The three skin-changing realizations that I learned as a beauty editor

I cringe whenever I look at this photo, because my skin was so bad that I couldn't go out without caking on the foundation and concealer. I had a skincare routine, of course, but it was mostly hit-and-miss; I didn't really know what I was doing, and I relied too heavily on makeup to care. There are so many things I wish I knew earlier, things I could have done differently. But I was young. I was still learning how to understand my face.

Six years ago!

Six years ago!

These days, I'm so pleased with my skin that I often don't wear that much concealer or foundation during casual activities. I still don't have perfect skin - I still have blemishes and more recently, I started developing freckles - but I now only get the occasional hormonal breakout and my nose is completely blackhead-free. It took me a long, long time to get to this point. Partly it's because I was able to try so many beauty products and services in the last few years that I already know what works. Another reason is that since I started developing In Her Element Skincare with our manufacturing partners, I have a better understanding of skincare ingredients and formulation.

Left: Bare face / Right: With minimal makeup

Left: Bare face / Right: With minimal makeup

But that last one's a story for another day. This time I want to talk about just three things I eventually learned about my skin that changed it from that crazy pimply mess into the generally calm thing it is today. It's still a work-in-progress, but these three realizations helped it improve dramatically!

The skin's acid mantle and lipid barrier must be maintained at all times. Wtf are these and how do you know if they are intact or destroyed? Our skin, apparently, has an extra outer layer of defense that helps to regulate the moisture and delicate balance of bacteria in it. This is called the acid mantle, which then protects the lipid barrier that prevents Transepidermal Water Loss of TEWL. It's simple: keep these two happy and your skin will be less prone to irritation and breakouts!

It's hard for me to explain how these layers feel unless you know how they feel. It took me a long time to develop a sense for what healthy skin is like, at least for me. But here are a few general things to watch out for:

  • If your acid mantle and lipid barrier are intact, your skin should feel a little tacky and moist to the touch - not oily, exactly. It should not feel like you're dragging your finger on a piece of paper (no matter how smooth).
  • If your skin feels tight or pulled back after cleansing, it means the pH of your cleanser is too high (it should ideally be less 6 pH). This is why we made the In Her Element Low pH Rose Gel Cleanser, which has a pH level of 5.5-6.
  • No matter how oily you are, you should use an appropriate moisturizer. This will help keep your skin balanced and even. There's even such a thing as double moisturizing, which mimics how the skin naturally keeps itself from drying out.

Clear dead skin and product build-up. Most of us would be familiar with double cleansing by now (using a makeup remover before facial wash, basically) but this is not enough to clear out dead skin, accumulated oil inside our pores, and product build-up (especially silicones). You'll need to use gentle yet effective exfoliators, and this may either be physical or chemical ones

Personally, I am more a fan of physical exfoliation (Cure Natural Aqua Gel and mud masks 4ver) but many from the PV Team love their acids too! AHAs and BHAs can provide deeper exfoliation and get rid of tougher build-up.

Pimple life spans can be shortened by treating them properly. I wrote a whole article on zit management and another one on how to pop pimples with the least amount of damage! Once a pimple comes out, I make sure never to touch  or squeeze it prematurely; when it's ripe, I drain it completely. This way I don't get blemishes that are ~as~ dark nor as deep anymore.

I hope this summary helps your skin somewhat! This is based on my personal experience which is by no means a professional opinion, of course. It's still best to visit a dermatologist for a better read on what your skin needs! I'd love to know what has worked for you in the past, and what's working for you right now. <3