but their skin-smoothing benefits can also be great for breakouts and texture, as well as hyperpigmentation from the hormonal spots you can get. If you're suffering from acne and you're over 18 but under 25: it's worth looking into whether starting on a retinoid might be a good idea. (And, if you need some inspiration, I've reviewed retinoids here of different strengths.)
Sack off the Clean and Clear
I don't know why the products marketed towards teens are so bad, but they really are! They're harsh products packed full of potentially-irritating fragrance when they're aimed at acne, which really doesn't need any more inflammation... They're also quite misleading, often putting chemical exfoliants into 'everyday' products, combining rough physical exfoliation with chemical and just being too stripping overall. The good news is that teens these days have access to so many amazing brands at comparable prices with good, effective products, like the Inkey List, the Ordinary and even Superdrug's own brand.
All that rubbing, tugging, pulling and scrubbing really does catch up with you. If any 18 year-olds are reading this, they might scoff at me, but I do really wish I'd been gentler with my skin, particularly around the eye area. With young people having access to all of these strong active ingredients these days, I think it's more important than ever to be careful and respect your skin barrier rather than going for the highest percentage or using 5 different actives every morning.
What would you tell your younger self about skincare?