Avoiding the mistakes I did.

Words by Agnes Aui | Photo by Audrey Fretz

Without a doubt, I’m a makeup enthusiast. I swoon over every single makeup product I see in Sephora and constantly keep up-to-date with the latest releases. Despite how much I love makeup, skincare was something I wasn’t as crazy about back then. Maybe because it was too pricey for a broke college student, which I was at the time. So I would use the simplest (and cheapest) skincare I could find. I would even randomly use products suggested by other people with different skin types than mine. After all, I had almost no knowledge on how to care for my skin – I only knew I loved makeup.

Apart from that, in college, I would occasionally go out late in the night for parties and come home when the sun rises (true story). I would only sleep at eight in the morning and wake up in the afternoon, depriving myself of hydration and sleep. It wasn’t until I graduated and entered makeup-school, that I realized I had a HUGE problem…. I was living with dry facial skin. You know, the kind that flakes under makeup. While everyone else had smooth skin under their foundations, mine cracked, flaked and downright looked awful. To say that I wasn’t upset would be an understatement – I was devastated!

One of my makeup teachers then suggested that I go for a laser treatment that could help heal my skin problem. Either that or regularly go for facials (and not the affordable ones). At the time, I wasn’t able to spend such a large amount for laser and to be frank, I wasn’t able to commit to going for regular pricey facials either. Ultimately, I told myself that I would save up the money and go for just one laser session, in hopes that my skin would recover. However, before I can go for that appointment, a nationwide lockdown was implemented in Malaysia, locking us in for months. But surprisingly, during the lockdown, I stumbled upon several remedies/lifestyle changes that seem to rehydrate my skin. Today, my skin is no longer flaky under foundation! Should any of you suffer from extremely dry facial skin, I hope these tips and tricks can help you, just as they have helped me.

Replace your cleanser
Truthfully, I believe the sole reason that my skin was dehydrated was due to the usage of an oil-free cleanser. I used to enjoy having the ‘squeaky clean’ feeling on my face and thought that I had very oily skin back in college. Even today, people tell me I have oily skin. But the fact is that I have skin that’s way too dry till it produces oil. So the first thing I did was to get rid of my oil-free cleanser. I then started using a gentle cleanser for the first few weeks (I recommend Cetaphil). Though the gentle cleanser didn’t dry my skin out, it wasn’t exactly cleaning it either, and I started noticing more blackheads. I then did some research and learned that it’s a good idea to have different cleansers for morning and night. Today, I use a gentle cleanser in the morning and a foaming (but not oil-free) cleanser at night – it has worked miraculously for me so far.

Sleeping masks instead of moisturizers at night
I have been fortunate enough to be able to try many skincare products from my job as a writer. I’m not going to lie, I have learned so much from all the beauty events I get to attend, and something I learned was to replace my night moisturizer with a sleeping mask. Back in college, I used the regular aloe vera gel as a moisturizer (day and night), which now that I think about it, is not the right product considering I was using a drying cleanser. After learning about my extremely dry facial skin, I started using cream moisturizers during the night instead. However, that didn’t work either because it started giving me oil bubbles, also known as clogged sebaceous glands. Having received some skincare products and an invite to an event, I started trying out what was suggested in the event, replacing my moisturizers with sleeping masks. I’m so glad I found out about this because now I wake up to smooth, hydrated, and clear skin every morning!

Hydrating internally
While hydrating products are great for extremely dry facial skin, it’s important to also hydrate internally, meaning drinking enough water in a day. You can opt to use the rule of thumb, which is to drink eight glasses of water per day. But I think drinking more than eight glasses a day helps even more with extremely dry facial skin. Being extra dehydrated could be because I live in a tropical country where it’s always hot, but I’ve had days where I drank less water and my skin looked dull the next morning. Whereas on days I drink approximately three or more liters, I wake up to plump skin. Combine drinking loads of water with hydrating sleeping masks at night, you’ll be eager to look in the mirror every morning even before you’ve washed your face.

Getting enough rest
This might seem like a very typical point, but I cannot stress enough how vital it is to rest and to rest at the perfect time. Studies suggest that sleeping for seven to nine hours will give you good skin, and sleeping by nine to eleven at night is the best time. Though I usually sleep past eleven, I do manage to get roughly eight to nine hours of rest (sometimes even more) and this has done wonders to my skin. I wake up refreshed to bright skin. So make sure you get your beauty sleep and don’t overwork yourself, especially through the night.

Keeping clean
Another lifestyle change that I’ve made is to keep my face clean, and by clean I mean no touching with my hands, avoid sleeping face down or on the side of my face, and making sure my digestive system is clean. You might be wondering what I mean by ‘digestive system’. Well, I naturally have a slower metabolism rate and this may sometimes affect my digestion. Unfortunately, this shows up on my face, particularly on my chin, which I admit has the most pimples. To combat this, I regularly take probiotic supplements which help with my digestion and so far my chin acne has been calmed. I also used to touch my face and pick at scabs of old dried-up acne a lot. This was by far the hardest habit to change because I would regularly prop my head with my hand on my chin (this could be another reason why I have so many chin pimples). However, with time, I went from consciously having to avoid touching my face to naturally not touching it at all and I believe my skin is thanking me so far.

So if you’re suffering from extremely dry facial skin, don’t be discouraged. You’ll be able to recover from the skincare mistakes you’ve made, just like how I recovered from mine. Just make sure to take your time with it and don’t stress! Trust the process and celebrate the rewards, it will all be worth it.