What Are The Best Skincare Products For Sun-Damaged Skin?

best skincare products for sun damaged skin

Remember the old days, when we used to spend entire summers in the sun without sunscreen, or slathered our bodies in oil to top up our tans? Little did we know then there would be hell to pay afterwards. *sighs*

Wrinkles, sun spots, dull and rough skin, sagginess… these are just some of the unwanted “presents” unprotected sun exposure has left on our skin. And now, we want to get rid of them. The sooner, the better!

While there is no quick fix to reverse these premature signs of ageing, there are lots of ways we can fight them these days. We just need creams and serums with the right ingredients.

So, here they are, my favourite ingredients and best skincare products for sun-damaged skin:

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Sweat It Out: Does Sweat Really Remove Toxins From Your Body?

does sweat detoxify the body

I love a good workout session. It gives me energy, improves my mood, and keeps me healthy. What it doesn’t do is make me sweat.

No matter how hard I push myself, I sweat very little compared to my friends. I’ve always been glad of that. I don’t like the feeling of sweat running down my face. Or worse, getting sweat in my eyes.

“But how do you detoxify your body if you can’t sweat it out?,” they ask me. “The same way you do,” I reply. And it’s not through sweat.

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Is It Ok To Share Skincare Products?


When I was younger, I didn’t hesitate to share my lipglosses and mascaras with friends. Who knew you could catch an infection that way? Thankfully, I have always been lucky, but thinking back to the unnecessary risks I took, I cringe.

Over the years, I learnt how to sanitize my makeup products so I could safely share them. I also learnt what things (anything wit a dip in wand) can’t be sanitized and should be used only by me (which doesn’t always make me very popular; but safety first!).

But, until recently, I had never given much thought to my skincare products. I guess that’s because we all have different skin types, and what works for one person may not work for someone else.

If your skin is dry and flaky you certainly wouldn’t ask your oily-skinned girlfriend to lend you her moisturizer, would you? If your mom is looking for something to reduce the appearance of her dark spots, your anti-acne serum wouldn’t help her much, would it?

But what if you have the same skin type? Or the same skin problems? Could you share skincare products then? As too often happens, there is not a clear-cut answer. It depends. Mostly on the packaging.

Anything That Comes In A Jar Should Never Be Shared

Every time you dip your little finger into it, some of the bacteria on it may find their way into the pot. If these bacteria happen to be dangerous, they could give your friend an infection.

I admit the risk is tiny. Especially if you wash your hand well beforehand. Then, nasty bacteria will end up down the drain rather than in your moisturizer. But what if your friend isn’t as diligent as you? Does she washes her hands before dipping her fingers into a moisturizer? Or, not knowing about the risks, she doesn’t?

If you can, you should avoid products packaged in jars anyway. Basic formulas are safely preserved even in small pots, but anything with antioxidants needs to be housed in an opaque, air-tight tube or bottle to make them last longer. Every time they are exposed to light and air, which happens every time you open a jar, they lose a bit of their effectiveness.

If you are still in your teens, or are using a serum chock full of antioxidants, a basic moisturizer will work well for you. But if you are concerned about ageing, a moisturizer with antioxidants is a must. Jars don’t protect them and more easily allow bacteria to work their way inside them, so why use them? Don’t.

What About Bar Soap?

We know bacteria thrive in moist environments and bar soap are often moist. They take a while to dry after each use. That makes them the perfect playground for bacteria.

A 2011 study has discovered that using bar soap contaminated with bacteria can indeed transfer them from person to person. But don’t rush to throw yours out just yet. Another study has found the opposite. Scientists infected bar soap with bacteria and found they were unlikely to get transferred on skin during handwashing.

So, who’s right? Probably both. Let me explain. The first study was conducted on a group of students and their teachers. The results found that “significantly higher levels of Gram-negative bacteria were recovered from students than were recovered from staff after washing with contaminated bulk soap.”

For the second study, “sixteen panelists were instructed to wash with the inoculated bars using their normal handwashing procedure. After washing, none of the 16 panelists had detectable levels of either test bacterium on their hands.”

This difference in bacteria transfer is probably due to the way we wash our hands. Adults are usually more throughout. They spend more time making sure they clean every single part of their hands, including the areas between each finger and under their fingernails, and rinse well. Children don’t like washing hands and tend to do so more quickly. As a result, mor bacteria, after rinsing, remain on their hands.

