I don’t get facials anymore. Here’s what changed in my skincare routine!

The skin I have now is different from the skin I’ve had even just three years ago. Before, my face always seemed to be on the brink of breaking out especially around my chin area. Even if I don’t use a new product or change anything in my routine, pimples would just come out - randomly it seemed! I wasn’t even particularly oily (I have combi skin) and I was also hyper aware of my skin due to the nature of my job as a beauty writer. I thought ALL my breakouts were just hormonal and went about my life tiptoeing around and hoping not to anger the skincare gods.

What my skin looked like in my early 20s. I share this photo every once in a while to remind myself how bad it was.

What my skin looked like in my early 20s. I share this photo every once in a while to remind myself how bad it was.

My skin two years ago. Looking great but still had a lot of texture and healing old blemishes.

My skin two years ago. Looking great but still had a lot of texture and healing old blemishes.

Then, a few years ago, I saw a thread on Reddit about why low pH cleansers were important. I started reading up on it and saw Asian Beauty bloggers like Snow White And The Asian Pear and Fifty Shades of Snail wax poetic about why I should start measuring the pH of my facial wash and how this affects my skin. Kim of Project Vanity also wrote this amazing article on skincare pH.

All these convinced me to finally buy my own pH strips (you can get these from any medical supply store). I was shocked to find out that my favorite Japanese facial wash (which I’ve been using about three years at that point) registered at a pH of 8! I also measured the dishwashing fluid I used at home - it was also 8. Imagine my horror! That’s when I switched to a low pH cleanser, and my very first one was the CosRX Good Morning Cleanser which has a pH of 5.5 to 6.

My skin today. I’m 31 and wiser!

My skin today. I’m 31 and wiser!

The change was swift. In a few weeks, I felt my skin become calmer, less easily agitated by the most minor changes in my routine. I’d still break out because of my hormones and stress level but those tiny pimples, the black heads, the white heads, the banes of my existence? They stopped becoming a regular, stubborn thing. They became rarer and rarer. That’s why I had to add my own low pH cleanser in my skincare brand In Her Element. I wanted something that smelled like roses and had a healthy amount of lather, plus some brightening ingredients too. This is the facial wash I’ve been using for two years now!

When I do test new facial washes I always measure the pH first. If it’s past 6 pH, I don’t use it, period. I thought a pH of 7 was okay (it’s neutral on the scale), but when I used a new high-end neutral facial wash a few months ago, I broke out for weeks. I was so sad. Now I am very strict about this.

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With my low pH cleanser life, my skin felt smoother and much less prone to dryness. Breakouts are much more tempered and heal faster than before. So yes, if you haven’t switched to a low pH cleanser now, YOU HAVE TO. I can’t emphasize this enough! Human skin has a natural acidic pH level of 5.5, so it’s important to match this when cleansing your face so as not to destroy its protective moisture barrier.

The second thing that changed my skin dramatically is chemical exfoliation via acids. Read this basic guide to acids by Den! I’ve been using physical exfoliators like gommage cleansers (Cure Natural Aqua Gel is the best), mud masks (Origins Charcoal Mask for the win), and even sugar scrubs (Skinfood Black Sugar Scrub) and they’ve been pretty effective in removing flakes, oil, and dirt on the skin’s surface. But chemical exfoliation goes deeper. Blackheads dissolve much faster, scars flatten better, and dark blemishes fade in just half the time.

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Now I exfoliate twice to thrice a week and I use both physical and chemical exfoliators. The In Her Element Petal Skin Rose Clay Mask is a winner because it’s the best of both worlds - it has glycolic acid and clarifying clay so my skin is brightened in just one use. It’s fantastic for oily and oily-combination skin! I also use the La Mer The Brilliance White Mask and the Sunday Riley Good Genes All In One Lactic Acid Treatment to switch it up when my skin is feeling dry.

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People often ask me where I get facials done. I don’t. When your skin is properly maintained - that is to say, you use a low pH cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, and exfoliate regularly - you don’t need any other maintenance treatments anymore. The whole point of skincare is not to kill your skin with fire in a scorched earth attempt. It’s to bring it back to its natural balance and allow it to renew itself as fast as it can. So yes, respect and be kind to your skin, and it will return the favor.