As long as you wash your hands properly, you shouldn’t worry about bacteria contamination. But, if you have children, having liquid soap in the house may be best. Or you’d have to supervise them each time they wash their little hands.

The Bottom Line

Most skincare products can be shared with friends and family members who have your same skin type and concerns. But beware of anything that comes in a jar and bar soaps. They are more likely to transfer bacteria, so use them carefully. The risk may be tiny, but why take it?

Do you share your skincare products?

Can You Use Serum As Makeup Primer?

serum as makeup primer

A few weeks ago, we talked about how a serum can double up as a moisturiser (if you have oily skin). But can it do the job of a makeup primer as well?

That’s something I wondered when I came across this video by Paula’s Choice Skincare Team. The lovely Desiree assures us we can, but I am not so sure. I admit the idea makes sense in theory. But problems start when you try to put it in practice. Here’s why:

Why Using A Serum As Makeup Primer Makes Sense

Makeup primers contain ingredients (usually silicones) that create a protective layer on the skin. This layer prevents the oils in your skin to come in contact with your makeup, allowing it to last longer. It also provides a smooth base for foundation to glide on more smoothly. Silicones can also fill in fine lines and wrinkles, thus helping them look temporarily smaller.

A lot of serums, like Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum and Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum, are infused with silicones too, so they provide the same benefits.

And more. Serums are also chockfull of anti-ageing ingredients, like antioxidants and retinol, that can help keep new wrinkles at bay. Some are rich in skin-lightening agents that can help reduce the appearance of dark spots too. Primers usually lack these goodies, or contain them in minuscule amounts that don’t benefit skin much.

So using a serum as a primer seems to make a lot of sense. You’re saving money, and time in the morning, but getting double benefits, right? Not so fast.

The Problem With Using Serum As Makeup Primer

In the video, Desiree says that you should apply your skincare routine as normal, and then, at the end add a thin layer of primer. I took this to mean you should apply serum after moisturizer, which is why I have doubts about this method. Then, she says that, if you are using a separate sunscreen rather than a foundation with SPF (you should be using both anyway!), primer goes before that.

Again, I find this order of application odd. The general rule is to apply skincare products with a thinner consistency, like serums, first, and those with a thicker texture, like moisturizers and sunscreens, later. That’s because they contain occlusive ingredients, like petrolatum and shea butter, that moisturize skin by creating a protective barrier that prevents water loss.

But this protective barrier can prevent whatever you are applying next from penetrating into the skin. As we already know, makeup primers rarely contain active ingredients that benefit skin. They just form a nice base for makeup, so you can safely apply them after moisturizer and sunscreen.

But the goodies in a serum may not be able to penetrate skin as well if you apply it last. If you, instead, apply it before moisturizer or sunscreen, then you’ll get its anti-ageing and/or skin-lightening benefits and, if they contain silicones, your wrinkles will look smaller too. But your foundation and sunscreen may not provide as smooth or longlasting base for makeup.

Even if your skin doesn’t need moisturizer, sunscreen isn’t optional. And a primer, as Desiree said, should always be applied before that. So, according to its place in your skincare routine, a serum can usually act only as a serum or as a primer. If you try to use it as both, it is likely you won’t get its full benefits.

The Bottom Line

Although I usually agree with the advice dished out by Paula Begoun and her team, I don’t think that using serum as a primer is as beneficial as they make it out to be. Applying skincare products in the right order is essential if you want to reap their maximum benefits. If you apply primer too soon, it won’t make a great base. Too late and you may compromise its anti-ageing properties. Better stick to a separate makeup primer, if you really need one.

Have you ever used a serum as makeup primer?

3 Signs You Are Overdoing It With Skincare

overdoing skincare

Once upon a time, skincare was only about cleansing and moisturising. Then, toners came along. Now we have exfoliants, serums, facial oils, clay masks, sheet masks… New types of products and ingredients are popping up every year.

But isn’t using them all a bit too much? Don’t we risk overdoing it and hurting our skin? Well, that depends. Your skin doesn’t care much about how many products you use. It’s how often you use them and what they contain that can, sometimes, prove too much for your skin.

And when that happen, your skin is sure to let you know. It won’t be pretty, and it may even be painful. Here are three warning signs you are overdoing your skincare:

1. Your Skin Is Dry

Harsh cleansers and scrubs contain ingredients that can disrupt the skin’s protective barrier. When this happens, skin is not able to retain moisture very well. As a result, it becomes dry and dehydrated. To fix this, switch to gentler cleansers and scrubs that leave your skin soft and clean, not dry and tight.

Other common culprits that can cause dryness are alcohol, retinoids, and AHAs. Alcohol (particularly alcohol denat) is often used to thin out a formula, but if it is at the top of an ingredient list, it can do more harm than good. Do your skin a favour and leave it on the shelf.

Retinoids and AHAs can be very beneficial, but your skin needs time to get used to them. A bit of dryness at the beginning is normal, but if it doesn’t go away quickly and you also experience redness and irritation, see point 2 below.

2. Your Skin Is Irritated

Redness, inflammation and irritation are all common signs that something is wrong with your skincare regime. Some of the best ingredients, such as retinoids, AHAs, and salicylic acid can all irritate skin when used too often or in too high doses. Harsh physical scrubs can be very irritating too.

I personally don’t recommend the use of physical scrubs. Even when they are gentle, they are never as effective as AHAs or BHA based exfoliants. If the latter are irritating your skin, reduce frequency of use. Most people don’t need to exfoliate more than 2 or 3 times a week.

Retinoids need to be introduced into your skincare routine carefully too. Start using them every other day and increase frequency slowly. That way you’ll get all the benefits without the side effects.

3. Your Skin Breaks Out

Some skincare products can cause breakouts. It works like this. Silicones, mineral oil and other occlusive emollients form a protective barrier on the skin that prevents moisture loss, but can also trap in comedogenic ingredients. When that happens, pimples start rearing their ugly heads all over your face. The best solution is to opt for products without comedogenic ingredients. That’s easier said than done.

Just because an ingredient is comedogenic, it doesn’t mean it will cause breakouts. That depends on its concentration (the higher on the ingredient list, the more likely it is to cause pimples), and your skin type (the oiler your skin, the higher the chance of a breakout).

But there’s one case when a breakout is normal. Acid based exfoliants work by removing the superficial layers of dead skin cells that accumulate on the surface. If pimples were already started to form underneath your skin, these exfoliants will bring them to the surface sooner. Hence, the breakouts. But, once healed, continued use of exfoliants, particularly those containing salicylic acid, should prevent further bouts.

The Bottom Line

Too much of a good thing can often be a bad thing. To avoid problems, introduce new products into your skincare routine slowly, and only one at a time. That way, if your skin starts to act out, you’ll be able to figure out quickly what’s causing the problem. Sometimes, all you have to do to fix it is cut back on usage. Other times, the bin is the only option.

Are you overdoing it with skincare?

Can I Skip Moisturizer And Use Serum Alone?

use serum alone

I was a late adopter of serums. For the longest time,  I didn’t see their use. I already had a moisturizer, which I religiously used every day and night. So, what did I need a serum for? Then, I tried one, and was amazed at the results.

Serums are the real workhorses of skincare. They are especially formulated to deliver high concentrations of active ingredients, such as antioxidants and skin-lightening agents, deeper into the skin. Mosturizers can contain those goodies too, but, usually, in lower amounts that work more slowly.

So, then I started thinking about ditching my moisturizer instead. If serums are more effective, wouldn’t it make more sense to only use them, and save both money and time in the morning? Well, that depends. A moisturizer has its uses too, and can be a serum’s best friend.

Moisturizers are especially designed to improve the moisture levels of the skin and repair its natural protective barrier. Cold weather, unprotected sun exposure, and harsh skincare products can all damage this barrier. When that happens, skin is not able to retain moisture well, and becomes dry, flaky, and more prone to irritations. Moisturizers contain ingredients (like fatty acids, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid) that can fix this barrier and seal moisture in, keeping skin hydrated.

If you have normal or oily skin that’s healthy and doesn’t need any additional moisture, you can get away with skipping moisturizer. Sometimes I do. After applying my retinol serum all over my face at night, I only dab moisturizer on my dry areas, skipping the t-zone.

But if you have dry and damaged skin, then following up your serum with a moisturizer is a must. A moisturizer will then seal in your serum, preventing the added moisture that provides from evaporating from your skin, and create a shield to protect your face from the environment.

The Bottom Line

Although they sometimes share the same ingredients, serums and moistruizers have different functions. Serums deliver higher concentrations of antioxidants and other goodies into the skin, while moisturizers seal in moisture and repair the skin’s protective barrier. Unless your skin is oily or in perfect condition, both are a must.

Have you ever used serums alone?